We decided to take a vacation from our vacation and take the train down to spend a weekend in Lyon. Actually, it was part vacation, part scouting – since we are deciding whether to move to Lyon, Bordeaux, or stay in Paris for the second 3-month leg of our sabbatical.
We ended up in hotels rather than Airbnbs this time due to last minute travel planning, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve been in a lot of Airbnbs and don’t mind them, but sometimes you can’t beat the ease and consistency of a hotel. We stayed at the hip and stylish Okko Hotel and loved it. But, last minute travel planning does have some downsides. I think that’s the way travel should be – that you can just get up and go when you please without a lot of pre-planning, but it also means that you might not get a seat assignment on your train back to Paris, and therefore might be writing a blog entry from the cold luggage section of the train car on one of those uncomfortable flip seats (kind of like what flight attendants sit on in planes). This reminds me a little of the post-college hostel-jumping backpacking life and I am definitely too old for that.
Lyon is strikingly different than Paris. It’s sleepier, but is a probably a better representation of real France. Here is a quick summary of what we saw and learned:
- It has two rivers (compared to Paris’s one) – the Rhône and Sôane – and numerous footbridges to cross over them
- It is the third largest city in France (after Paris and Marseille), but felt relatively small and quaint to us
- Things close much earlier than I expect
- It too has a Notre Dame that sits atop Fourvière hill, and while it’s smaller, it is arguably more beautiful and definitely has fewer lines, selfie sticks, and pigeons
- Near Notre Dame is a decently preserved Roman amphitheater, and they actually hold concerts there. I really want to do that.
- In buildings and courtyards, there are doorways to Traboules – hidden passageways that workmen would use to get around the city while being protected from the weather
- There seems to be less of a café culture – fewer of them and considerably fewer outdoor heaters
- They have a really impressive modern indoor market called Les Halles
- They have tons of beautiful, impressive painted murals across the city
- There is a surprising amount of graffiti
- We think it might be a little better for our French – slightly fewer people spoke English to us
Not sure yet that this will be our next home…stay tuned (and opinions are welcome).