February 17, 2013

Lyon - Frescoes and Traboules

I heard the ship's engines start up about 5:00 a.m. - it was a very quiet rumble. We had a late breakfast (including a mimosa), bid farewell to the resident swans and the remainder of the morning was spent cruising the Saone River to Lyon, the third largest city in France after Paris and Marseille.

Swans on Saone River at Macon

There was a briefing on the Provence Extension which we had booked to follow the cruise, as well as a presentation on the shore excursions we could look forward to in the coming days.

The Saone meets with the Rhone River at Lyon, which is where the Scenery docked.

Arriving in Lyon, France

Docked at Quai Claude Bernard, Lyon

Following lunch on board ship, a three-hour city tour by motor coach was scheduled for the afternoon. At the top of Fourvière Hill is the Notre-Dame Basilica, which began construction in 1872. It is just one of many buildings in Lyon which are illuminated at night. Despite the beautiful exterior, I found the inside of the basilica rather dark and it was covered in scaffolding.

Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Fourvière, Lyon

Basilica Exterior

Basilica Exterior

Just around one side of the basilica is a lookout offering a great view of the city. The skyscraper in the centre of the photo below is known as Le Crayon (The Pencil).

View of 'Le Crayon' and Lyon Skyline from Fourvière Hill

Lyon is also well-known for the many trompe l'oeil frescoes painted on the walls of its buildings.

Frescoes of Lyon

Lyon is the home of the Lumière Brothers, Louis and Auguste, the inventors of motion pictures. They are paid tribute in one of the frescoes. There is also a Lumière Museum.

Frescoe of the Lumière Brothers, Lyon

The tour also took us to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) on the west bank of the Saone River. We enjoyed a walk along rue St. Jean among the well-preserved Renaissance buildings.

Rue St. Jean in Old Lyon

Lyon Shop Window

Guignol is a local puppet character. The puppet shows were created by a silk worker turned dentist to attract patients to his chair.

Guignol Puppet on rue St. Jean, Lyon

This is also where we saw some of the traboules of Lyon. These covered passageways were used by the silk trade to protect their wares from the weather as they were carried from one location to another, and later by members of the French Resistance during World War II. The passages lead to lovely hidden courtyards.

Interior Courtyard

Courtyard Well

The Scenery was docked for the night in Lyon and we would have another day to explore the sights, starting with a visit in the morning to the Silk Museum and the food store Les Halles.

Next:  Lyon - Silk and Gastronomy

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