How has a month already gone by? Top Things to Do in Lyon Part 2
It's sort of incredible. I arrived in France one month ago. As someone who had never traveled abroad before this summer, I'm patting myself on the back for taking my summer school classes seriously (easier said than done), avoiding homesickness, maintaining a reasonable balance between cultural fun and "fun" fun and traveling efficiently.
Because I am celebrating the halfway point of my self-transformative summer/mourning the fact that half of this dreamlike experience is already almost over, I'm treating myself to a solo afternoon at Eric Kayser, for brioche au chocolat, espresso and postcard writing.
Weekend excursions are a luxury, quaint, neighboring towns in France are so accessible and alluring, but the most rewarding aspect of this adventure so far has been getting to know Lyon. Taking the same public transportation to my classes every day, having favorite places to dine and hangout at, while still discovering new treasures in the city and more than anything, feeling like I actually live here. Ephemerally living in a foreign city still feels so exotic, yet it already feels so comfortable. I can't fully explain these contradicting feelings and how they exist so harmoniously within me.
That being said, here are some more of the best ways to spend time in Lyon:
1. Musée des Beaux-Arts
The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon is large and magnificent. A former 17th century abbey, the now museum is located in the heart of the city at the Place des Terreaux. It displays french and international art and has 70 rooms rooms filled with exhibitions; including antiquities, art and sculpture, modern art and medieval pieces. As an added treat, there are ample temporary exhibits, borrowing prestigious collections from all over the world. The sumptuous cafe and courtyard with a garden aren't too shabby either. If they would set up a cot somewhere in the museum, I'd live here. Le Musée des Beaux-Arts is a entrancing spot in Lyon and I intend to come back before the summer is up.
2. Lyon City Boat Tour
Okay - I know this sounds touristy, but bear with me. One of the things I've really grown to appreciate about Sylviane, my host mom, is her determination to show me the best of Lyon. Though she works full-time, she finds the time to prepare traditional Lyonnais dinners, have lengthy discussions and and accompany me around the city. The other day, she took me on a Lyon City Boat tour. Ignoring the fact that we were baking in the sun for an hour and a half on the hottest day of the summer, I enjoyed the experience immensely. We grabbed a quick espresso, purchased some cheap sun hats and boarded the boat to see the city from the eyes of the Saône River.
The boat cruise went through Vieux Lyon, La Croix Rousse (an artsy, avant-garde neighborhood), by the Basilique de Fourvière, the Place St-Jean and out to places I have yet to visit like, Ile Barbe and l'Homme de la roche. I consent that piling on to boat cruise is not designed for Lyonnais locals, but it was one of the best ways to see the city. We returned home after that, and within a couple of hours we were cooled off and supping on chicken thighs, ratatouille for dinner and tarte tatin and espresso for dessert. It was truly one of my favorite afternoons. Minus the heat flashes.
3. La Fresque des Lyonnais
La Fresque des Lyonnais is a unique, seven-story mural devoted entirely to 30 well-known locals who have helped shape Lyon. Despite the many murals in the city, La Fresque is one of the most striking, and one of the best representations of how artistic Lyon is. Some of the famous pained faces are The Lumière Brothers, famous brothers who invented an early motion-picture camera; Antoine de St-Exupéry, the writer of Le Petit Prince; and my favorite, Paul Bocuse the renown French chef who set the standard for Lyonnais cuisine.