The city of Lyon has a special energy for several reasons. Perhaps the most obvious is that it is the spot where two mighty rivers merge—la confluence—of the Saône and the Rhone. It is an exciting and powerful moment when that much water flows together. The article that accompanies this blog shows a picture of this spot as well as other parts of Lyon, but there are some aspects of this lovely city that I appreciate and that the article leaves out, so I want to add a few words of my own.
Lyon has two captivating historical parts: its origins were on a hill overlooking the city when the Romans founded the city they called Lugdunum in 43 BCE. Here you can visit a large Roman theater with a capacity of 10,000 spectators! It's an inspiring site and close by is the basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière, with its décor that always reminds me of a wedding cake!
Just below the hill is my favorite part of the city, le Vieux Lyon, a whole “quartier” from the 16th century. Adding to the charm of the narrow streets and ancient buildings is the presence of pathways through buildings that join two streets. In the 16th century Lyon was the capital of silk weaving in France and the merchants would carry their wares along inner passageways to protect them from the rain. These passages are called “traboules”. There are 230 traboules in Lyon, and although many are closed to the public, in Vieux Lyon you can walk through 33 of them. Often at the end of a corridor you will open into a delightful inner courtyard with an ancient well and dwellings above where people still live in the historic buildings with their lovely Renaissance arches. It is an experience not to be missed. The longest traboule is at number 54 Rue saint-Jean. It goes through five courtyards to reach Rue du Boeuf, at number 27. So if you get the chance, don't miss Lyon.