Weekend Hotspot: Lyon France
Lyon is located in the east of France in the Rhône-Alps region. It’s the second-biggest and second-wealthiest French metropolis, after Paris. The atmospheric neighbourhoods found along the Rhône and Saône Rivers reflect the city's rich heritage. The Quartier Saint-Jean and Colline Croix-Rousse districts have an enchanting old world character, while the Presqu'ile exemplifies 19th-century elegance.
The city is also considered to be a large industrial, business and cultural centre. It went down in history as the birthplace of the world’s first filmmakers – the brothers Lumière, about whom you can find out all it in a museum dedicated to their lives. Lyon is also the hometown of the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The city was founded by the Romans in 43 BCE, and emperors Tiberius Claudius and Caracalla were born here. Lyon became a French city only in the 15th century.
During the Renaissance, it became known as a city of weavers which held a monopoly over silk manufacture and trade. Due to its great density and varying colours, Lyon’s silk was held in very high regard. Interestingly enough, even the city’s architecture was designed to accommodate the needs of the silk weavers, and at the time, Lyon was home to many Italian merchants who traded in the material. They had built a number of uniquely designed houses with patios, towers, arches and shingled roofs that remain to this day.
The rich collections in the Museum of Fine Arts rival the Louvre in Paris, with rarely seen masterpieces like the Sarcophagus of Lady Istemkheb and Picasso’s Woman Seated on the Beach. In a majestic location on the Fourviere Hill, the Basilique Notre-Dame rises to a height of 130 meters above the Saone River. The Basilica is accessible by funiculars running up the hill. This stunning church was built after the Franco-Prussian War when the people of Lyon had vowed to create a Marian sanctuary if their city was spared. See the first film ever made at the Musée Lumière and venture to the 17th-century chateau that houses the Musée Automobile Henri Malartre for vintage cars which include Hitler’s Mercedes.
Lyon is renowned for being one of the best gourmet destinations in France and the traditional cuisine is rich and hearty. As you wander through the charming streets of historic Lyon, you’ll be spoiled for choice over where to eat dinner. But the local bouchons are the city’s best-known culinary delight, promising visitors a dining experience that is authentically aux Lyonnais. Go with a full wallet to the Carre d’Or (Square of Gold) in Lyon’s historic centre for big-name shopping.
The glass-canopied, 19th- century Passage de l’Argue houses old- fashioned shops selling umbrellas, hats and gloves. Antique hunters make for the Auguste Comte area off Place Bellecour. Mercure Lyon Centre Chateau sits next to Lyon Perrache TGV Train Station and a 10-minute walk from Place Bellecour. Guests who want to explore the famous sights of the city will be just a 5-minute walk from the centre and the main shopping streets. The listed Art Nouveau building of the hotel features period furniture and elegant paintings that only add to its elegant and sophisticated charm. www.mercure.com Lyon Airport Saint Exupery is situated 25km east from the city centre. It is quite easy to find public transportation to reach the city centre. Aer Lingus operate a daily Dublin to Lyon scheduled service conveniently departing at lunchtime and returning early evening.
For best fares, visit here.
Robert Walshe is a travel broadcaster with Q Radio in Northern Ireland www.robertwalshe.com