merry times in Lyon

Picking up more or less where the travel report left off, we took the TGV from Paris to the Lyon airport, where we picked up a car which almost had room for the two of us and our luggage. The airport stop (rather than downtown) is because the rental places are all together, they all have many more cars because people are coming and going constantly, of course, it's an airport. For example, Avis once gave us a clunker, so right from their parking lot we called Hertz, they had what we wanted, and we took the airport shuttle over to Hertz and were fine. Our time in Lyon was meant to be informal, so on leaving Paris I'd made some suitcase adjustments. The real repacking would take place on leaving Lyon for the Riviera.

This is the "birdcage" elevator in our hotel. It can be a lot of fun, or startling if it's not what you expected. You open both sets of doors (first metal, then wood), enter, close both sets of doors, push a button, and up you go, in an open cage of ornamental metal. After you get out at your floor, you have to make sure both sets of doors are closed, otherwise the elevator can't go back.

the Hôtel de Ville at night
There are lots of charming and comfortable hotels in Lyon, and quite a few interesting areas in addition to Old Lyon. I'd suggest figuring out what you want to do and where those activities will be, and finding a place to stay that's fairly convenient to most of them.  Getting around in Lyon can be confusing, it's a big city that predates the Romans. For example, we stay at the Carleton, which is on a colorful square, and not only can we walk to (and from!) our favorite restaurants and the Opera, the Hotel de Ville and so on, but the Halles are within walking distance or a short bus ride away.

Lyon was getting ready for
Hallowe'en when we
arrived, the stores that supply outfits for Bals Masqués have made the most of this relatively new (to France) marketing and decorating opportunity. Tintin was having a great year, we did not see any Carla masks.

We had had a long discussion before we left, which we revisited on the train: did we want to explore some new (to us) restaurants, or did we want dinner both nights at Le Garet? We both voted for Le Garet, the food's great, it's not expensive, if you're not in the mood for anything that's too close to the local version of soul food you can find plenty of other choices, we love the hosts and the place is always lively. Among other things, one night I had a glorious (and copious) sauté of wild mushrooms, another night Himself enjoyed local blood sausages in wine sauce. My favorite "dessert" when in Lyon is fromage frais à la crème, the local fresh white cheese with crème fraiche poured over. An individual game pie with a bourguinonne sauce also stands out...

Walking back to the hotel through quiet dark streets, we observed the local parking situation. Even the Smarts had to make adjustments!

We had a whole day in which to find something to do besides eat, and we explored the Modern Art Museum. This "truck" was parked just outside the Modern Art Museum, on the pedestrian walkway, a clever comment on parking in France generally. The benches at the reception desk begged to be sat upon.

The building itself is light and airy, and glassed-in walkways lead you from one exhibit to another.  

 One exhibit was a roomful of front pages of newspapers from around the world (but mainly in English), all of which had been hand-lettered and hand-painted by the artist. We tried to put the dates on the front pages together to see what, if anything, they would tell us. Most were from the Great Depression and the years immediately preceding the Second World War, and the lesson seemed to be "Have a packed suitcase ready at all times." OK.

Another exhibit was three rooms of black string, which you weren't supposed to step on. As you proceeded through the rooms, there was more and more string and less and less light. You had to give up and step on the string to get out. This of course has a number of obvious meanings, and probably some deeper ones as well.

Anyone wondering whether we got hungry during our museum visit? Why are you wondering?


  1. I saw a car parked just like that Smart Car last year in Lyon as well!

  2. Hi, Rose, to a New Yorker, the best thing about the Smarts is their "parkability!"

  3. The museum looks like fun ( huge?). You must have been there during mushroom season as those look wild, perhaps? Divine. Hopefully there was a little cafe near the museum where you could rest and refuel.

  4. Hi, Lane, we were there at the end of October, so yes, glorious mushrooms, and game everywhere. Lyon abounds on interesting well-curated miseums, none are large enough to intimidate.

  5. This must speak to my absolute mental immaturity but the first thing that came to mind upon seeing that elevator was there were too many doors to remember to take care of it is 3am and someone comes stumbling back from a night of revelry! ;o)
    Thanks for sharing your pics and stories though, this is fun!

  6. Hi, Lisa, actually we did hear some loud metallic crashing and clanging late at night and that's exactly what we thought of! Did I mention that the elevator also has mirrors and a velvet-covered bench seat?


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