Lyon or Strasbourg in early September?

Old Jul 10th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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Lyon or Strasbourg in early September?

After five days of our annual business & pleasure trip to Paris this year, we're thinking about spending another four or five days in either Strasbourg or Lyon starting on Sept. 5. We've never been to either place. Would love to hear any thoughts on this.
damon_t is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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I have visited Strasbourg only. We went in drizzly October, but I'm sure September is, on the whole, a nicer time for the weather. Strasbourg is really nice as there is a German influence. But I'm not sure if four or five days is alot to spend there unless you do excursions to nearby towns like Colmar and such. Lyon, as I understand, is a big city and is similar very much to Paris.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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There's definitely lots to see and do in Lyon & surrounding countryside for four or five days, whether you're interested in shopping, sightseeing, museums, eating, or beautiful countryside.

It's a biggish city but really very different from Paris: for one thing, it's much more pedestrian friendly, it's a lot cheaper, and the beautifully preserved Vieux Lyon quarter (old town) dating back to the Renaissance is certainly unlike anything you'll find in France's capital city.

The city is divided by two rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, which run from north to south and converge just south of Perrache station.

Lyon's main centre is on the peninsula ("Presqu'ile") between the two rivers. On the west bank of the Saône is the Vieux Lyon quarter, while the east bank of the Rhône is where most of the residential areas of the city are located.

On the Presqu'ile you will find the huge Place Bellecour with pedestrian streets that cut north and south. Rue de la République takes you up to the town hall and the magnificent Place des Terreaux, an enormous square which, in summer, is dotted with parasols and tables served by the numerous cafés lining the square. In the middle of the square is a magnificent fountain by Bartholdi, the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty.

Behind place des Terreaux stretch the slopes of the Croix Rousse district, which was the home of the silk industry in days gone by. Every day except Monday, a huge farmers' market stretches out along the Boulevard de la Croix Rousse.

The Presqu'Ile is also home to the Musée des Beaux Arts (city art gallery) which has an interesting collection and a pleasant courtyard and cafe. The rue de la République and rue Victor Hugo are lined with French chain stores, while rue Edouard Herriot (parallel to rue de la République) and surrounding streets are full of designer boutiques catering to the more upmarket shopper.

Lyon is famous throughout France for its restaurants: many agree that it - not Paris - is the capital of French gastronomy. If your budget won't stretch to Paul Bocuse or Jean-Paul Lacombe, there are plenty of less prestigious but delicious restaurants to choose from, including the many traditional "bouchons" serving Lyonnais cuisine.

Tourists - and locals - tend to congregate around three main restaurant areas: on the Presqu'ile, the rue des Maronniers just next to Place Bellecour, and rue Mercière which runs up from the Place des Jacobins (both are pedestrian streets lined with restaurants ranging from the good to the not-so-good), and lastly the rue St Jean in the Vieux Lyon quarter, which unfortunately has more than its fair share of poor quality tourist-trap eateries.

Many other fabulous restaurants are tucked away throughout the city, on the quayside, or just a quick drive from the town.

Lyon was capital of Roman France and traces of this heritage can still be seen: on the hill overlooking the old town are two large Roman theatres, and there is a third in the city on the Croix-Rousse hill.
Overlooking the theatres, built partly into the hill, is the Museum of Gallo-Roman history which is stuffed with artifacts, including several stunning mosaics. The notes on the objects displayed are in both French and English, which is a bonus. They recently unearthed a couple of well-preserved Roman boats when building a carpark on the quayside in Lyon and these have also been on display at the museum. Not sure if they are still there, however.

The Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourvière is a white wedding-cake affair perched on the top of Fourvière hill - a funicular takes you up if you can't face the steep walk. The esplanade next to the Basilica offers wonderful views of the city.

The Vieux Lyon quarter is one of the best preserved examples of renaissance architecture anywhere in the world. As Lyon built its fortune on the silk industry, covered passages were constructed to link the buildings together enabling the silk to be transported without getting damaged by the elements. These passageways still exist today - the traboules (the term perhaps comes from the Latin "trans-ambulare" - to walk through). Many of them take you through hidden doorways into stunning courtyards with ornate staircases, all in the earthy pinks, beiges, oranges and reds that characterise Lyon's old town.

On the east bank of the Rhône you can take a stroll to the Parc de la Tête d'Or, a great big park with boating lake, duckponds, zoo (though don't go near this if you are at all concerned for animal welfare), waffle stands, rose garden, biking trails, mini-train, greenhouses, etc. etc. On sunny days it is full of locals and their children out for a stroll.

If you get sick of Lyon, the Alps aren't far away and the lovely, if touristy, old town of Annecy is an easy day trip. Crémière and Pérouges are two other medieval villages only half an hour's drive east of the city. Drive north-west and you immediately find yourself in the rolling hills of the Beaujolais area; head south along the Rhône and you'll reach the old Roman city of Vienne (or, if you prefer, you can take a boat trip all the way there).

Hope I've given you some food for thought
Lyon is my absolute favourite city in France (can you tell?
hanl is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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I spent 2 days (3 nights) last October in Strasbourg. I loved it, and found much to do during that time. This was part of a 10-day trip to Alsace, so I spent time in other nearby places as well, and I had a car. The weather was lovely most of the time, and there were many tourists (mostly German) in Ocober. I loved the Alsacian cuisine! (and hadn't really expected to). I don't think 4 or 5 days would be too much time to spend there, as you can take the train to other places (Obernai, Colmar, etc.) for daytrips, in case you don't have a car.

On this same trip I took the train (a beautiful ride, by the way) from Colmar to Lyon, and spent 3 days there. It's also a great city to visit, with wonderful food and shopping. However, 5 days might be too much. I think I would choose Strasbourg for that length of time because of the proximity of the Route des Vins villages, etc. And the fall is wonderful in that area.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:37 AM
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Boy that's a tough one. Both are great places. Hanl has really given you the definitive Lyon in a nutshell! And the food cannot be ignored. Vieux Lyon is one of my favorite places.

If you will have a car, you should explore some of the area around Lyon. Also, Geneva is only a 2 hour train ride from there. Parc du Pilat (an hour drive) is really lovely.
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