I stared down at the paltry tuna fish sandwich I started eating an hour ago. There was still half left, and my stomach contorted at the thought of another bite. This was not how I expected to spend my first visit to Lyon.
Once I arrived, that was not my experience. But it wasn’t Lyon’s fault. With a nasty cold and flash fevers on top of country-wide transport strikes, my holiday was not off to a smooth start.
Fortunately, Lyon offered more on her plate than just food.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon has many historical, cultural, and overall interesting things to see and do. With almost 48 hours to explore and the need for intermittent rest on the first day when the fevers hit, I set priorities.
Lyon is a city of murals. Lots of them, big and small. I learned later that not only is Lyon the European capital of mural paintings, along with Berlin, but it’s also one of the top cities worldwide in terms of the number of murals. They pay homage to the citizens and life in Lyon and literally and figuratively illustrate key elements of the corresponding neighborhood’s identity.
A nod to its ancient citizens also comes in the form of Roman ruins. I visited the Great Theatre and the neighboring Odeon. The former was built in 15 BC, originally scaled for 4,700 people but expanded later to 10,700 seats. The smaller Odeon has 3,000 seats. Both are still used today for events.
For more recent architectural gems, I ventured through some of the city’s traboules. These little passageways are found in “Old Lyon” and take you from one street to another under cover. They host inner courtyards, archways, spiral staircases, and current residence entry ways. In the Middle Ages, they were used to quickly reach boats on the river. During World War II, they facilitated secret movements of the resistance.
While not a film buff, I had read enough great reviews of the Lumiére Museum to decide a visit was in order. It was a good decision. Based in the Lumière family home where cinematography was born, the museum features the work and inventions of brothers Louis and Auguste, including the “N°1” Lumière Cinematograph. It also features other related inventions, such as Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope and and Georges Demenÿ’s chronophotograph.
It took me two hours to finish that tuna fish sandwich. It took less time to succumb to Lyon’s charms. Sickness and strikes are no match for what Lyon has on its menu.