We stopped to get some breakfast at a cool little coffee shop that was bustling. The waiter dude was flustered, and spilled our two croissants. That really annoyed him, but he went and got two more. He was also helping us to pronounce things properly, which is something that we didn’t really get in Paris. After paying the bill, we went off in search of the secret passages.
Lyon used to be the center of European silk manufacturing, and the merchants created a bunch of traboulets so that they could pass from one end of the street to the other in secrecy. I guess to keep from getting robbed or something like that? Lyon has around 60 of these, and they’re all marked on the map. A lot are private, but we found a few. Going through them makes you feel a little bit like a spy or something, which is undoubtedly why Sarah wanted to find them. After ending up in a random courtyard of an apartment at the end of one of the traboulets, we called it quits and wandered to the other side of the river.
Lyon actually has two rivers running through it—the Rhone on one side and the Saone on the other. It was fun to just wander through a strange city. Lyon has a lot of cool shops, and it’s a lively place. We saw one of the old cathedrals in Lyon—that took 300 years to build and features a number of different architectural styles—before wandering some more and finding Zara Home and Habitat (which made Sarah very happy). Eventually, we found a street with a bunch of restaurants and sat down for lunch. The waitress thought we were nuts for not ordering wine, and indeed, everyone in the restaurant was drinking wine. We shared a tarte with ham, and then Sarah had a traditional Lyonaiss dish—pike quenelles, and I had a sausage with green lentils. Both tasty, and rich.
From there, we wandered back over to the other side of the river in search of the old medieval quarter. On the way, we stopped into the SNCF office and bought our train tickets to Lausanne because it was an early morning train. Because the US doesn’t have chip and pin credit and debit cards, generally, that means that you can’t use a credit card in any of the automated ticketing terminals, and have to buy from a live person. Given that tomorrow we were leaving early Sunday, we figured that it would be best not to chance the ticket office not being open. We wandered for a while and got a coffee. The waitress was funny, and was explaining to me that her brother, the one I noticed with the mouse, was crazy. Apparently, he keeps the mouse so that he can feed her offspring to his snake. Pretty funny. The mouse was in the bar; in the States, that would be probably get you shut down.
The old quarter is interesting, although really, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than any other medieval area we’ve encountered to date. Perhaps the one thing that’s different is that you can walk up the old sewer passages in lieu of stairs. That was kind of fun, but felt dodgy. Steep too. We made our way up to the hulking church on top of the hill built in the late 1800’s, walking through the gardens on the way. It’s a hike to get there. Once there, the views of the city are nice (although it’s weird that the two most prominent features of Lyon’s skyline are a ferris wheel and the Radisson building…hmmm…), and the church itself is ornate, interesting, and clean. It’s probably clean because it’s not that old comparatively speaking.
We walked back down—Sarah fell and skinned her knee—and then found our way to Zara home again. Sarah bought a towel. We wandered some more, before returning to the hotel. We decided that we’d go back to the same place for dinner-La Pavillon—again. It was so good the first night that we decided it was probably better to not be disappointed with a choice that turned out worse. The waitress—who was doing everything front of the house—recognized us from the night before and I think was happy to see us.
We ordered a bottle of Fleurie, which would be a traditional Lyonnais thing to order, I believe. Like the bottle we had last night, it was pretty good—high acidity, bright cherry flavors, and some earthiness. Lyon is bordered by Beaujolais on the North and obviously, the Rhone is right there too, in the middle of the city. This time, I got the gateau des moules and Sarah got the oignons au gratin, which was really more like a French onion soup. Both of these were delicious, although really rich. I ordered bar (a kind of fish) that came with a vegetable terrine, and Sarah ordered the veal, that came with extraordinarily rich tortellini and sautéed mushroom. Both delicious, both rich, although the veal was maybe a little boring. Next we had dessert, which was a little weird. It was an apple tart, spiked with orange peel, and salt caramel ice cream. The ice cream was fantastic. The apple tart thing was kind of lame. Oh well, it was a good meal, not too expensive, and we liked the whole vibe of the place. We went back to the hotel, packed a little to make it easier in the morning, and went to bed.