How to Spend 24 Hours in Lyon

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Lyon is the second largest city in France and if you should find yourself there for a weekend, there is plenty to keep you entertained!  We went for our last weekend away without the kiddos and had a great time trying to see and do as much as possible in just a little over 24 hours.  So if you go to Lyon for a weekend, here’s what we suggest:

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-When you arrive, DO have lunch at a bouchon-a traditional Lyonnais restaurant serving local specialties.  Lyon has been called the “Gastronomic Capital of the World” and it is a foodie paradise.  Some of the smaller bouchons had similarly small menus and were a bit too “meaty” for me (rabbit, pigeon, blood sausages, strange animal parts, etc.), so we went to the historic Brasserie Georges which is the oldest brasserie in the city and one of the largest in Europe.  They have a big menu, brew their own beer, and the food was good.

-DO visit the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere and admire the gorgeous views.

-DON’T walk up the hill (unless you want a workout!)-Take the funicular up.  It’s easy and included in the public transport ticket.  We bought an all day public transport pass that was only 5.50 Euros…a great deal!

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-DON’T miss the inside of the basilica.  Like castles, we’ve seen about a million churches in Europe or so it feels, but the inside of this one is really beautiful and impressive.

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-DO stroll through Place Bellecour on your way back to the hotel before having  a little rest before dinner and an evening out.

-DO make a reservation for dinner in this foodie haven.  This is a city where people come just to eat, so you definitely need to do your research and book ahead.  This is the restaurant we were planning to try out in Croix Rousse:  Balthaz’art.

-Whatever you do, DON’T make a reservation at a restaurant by the same name in Toulouse, France. Wah wah.

-DON’T be stuck without a dinner reservation on a Saturday night the weekend of Valentine’s Day…

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-But if you are, DO thank your sweet Valentine for not holding it against you and head over to Place des Terreaux to make the most of it and listen to music while drinking wine and being grateful for that big apero snack you had at your hotel before you left.

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-DO wander down to Rue du Garet behind the Opera House if you need something a bit more substantial and you are reservation-less.  The Japanese noodle place is great!

-On Sunday morning, DO visit the fantastic market along the Saone River.

-DON’T pass up some of the Lyonnais specialties including the Lyonnais brioche, cervelle de canut (translated as brains of the silk worker but really just a delicious cheese made of fromage frais mixed with herbs, vinegar, garlic, and olive oil), wine, fresh produce, and DO as the locals and share a late breakfast/early lunch of fresh oysters and wine!

-DO stroll through UNESCO heritage site Vieux Lyon and admire the gorgeous architecture.  Wander up stairways, through alleys, and

-DO look for hidden archways and secret doors that lead to traboules, passageways that were designed for the silk workers to keep their silk dry in inclement weather.  If you stay for longer, there is a whole walking tour of the traboules that you can learn more about at the tourist info center.

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-DON’T miss La Tour Rose off the Rue du Bouef-we were perplexed as we saw this on the map and saw the hotel of the same name, but couldn’t find the actual tower.  It’s through a closed door and when you go in you walk to the back of the courtyard, turn around, and voila!

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-DO just enjoy wandering through this beautiful city-the old town, along the rivers, up the hills.  It’s lovely.  If you stay for longer, there are of course tons more things to see and do…a Roman amphitheater, the Musee des Beaux Arts, along with other museums, the modern part of the city known as Confluence, the big park called la Tete d’Or, fun shops-there’s lots to explore!

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