I once was able to say I spoke French fluently. Now I say “Je parle un petit peu de francais!”, or “I speak a little French”, my apologetic warning to other French speakers that my French is not very good. For the past ten years, I have barely spoken French. A little bit when I was backpacking in Europe, the occasional situation in every day life that requires it, but those are rare moments. This month, my roster gave me the opportunity to not only see a new city, but also a city where I could practice my French!
I had a lovely 50 hours in Lyon, France. It happened to be Bastille Day while we were there, so unfortunately a lot of shops were closed, however the atmosphere was fantastic! I did what I rarely do, and jumped on a Hop On Hop Off bus. There are a lot of benefits to these types of tours, especially if your goal is to see as many of the landmarks as possible, but I’m happiest when I’m walking through a city, not seeing it by bus where the attractions feel like items I’m simply checking off on a list. It’s a fantastic way to “get to know” a city however, and narrow down what you want to do from that point on.
I started at Place Bellecoeur.
I stayed on the bus for a few stops as I wandered around the area before hopping on the bus, until it reached Vieux Lyon. I absolutely love the old towns in every city I go to. These are some of my favourite places to get lost in, as the little streets always have such character. I spent the majority of my time there.
The next stop I got off at was Fourviere Hill. There was not much to do there, as certain areas were blocked off in preparation for the Bastille Day fireworks, but definitely worth getting off at for the view of the city!
I did very little “hopping on” and “hopping off”, because I preferred to spend a lot of time in the areas that interested me rather than a little bit of time at every stop.
Every city needs a big park, right? New York City has Central Park. Vancouver has Stanley Park. Lyon has Le Parc de la Tête d’Or. I love parks, and the park wasn’t part of the Hop On Hop Off tour, unfortunately, but I made my way there on day 2 of my layover.
I found Lyon to be a charming little (but actually not so little – it is the 3rd largest city in France) city, with kind and helpful people who let me stumble through using my french.