August 21, 2023

Lyon of Antiquity & Cuisine

Lyon, a large French city along the banks of the Rhône and Saône rivers, is a treasure trove of history that dates back to ancient times. As you stroll through its charming streets and captivating neighborhoods, you'll encounter a plethora of ancient sights that offer a glimpse into Lyon's rich past. In this spot-by-spot walking tour we'll take you on a journey through time as we explore some of the most captivating ancient landmarks that Lyon has to offer, all the while staying well-nourished at the delightful cuisine options of the magnificent Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Breakfast at Boulangerie du Palais

To kickstart your day in Lyon, head to Boulangerie du Palais for a truly authentic Lyonnaise breakfast experience. This charming bakery offers an array of freshly baked croissants, flaky pastries, and crusty baguettes that perfectly encapsulate the essence of French baking. Pair your selection with a steaming café au lait or a rich espresso, and indulge in the simple pleasure of devouring artisanal delights in a cozy setting.

1. Roman Amphitheatre of Fourvière

Step back in time to the days of the Roman Empire at the Roman Amphitheatre of Fourvière, also known as the "Grand Théâtre." This well-preserved amphitheatre once hosted thrilling gladiatorial contests and theatrical performances. As you stand within its stone walls, you can almost hear the echoes of ancient crowds cheering for their favorite warriors. The sweeping views of Lyon from this vantage point add to the allure of this ancient gem.

2. Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Perched atop Fourvière Hill, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a majestic testament to both faith and architecture. While the basilica itself was built in the 19th century, the site has a long history dating back to Roman times. The basilica's stunning mosaics, intricate sculptures, and soaring architecture pay homage to Lyon's ancient and spiritual roots.

Lunch at Le Bouchon des Filles

For lunch, go right into  the heart of Lyonnaise cuisine at Le Bouchon des Filles. This intimate bistro captures the essence of traditional bouchons—Lyon's distinctive eateries that serve homey, hearty dishes. Feast on specialties like quenelles de brochet (pike dumplings), andouillette sausage, or coq au vin, all prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. The warm and convivial atmosphere of this bouchon adds an extra layer of authenticity to your lunchtime culinary adventure.

3. Lugdunum

Venture to the Gallo-Roman archaeological site of Lugdunum, where Lyon's origins as a Roman settlement come to life. Discover the remains of a Roman theatre, odeon, and other structures that once formed the heart of ancient Lugdunum. The site's museum offers insights into daily life during Roman times, providing a fascinating glimpse into Lyon's past as a thriving Roman city.

4. Saint-Jean Cathedral

While not entirely ancient, the Saint-Jean Cathedral holds elements that date back to the Middle Ages, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts. The cathedral's Gothic architecture, stunning stained glass windows, and intricate façade are testaments to Lyon's medieval heritage. The nearby traboules—hidden passageways that wind through the city's buildings—add an extra layer of intrigue to your historical exploration.

5. Musée Gallo-Romain

For a comprehensive look at Lyon's ancient history, head to the Musée Gallo-Romain. This museum houses an impressive collection of archaeological artifacts that span from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. From ancient pottery and sculptures to intricate jewelry and tools, the exhibits provide a tangible connection to Lyon's past and the civilizations that have shaped it.

Dinner at Paul Bocuse

Iindulge in a refined dining experience at the legendary Paul Bocuse restaurant. Named after the iconic French chef, this Michelin-starred establishment is a temple of gastronomy that elevates Lyonnaise cuisine to an art form. Immerse yourself in a culinary journey with dishes like quenelles de brochet Nantua, a nod to Lyon's culinary heritage. The impeccable service, elegant ambiance, and inventive creations on your plate will leave you with a profound appreciation for Lyon's rich culinary heritage.

Lyon's ancient sights are more than just historical landmarks—they are windows into a world that has evolved over centuries. From the grandeur of the Roman Amphitheatre to the spiritual sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, each ancient site tells a unique story of Lyon's journey through time. As you wander through these captivating locations, you'll find yourself transported to eras long gone, where the echoes of the past resonate with the vibrant energy of the present, creating a truly enchanting experience for every traveler.

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