Lyon City Guide

Can you believe that the huge, colorful, noisy French city Lyon, is a perfect epitome of the old world that dates back as far as 2000 years? Well, if one can be unmindful of the thousands of people swarming everywhere, and just imagine that he is standing in the middle of the city sandwiched by two beautifully running rivers and gothic buildings, it may tell him just that. Lyon, aside from being blessed with Saone and Rhone rivers through its heart, is the third largest city in France next to Paris and Marseille. Its history dates back to two millennia ago when its name was still Lugdunum, meaning “the hill of crow” or sometimes “the hill of light”. This was during the Roman Empire when the city was declared as the capital of the Gauls (now known as the countries in Western Europe). The title brought economic, political, military, and religious advancement to the city and this golden era lasted for three long centuries. Unfortunately, the collapse of the Roman Empire was also the downfall of Lugdunum and it suffered an extensive period of turmoil until the church spurred it to a different direction. It was during the medieval period (in the year 1079 to be exact), when the church declared the city as the seat of the Primate of Gaul. This pronouncement made Lugdunum an ecclesiastic city. And with it came authority, power, and progress once again. New religious edifices like the gothic Saint Jean Cathedral and Carolingian Saint Martin d’Ainay Abbey rose, together with a number of bridges all around the city. The name Lugdunum went through changes and as time passed by, it came to be known as what it is now called Lyon (Lyons, as Americans say). In the Renaissance period, Lyon continued to grow. It had become one of Europe’s great banking and trading centers. This was the time it became known to be Europe’s silk capital when silk, silk products, and the whole of its textile industry became predominant. This era was also the time when the city’s most magnificent collection of architectural treasures was built like the Philibert Delorme Gallery, Tour Rose, and Loge du Change. These days, Lyon is not only known for being awarded a World Heritage Site title due to its picturesque architectural designs, it also takes pride in being the key city for the film industry and France’s gastronomy capital. Food lovers from different parts of the world will fall in love with the cuisine of this place because aside from Paris, it has more great restaurants per capita than any other city in Europe. Tourists usually indulge in hopping from one Bouchon (small restaurant literally meaning “corks” or “wine bar”) to another where they can have affordable, great-tasting foods. Now, who would not want to get their money’s worth? Among their many specialties are: - Cervelle de Canuts – A kind of hors d’oeuvre (appetizer) made from fresh spices and cheese. “Cervelle” actually means brains, while “canuts” were how the workers of the silk factories were called. Luckily, the name does not really have anything to do with its content. - Gratons – Fried pork grease. Although not very healthy, it tastes so great and anyone who is willing to get into a food-tasting adventure would surely love it. - Sausages – All sorts of sausages are available in Lyons including those with fish, truffles, and pistachio nuts. After a heart meal, it may be a good idea to walk off all the calories by touring the city. One thing tourists take notice of are the medieval alleys in Vieux Lyon called the traboules. They are passageways that connect one street to another that often hide lovely courtyards. If one is not in the mood for a walk though, the city has an excellent public transport system. There is even a Lyon City card that allows a person to have unlimited access on buses, guided tours, subways, and even river cruises.