The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Monday, July 31, 2006

World Cup Tour 2006: Part 2, France

As in Milan, our time in Paris was brief: less than 24 hours. Excitingly, though, the flight went right over Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe:

We got in and headed straight to research. France was just as hot as Italy and this facility was particularly poorly air-conditioned, which didn’t make for the most pleasant afternoon. Eric’s wife had come to Paris to meet him. She was lovely, and we all had dinner together at the Café de la Paix after testing was done. Even though it was midnight, I still felt I had to see at least some of my favorite spots…so I headed out for a late-night stroll. Our hotel was right near the Paris Opéra:

Then I went past La Madeleine:

I went through La Place de la Concorde and walked along the Seine. In recent years they’ve added a spotlight to the Eiffel Tower:

And then every hour on the hour it sparkles:

Finally I ended up at the Louvre:

Early the next morning I met up with Eric and we took the TGV to Lyon. I had already planned to add an extra day to the end of the trip here in Lyon. I’d never been, and the thought of traveling anywhere else after our 4-cities-in-4-days didn’t appeal to me. I have to admit that the night before, as I wandered around Paris, I wondered if I made the right choice. I do love Paris so…was I really going to spend virtually no time there? But once I got to Lyon I had no regrets. It is a lovely city, and very truly French. Sure, it’s no Paris; but it’s also not overrun by tourists. I don’t think I ever heard another person speak anything but French. I did, too. And the people were so very friendly and welcoming.

Lyon is in southeastern France, where the Rhône and Saône rivers converge. It was the capitol of France when it was the Roman province of Gaul. Now the second-largest metropolitan area in France, it is best known as the capital of French gastronomy.

Familiar red rooftops of Lyon:

The Place Bellecour is at the heart of Lyon, and is the largest open square in Europe:

View across the Saône to the hill of Fourvière. That’s the Basilique of Fourvière at the top. To the right of the Basilique is a television tower called the Tour métallique. If it looks like the top of the Eiffel Tower, that’s because it’s supposed to! And to the right of that, in the foreground at the bottom of the hill, is the Cathédrale Saint-Jean:

Crossing the Saône you come to Vieux Lyon, or “Old Lyon”. This is the ancient medieval part of the city, filled with charming crooked streets and passageways:

Inside the Cathédrale Saint-Jean:

I liked this gargoyle on the Église Saint-Paul. It looks like a dog eating a fish:

This real dog was very serious about attacking his stuffed animal:

From here you can take a funicular to the top of the hill and the Basilique:

Of course this also affords you a beautiful panorama of the city:

Also at the top of the hill are the Théâtres Romains. These are some of the Roman ruins of Gaul. The amphitheaters are still used to this day for outdoor concerts in summer:

A closer view of the Tour métallique:

Back down the hill, here’s the Grande Synagogue, built in 1864:

View toward the Rhône from my hotel room:

Lyon was the birthplace of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous French author and pilot who is best known for The Little Prince. There is a street and statue dedicated to him, and—most appropriately— the city’s airport is named for him:

There are several excerpts from Saint-Exupéry’s writings on the monument, including these two. The first quote is from Terre des Hommes and means “A star shone already, and I contemplated it.” The second is the secret of the fox from Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince): “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, that which is essential is invisible to the eye.”:

After dinner, I took one last evening’s stroll along the Rhône:

…past the Palais du Commerce:

…and the city’s beautiful theater:

All in all it was a great but exhausting week.

A few extras:

I find it a bit freaky that wherever you go, when you log on to Google it knows where you are!:

Le fun!:


  • You should publish a coffee book called "Illegal Pics of Great Art Across Europe". I'd totally buy it.

    As always, awesome travel reporting. But lay off the Popes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 AM  

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