Before entering the Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourviere I was warned I might find the decor a bit too much. However, once we were allowed in (numbers being carefully monitored) I was stunned by both the enormity of the space and the fabulous decoration. It moved me to tears, in fact. On closer inspection, I realised every surface was embellished in some way. The glowing colours on the walls were not paint as I had assumed but mosaic. It was like standing inside a jewelled cavern that reached up way over our heads.
I put my phone on its widest setting but failed to capture the sheer height and magnificence of it all to my satisfaction.
We stumbled out into the dusk somewhat stunned.
Walking across the place alongside the Basilique we came to the wall on the edge of the Fourviere hill and found a space to take in the view of Lyon.
Ahead of us it is sometimes possible to see Mont Blanc apparently but I couldn’t make it out that evening. But we see could the Croix-Rousse away to our left and the big wheel lit up in place Bellecour and the river Saone at our feet..
Not too far away there is a Roman theatre still used for concerts but that would have to wait for another day. It was time to return to Vieux Lyon and more wandering ..
First a goodbye to the Virgin on her tower….
And then the funiculaire… perversely I can cope with funiculars and never suffer claustrophobia when travelling on them. But metros and cable cars..!
The lights were on by the time we began our stroll through the old streets that run parallel to the Saone river. These are full of the grand Renaissance houses standing cheek by jowl with beautiful carved entrances that lead to courtyards behind. There is wealth of history here to discover but that would need to be another visit, possibly with a specialist guide to take you into places hidden from the general public. French tourist offices are very good at organising these.
This part of Lyon is famous for its ‘traboules’, passageways that linked courtyards and alleyways that thread their secret way between the streets. Sadly closed at the time of the fete but we entered the beginning of one at 16 rue de boeuf with its famous Rose tower.
Complicated staircases were very a la mode during that epoch and we managed to glimpse one at the Maison des Avocats with its balconies
And all the time as we came out into little squares we would see the Basilique shining above us with its huge illuminated sign with its ‘Merci, Marie’ message.
Eventually it was time to turn back along the Saone and say goodbye to the captivating streets….
We were caught at that time between business life closing down before the fete took over so the junctions were full of gendarmes closing roads and drivers desperately trying to get out before they did!
On foot it was easy to slip through and begin the walk beside the river that looked so much better than it had in the morning now lit up on each side with reflections hiding the muddy surface.
Our friend continued to point out favourite local features like this famous ice cream shop then the Palais de justice with its 24 columns while further on, the Primatiale of Saint Jean-Baptiste..
A return visit is clearly a must!
Aperos on our minds, we walked back through place Bellecour with the souvenir stalls opening up for business,
past the torn paper installation….
And back to our friend’s apartment for a lovely family evening of ‘do you remember…?’
The snow we had avoided going to Lyon lay in wait for us for the journey home. Very scary but ‘i’m only the chauffeur’ brought us safely through it…