It is not because there is everything in Lyon that it is an excuse not to leave it. Especially since there are plenty of cool things to see and do, less than an hour from the Capital of Gaul (and Les Gones). Here are our little tips.
1. The Balme Caves
Do you like smugglers, Robin Hood stories and have a soft spot for the War of Fire and its prehistoric actors? Direction the huge caves of La Balme 40 kilometers from Lyon. They would not only have sheltered our ancestors in animal skins, but also the famous (locally) Isérois bandit Mandrin, who took advantage of this labyrinth to escape the constabulary. The walk lasts a good hour between stalagmites, stalactites, underground lakes, steep tunnels and pools of translucent water. With a bit of luck, you will even come across a few fellow Bruce Waynes. The caves are indeed full of bats.
No need to wait for the third Thursday in November each year to discover the new Beaujolais. The region is renowned for its Gamay and, with a little searching, it is easy to taste beverages that are much finer than the one offered in the autumn in the bistros. To play tourist, pop into the villages of Julienas, Avenas, Beaujeu, or Chiroubles… and take the opportunity to stock up on regional cheeses. To consume, them, without moderation.
3. The Convent of La Tourette du Corbusier in Eveux
You probably know the architect Le Corbusier. He is considered one of the fathers of modern post-war collective housing. Basically, he was mainly a fan of large concrete blocks as buildings. It is to him that Marseille owes its Cité radieuse, or house of the fada. He is also at the origin of the Tourette convent 30 km north-east of Lyon. A place now registered with UNESCO (the organization that Trump recently decided to snub) and considered by French architects to be the second most important contemporary work after the Center Pompidou. The convent is open for visits every Sunday around 2 p.m. (and every day of the week from September to mid-November at the same time).
4. Barbe Island
The stories circulating on Île Barbe are far-fetched. Located in the middle of the Saône about fifteen minutes from the capital of Gaul, the island would have hosted the first monastery in France in the 5th century. This good old Charlemagne would also have had a huge library set up there, which the numerous invasions of Saracens, Hungarians and other Protestant troops sacked. There is also talk of the presence, somewhere on the island, of an illustrious cup that was used to collect the blood of Christ: the Holy Grail. If you come across it, please return it to the lost and found office. As for the most pagan among you, Île Barbe is just a great spot for a picnic by the water. And that’s already not bad.
Stéphane Bern must have talked about it one day, Pérouges being one of the most beautiful villages in France. It’s really cute, provided you like old stones and don’t be reluctant to walk on cats’ heads… the name given to the pebble cobblestones that cover the alleys and which hurt your feet. And since you are in the area, take the opportunity to taste the famous local galette, all in butter and sprinkled with sugar, whose recipe dates from the beginning of the 20th century.
6. The Abode of Chaos
Helicopter carcass, giant skull, looped projections of the attacks on the World Trade Center, portraits and quotes from anarchists, dictators, and the grave of human bullshit… The Abode of Chaos lives up to its name. A hell of an open-air brothel set like a turd in the middle of a bourgeois village in the Monts d’Or. A place of artistic debauchery that fascinates its visitors as much as it annoys its residents. Open only on weekends – free entry.
7. The Pilat massif
The Alps are overrated, and it’s mostly full of people. Whereas it is enough to drive 60 km from Lyon to enjoy a much wilder massif. Whether you are into walking, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowshoeing, or skiing, Pilat has what you need where you need it, with more than 600km of marked trails, including 3 long-distance hikes, peaks at more than 1400 meters and a few cross-country ski trails.
8. Postman’s Palace
If you want to get there in less than an hour from Lyon, you will have to trace, where to start from the southern tip of the city. On average, it takes 1h15 drive, but this extra quarter of an hour is well worth the detour. The Palais du Facteur Cheval is crazy, the work of a mad and brilliant postman who, from 1879 to 1912, built his Palais des Merveilles using the small pebbles and shells he picked up during his bike tours. More than 100 years later, its building attracts every day hundreds of curious people and lovers of necessarily stamped utopias.
9. The Monts d’Or
Calm down, this is not the city where the famous cheese recipe was created. In reality, these Monts d’Or are located about thirty minutes from Lyon and owe their name to the color of the houses in the area built from golden rock. The region is rather steep and offers superb walks between the peaks, to discover vestiges of yesteryear, such as an old Roman aqueduct, 19th century quarry tunnels, or even cabornes, the small huts where once housed the shepherds. To recover from all your efforts, you can even stop on the way back for dinner at Paul Bocuse, whose Auberge is not far away, in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or.
If you are in Lyon, it is imperative that you come to Vienna. Impossible to get lost, it’s straight ahead 20 minutes to the south following the Rhône. There is an ancient Gallo-Roman city of which many vestiges remain, including: the temple of Augustus and Livia, a pyramid 20 meters high which marked the center of a circus, a Roman theater, as well as the remains of a Roman road. And incidentally, we eat well.