Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
After visiting Lyon in August, I knew I wanted to return. And I also knew that I wanted to spend at least a week there just renting an apartment and hanging out. Luckily, I found a great Airbnb in Croix-Rousse which was the neighborhood I had really wanted to stay in. I had fallen in love with this area on my first trip – it was a bit quirky and quite charming with its sprawling market and gorgeous views down toward other parts of the city. I also got lucky that the late October weather was quite warm, perfect for just wandering around the city and being outdoors as much as possible.
Since I had done a lot of sightseeing on my first trip to Lyon, I didn’t have a ton of things on my agenda. It was really nice to have full days with minimal plans where I could just enjoy my time and linger in the city. By far my favorite thing was being able to take advantage of Croix-Rousse’s market which is open every day except Monday. The market is full of beautiful fruits and veggies, cheese, fish, meat, and more. On Saturdays, the market is even bigger and stretches out further with vendors selling bread, freshly sauteed frog legs, and choucroute (sauerkraut with different kinds of meat).
Taking advantage of the market (and all of the nearby boulangeries) meant that I could cook for myself and enjoy some typical French meals before I left the country. After two months in France, I was firmly into the French meal routine: bread with jam and butter for breakfast, cheese after lunch and dinner, paté (which I never eat in the US!), and, of course, wine. I even attempted to make a tomato and onion tarte in my apartment’s weird little oven (it was more like a toaster oven honestly).
After booking my Airbnb, I decided to try one of the Lyon Airbnb Experiences. Fortunately, I found a crepe-cooking class for my first full day in Lyon. While I have made crepes before, this was a chance to learn the traditional French preparation and meet some new people. I had a lot of fun flipping crepes and having a mini crepe party with my host and some new Australian friends.
By far my favorite thing about Lyon the first time was its large park – Le Parc de la Tête de l’Or. It is probably my favorite park that I visited in Europe and I think I like it more than either Central or Prospect Park (I know, I know. This is a controversial statement for a Frederick Law Olmsted fan). My apartment was quite close to the park though I had to maneuver the steep hills of Croix-Rousse to get to the park and back. This meant giant staircases to descend (and climb), but also some really awesome views. I managed to go running in the park a few times during my week there and further fell in love with this gorgeous place. The leaves were all changing color while I was there and it was such a nice place to enjoy the lovely fall weather.
Having more time in Lyon offered me a chance to visit Ile Barbe, a small island in the middle of the Saône. It was about a 40-minute walk from Croix-Rousse and I quickly felt like I was in the country, no longer in the 3rd largest city in France. The public part of the island includes a small park and some benches. I found some rocks at the southern end of the island that offered me gorgeous views toward the city while I chilled out in the sun. I spent a few hours just relaxing here, watching rowers in the river, and just enjoying the silence. If you have time to visit this place, do it!
I cannot wait to come back to Lyon – I love this little city. It totally charmed me – I love that it’s not as crowded and touristy as other French cities, and the food is so so so incredible.
And I’ve updated my other post about Lyon with more recommendations and info!