Bonjour Lyon, it’s literally been amazing to meet and explore you.
The bustling, but in a slightly relaxed way, heart of Lyon sits perfectly perched between two of France’s rivers; The Saône and the Rhône just before they come together. It’s a place full of beauty, food and amazing weather. Today felt like the longest yet shortest day yet. We did so much at the end I felt as if my feet were going to fall off. By the way I apologise for having to split Lyon into three parts but this deserves a blog to itself.
Staying in the Presqu’île which is a small slither of land between the two rivers, we had a marvellous hour and a half walk (at least) up towards one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is, apparently a small basilica in Lyon (small my ass but whatever).
When I saw it I got an immediate feel of Egyptian/Byzantine architecture – clearly it’s not that old but that seemed to be the sort of style they were going for when they built it. As we got there pretty early on during the day, the haze across Lyon had yet to be ‘dissolved’ by the sun, but the panoramic view was still pretty amazing.
The basilica itself contains three chapels. The first I walked into (which is the furthest around, near the museum on the right) and was left feeling slightly depressed – it was small, no photograph allowed and there was a service taking place. As I toddled out I couldn’t believe I’d been dragged up the hill of greatest and about 300 stairs for that. But as I walked into the main body of the basilica and was given the option of up or down (go down first) I felt a tingling (cringe) of excitement. The beautiful curling banisters that led down the stairs were enough to start my brain working in overdrive about what I was about to see.
First of all, it was dark. Second, my photos will never do the place justice, but there the best I could manage. The downstairs chapel was dark, but used vibrant yellows and some blues which my dad and I found totally bizarre for a chapel. Only scratching the surface we moved round this building and noticed the use of one particular blue – a sort of pastel green/blue if you will. In all the churches, basilicas, mosques and other religious buildings I have ever been lucky enough to step foot into I have never seen a colour like this used. Downstairs, it was dark and the colour was hard to see but then you moved upstairs and…well, how do you describe something that is almost indescribable.
A massive church filled with detailed carvings in its arches. From the flowers that circled the bottom of each column to the mosaic tiled walls which told stories of Jeanne D’Arc (Joan of Arc) and other Christian tales. Never have I ever been overwhelmed by a church, but here in one of France’s cities I was left feeling slightly weightless but very much in awe of how a place like this could exist. How on earth was something so beautiful made? Stained glass windows. Tall columns holding up these beautifully painted ceilings and walls. I wish I could show you so much more of this building than the internet in France will let me.
If you ever have the chance to visit Lyon, go. Go to this place that caused the people who walked through the doors to gasp. I can’t even begin to describe the different mix of emotions that surge through your body as you walk around this place. Sometimes I wonder whether religion should fit in this world, but then you see places like Fourvière and you realise how priceless someone’s faith can be. How faith in one deity or many can lead to people dreaming and imagining places like this, and making those dreams happen.
The magic happened here for me, I bet it would for you too.