Wednesday 25 April 2012

Lyon - France

A really underrated city. I had heard very little about Lyon before departing and was really surprised at just how grand and chic it was.

Lyon in central east France is the country's third city, and although it is heavily made up of banking and commerce, there are also of tons of boutiques, courtyards, alleyways, historic architecture and museums with fantastic views. 
Two rivers, the Rhone and Saone meander from the north to the south of the city where they create a beautiful peninsula. Its location also means it offers great transport links to central Europe especially by train. The two rivers then meet at the southern point of the city.

It was January when I was in Lyon so it was quite cold but dry, so nice conditions for running. Where possible I like to run in shorts and when it is cold I will just wear some running tights underneath, which I did here. I did however layer up my upper body with a woolly hat and a thermal shirt. No gloves though - never!!

I was staying near Rue Carquillat to the north west of the city and wanted to incorporate both rivers in my morning run so I set off along Rue des Chartreux which eases east.
I cut through a park and then headed down a large stone-stepped footpath to pick up the road again as it turns south as it merging with Rue du Jardin des Plante and then Rue Terme. I continued on Terme south until the road turned back to the right heading west where I took a left on Rue Sainte-Catherine.

Unknowingly the road brought me out into Place des Terreaux where the elegant grand city hall, Hôtel de Ville de Lyon was located. Definitely a spot for a photo!
Hôtel de Ville de Lyon (city hall). This photo gives you an idea of the layout and architecture of Lyon and the running conditions, generally flat and concrete
As you can see most people where wrapped up warm, so it goes without saying if you visit in January or winter months, bring your cool weather running gear.

Just over 1.3km to this point, from here I continued east hoping to pick up the River Rhone by running on Rue Puits Gaillot and then de la Comedie which brought me out on the east bank of the Rhone.

The Rhone is the east of the two rivers that divide Lyon, with the Saone to the west. I crossed Quai Jean Moulin which is a road running parallel to the Rhone, north to south where it becomes Jules Courmont.

The river walkway running all along the west bank offered some great views as there are numerous bridges that cross it. The photo at the top typifies this. I followed the river wall as much as I could, occasionally have to use zebra crossings and the edge of roads in parts where the path met bridges and narrow or busier roads.
In total to reach the southern point where the two rivers meet, I had travelled just under 6.5km from my hotel. It was now time to head back along the Saone, north along the east bank, hoping to take in some of the dramatic views of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière located to the west of Lyon looms ominously over the city
Now heading north along the west bank of the Saone from the southern tip of the peninsula, I travelled on a minor road, Quai Rambaud until I reached the walkway along the river parallel to Quai Marechal Joffre.

I followed the river path north for just under 4km, passing seven bridges of different shapes and sizes, all unique in their own way. At the 6th however I stopped briefly to take in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.

Construction was finished in the 1870s and whilst arguably not one of France's most well known landmarks, most of which are in the capital Paris, it certainly fits the landscape and the rest of the city as if it had risen out of the ground.

Not wanting to get too cold (I lied earlier when I said it was nice conditions, now around 11.30am and bitterly cool!) I stepped up the last 2.3km leaving the river pathway at Rue de la Martiniere heading east.

From here, I picked up Rue Terme which I headed south on earlier and followed my route back to the hotel, including another failed attempt to replicate Rocky up the steps, looking no doubt like a ridiculous Englishman wearing tights!

Out of all of the cities I have run in, I would say this ranks level with Salzburg in Austria as the two which have taken me by surprise the most.

The majority of the others have been big famous cities where you would expect to be impressed, tick them off your list and then not necessarily revisit.

Lyon however, like Salzburg, I would be very disappointed if I did not return to at some point in the future.

Follow me on Twitter @runworldguide

Start - Rue Carquillat, north west Lyon
Journey - South east along Rue des Chartreux, through park and south on Rue du Jardin des Plante and then Rue Terme. Head east where roads merge through Place des Terreaux, past the City Hall to west bank of River Rhone.
Follow river walkway south all the way to where rivers merge. Run north along east bank of Saone River taking in views of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière to you left across the river. Exit river east on Rue de la Martiniere picking up Terme and follow above route to Hotel, close to Park.
Finish - Close to Jouve Park, north west Lyon
Another example of the magnificent grand architecture which is evident throughout Lyon

1 comment: