I first came to Lyon way back in my college days. I did a study abroad program for my third year in college and had the option to choose between going to Lyon or to Poitiers. I had been inclined to go to Poitiers due to its smaller size as Lyon is huge, but once I saw how old Lyon was, I knew that I had to go there. It is remarkable to be somewhere and think every moment how many people have stood in the exact same place as you over the centuries. Was there a home there? A family? Did someone give birth here? Did someone die here, in this exact spot? It gives you a kind of attachment to the land that you just don’t have in the United States. Of course, we can still get the feeling if you consider how long the Native Americans had been on the land, but it is different in a developed area. There are still Roman structures throughout Lyon.
Still, thousands of years later, and the buildings have held through every war, regime change, weather disasters, and the years trying to pick away at them. The buildings have held.
I think that Paris is often too thought of as the quintessential France. It is of course the capital city and the largest area in all of France. But while the city is old, it does not share the same history that Lyon does. They have actually only been part of the same country for about 600 years now. While that may seem like a long time when you compare it to the United States, once you consider that Lyon has had established dwellings for two millennia, you will realize that in the scheme of things, the two cities have not been unified. In fact, the greater population of Lyon was not even on board with the French Revolution. They were not as occupied during the Second World War and were liberated before anyone else in France. And Lyon is actually the reason why France has the reputation for cuisine that it does. A lot of credit is given to Paris. Paris does have its share of good food, of course, but the real geniuses have all come from Lyon. And the wine in the Rhone Valley is some of the oldest and best wine in the entire world. I think the Rhone Valley needs to receive its due.
I hope you find my page informative and helpful. And I hope you find your way to Lyon. You will find a strange oasis of metropolis amidst ancient history, surrounded by rolling green hills and endless vineyards. If you go, try everything. Do not ask what it is right away. You don’t want your food prejudice to cloud your tasting judgment or your willingness to fully experience the gastronomic paradise that is the Rhone Valley.
You need to take your time, leave all preconceived notions at home, and above all else, enjoy yourself!