Sunday, May 19, 2019

Gate 1 Day 5 Dijon to Lyon

May 2019 - Dijon to Lyon France

DAY 5, Sunday - Beaune's Burgundy Vineyards, Lyon

10838 steps 8.13 km

WAKE UP 6:30

Woken by the phone and couldn't find it, finally in a drawer.


DEPART - 8:30

Depart Dijon via the Route des Grand Crus to Beaune, celebrated capital of Burgundy wines, nestled in the heart of France's finest vineyards. The facilities and cellars of many prominent wineries, large and small, are situated in Beaune itself. This walled city still displays its original battlements, ramparts, moats and a historical old town. 

A walking tour takes you to the lively central square, with its gourmet cafes, fashionable clothes, and local wine stalls. 

Enjoy a tasting at one of the local cellars. At the Hotel-Dieu de Beaune, founded to help the poor and needy, see the original building converted to a museum - a perfect example of 15th-century French architecture. 

We arrived in town, very cold, at 9:30 and did a walking tour before doing the tasting.

Beaune is a walled town at the center of the Burgundy winemaking region in France. Surrounded by the Côte d'Or vineyards, the cobbled town is renowned for an annual wine auction held at the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune).

Great name Well and Good.

In the heart of the city, in front of the Hospices de Beaune, the Marché aux Vins is located in the ancient Church of Cordelier. We took a tour and then were given several tastings.

Art on display.

We were then free until 12:45 to wander town and get lunch.

Recognized by its colorful, geometric-patterned tile roof, this 15th-century former hospital is now the Hôtel-Dieu Museum.

Then, drive south to 2000-year-old Lyon at the meeting of the Rhone and Saone Rivers. 

Upon arrival, visit Place Bellecour, an enormous square in the heart of the city flanked by a famed statue of Louis XIV.

This was mainly a bathroom break.

You probably already know of him: the famous author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a man who was French through and through, or more specifically, Lyonnais.

Of course, he is a proud figure within his native city, so much so that in 2000, they constructed a monument dedicated to him. This monument was raised in commemoration of the centenary of his birth (29th of June, 1900 to be exact).

Built near the street that has born his name since June 29, 2005, the copper statue was created by a sculptor originally from Lyon, Christiane Guillaubey. It shows Saint Exupéry and the Petit Prince sitting on top of a white marble column.

He disappeared during a reconnaissance mission on the 31st of July 1944.

Though the totals are widely debated, the Saint-Exupéry foundation said the latest translation makes The Little Prince the world's second most translated book, just after the Bible.

 Ascend Fouvière Hill to view the Roman amphitheater and magnificent gardens that overlook the city.

A local tour guide then joined us and we went up to Fouviere Hill and we were thankful to be on a bus.


Situated in the Fourvière area of Lyon, both theaters are in a remarkable state of preservation and are well worth incorporating into a visit to this great city. The larger and older of the two dates from about 15 BCE. This impressive structure is just south of the prominent Notre Dame basilica and has the usual steeply tiered seating, a decorated floor and the foundations of an extensive stage. It is still used for performances.

The mistral is a strong, cold, northwesterly wind that blows from southern France into the Gulf of Lion in the northern Mediterranean.  It produces sustained winds often exceeding 66 km/h (41 mph), sometimes reaching 185 km/h (115 mph). It is most common in the winter and spring, and strongest in the transition between the two seasons. Periods of the wind exceeding 30 km/h (19 mph) for more than sixty-five hours have been reported.

In other words, it is a freaking cold wind that can lift you off your feet!

None of us lasted very long at the overlook and headed into the church instead.

Building in middle that looks like a pencil is our hotel.

The basilica was built between 1872 and 1884 by private funds, like the Sacré Coeur of Montmartre in Paris. These were both triumphalist monuments to thank God for the victory over the socialists in the famous “Communes”, and erected as a symbol to root out the sins of modern France.

Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary who is said to have saved Lyon from the Black Death that swept through Europe in 1643.

The basilica has acquired the local nickname of "the upside-down elephant", because the building looks like the body of an elephant and the four towers look like its legs.

Built between 1892 and 1894, this mini version of the Eiffel Tower is clearly visible from much of the center of Lyon. It stands proudly on the promontory which houses the city’s cathedral, the Basilica de Notre Dame.

The metallic tower was actually constructed with financial assistance from the very republican (and secular) local council that wanted a secular monument to balance against the religious symbolism of the Basilica, which was built 10 years earlier by public subscription.

The tower was also once a bustling public attraction. Elevators could whisk 22 people at a time to a restaurant at its top, where they could wine, dine, and drink in the views of the city. However, public access stopped in 1953.

We then had a walking tour of the historic centre of Lyon.

Lyon was famed for its silk-weaving industry and the tradition continues to this day.

During the Renaissance, in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the great fairs brought the early traders in silk to Lyon, and the industry began to flourish. In 1540, King François I gave an added boost to Lyon’s silk business by granting the city a monopoly on raw silk imports to France.

Fabrics were diversified with the first mechanical looms. By the 18th century, silk production was the pillar of Lyon’s economy: 28,000 people were registered as silk workers in 1788.

In the early 19th century, the Napoleonic era gave new impetus to the silk business, as did the invention of the Jacquard loom in 1801. By 1870, the silk industry accounted for 75% of Lyon’s total industrial activity, with about 100,000 looms in operation.

But the history of silk in Lyon also saw dark moments during the revolt of the “Canuts” silk workers. These weavers, concentrated in the Croix-Rousse district of Lyon, were employed by the great silk merchants. In 1831, they revolted against the prices set for silk weaving and their exhausting working conditions. At the end of November that year, the Canuts took control of the Croix-Rousse and Presqu’Ile areas, but on December 2nd, the army took back the city and crushed the uprising. In February 1834, a second revolt erupted and the Canuts held out against 12,000 soldiers for six days, before another violent repression (300 killed and hundreds injured).

The guide showed us to keep an eye out for entrances to the traditional Lyonnais traboules. These small corridors lead to lovely interiors. Historically they were used to transport goods from one street to the next; today they provide shortcuts and keep you out of the weather.

During the Renaissance, silk workers used traboules in the Croix-Rousse to transit quickly between their workshops and the merchants along the river. The traboules were also used by the Resistance during World War II, providing a strategic advantage in preventing complete German takeover in this area.

Other traboules are part of private homes. By agreement, the doors are left unlocked until about 11 PM so that visitors can (quietly) take a look. There are several on Rue St-Jean; the one known as the Long Traboule runs from 54 Rue St-Jean through to 27 Rue du Boeuf. At 16 Rue du Boeuf is the lovely Tour Rose, with its tall pink tower.

Traboule “Maison du Crible – Tour Rose” with Roman style traboule with patio

Most religious statues have lost their heads!


After the French Revolution in 1789, there was a systematic process of ‘de-Christianisation’ of the country, during which church property was seized, religious symbols and icons were destroyed, and there were mass executions, including here in Lyon, of clergy who would not swear an oath of allegiance to the civil authorities. Revolutionary fervour diminished when Napoleon took charge of the country in 1799, the brutal persecutions stopped, and the church was formally reinstated two years later.


Overnight: Lyon
Radisson Blu Hotel
This first class hotel is located in the heart of the business district next to the famous part-Dieu shopping mall and near to Lyon's many attractions. 
Hotel offers an informal French brasserie named "Bistro de la Tour" and a more formal atmosphere at "Arc en Ciel" serving fine regional cuisine with lovely views of the city. Le Ciel de Lyon is an panoramic bar on the 32nd floor with live music.

Dinner on our own. 

There was only bar food available at the hotel as it was Sunday.

Meals: Breakfast

Links to previous posts about this trip:
April 27-28 Toronto to Paris
April 29 Paris
April 30 Paris
May 2    Paris

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