Lyon in France was the second stop on our European adventure this summer. It was only 2 hours or so from our last stop in Dijon, and was picked because it broke up the drive to Italy a little bit.
Lyon is the third largest city in France, and we were only there for one night, so there was no way we were going to see it all.
A quick internet search had led me to Parc de la tête d’or, the largest urban park in France. After quite a few hours in the car the day before, it seemed like the perfect place to unwind and relax for an afternoon.
Parc de la tête d’or translates as park of the golden head. This comes from a legend that there is treasure with a Christ’s head on, buried in the park. I had a look. I couldn’t find it. Kept the kids busy for a bit though 😂
One thing I will say about this park is, it’s huge! It covers around 290 acres, and has a massive lake of 17 hectares in the middle. There is so much to do, you could spend 2 days here and still not do it all.
There’s a zoo, botanical gardens, boating on the lake, a miniature train, crazy golf, a velodrome, a carousel and pony rides. There are tonnes of different walks all through the beautiful shady trees, and even though I wouldn’t be caught dead jogging, you can see why this place appears to be a Mecca for people in Active wear. It’s beautiful.
Once again it was about a million degrees out when we visited, (I’m sure I’m not exaggerating, the surface of the sun would have been cooler) even though it was mid afternoon by the time we got there. We decided on a visit to the zoo (all free) a picnic tea, and a ride on the train, before having a stroll and sampling the slushies.
The zoo is fab. It’s really spread out, and although it doesn’t cost a penny, it wasn’t over crowded. It was one of those zoos that rather pleasurably felt like it was there for the benefit of the animals rather than the visitors. This meant that at some enclosures you didn’t have a clue what animal you were looking for, but I could always find a random mouse or butterfly to keep the kraken amused 😂 It actually has around 400 animals of 64 different species, and is dedicated to the preservation of species threatened by extinction. (Maybe I should see if they want the kraken, there can’t be too many of her in the world!)
The highlight was the huge savannah area where you can see giraffe, zebra and flamingos all grazing happily. It felt like we’d taken a trip to the African plains, rather than just hopped across the channel.
After the zoo we had a wander to find a picnic spot. There’s no shortage of these. We stumbled across the magnificent glass houses and botanical gardens. I definitely don’t have green fingers, I kill every plant I have, but I can appreciate a beautiful garden, and this is definitely one. The glass houses are home to tropical and equatorial flowers, and surrounding it are over 20,000 species of plant. Maybe there’s even one in there that I could keep alive….
After devouring french bread, meats and the most amazing truffle cheese (probably the best cheese ever invented) we were on the move again. We strolled the rose gardens and had a little ride on the train. This cost I believe was 5€ per adult or something like that. It lasts about 20 minutes. We picked it up in the zoo and it does a circular route. I was kind of hoping it would just take me back to the car because by this time I was hanging out my hoop, sweating, and desperate for a glass of wine 😂
We took a slow stroll back to the car and headed back to our hotel. We were staying a short drive away at Hôtel Charlemagne which was just under 100€ for the night. Again, nothing spectacular but it had a bar, and comfy outside seating so we could relax and have a drink before we went to bed. The breakfast was a buffet and had really good choices. Parking is a short walk away in a secure car park and costs 10€ extra, but you can pull up outside the front to unload your car. There is also free street parking available after 6pm, but you’d have to move your car by 8am and we couldn’t be bothered 😂
We were there for Bastille Day, and apparently there is a huge firework display in Lyon. We considered going to watch, but the pull of the hotel bar and my bed was too much for me, so we settled for listening to them from our hotel room and pretending we were in a war zone for a few hours 😂 I would imagine though, like everything else we saw in this city, it would have been spectacular.
Up next… a drive through the alps and a stay in a castle in Italy.