Lyon City, Lyon
Guignol is the main character in a puppet theater created at the turn of the century by Laurent Mourguet, a Canut silk worker turned dentist. Guignol, now the symbol of Lyon humor, is a poor silk worker, often accompanied by his grouchy wife, Madelon, and the neighborhood drunk, Gnafron. They are frequently in trouble with the police. They are working class and irreverent and, like the people of Lyon, modest and hard-working. Guignol enjoyed huge success with the working classes in the 1830's. These days, the Lyon bourgeoisie lays claim to this character and the show is now given mostly for children. In any case, the young and old alike can still enjoy his antics at the theater in rue Louis-Carrand.
One of the few museums we could find, the Miniatures museum is in old lyon. For a nominal fee (we don't even remember what it was!), you can walk through various rooms that hold tiny exhibits -- models of room after room made with painstaking detail of everyday life.
My wife enjoyed guessing what things were used to make tiny brooms, phones, desks, etc. Toothpicks, pieces of tin, cans; all things that are discarded are turned into living dioramas.
It was pretty cool.
Lyon is full of Trompe l'oeil paintings - there are several in the old town, a very well known one showing all the famous people from Lyon's past just upriver on the Saone from the place des terraux - these are all marled in teh tourist maps available from the tourist office.
There are others which are less well known and advertised - the Etats Unis area (you'll have totake a bus) which is a more recent area of the city has murals on mist of the buildings. Walkign tour guides of this area should be avaiable from teh tourist office
Lyon has had quite a lot of left wing and communist town councils in the past who have left us with quite an interesting heritage.
Have a look at the main hall of the post office on Place Bellecour - a fantastic mural
Also have a look at the Gratte Ciel area (metro line A - Gratte Ciel), Gratte Ciel means skyscraper in french and these skyscrapers are an interesting architectural diversion!
On our last day in Lyon, just before heading south to Nice, we found an outdoor public swimming pool along the riverside. On a hot summers day in Lyon, with an imminent six hour train journey, this was exactly what we needed.
I remember we started chatting to a guy from Corsica who, on hearing we were traveling around France, tried to convince us to visit his region. He had no English so it was a good way to practice our French too. Anyway, the pool cost 13 francs (it's all in Euros now of course) and it's located alongside one of the bridges.
Chemin du Rosaire: if you are not lazy, walk down from the Notre-Dame along this beautiful path, so you will be able to catch some breathtaking views over the huge city of Lyon (especially recommended for photo junkies).
Off the Beaten Path: What is called 'traboules'. Secret passageways that link one street to the other accross anonymous building. Here's part of a tour that is offered at the city's Tourism office. Starting on the street along the river behind the cathedral, go downstream and enter the #19, Quai Fulchiron and take the small street that opens on StGeorges. At #48, go up the Montee des Epies, then turning into rue Armand Calliat and Montee du Gourguillon. Go up to the park at #48 of Montee du Chemin Neuf, there is a nice view of the city (you'll also realize that you could have avoided being out of breath by taking the subway). Going down Chemin Neuf, leave the waterfalls on your left after the Youth Hostel to reach rue du Boeuf. On your left will be Montee des Chazeaux (at #36), and while climbing the 251 steps turn back and have a look at the view. Walk down along Montee St Barthelemy, past the Villa Florentine (probably one of the top 5 restaurants in town) and montee du Garillon, which will take you back down to Place du Petit College. Enjoy the Gadagne Museum on rue... Gadagne and follow rue Juiverie with the ruelle Punaise ('Bug lane'), which actually was an open-air sewer in the middle-ages, at #18 and maison
Bullioud at #8. From StPaul station go back to the old St Jean through rues Laineries and StJean. #17 rue des 3 maries takes you to 20 quai Romain Rolland and #11 takes you to #3 Place du Gouvernement (facing #12, StJean). On St Jean street try pushing all the doors you see, particularly #22 and 24. The latter takes you to #1 rue du Boeuf. At the corner of the rue de la Bombarde, have a look at the House of Lawyers accross #13. Entering # 68 St Jean you will arrive at #3, rue des Antonins, a stone throw away from the Cathedral. Go to the nearby cafe on the left side of St Jean Street (from the cathedral, can't miss it, it looks so small, dark and typical) or walk around the church and rest a bit in the archeologicalgarden Cross the river back to place Bellecour using the pedestrian bridge accross from the courthouse. The whole thing shouldn't have lasted longer than 1.5 to 2 hours (being slow). The tourist office also sells a small book (ca 5US$) with things to see in nevery district of the city and do-it-yourself commented tours. For 100% typical walk, try Jean-Luc Chavent, 'street teller' (phone #04 78 83 95 00).