Travelling with beautiful friends is a lifetime experience I highly recommend! Just be well planned and willing to compromise with everyone having input into the activites, then pack your bags!
Guest: Karen Grooby
Other Loulabelles links:
Earlier this year I nicked off to France for almost 2 months! In the last couple of weeks, I had some gorgeous girlfriends meet me for a stay in Lyon and the country Burgundy region between Lyon and Dijon. Karen Grooby chatted to me on the podcast about the glorious 10 days we spent with friends who have travelled together with me in France a number of times before.
We stayed in Lyon in a big apartment which I found on Airbnb. It was right opposite the botanical gardens in Lyon and in the middle of a number of transport options, not far from anything we wanted to see. Lyon is a big city, but in area it’s not that large compared to what we’re used to in Australia, so everything felt kind of close.
We took a guided tour of the Traboules which are secret covered passageways that wind their way through buildings and courtyards, going up and down staircases and every Traboule is different. Each has a unique pastel colour, a particular curve or spiral staircase, some have divine vaulted ceilings or Renaissance arches. They were used hundreds of years ago for the silk trade which was in Lyon, to carry their wares between and within buildings down to the river and more recently last century they were used extensively by the French Resistance during WW2 to travel around the city undetected by the Nazis who occupied Lyon at that time. I found that visiting them really helps us in this modern day to feel connected to Lyon’s hidden and colourful past.
I downloaded the Traboule app which I used to explore the Traboules in a previous trip I made to Lyon last year, but out of around 400 Traboules, just over 40 are open to the public. As they are difficult to find, I do recommend getting a guide to show you through them. We did a private tour with just us girls and a guide and she was able to tell us stories of events that had happened in each of the places which was fascinating to hear whilst we were standing in the actual spot that the events had occurred. Each Traboule is marked on the outside with a small identifying plaque.
Whilst you’re in the old part of Vieux Lyon where most of the Traboules are, you can stop in for a bite in a Bouchon which is a traditional style of restaurant in Lyon. Bouchon is the French word for a cork but also for a traffic jam! It’s actually used for any type of stoppage, so these little traditional restaurants were like inns that were a stop for travellers on the road and they serve particular traditional Lyonnais cuisine which is exquisite! I recommend not eating at all before you go as the meals are mostly around 5 courses and extremely filling!
We had so many food experiences in Lyon, as it is now known as the gastronomical capital of France. Les Halles de Paul Bocuse is a market and restaurant not to be missed! We also ate in a Michelin starred restaurant, M Restaurant, we did a cheese workshop with the fabulous Hugo who is a Lyon cheese specialist, we even had a picnic in the botanical gardens with the beautiful produce we bought at the Paul Bocuse market.
With all the eating there’s thankfully loads of walking to do in Lyon too to walk off all the food! The cathedral in the old town as well as the Basilica de Notre-Dame Fourvière are up on top of the hill looking out over all of Lyon. You can walk there but there’s also amazing public transport, with a funicular which goes through the mountain to the top. There’s more history to explore at the top too, with an ancient Roman ruins, which even prior to the Romans was the gathering site of all the tribes that were in what is now modern day France.
Before leaving Lyon we went on a cruise of the river as Lyon is actually situated on the spot where the Rhone and the Saone rivers meet. It was quite amazing to see it from the perspective of the river rather than the crowded little streets.
After 5 days in Lyon we took off to the country. We hired a people mover to fit us all in and we made the trek through the winding little country roads to Cuisery in Burgundy, about half way between Lyon and Dijon.
We stayed in a beautiful petit chateau which I found on Stayz. The owner who lives there met us and took us through the house which was a huge maison with a pool and various wings to enjoy, which gave everyone enough space to unwind and spread out as well as some divinely decorated shared spaces. But the outside of the house with the vines covering it and the exquisite gardens around it, it was like we’d gone to some sort of heaven! I was often just wandering around the house or gardens with camera in hand just daydreaming about what it would be like to live there and imagining all that had happened there in times gone by. It was so dreamy and so much more wonderful than the pictures of it online.
We did a number of day trips from there… We visited Château Cormatin, we went to Beaune with the beautiful hospice de Beaune as well as exceptional brocante, and we stopped off at the Abbey de Cluny which was in a village that also had amazing brocante stores.
Whilst in Cuisery we also had a cooking demonstration which finished with us being served a 5 course meal with paired wines in our petit chateau. This was an exceptional experience and was Karen’s favourite of the whole trip.
My fave was on the night we arrived in Burgundy. It was the 21st of June which is the national Fête de la Musique, when villages all over France have music festivals to celebrate the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. We went into the nearest local village and saw bands at a number of stages set up all through the town. There were people singing and dancing in the streets everywhere and it didn’t get dark until close to 11 o’clock, so it was in the lovely evening summer glow with frivolity happening all around us. I just loved that feeling of celebrating with the locals.
Links for all tours mentioned here plus recipes coming soon!