In winter, Lyon can be quite difficult to photograph : when the sun is hidden by the grey clouds hovering over the city, when the trees no longer bear any leaf, when the rivers get brownish because of all the sediments they carry away, the city gets downright bleak, in truth.
Fortunately, lately, France has lived its warmest February month ever : no rain to be seen, only light blue skies at the horizon, and sunny mornings that make you grin as you leave your apartment to go to the office. And since I went to Lyon to visit my little brother who spent his last holidays there before going to Brest for his internship, I was pretty lucky to enjoy these beautiful days in the city I enjoy photographing the most.
On Sunday morning, I woke up at around 5:20 a.m. in order to be able to take the bus at the bus station which is located half a mile from my house in Chazay d’Azergues, a tiny village at the doorstep of Beaujolais. I arrived in Lyon at around 6:45 a.m., just early enough to take the funicular to Fourvière and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
As the sun was rising, a thick layer of mist was crawling from South to North on the Rhône river. Though Lyon is famous for its fog, it’s quite rare to have a clear blue sky and at the same time a thick layer of mist sticking so low over the river. The view was breathtaking, with the Saône river perfectly quiet at the bottom of the picture, the Presqu’ïle still asleep, the mist crawling over the Rhône and the high-rise buildings of Part-Dieu and the Alps (yes, it’s the Mont Blanc behind In City, the tower on the left) drawing their silhouettes in the golden light on the rising sun in the background.
As soon as the sun rose above the horizon, I decided to pack up my gear and go see what photos I could take in the mist along the Rhône river. On my way, I couldn’t help but stop at the top of Montée du Garillan stairway to admire the view, and then at the top of Montée du Change.
I also had to cross Rue Juiverie, one of the most beautiful streets of Vieux Lyon, and couldn’t help but take a picture once again.
When I arrived at the Saône River, I noticed the river was still quite calm, though the reflections were not perfect. I first took some pictures from Quai Pierre Scize, from where I almost never take any picture usually.
I then went to the other side of the river, and began to grin like crazy as I saw the view was exactly like what I had been looking for for years then : it was exactly the photo I had been wanting to take, and here it was, right before my eyes. That morning was clearly special to me.
I decided to take another shot not far from there, which I found quite pleasing :
The I began to run to the Rhône river, near Passerelle du Collège, where I didn’t want to miss the mist. Fortunately, when I arrived, despite my being exhausted as if I had run New York’s marathon (my lungs are quite weak), I managed to take some pictures of Passerelle du Collège bathing in the misty light of the sunrise.
Unfortunately, I arrived a bit too late to take a picture of Fourvière reflecting in the Rhône river at sunrise from Pont Lafayette. But I’ll get it another time, for sure! Though I was breathing as loud as an exhausted cow, I still had enough strength to run back to the Saône river and capture some reflections. The views there were marvellous, and I must confess that, had I taken just one of them on a normal day, I’d have been more than happy.
I was pretty happy with the last one, since it was also one of the pictures I had been wanting to take for years. However, the sun was a bit high when I arrived, and the light a bit too white. I think I’ll try to get a better version next time.
I finally decided it was time to go back home and take the subway to the bus station. On my way, I decided to make a detour to Saint-Georges, which is where I used to live. Since there was none to be seen, I decided to take advantage of the situation and take some pictures of Place de la Trinité, one of the most beautiful squares in Vieux Lyon.
All in all, it was a wonderful Sunday morning! I hadn’t run like this in a city for a long time. I must say Lyon always makes me very enthusiastic when it comes to taking pictures. It’s just the city I like taking pictures of the most, and since there are some great photographers in the city, it’s also always a pleasure to share my work later on with them.
As of now, I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to live there again. I really hope so. I just love this city too much. But who knows? I haven’t found any satisfying job opportunity there yet, and I may not be able to reject the opportunities I get from other places for too long (I’m thinking about working in Dublin, especially).
In the meantime, though, I’ve planned to visit other cities, and take more pictures this year. Strasbourg is at the top of my list, Bruges also (I’m trying to figure out whether I should go there in a month or so), and of course, there will be Grenade this summer. I can’t wait!
PS : Oh, and one last picture I had forgotten. I don’t know where I took it, but it’s always good to include a traboule when you write about Lyon 😉
And since you may want to check whether Lyon is as beautiful in real life as what I write (or if you’re just looking for what to visit in Lyon), here is a map of most of the places I talk about in this article :