What’s your ideal Lyon

Finding out what’s my ideal Lyon

Lyon, France - Sunrise on Saint-Georges from the banks of the Saône river
Lyon, France – Sunrise on Saint-Georges from the banks of the Saône river

Some days ago, I submitted three photos of mine to a competition which theme was “Your ideal Lyon”. And… I didn’t win. Despite the natural disappointment that followed, though, I really enjoyed entering the competition and thinking about what my ideal Lyon is.

My love for Lyon is not one of these “love at first sight” stories one might tell when coming back from holidays in a place that looks like Heaven on Earth once existed. On the contrary, I spent quite a long time without finding anything admirable in the city I was living in, and it took a lot of time for come to appreciate the city and what it had to offer. Quite some time, and living abroad. You sometimes need to leave in order to realize you were right where you belonged, I guess.

When I first fell in love with Lyon, I fell in love with its rich history. Of course, Lyon, as the ancient Roman capital city of the Gaules, has a lot to tell. But the Lyon I loved then, my “ideal” Lyon, was the Lyon of the Renaissance era, the Lyon that made me think of Rabelais, one of the most famous French humanists. It was that Italian Lyon, with richly decorated facades, complicated yet ingenious architecture. So many stories were hidden in the traboules of Vieux Lyon, and these narrow streets, with rich colors and yet worn out walls, hiding secret passages and courtyards, made Lyon feel like an organic city, and knowing all these passages and courtyards made me feel like a part of it. I learned everything I could on Lyon and Vieux Lyon to organize visits for my friends who were not from the city. I wanted to share that ideal Lyon I had found in Vieux Lyon and in books. That was my first ideal Lyon.

When I returned from my journey in Shanghai, China, another ideal Lyon surfaced in my mind. That was when photography became a serious hobby for me, a hobby in which I invested time and money. Re-discovering Lyon with a camera in hand was eye-opening : I began to enjoy other districts in the city for all the hidden treasures I had yet not taken the time to see, too obsessed with Vieux Lyon and its old Renaissance buildings. That’s when I started exploring Croix-Rousse, Fourvière and Presqu’Île more. The ideal Lyon was the one I discovered every time I took the time to visit it in the morning, in the evening, with friends, alone, etc.

Then I grew more skilled in photography, somehow more demanding on the results I wanted, and I began to chase for pictures more than novelties. I guess this is the ideal Lyon I’m showing in my pictures right now. It’s almost always the same Lyon, almost always the same pictures, yet at different times. It’s an ideal Lyon I’m chasing and yet seem not to be able to grasp, and thus, I keep taking pictures of the same places every time I go to Lyon. I sometimes fear it might have made my pictures a bit boring, but still, I’m not convinced yet by all the photos I’ve taken, and I feel I could take an even better photo. More than an ideal Lyon, it would be more accurate to talk about Lyon as an ideal. Because whenever I come to Lyon and take the time to take pictures of it, I try to take the best picture I can of a city which I feel I haven’t photographed properly yet.

And that’s when I think about unachieved (and unachievable) quest for a perfect photo of Lyon that I realize that more than Lyon itself, the ideal Lyon for me is the Lyon that I can share. Because if I love Lyon so much, it’s also because it’s a love that I can share. When I visit the traboules with friends, when I give some tips to a colleague on what to visit when they go to Lyon, when I share pictures on the web and realize some people have become more interested in the city thanks to them : that’s my ideal Lyon. And that’s all this article is about : my ideal Lyon is the one I’m sharing right now, and the one I hope I’ll keep sharing as long as I have the opportunity to visit it.

8 thoughts on “What’s your ideal Lyon

  1. You can count me among the people who have become more interested in Lyon because of your love for this old city, Pierre! There is a lot to be said for getting to know a place intimately, to be able to conjure in your mind how the light will look at sunset in winter or early on a bright summer morning. Only an astute and patient observer such as yourself knows that a man can never visit the same place twice — and I imagine that is especially true in an old-yet-ever-changing city like Lyon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot Heide ! This makes me very happy to read. I haven’t forgotten that I said I would write an article on traboules to visit. Actually, I’ve gathered the photos I have, but I think I may need some more 🙂 I hope I haven’t oversold Lyon and you’ll enjoy it even better than I do. Autumn is great in Lyon, when the weather’s clement. There’s some mist on the Rhône river in the morning if lucky, and it makes Lyon marvellous. And the trees become all red, which I love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I doubt you have oversold Lyon, Pierre! Several other friends have also recommended it, although you have the most beautiful photos (and most poetic descriptions) by far. And thank you in advance for your post on the traboules! I’ll be there in November, which i know won’t be ideal weather for sightseeing — but the subdued light may make the little passages all the more enticing. And if you should happen to be in town during our visit my husband and I would be delighted to invite you for a lunch or dinner!


    1. Thank you ! I really do love Lyon a lot, so much that I find it actually stupid not to live there while I can. I’ve been wondering whether I should force destiny or not lately and move to the city whether I have a job there yet or not. Decisions decisions 😉


      1. We moved to Seattle (actually just outside Seattle) from New York City, seven years ago. It’s a big jump – different states, different coasts, etc. I found a job after a while, but my husband could not. We’re still glad we moved. Good luck with that decision!


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