North of Lyon, there’s a tiny island that seems to have been forgotten by time. This island is called Île Barbe, a name which comes from the latin “isla barbara“, literally “wild island“. Indeed, Île Barbe was uninhabited for a long time, until an abbaye was built at then end of the 5th century, which coincides with the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
When you first come to Île Barbe, you’re immediately struck by the solemnity of the place which contrast with the already quiet atmosphere of Lyon. Hidden under a lush vegetation, the small abbaye and its unique tower looks like they have been forgotten by time for a thousand years. The calmness of the Saône river, which reflects the old buildings of the abbaye, makes the scenery hypnotic.
You can reach the island through a suspended bridge that crosses the river. North of the island, many old mansions remain, and of course, Notre-Dame church, with is the only left remnant of what was once the first abbaye of Gaul.
If you want to stay there for a night or two, there’s a beautiful hotel on the island. Of course, you can also come by bus from Lyon downtown. There’s even a line coming from Place Bellecour : line 40.
If you ever come to Lyon for more than 4 days, I strongly advise you to give the place an evening : though there’s not much to visit, at sunset, the scenery is downright sumptuous. A beautiful moment of timelessness at the entrance of France’s second biggest agglomeration.