From May Eurostar introduce a new direct service to Lyon. On my visit, it was the old-fashioned way – change in Lille.

The new direct route will get you to this ancient silk capital of Europe within five hours and you will not be disappointed. On a personal note Lyon will always be the first City to throw me out of a hotel before I even arrived.

The impressive Royal Suite at the Sofitel Bellecour Hotel had been booked and paid for. On an official visit to France Chinese President Xi Jinping decided to visit Lyon, shut down half the City, and take my room. I am still waiting a short note to say sorry.

The Chinese invasion took me to the Villa Florentine Hotel, which proved to be the perfect perching place for a short visit. Views across the City rooftops from the Fourviere Hillside location are great. The extended section of this smashing hotel once played host to some of the skilled underpaid silk makers, who attracted so much wealth to this part of France.

Roof Top View from the Villa  Florentine Hotel

Roof Top View from the Villa Florentine Hotel

Take your empty tummy for some simple but tasty food at Cafe Epicerie a short walk from the Florentine. Be warned that walk is via Monte du Garillan a long set of steps. Easy down but much harder up after lunch or dinner.

Make time to take the 90-minute hop on hop off open top bus tour of Lyon. In my top five for interest and commentary value. High light is getting close up to the world famous murals on buildings overlooking the River Saône. If ever a traffic jam is to be welcomed hope it happens on this stretch.

One of those amazing murals

One of those amazing murals

The Resistance Museum on Avenue Berthelot (closed Mondays) brings alive wartime occupation and at great personal risk the civilian underground, that fought back.

On the tourist trail is Georges Brassiere. Simple food but washed down with beer from their in house microbrewery. More food and drink at Les Halles De Lyon a covered market that not only sells local produce but on site restaurants cook it too.

If you fancy some Christmas shopping in December, include Tuesday the 8th. Around this time, The Festival Of Lights celebrates a tradition dating back to 1852. The candle light from the 19th century is replaced by electricity and the whole City is lit up in a blaze of fantastic colour.

Festival Of Light

Festival Of Light

The journey back to Kent or London means a stop at Lille for passport formalities. Lyon station does not have posh waiting rooms so do not expect to sup your favourite champagne in 1st class comfort.





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