Prepaid GSM
Getting around

Part 6: Atlantic coast, Lyon

Map of trip to France
27.7: Munich -> Strasbourg
28.7: Strasbourg -> Verdun -> Reims -> Paris
29.7: Paris
30.7: Paris
31.7: Paris
1.8: Paris -> Disneyland -> Paris
2.8: Paris
3.8: Paris -> Chambord castle -> Blois -> Tours
4.8: Tours -> Villandry castle -> Azay Le Rideau -> Tours
5.8: Tours -> Azay Le Rideau -> Chenonceau castle -> Tours
6.8: Tours -> Rigny-Usse castle -> Tours
7.8: Tours -> Les Sables D Olonne -> Bretignolles-sur-Mer
8.8: Bretignolles-sur-Mer
9.8: Bretignolles-sur-Mer -> St Gilles Croix de Vie -> Bretignolles-sur-Mer
10.8: Bretignolles-sur-Mer
11.8: Bretignolles-sur-Mer -> Lyon
12.8: Lyon
13.8: Lyon -> Geneva

11.8: Bretignolles-sur-Mer -> Lyon
Etap Hotel, Lyon. 40 Euro for a standard Etap room (promotional Internet rate). This time we do not get a larger room, only a small standard one. The room seems even smaller than the one in Paris. No A/C at all, despite the information in the brochure. The room is quite hot or feels quite hot in the evening.
Weather: blue sky and 18°C in the morning in Bretignolles. As we drive across France the weather varies between sunny and overcast, with occasional rain and temperatures ranging between 18°C and 24°C. Overcast and 14°C in the evening in Lyon (it even rains briefly at 9:30pm).

Day spent driving from Bretignolles to Lyon. We cover the 800 km in a bit over nine hours including stops. The total time for breaks is over two hours which leaves less than seven hours for the driving, so we must have proceeded quite speedily. No traffic jams on the motorway, in fact the (toll) motorways are mostly empty. No wonder considering that they cost around 10 Euro per 100 km. The final 100km of the trip are quite bad: narrow motorway full of curves, climbing up and down the hills, lots of traffic.

We manage to leave the hotel around 10:15am, then make stops at
  • 12pm: a short one,
  • 2:35-3:50pm: lunch break; we stop at a motorway station with a cafeteria, whose restaurant has just closed at 2:30pm: why does a motorway restaurant in France close at 2:30pm?
  • 5-5:40pm: at a motorway station with a view of the Puy de Dome.
We arrive in the hotel smoothly at 7:18pm. In the evening we have a dinner around 8:30-9:30pm in the Courtepaille grill restaurant next to the Etap hotel. The bill for the three of us is just 21 Euro after the 15% Etap hotel discount.

We sleep at 11:30pm, too late as usual for Alissia. In Munich she would sleep every day at 8pm, but while travelling we can't keep such a regular schedule, and in fact Alissia sleeps when she gets an opportunity to. Today for instance Alissia slept in the car (while I was driving) between 12:30pm and 2:30pm.
The baby gets more sleep, as it usually is always lying on something and can in theory sleep at any time. In reality also the baby gets less sleep than usual, because of the constantly changing environment (on average every 3-4 days we change the location) and because the baby is frequently in noisy and bright enviroments (for instance outdoors during the day).
In fact such a trip is a bit rough for small children, but the only alternative would be to book a hotel for three weeks in only one place and not travel around.

12.8: Lyon
Etap Hotel, Lyon.
Weather: overcast the whole day, only in the late evening after the sunset the sky opens up. After 12pm it starts raining the whole afternoon, with few stops. Temperatures around 21-23°C, in the evening 19°C. I had hoped that the weather forecast would be wrong, but no, it was dead right. At least along the coast the clouds come and go, but here in Lyon the clouds stay over the city the whole day. What a shitty weather.

We get up around 9am, but since the weather is bad outside we stay in the hotel until 11:30am. Then we drive to the Carrefour shopping complex in Venissieux (it's the closest to the hotel, we obtained the address in the hotel reception). We actually get lost a bit initially and only find the way with some effort (you have to drive on the motorway to Grenoble and then take the first exit).

It's biggish Carrefour store with some other shops and there is an Flunch restaurant. We have lunch in the Flunch restaurant shortly before 12pm, then do some shopping in the Carrefour store. There is an interesting choice of local food products: mountain breads, mountain cheeses and other local cheeses, ham and other pork products, lots of excellent cakes etc. A pity these products are not on sale in Munich.

It must be around 2pm when we leave the Carrefour shopping complex. Just to get an idea of Lyon we drive into Lyon down town, to the Bellecour square. Lyon may be the second city in France in terms of importance, but it is not too impressive, at least not if compared to Paris. Or perhaps we haven't seen yet the more interesting part of Lyon.

After a brief stop in Bellecour square, we drive back to the hotel. Now the navigation system is giving us the wrong directions, telling for ínstance to turn left when there is no street to the left. The internal maps must not be up to date. We only manage to reach the hotel after 3pm, after a big detour. The baby behind is hungry and has been crying and shouting for food for the past 15 minutes.

Back in the hotel I check my emails. After 4pm I go with Alissia to the nearby McDonalds restaurant. There Alissia plays in the children corner, while I surf a bit the web using the hotspot of the McDonalds restaurant.

It's 6pm when we are back in the hotel. Some discussion about the dinner. I suggest to go into town and look for a restaurant there (would be an opportunity to learn more about Lyon), while Shirley is not that crazy about exploring Lyon since it is raining outside and suggests to go to the Flunch restaurant again.

So we drive to the Flunch restaurant and have dinner there. At 8:40pm we drive into town, to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere. Before getting there we stop at the Bellecour square at 9:10pm. Very nice lights right now - deep blue sky, street and building illuminations. The giant panoramic wheel is also illuminated.

At 9:35pm we drive to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere, arriving there at 9:50pm. Very nice church on a hill overlooking Lyon. Very scenic setting.
Impressive views of Lyon from the hill. We spend almost half an hour there, then drive back to the hotel.

13.8: Lyon -> Geneva
Etap Hotel, Geneva. 99 CHF for a standard Etap hotel room. This is bigger than the one in Lyon, meaning that there is now enough space for the luggage. The A/C this time works and is actually a bit too strong, i.e. the room is quite cold.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some clouds in the morning. From 1pm onwards a mix of overcast and sunny blue sky. Temperatures around 24-25°C in Lyon. In Geneva it is significantly more fresh in the evening and it is overcast.

We check out at 11 something am, then drive to down town Lyon (Bellecour square). There we park in the Bellecour parking (65 cents for every 20 minutes) and we explore a bit the area. We make a round on the giant panoramic wheel (5 Euro/adult, 3 Euro/child). Nice view of central Lyon.

After that we have a brief lunch in the McDonalds restaurant on Bellecour square (and I check my emails while there). Then and until 3pm we explore the area between Bellecour and Verreux square. These two squares are connected by a pedestrian area full of shops and department stores. Beautiful 19th century architecture and palaces in between. This is the nicest and most elegant area of Lyon. Very clean and refreshing.

At 3pm we get back to the parking and drive to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere. This time we visit the interior. Beatiful and very impressive decorations and wall mosaics. The basilica was built in the 19th century (completed in 1890). The basilica and the area around are full of tourists.

It's almost 5pm when we leave the basilica and start driving towards Geneva. On the way, while still in Lyon, we stop at a bakery and buy some cakes. The drive to Geneva proceeds smoothly. The motorway on the French side is mostly a toll motorway (around 10 cents/km). Minimal border controls at the French-Swiss border (they wave us through without checking anything, even if Shirley clearly does not look European).

Copyright 2008 Alfred Molon