We awake to an 8 degree Lyon which promises to rain on us. We are busing into the town center to see a basillica and then into old town to shop. Upon our return to the ship we depart for Beaune on the Saone (rhymes with Rhone) River.
A note about cruising with Viking and their shore excursion guides. We have now been on several tours this trip and have to give kudos to Viking. Their guides are some of the best we have ever encountered. Each one has been extremely knowledgeable about the town and the history of the area and knowledgeable beyond their talks. As well, each one has implemented their own personal style and delivery. Our guide into Lyon, Christian, is well-traveled and a comedian. It was a highly entertaining morning. Beyond that, we have taken as we said, several of the leisurely tours. In each case the guide was superb at keeping the tour moving but never making the more infirm passengers feel hurried. Lastly, unlike in North American tours, tipping while gladly accepted, is never mentioned, either by the guide or by putting a visible basket up front labeled “Tips”. A euro or two for your driver and a little more for your guide is appreciated and well deserved. Our guides this cruise have truly taken our experience to above and beyond.
On this blustery day, our second last of this trip, we view a good part of the city of Lyon from the shores of the Saone River and the hill above the city upon which the Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica is perched. Colourful buildings line the shores of the river and I notice each window is decorated with an ornate iron faux balcony and window valance. Very picturesque. Our bus climbs the hill to the basilica to where we are let out to view the building. Here we are invited into the most ornate building, church or otherwise, I have ever entered. A sight to behold – a wedding cake topped with ice cream and sprinkles then dusted in gold leaf for good measure. A cherry would be gauche.
After viewing the spectacular interior we head to the the walled cliff just beyond to see the equally spectacular view of the city of Lyon at our feet.
The bus winds its way down the hillside and deposits us in old town. Our guide, Christian, leads us through traboules, ancient doors in the apartment walls that lead to interior courtyards and serve as shortcuts between the streets. The traboules are distinct to Lyon.
In the ancient town of narrow cobbled streets we peruse shops and cafes. There are many purveyors of candy – chocolate, calisson and nougat – specialties of the region, flower shops, soap and gourmet foods such as regional salts, meats and candied fruit.
We are on the hunt for regional specialties, particularly Lyonaise sausages. We are stymied on many occasions because the French feel Wednesday is a holiday especially preceding a bank holiday which is then followed by a what the hell holiday, because you know…we are, French. So. Not a lot open the past few days. Luckily, we stumble upon a lovely shop here in this narrow alley in Lyon which features an array of homemade sausages: fine herb, blueberry, paprika, boar, chevre, poivre, nature — handmade and rustic. We select several and are dying to get them home to share with friends. Some baguette, french cheese, moutard and a pickle. Happiness.
Our time, while short but well spent and very enjoyable, is cut even shorter as the skies open and heavy rain chases us back to the bus and onward to our waiting ship. We are treated to hot chocolate spiked with rum upon boarding, to chase the chill. The Viking staff often have little surprises waiting.
This evening the crew present a farewell dinner to us. The day after tomorrow, most passengers have horrific flight schedules, us included, so tonight will be the night for goodbyes. Dinner, a seven course event, includes regional specialties from the Burgundy region where we are now docked, including escargot, filet mignon and shrimp with bearnaise and duchesse potatoes with red wine jus and crepe Suzette for dessert. Lovely end to a lovely week.
Tomorrow we have a walking tour of Chalon-sur-Saone and some free time to shop before an early dinner and early up for a brutally early flight.