There were many places we passed by that we wished we’d had more time to explore. That we could have stopped riding early in the afternoon and spent an afternoon relaxing and sightseeing. Or just plodding up at a local bar or cafe and watch the world go by.
Lyon wasn’t one of those places. An afternoon wouldn’t have been enough. We wanted a whole week there.
In Montrevel-en-Bresse, we woke up to yet another wonderful breakfast. Nathalie had laid the table with fresh bread and croissants, cheeses and meat. When we can host one day, I hope we can be as wonderful hosts as we had on our ride. (View the picture below on Instagram to see it in full.)
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The previous night, after dinner, she had introduced us to a local dessert favourite: fromage frais with cream and sugar. It was delicious. As we were getting ready to leave, she insisted we take some with us. Which we did, with pleasure.
We bid goodbye to Nathalie, and this time even got a picture of us three. Sadly, Pierre is missing from the picture as he had left for work already by this point. But at least this time we remembered to take a picture!
From Montrevel, we followed a cycle route called Plaine de Bresse all the way to Bourg-en-Bresse. From there, to save some time we took the D1083 towards Lyon, the most direct route.
We didn’t stay on it for long. It was far too busy and not much fun. So after about 20 kilometers of cars zooming past us, we opted for a less direct, but quieter and safer route navigating the smaller side roads.
Shortly before Lyon, from Neyron, we got onto another river route. This was ViaRhôna, which also lead us out from Lyon and almost to the Mediterranean coast. The route goes all the way to the coast as it follows the river, but we parted ways with it before then and followed a different route.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Following ViaRhôna was a great way to enter Lyon.
Lyon is a prime example of how to use a river running through a city. Even though the South Bank in London has improved so much since I first moved to London, it pales in comparison.
Who else remembers the times when you had to navigate the cardboard city to get from Waterloo Station to the National Theatre? In those days, the only people who really hung out at the South Bank were the skateboarders. Others just passed through.
Now, it’s a great place for dinner and drinks, or to just hang around watching the street performers and people, especially in the summer. However, the river bank in Lyon was on a different level.
Although, writing that, I’m thinking is it because the South Bank is so familiar and Lyon was new and exciting? I don’t think so though because there was such a different atmosphere in Lyon.
As soon as we left the suburbs behind, the riverside filled up with bars and restaurants. There were people and music and laughter. It was just a regular Friday, but it felt like everyone was out celebrating, like it was a carnival.
A fellow bicycle tourer, who was also staying with Anne that night, had already come across one of these tea leaves.
He was a young German cyclist, Kristof (in the Instagram post above), who had arrived in Lyon the night before and stayed at a hostel. In the evening, he had gone out to a football game and as he was leaving, someone had grabbed his bag with everything important inside: his passport, money, cards, the lot.
Instead of letting the tea leaf get away with his bag, Kristof had chased him. The thief, probably out of surprise, had tossed the bag and scarpered. Had the thief got away with Kristof’s belongings, it could have meant an early end to his ride.
Anne was another wonderful host with tons of cycling experience and knowledge. Her first trip had been cycling back to France from India. Now, that’s a journey and a half!
She lived in a beautiful old block near the centre of Lyon with a secure courtyard for our bikes. Warmshowers hosts always know how important it is to have a safe place for your bike.
With Anne, it was the courtyard, and with both Nathalie and Pierre and Sylvain and Cléa; it was their garage. You always sleep better knowing your bikes are safe.
We only spent one night in Lyon, but wished time would have allowed us to stay longer. Especially as Saturday dawned windy and grey. And because it would have wonderful to explore the city.
There will definitely be another visit to Lyon and we will make sure we have time to stop there, at least for a long weekend. It will be great to catch up with Anne again, too.
She knew the local cycling routes inside out and showed us a couple of alternatives from Lyon to Limoux. One was to follow the ViaRhôna, the other ventured away from the river and closer to the mountains with some incredibly beautiful places to stop at.
Distance wise, there wasn’t a big difference between the routes, but there was with climbing. We both enjoy climbing, but of course it slows you down. Which is why we opted for the river route. To follow the other route and see the sights gives us another reason to revisit Lyon.
After another wonderful breakfast, we bid goodbye to Anne and Kristoff – he was staying in Lyon for one more night – and continued our journey south in search of the disappeared sun.
But before we found the sun, we got another soaking. And ended up sleeping in another strange place.
Come back next time to find out where. And if you haven’t ordered our newsletter yet, you can get it here. That way, you’ll never miss a post.
Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.