Monthly Archives: January 2024

On Lyon, another Basilica and another “best laid plans…”

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Way up on that distant hill is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvièrewith a “splendid view…”

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I last posted on December 13, 2023. It’s now January 13, 2024.

Since that month-ago post I’ve gone through two family Christmases. One meant driving a thousand miles up to Massachusetts and back. The second came a week after the real Christmas, and both involved lots of pre-celebration preparation. (To get just the right gifts.) Then too, that first one meant catching some kind of nasty bug at the hotel bar in Wilkes-Barre PA, on the drive home. Which got me a “sore throat of Biblical proportions,” and had a dramatic impact on the second celebration as well. Which also means I’ve been going through lots of recuperation time, a recuperation helped in large part by generic NyQuilDayQuil, and lots of new-discovered Vicks VapoCOOL Severe cough drops. (And by the way, “Those things work great!“)

My last post described the second of two days in Paris, and the adventures therein. (Before heading down to Le Puy En Velay to link up with my companions for a 150-mile hike on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in the Cevennes Mountains.) That noon I got rain-drenched, visiting the Basilique du Sacré Cœur, in Montmartre, “home of the famed Moulin Rouge.” And found the line outside way too long to get a chance to climb the tower for it’s “spectacular view.”

I also arrived at the world famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, a mere ten minutes late, later that afternoon. (It closed at 6:00 p.m. “on a summer’s eve,” much to my surprise.) But settled for the next best thing, La Pere Lachaise Bistro, just across Boulevard de Ménilmontant. (Where I had two Goudales – which stands for “good ales” – to ease my disappointment.)

In other words, of the two things I really wanted to see in Paris this visit, both got screwed up. Which led me to quote the world famous Robbie Burns saying, “The best laid plans o’ mice and men, gang aft aglay!” And dang if it didn’t happen again the following day as well, when I had to get up early to catch a 9:30 train. (From Gare de Lyon down to Lyon, where I’d never been.)

After my two Goudales I went back to my tiny flat and set the alarm for 6:30.

So, it was Wednesday, September 13, and I set the alarm for 6:30 because I wanted plenty of time to hike down to Gare de Lyon. I did get there in plenty of time all right, but then learned my 9:30 train had been cancelled. The next train was at 2:30, so now I had five and a half hours to kill. I started with a leisurely breakfast at a cafe across the street, Brasserie l’Arrosoir, and that was nice by itself. (Watching the frantic tourists coming and going from the station.)

I had two leisurely cafe cremes, and later a lentil and walnut salad. The first healthy meal I’d had since getting to France. It tasted great, but looked like it came out of a small can of dogfood. (No sharing “food porn” on Facebook.) As for that cancelled ticket, I had to pay an extra 16 Euros for a new one, subject to a refund. (Which I just remembered, typing this out. But by now it’s too late for any refund.) On the plus side, the Trenitalia desk – where I got the new ticket – was “manned” by a lovely, dark-haired young lady from Sicily. I told her that just the year before I and my companions had hiked in Italy. (From Assisi to Rome on the Way of St. Francis.) We had a nice conversation, especially when I mentioned we’d been told there were some good hiking paths in Sicily as well. I closed that pleasant conversation noting that even though I had to pay extra for a cancelled train, “At least I got to meet you!” (Ever the romantic.)

After that, walking with a lighter heart, I hiked across Pont Charles de Gaulle for some unexpected sightseeing. Across the Seine and up various quais to Ile de la Cite and the Notre Dame cathedral. We visited there in 2021 getting ready for our hike over the Pyrenees, and the Cathedral was still in the long process of being rebuilt. Along the way I came across LA CREME DE PARIS NOTRE-DAME. That quaint little cafe is at the corner of Quai de Montebello and Rue de la Cite, right across from Ile de la Cite itself, and it was there, back in 2021, that I ran across Tom, Carol and Ray, quite by accident. (My 2021 hiking companions.) I had just hiked down from my hotel near Place de Stalingrad, hoping to meet them at their lodging. But as it turned out they were just crossing the intersection, on their way to get Covid-tested. (In 2021 you had to get that test clearance before you could take any train in France, something I don’t miss.)

After the extra “bonus” sightseeing, I caught my train at 2:30. It took three leisurely hours to get to Lyon, during which I enjoyed a cold beer in the club car. But then came a hiccup.

Back home, on Google Maps, I’d carefully pre-mapped and memorized my way. I planned to hike from Gare de Lyon-Perrache station, located on the mid-city Presqu’île peninsula. From there to the HO36 Hostel on Rue Montesquieu was said to be a leisurely half-hour hike. (Much of it along the Rhone River.) And under the original plan (with the train leaving Paris at 9:30), I figured to get there long before check-in time, so I planned a stop in at the Damn Fine Bookstore. At 20 Rue Bechevelin, it was on the way and only two minutes to the hostel.

The “Damn Fine Bookstore” had good reviews, as the finest of all such bookstores in France, plus it had a cafe. “The coffee is affordable, and the kitsch sofas are reminiscent of an English tea room. Even the bathroom is a delight.” Unfortunately, because the 9:30 train got cancelled I no longer had so much time to kill. Plus some other complicating factors came into play.

For one thing, I based the pre-mapping and memorizing on a theory the Paris train would reach Lyon-Perrache station first. I’d memorized that route. Cross the bridge over the Rhone River to Av. Bethelot, up the Quai Claude Bernard to Rue Montesquieu and turn right. Piece o’ cake. (Or so I thought.) But as it turned out – as it came announced overhead – the train got to Lyon Part Dieu first. (“Why the heck would a train get to Part Dieu before the implied Parte Uno?”)

On the other hand, I knew I’d be leaving for Le Puy en Velay on Friday, from Part Dieu. So under the original plan, I’d have to make a special trip on Thursday, hiking from my hostel to Part Dieu. (I always want to make sure of such a route beforehand, just to be sure I can “get there on time.”) It’s one of my quirks, and this one got me into a “quick-recalculating” mode.

The result? After due consideration I decided to get off at Part Dieu, even though I’d paid the ticket for Lyon-Perrache. For one thing I’d get off the train quicker, and another personal quirk I have is the fear of missing a stop and having to double back at the next station. (And maybe pay an extra fee.) Plus, by getting off at Part Dieu, I wouldn’t have to make that special side-trip on Thursday. I’d have more time for fun and sightseeing. I’d “kill two birds with one stone.”

It was a beautiful plan, but danged if that ” gang aft aglay” didn’t kick in again. For one thing it was raining, again. For another I hadn’t memorized the pre-mapped route from Part Dieu as well as I’d done the way from Lyon-Perrache. But that’s a story for next time…

In the meantime here’s a view of the inside of the station I got very familiar with on Friday…

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Inside Lyon-Part-Dieu station – where I spent lots of time last Friday, September 15…

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The upper image is courtesy of Lyon France Image – Image Results. It goes with a page “8 best things to do in Lyon for an amazing holiday experience.” Number One on the list: “Admire the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.” (I put “splendid view” in quote marks because to get that best view – from the Basilica tower – you have to spend time in a tour group.)

Re: Last post: My second day in Paris – and “Best Laid Plans…”

See the “Damn Fine” review at Best Bookstore Cafes in France – Fodors Travel Guide.

The lower image is courtesy of Lyon-Part-Dieu station – Wikipedia. Caption: “Interior of the station.”

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