varied over the years but this was my first time in the Rhone-Alpes area and specifically the ancient city of Lyon.
Last Easter I spent in Nancy and environs and was overwhelmed by the architecture and food and the natural warmth of the people,so I didn't know what to expect on this visit . I was aware of its great reputation for excellent food ,in fact the birth of nouvelle cuisine was in the hands of Paul Bercuse, so I was clearly going to indulge in some serious eating .
I was certainly not disappointed.
In the 5 days over the Easter break I climbed to the top of each mountain ,only wearing my Louboutins for the special lunch !
I was immediately struck by the similarities to Florence ,the architecture and colours of the buildings ,so I immediately felt at home. It was also clearly similar to Paris and even touches of Côte d'Azur architecture !the fish scale domes being dotted around the never ending enormous squares.
So for me it was a feast of architectural styles as well as super delicious food AND the sky was blue for most of my visit , what more could I desire.
Like all French cities the history I find fascinating and to know that the silk weavers of Lyon ( brought in by Francis 1 ,500 years ago ) were producing silk which was also taken to Florence to create the exquisite gowns and palatial drapery of Florence was a delight to discover.
In the 16th century noble Italien families moved to Lyon and hence the strong flavour remains in architecture ,food and history.
I had another lovely surprise when I climbed the mountain to the Croix Russe area in the first big square was a statue of Jacquard, inventor of the loom producing luxurious silken textiles.
My father having been a textile designer had worked with the company many years ago .
In Florence there is still working ,one of the 17th century looms producing these exotic reams of dreams.Princess Michael of Kent having ordered vast amounts for her sons wedding .
I was keen to see the traboules, an extensive network of corridors throughout the old part of the city .these were originally used by the silk workers to transport the silk down to the river for export .
In modern history they were used by the Resistance and being able to enter them I found quite overwhelming.
One of the local delicacies is something I had found in only one place in Paris several years ago .it is now more widely available it's the brioche and gateaux with shocking pink praline,otherwise recognised as sugary neon rose petals , certainly delicious!
For my special lunch ,and I had several delicious lunches in Lyon I was taken to the banks of the river Saone into the countryside,To what appeared to be a Hansel and Gretal house in green and red with shutters at the windows,quite a surprise.
It was Apparently built by the father of Paul Bercuse and painted in these colours by Paul so that it would not be forgotten !
Not much danger of that, he is 91 years old now and the restaurant has maintained 3 Michelin stars since the 1960 s , quite a feat I think you will agree.
He has cooked for many presidents of France but is well known for his truffle soup and chocolate cake which he created for President Valerie Giscard d'estaing and as I was quite a fan of his I was delighted to sample the same wildly frilly chocolate concoction decorated with 24 carat gold !,what an indulgence for Saturday afternoon!
Yes it was a 3 and a half hour lunch !
I also climbed ( the hard way ) to the top of another mountain through a nuns garden which was almost identical to the Bandini gardens in Florence and was rewarded at the top by the opulent basilica of Fourviere built in 1872 on the site of the Roman forum of Trajan. It had mosaics by the metre and gold by the ton and the view from the summit was like Florence but 10 times larger .
To have one river running through the centre of a city is fabulous but to have two is unbelievable .the Rhone and the Saone are truly beautiful and are each crossed by a variety of interesting bridges, and I crossed all of them !
There are many Romans remains including an amphitheatre and it was fun to keep stumbling across them.
I hope that by this short sojourn into the southern region of France you will be encouraged to visit and sample delicious food at some of its 2000 restaurants.
The people were warm and friendly and chatted easily and the museum of Beaux artes houses some beautiful creations.
It's a city full of trees and the many magnolias and cherry blossoms were a tonic for the soul.
As always I took a couple of thousand photographs for my photo