24 Hours: Les Arcs 1800 — Lyon (Terri and Finn’s European Adventure Day 17)
It was hard to say goodbye to Les Arcs 1800 after a lovely rest day, paragliding (see Day 15: Les Arcs 1800), and our dinner adventure in Italy (See Day 16: Les Arcs 1800 — La Thuile, Italy).
It was a pretty boring drive on the autoroute once we left the valley. And once again we were looking for towns to stop in and get a good meal before the 2 PM cutoff.
We randomly chose Chambery. Turns out it is the largest city in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and has been the historical capital of the Savoy region since the 13th century.
Finn found a place with great Google reviews for vegetarian options and after we parked on the outskirts of the village, we walked directly to it only to find out there were no tables available.
If we hadn’t been so hungry and unclear of where we were (and less cranky), we could have walked about two streets over to enjoy one of the restaurants in the old part of town.
Sadly we ended up at a rather average restaurant on a rather busy street without any charm.
After lunch we walked around the town and found this amazing water fountain with elephants which shocked and surprised us.
It’s called Fontaine des Éléphants and was built in 1838 in honor of someone and their feats in India.
We continued to walk around the town, absorbing the last bit of this part of our trip before we got to Lyon and returned the car.
This didn’t appear to be inhabited and I have no idea what it was.
This might have been the church. We didn’t pay much attention to the history. I wouldn’t recommend stopping in Chambery if you are traveling in this area. There has to be a more interesting (and smaller) place to visit.
And then we were back on the road with one last stop at a gas station to fill up the car before we got to Lyon and this is where we saw our first Tesla supercharger of the trip, right next to the gas station. We’d only seen a handful of Teslas in our Lyon loop (Lyon — Geneva — Chamonix — Les Arcs — Lyon) which is in stark contrast to what we see at home in Silicon Valley.
At the gas station, I was hoping that it was like the ones I experienced on my Toulouse — Barcelona — Marseille — Toulouse trip in February 2017 when they had really good coffee and snacks. Sadly, this seemed more like an American gas station mini mart. We both got an ice cream and some water after using the bathroom.
We drove straight to Hotel Mercure Beaux Arts Lyon (recommended by my friend Terry and one we’d highly recommend) to check in and drop our bags before returning the car to Hertz at the train station. We were so lucky to find a parking spot directly across from the hotel as it is in an old part of Lyon (not Vieux Lyon but very close to it) and parking is limited. And there are a lot of one way streets.
The hotel is near Place Jacobins and within walking distance to Vieux Lyon (old Lyon). It is located between the Rhone and Saone rivers.
After checking in, we drove back to the Hertz at the train station and struggled to find the right place to leave the car. Eventually found a parking spot (most likely the wrong one), walked in and returned the keys, and walked down the street a short ways to the Hotel Mercure Lyon Centre — Gare Part Dieu to order a Bolt (Estonian Uber) to get to our hotel.
Our Bolt drive, Didier was really helpful. He gave us lots of restaurant and sightseeing suggestions.
Some of the restaurants he suggested were really, really expensive so we decided to venture out and explore Vieux Lyon to see what we could find. This meant walking about two blocks toward the Saone River and across one of two bridges.
The weather was perfect as we soaked in the sights and fresh air.
It was absolutely beautiful. We planned to take a funicular the next day to the cathedral on the hill and simply walk around Vieux Lyon and find a place for dinner before heading back to the hotel.
We enjoyed the architecure and art throughout the city. This picture is a look back across the Saone River toward where our hotel was, a few blocks beyond the river.
There were people walking around, sitting at restaurants enjoying a pre-dinner beverage, and even sitting on the steps enoying ice cream which seemed like more of an Italian thing to do.
We stopped and had a drink at a little place called Cosy Corner (terrible name) but they had very creative mocktails, cocktails, and wine across the street from where we planned to dine.
We were able to get a reservation at Café-Épicerie, the restaurant that is part of the Cour des Loges hotel . It was so fantastic that we went back the next night, largely because Finn prefers to eat vegetarian, and they promised to put together a special meal for Finn the following night. They hit it out of the park.
The service was fantastic. The ambience and decor were incredible. We highly recommend dining here if you are in Lyon.
We walked back to the hotel looking back across the river at this beautifully lit building.
And we very much looked forward to seeing the cathedral up close the following day.
A walk, drinks, some shopping, and dinner were the perfect way to get introduced to Lyon. We even looked for some of the traboules (secret passageways) but we were too late and needed to look for them the following day, according to one of the shop owners who gave us a map.
The following day we woke up to thunder, lightening and but that didn’t deter us from exploring more of what Lyon had to offer. And it gave us a chance to wear our rain coats that we’d carried with us all trip but so far hadn’t had a reason to use.
More of our Lyon adventure in Day 18: Lyon.
Terri Hanson Mead is the multi-award winning author of Piloting Your Life, Managing Partner of Solutions2Projects, LLC, and an advocate for women through all of her platforms including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and this blog. Terri is the mother of two college aged kids, is based in Redwood City, CA and in her spare time, loves to travel, cook, play tennis, and fly helicopters around the San Francisco Bay Area, especially under the Golden Gate Bridge.