As I have mentioned in my previous blog, traveling is easily facilitated by the various public transports France has to offer. Besides the TCL transportation run by Lyon, there are many other modes of getting around, including buses and trains. My favorite mode of getting around France has been using FlixBus (a bus company that offers many cheap intercity routes across Europe) to explore towns nearby. Besides being cheap, these buses are also convenient as they offer charging outlets and free wifi (two must-haves when going on day trips). Some places I have recently visited include Grenoble, Vienne, and Annecy.
My trip to Grenoble was on a Sunday, which meant many shops were closed. Fortunately, my trip to Grenoble was short to begin with, making it less of an inconvenience that many stores were closed. With less than 6 hours to spare, we were on a pretty tight schedule. We visited some of the main attractions of the town, including the Musée de Grenoble, which houses ancient and contemporary art; La Bastille de Grenoble, a fortress culminating at over 1,500 feet above sea level; and a bit of the town. It was such a beautiful day and I hope to return again, with more time to explore the town, visit the mountains and go skiing!
The following weekend, I visited both Vienne and Annecy. Vienne is less than 30 minutes from Lyon, making it a super easy day trip to do. We had an entire day to spend exploring the town and its rich history. This time it was a Friday, so we did not have to worry as much about store hours. We began our day by visiting the vast 1st-century AD Théâtre Antique. This theater was one of the largest in Roman Gaul, with a capacity of 13,000 spectators. In fact, the theater still serves as an entertainment hotspot, hosting events such as the annual jazz festival in the summer. Afterwards, we saw the Saint-Maurice Cathedral (built from the 12th to 16th centuries), the Temple of Augustus and Livia (built in 1BC), and the Jardin de Cybele. We finished the day visiting the Site Archéologique de Saint-Romain-en-Gal, which exhibits over 2,000 years of ancient history of the Gallo-Roman civilizations. Overall, it was mesmerizing to see all of the history rooted in this town.
The next day, I prepared myself for another day trip, this time to Annecy with some other friends. Annecy is about 2 hours east of Lyon and less than an hour from Geneva, Switzerland. The main attraction in Annecy is the lake (lac d’Annecy), which has a lovely blue tint and is a popular destination for a refreshing swim in the late spring and summertime. Besides the lake, we also visited the Musee-Chateau d’Annecy and explored a bit of the town. Again, it was incredible to learn more about French history and see the ancient architecture embedded everywhere we went.
Overall, in each of the French towns I have visited, I have been surprised by the ease of travel, communication, and rich history. Each town stores so much history, seen through beautiful sites like museums and churches, but also seen through small things like the colors of the buildings, the varying architecture, the layout of the streets, and more. I always do my best to communicate in French and have been having a positive experience doing so. Nonetheless, when traveling with my latino friends, we often speak in Spanish or English, and some also speak Portuguese. We have been asked many times where we all were coming from. My group of friends consists of people from Brazil, Mexico, and Columbia. To my surprise, some French workers even spoke to us in Spanish. I think it was a nice gesture and cool that many French – who are stereotyped to be cold – were open and interested to know where my friends and I were coming from. In Lyon, Covid restrictions are set to ease up in February in regards to masking and the opening of establishments, so I am excited to be able to explore more of the town in which I live since it too offers a lot of history and secret treasures.
Interested in studying abroad in France? Check out the Education Abroad site to find out more about the programs available throughout France!