Paris and Lyon, France

A Tale of Two Cities ...


9/7/20236 min read

When I arrived in Paris, the wheels fell off a little..

I had such a great run up until this point - and the system I had going for bookings through to arrivals and check-ins had worked so well. I'm not going to lie - it's been a pretty big job researching and booking everything I've needed to navigate my way around so much of the world - especially considering I've had no prior experience. There's no doubt that constantly being on the go, changing time-zones, trying to keep in touch with people as well as documenting my journey here, and packing in as much as I possibly can at each destination - had started to take a toll. So when I discovered I had been mislead on just how far my stay was from the airport and the centre of Paris - and arrived to find that in general, very few people speak English and/or are willing to help a disoriented traveler in need - I started to feel a bit out of my depth for the first time. With only myself to rely on then, I took a breather, got online on my phone, and mapped my own path from the airport, to my stay. That was the good news. The bad news was that the path was going to involve a crammed bus ride from the airport to the metro, then 3 different trains, then one more short bus trip, then a 10 minute walk. All with a suitcase that was becoming increasingly heavier to drag around, now that the previously noted dodgy wheel is barely hanging on by a thread, and insists on heading in a different direction to the other three. Anyway.. off I headed, from the airport to the city on that first bus, then after crossing the street to the metro station, I found there were no lifts or escalators, and I was going to have to get up and down several flights of stairs with all my bags, already tired. About 4 steps down the flight, my old mate 'dodgy-wheel' caught on the edge of one of the steps and down I went.. my feet went from under me and I crashed down about another 6 steps, eventually landing squarely onto the edge of the concrete on both shins. There were expletives. Meanwhile, people continued running all around me to catch the trains, with only one gentleman stopping to help scoop me up. He didn't really have much choice though - as he too had almost suffered grievous bodily harm at the wheels of the offending purple case. Fast forward to arriving at what turned out to be the most awful place I had ever stayed, by 7pm at night I was completely exhausted and decided the only thing for it was to have a shower, get some sleep, and resolve to start fresh the next day with a positive mindset, knowing that wherever I would go for the day, I would not have to drag my purple nemesis around with me, so it could only be an improvement on this day.

I did sleep well, and after heading down the street toward the bus stop, with the intention of re-tracing my steps back to the city, I spotted someone who looked like they might speak English, and thought I would just ask that I was at least heading to the right bus to start with. I will be forever grateful to the young man I had spotted, as he did indeed speak English, and was quick to offer to be my personal tour guide for the day! Compared to the early days of my trip - where I pretty much kept to myself - at this stage I will talk to anyone who will listen - and I've met some of the most awesome people and had some amazing exchanges - so of course I accepted his kind offer. It turned out to be the first day of his 3-day weekend, and with no other plans, and suffering the very recent loss of his Mum he was at a loose end and glad of some company. We got on well straight away, and my initial request for his help turned out to be a serendipitous meeting that facilitated 3 days of company, where I got to enjoy the sights without the stress of navigating my way around this bustling city of 11million people, and he was distracted from what may have otherwise been 3 days at home by himself, grieving his Mum. A silver lining.

I got to see most of the main things that people want to see in Paris - (pics below as usual) - although with the exception of the Basilica, where we climbed the 297 steps to the top of the tower to take in the breathtaking 360 degree views of the city - I opted to view the other landmarks from the outside only, as the queues were INSANE! Other points to note (in my opinion only of course) - were that of all the places I have visited to date, this was the first time I really didn't feel safe - even with company. I felt justified in this when my little tour guide insisted I keep my wits about me and cling tightly to my phone and my handbag as we moved around. I was saddened to see the amount of homeless people, and the incredible amount of graffiti all over the city! That said, it didn't detract from the buzz of standing at the base of the Eiffel, or watching the traffic battle it's way around the Arc de Triumphe, or arriving at the Louvre in the afternoon and staying long enough to watch the sunset over the museum, while the infamous glass triangle turned into a twinkling mass of lights in the dark.

There are currently upgrades happening all around the city - not least of which at the base of the Eiffel - where all the paving is being re-laid in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games. I can't even comprehend how much busier this city will be then! And I imagine the already-too-high accommodation prices will be inflated even further. I'm glad I got to visit now. And I'm grateful I had a buddy for the time I was here. The icing on the cake was having someone to sit with on my last night here, to enjoy an espresso and a sublime creme brulee. So all turned out well in the end.

Parts of Paris ...

So on to Lyon ...

I got here easily, after a quick direct train from the main station in Paris. I was immediately struck by the beauty of this much smaller city - built around the Rhone and Saone rivers. Similar to Cologne with it's multiple bridges and riverside walks, it was a beautifully sunny Sunday when I arrived for my very short stay (only overnight here) - so I got straight out to clock up some daily steps. I walked all over the city and although most of the retail stores were closed, true to the general theme in Europe, there were plenty of people out enjoying the last of the summer sunshine and dining on delicious European offerings. I found a long, steep walkway that led me to a great vantage point to see the city, and explored as far as I could in every direction, taking in what would be the last of my European sights, and was treated to a spectacular final sunset. Lyon is a beautiful leafy city, with plenty more stunning historical buildings to visit, some great shopping (even from what I could see through the windows), lots of large cobbled pedestrian spaces fringed with French cafes and restaurants, and was infinitely cleaner, less busy, and more safe-feeling than Paris. I'm glad I visited so many of the less-populated cities in each of the countries I've been to - as this has so often been the case. You get all the history and authenticity of the major cities, with less people and often more natural beauty than the more metropolitan areas. I'd definitely recommend Lyon as a destination - and my stay at Apartment La Suite Presqu'Ile Lyon, France - book now, 2023 prices ( was exactly as advertised and well-priced, with a beautifully comfortable bed, and perfectly situated right in the lower part of town, about 150 mtrs from the riverside.

The expected fanfare of the Rugby World Cup was barely evident - although I did spot one bar advertising the event on their entry canopy, so I snapped a picture as proof.

And that's a wrap on Europe! What a blast!.. Now a combination of two flights, to make up a total journey of just over 15 hours in transit and in the air, to get to Thailand, and one giant step closer to home.

Lovely Lyon ...