Bonjour from Lyon, France!
The last three months have been quite a whirlwind, and I can safely say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lyon is an absolutely beautiful city; in fact, I think it’s France’s best-kept secret. For starters, Lyonnais cuisine is arguably the most delectable in the world; and, personally, I can corroborate that assertion. Of course, French food is not the only reason to stop by Lyon. The city hosts a number of beautiful cathedrals, monuments, museums, parks, and a charming old town. Of these attractions, I would definitely mark the Basilique de Fourvière at the top of the list. This cathedral is undoubtedly the most popular destination in Lyon, and due to its geographic position on top of a hill overlooking the city, it can be seen from just about any street.
These attractions, however, do not play that significant of a role in my day-to-day life. Instead, I like to focus on embracing French culture and getting to know other international students in my program. As some of you may know, there is a program at Lyon 3 University that caters to English-speaking students (the SELF program). It is through this program that I am able to sharpen my French speaking skills, while simultaneously deepening my understanding of certain topics directly related to my major at UNCG. For example, this semester I am taking multiple courses on the European Union and comparative law, which has given me a far greater understanding of European politics.
Aside from enjoying French bread and spending time with friends in Lyon, I have been very active in traveling around France. Fortunately, Lyon is in an ideal situation in terms of travel—I am within hours of Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. So, for the sake of this blog post, I will briefly describe some of my favorite trips since January.
The first trip I embarked on was to Marseille, France’s second city. Marseille is, in all honesty, a fairly sketchy and dirty city. For instance, it’s quite easy to walk down the wrong street and end up in a rather bad part of town. However, the old port, calanques, and Cathedrale de Notre-Dame de la Gare are absolutely beautiful. For starters, taking the ferry out to some of the islands off of France’s coast is quite an experience. First, you’ll get to see the island that inspired the Count of Monte Christo, and then you might even to get to catch a glimpse of the famed calanques. Following our ferry trip, my group went up to the summit of Marseille where the cathedral is almost perfectly placed. It is from this point that you will see not only a beautiful church, but also some of the best views in Europe. The sprawling mountains bordering Marseille are unlike anything I had ever seen and contributed to the many picturesque views that seem to occur at nearly every angle. Of course, nothing can compare to the views seen from this perch at sunset; there’s simply nothing greater than watching the sun disappear over the Mediterranean on a clear night.