Our Viking River Cruises’ trip from Provence to Lyon gave us two full days docked at our final stop in the city of Lyon. We sailed the short distance from Vienne to Lyon starting before dawn. Our morning was taken up by a panoramic coach tour of the city. In the afternoon we toured the nearby walled town of Pérouges. On the last full day of our cruise we opted to skip an included tour of Beaujolais wine country so that we could wander about Lyon on our own.
We’re covering our time in Lyon in three blog posts. This one about the basilica that towers over the city, La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière; the next will be about Pèrouges, and the final installment will be about the city, including its Christmas market.
While there have been places of worship on the hill that overlooks Lyon for at least two millennia, the basilica is relatively new, a late 19th century creation that began construction in 1872 in thanksgiving for the end of the Prussian invasion of 1870-71. The basilica was built next to the existing chapel and bell tower that’s topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary:
The basilica is some ways continues to be a work in progress. For example, take note of the detail present on the front facade of the basilica:
Then, contrast that with the chunky, unfinished level of detail of the carvings on the side facade:
Before heading inside, take note of an unusual neighbor of the basilica:
Marseille is officially the second largest city in France after Paris. The residents of Lyon, however, claim the second spot because of the larger surrounding population. Any theory that Lyon might have a bit of an inferiority complex is strengthened when you look at this metal tower (Tour Métallique de Fourvière) built nearby for the Exposition Internationale, held in 1894, just five years after Paris’s Eiffel Tower was completed.
Inside the basilica, our guide pointed out much of the décor was in the form of mosaics, including the floors:
Here are some photos with details of the artwork, including mosaic closeups:
This last set of photos of the interior include shots that were captured and edited using a variety of techniques to help deal with the challenging lighting conditions. Please forgive the occasional taking of artistic license on the color and detail of these photos of the basilica’s beautiful interior:
Next posting — the much more muted colors of Pèrouges.