Finally! We have got round to Part 2 of the hellish trip! This is going to detail the journey down to Lyon and the city experience itself! I also have quite a few recommendations and suggestions within this post, so it’s worth a read! Thanks.
*All photos are mine, unless otherwise mentioned*
Agh! Beeping, beeping and more beeping… It took a few seconds for my mind to switch on. Why? It was 5am and I was getting ready for the next leg of the trip. It’s now Saturday Morning. After getting dressed with a innate regret for planning this itinerary, we made our way down to breakfast which encapsulates everything I love about travelling, food! This has to be the third best breakfast buffet I’ve ever had in the world (First, Raddisson Blu Stansted and Second, Ibis Toulouse). There was a healthy selection to choose from, and I scoffed all that I could, knowing the journey that I had ahead.
Right, so it’s now 6am and we’re on the RER B line from CDG into Paris. Here’s a helpful hint, don’t just get on the first train that arrives, wait a little bit longer for one which goes direct to Gare Du Nord (The first main station, in central Paris). This train will skip all the shifty suburbs that a stopping train would hit en-route. This way you shall hopefully experience less trouble. These trains are well known for people that will try to rob you or hassle you, come on, you’re a prime target. Tired, and with valuables! The way to know if your train is direct to Gare Du Nord or not, check the light up signs on the platforms, stations lit up will be stopped at. Here’s an example:
That’s not to say you won’t get trouble on these direct trains, they both have tourists on. Luckily our train was very quiet at this time of morning, in fact from CDG to Gare Du Nord, it was just us and one other person. Unfortunately while approaching Gare Du Nord, this man walked over to us, stopped , dropped his sunglasses and stared us right in the face, with a creepy smile. It freaked us to an extent, but we understood this was his intention and he just walked off moments later, no trouble. You will get people like this on these trains, you just have to deal with them as they come. Next off, we transferred at Chatlet Les Halles, the largest station on the network, to Line 14 to reach Gare de Bercy. This is again another station hot for pickpockets, so watch yourself and belongings.
After reaching Gare de Bercy, we went over to the coach stands outside where there were plenty of OuiBus’ checking in. This is their Paris home base. This is where we let off our guard, everyone here is just out to chill and have a relaxing, cheap and comfortable journey. It’s not known for tourists so doesn’t experience many or any issues! Why OuiBus? Well TGV trains to Lyon were hundreds of euros at the late stage we booked and OuiBus wanted to charge us a total of 15 euros each, albeit a direct 5 hour journey. However, I really didn’t mind it! The coach had free wi-fi which worked at a reasonable speed, the seats are uber comfortable and as well as reclining they also move apart for more width. The bus has a cosy and warm feeling about it, and the time actually flew by! Despite leaving 45 minutes late, due to a slow arrival, we still only arrived around 10 minutes late, even with a 30 minute break! For the price, I could not have asked for anything better, and will definitely consider OuiBus on future journeys. Just to note they have an expansive network, so check it out! (http://uk.ouibus.com/).
So, we get off the coach, and traverse our way across the city on the metro, which is surprisingly cheap and fast! We are booked into the Okko Hotel Lyon Pont Lafayette. It’s a trendy hotel, with free food and drink, any time of day. We secured this for a reasonable rate of around £100 for the night. But wait, they don’t have a room ready for us? Bearing in mind this is 4pm! Understandable, as every hotel is booked up in the city due to the EPCR final which we are attending. So we are told to return later, but feel free to take any food and drink from the lounge.
We hit the metro again. And traverse to the other city of the city again, this time for the game. The train is in high spirits with singing and laughter. We get off and then join a crowd of around a few thousand and queue for a dedicated tram service to the stadium. It’s started to rain and is incredibly unpleasant. We had to wait around 30 minutes for our tram and it’s only a short 10 minute journey. Typically, as soon as we disembark and have to walk around 300m to the stadium entrance with no shelter(!!), it starts to tip it down and we get drenched barely making it inside without drowning in a puddle of despair.
Now, let’s get this clear. I HATE Parc Olympique Lyonnais. It’s built badly, my Dad commented on the construction work and electrical safety risks. The sinks were overflowing with sick in them, toilet roll all over the floor! The food and beverages are overpriced, 8 euros for a beer! Even low cost airlines don’t charge that, and they have you captive! (Best not give Ryanair any ideas!). Overall, it was a pretty miserable game, and we had to queue for 45 minutes to get a tram back to the city. We solemnly trudged back to the hotel, where our room was ready, and it was pretty nice. I guess the free food, drink and Eurovision on TV cheered me up!
Final note, I arrived in Lyon via Coach. You can also arrive via train for a reasonable cost. Be wary if you arrive by a flight into LYS Airport, you will have to pay around 30 euros for a return airport express tram ticket, which is incredibly overpriced and you are limited for options. Just factor this cost in, if you are planning on visiting.
So, that’s the end for Part 2. Part 3 will be coming up soon, with lots more interesting experiences still to come! Here’s the key things I took from this experience:
- OuiBus is a reliable, cheap and comfortable method of transport across Europe
- Lyon has a decent and affordable public transport system, just not the stadium access!
- Book your hotel far in advance if you know the city will be busy during your visit
- Lyon is a pretty boring city with not a great deal to do for tourists
- Don’t go to an event at Parc Olympique Lyonnais! I certainly never will again
- Food and Eurovision is a suitable pick me up 😀