About the Photo Above: Mona Lisa in the Louvre
Surprised? The Mona Lisa painting is really small, not much larger than an old vinyl album cover and its covered by glass and has a 10 foot parameter around it (along with a crowd of people).
Lyon versus Paris
I visited two cities in France, spending three nights in Lyon and four in Paris. Over time I believe I’m gravitating toward smaller, less popular cities where I seem to have a better cultural experience. Large, mega-popular tourist cities like Paris (or Rome) tend to be overwhelmed by tourists and, for whatever reason, seem more artificial in a way I can’t quite put a finger on. Anyway, I ended up adoring and loving Lyon, but felt Paris was just blah… just “ok.”
I’m running out of superlatives like amazing, wonderful, delightful, spectacular and incredible while wandering around Europe. There are many, many cities that I find interesting and enjoyable to visit. Lyon (pronounced Lee-own), is just one of these cities which I could easily enjoy for weeks or months. I think I enjoyed the smaller size, beautiful winding river, churches on the hillside and cute cafes and restaurants in the old city area. My limited time there was not enough and I hope to eventually return for a longer stay.
This city is super famous and I’m guessing everyone knows at least a few things about it: the Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, fashion and romance. It is among the top five tourist destinations word-wide and as such tends to be rather expensive to visit. To me fighting crowds and paying high prices reduce the quality of the experience of seeing a city or place and I tend to gravitate toward secondary tourist destinations. I will say that I was really lucky to hit the Louvre museum on a slow day and managed to see everything with only small crowds of people around. As I left the museum around 1pm, I saw long lines forming for tickets and felt I made the right decision to visit the museum just as it opened.
The Louvre Museum
Typically I have very little interest in museums and find them rather boring. I prefer wandering around cities and gawking at architecture. A museum has to be really spectacular to catch my interest or draw me in. Well, the Louvre just happens to be one of the places that I loved and thoroughly enjoyed.
French Fries and French Bread
To be honest, fries in France are not that great. They are virtually identical to any other country I’ve been to and nothing special (they are actually called ‘frites’ which is just means ‘fries’). However, bread in France is indeed something special… the bread is spectacular and to-die-for (I’m not a fan of cheese, which is another thing France is known for). Every day I would go to a local bakery and buy a french baguette. Never, ever in my life have I had bread so flakey and delicious. Wow!
See Where I’ve Been
I spent about a week in France visiting Lyon and Paris. Want to see where I’ve been in Europe and where I am now? Check out my map of European travels).
Costs in France
- Hostels: $20-40/night. I managed to find a hostel in Lyon for $20/night. However, in Paris I couldn’t find hostels for less than $30/night, but did find the cheapest AirBnB dorm for $16/night one hour from the city center by metro.
- Food: typically $10-15 meal for lunch or dinner (I was forced to cook in my hostel for all meals)
- Transportation: about $1.80 per ride