Sarah – Semester Exchange to Catholic University of Lyon, France
Semester 2, 2016
When I found out that I was selected to go on exchange in Lyon, there were many different responses from family and friends. Some knew Lyon as the culinary capital and became jealous. Some recognised the geographical location as ‘the South of France’, while others had no clue where I was going. My grandfather even had knowledge about the silk industry in Lyon.
What lead me to Lyon was the rich culture and history. Untouched by war and major natural disasters, Lyon is a unique gem in modern Europe. When researching host cities, Lyon’s rich 2,000 year old history stood out to me. As a history major, studying in a city with a such a strong architectural heritage was appealing. Lyon was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. I still have a lot more of the city to discover, but as a place to visit and live, Lyon is living up to expectations.
Some facts about Lyon that interested me:
- Recently voted number one city in Europe for a city break, and listed in the top ten most attractive European cities.
- Capital city of the Rhone-Alpes region, Lyon is the culinary capital of France (and the world).
- 15,000 companies created each year in Lyon.
- 144,500 students, including 15,000 international students.
- Lyon is the birthplace of cinema.
Some of my favourite places so far:
Lyon-Confluence, a short walk from UCLY, is a new district in the heart of down-town Lyon. It is hard to believe it was an industrial wasteland, now sporting modern apartment living and shopping reminiscent of Melbourne’s Docklands.
I am looking forward to the annual Festival of Lights, where artists light up the city for four nights in December. This will be a great study break come exam time.
Parc de la Tete d’Or is a 20 minute walk away from my apartment in the 6th Arrondissement. A quick search will tell you everything about the park, but I have only covered 1/3 of the grounds so far. The urban park is absolutely huge- 105 hectares, 17 of that being stunning lakes. It is home to France’s leading botanical garden, as well as amazing flora and tiny squirrels. The most surprising thing in the park was stumbling into view of a giraffe, realising we were in the zoo- completely free of charge.
Some things that I am looking forward to experiencing in Lyon:
- Eating at a Bouchon, a traditional Lyonnais restaurant.
- Cruising on a boat down the Rhone and Saone rivers.
- Discovering the markets and market halls in the area- The Lyonnais love their local produce.
- Jumping on the TGV to Paris for the first time this weekend- a mere 2 hour journey across country.