One of the coolest discoveries of my trip to France are the ancient ruins of the Théâtre Gallo Romain found in Lyon, which got its start as a Roman city named Lugdunum over two thousand years ago. This city once served as a Roman capital and was important enough to merit several amphitheaters, two of which are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
These amphitheaters sit on La Fourvière. From atop this imposing hill, one has a commanding view of the city below. To get here, one can walk from Vieux Lyon (no thanks), ride the Hop On Hop Off bus, or take a funicular, my favorite mode of transportation.
There is no entrance fee and you are free to explore to your heart’s content. The smaller of the two amphitheaters is the Odeon, the original theater built for the elite to listen to musical performances and poetry readings. A couple of centuries later, a larger theater was added. With a seating capacity of 10,000, it was built for plays and events like the popular gladiator fights.
Adding to the awesomeness of this place was the Earth cache GC70Q19 (Pavement antique de l’Odéon) located right in the heart of the ruins. I enjoyed the lesson about marble used in the Odeon’s flooring which had traveled from all over the world. Such detail would have otherwise gone unnoticed by me. I find that completing Earth and Virtual caches is the easiest way to log a find in foreign countries where I do not have cell service. Once I print out the map and description, I hop on a plane and hope for the best when I get to ground zero. It’s a gamble that usually pays off.
Adjacent is the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière which houses an extensive collection of the area’s ancient artifacts and provides a wealth of information about the ancient civilization that had once flourished here. During my visit, there was an exhibit about how a large expanse of aqueducts was built to bring water to the citizens of Lugdunum. What an engineering feat that was since the water had to travel uphill to get to its destination.
With limited dining options, be sure to pack snacks because you will most likely be spending a few hours here. However, you are in luck if you find yourself in need of refreshment, because there is an elegant bar easily accessible at the Villa Maia Hotel. We had come across this oasis by accident when chasing a view of the city lights the night before. Not only is the hotel gorgeous, but the view from the property was equally magnificent.
If you are heading to Lyon, buy a Lyon City Card. This is the best deal ever! Not only does it get you discounted or free admission to a majority of museums, but it also provides free rides on public transportation as well as unlimited access to the Hop On Hop Off bus. This double decker bus with audio tour was a wonderful way to familiarize oneself with what Lyon has to offer.