Lost in Translation (Geocaching in Lyon, France)

Apparently, geocaching in French is not my forte.  As proof of that fact, I was only able to find one out of three caches that first day in Lyon. But I can’t complain. The caches took me to some really interesting locations that I would not have come across otherwise.  All in all, I felt like the day was a success despite my not adding much to my numbers. 

I blame my failures on jet lag and spotty cell service (not on my lack of geosense, of course).  My phone stalled a lot and when the app finally loaded, the description would only appear in French or the hint would be such an odd translation into English it didn’t make much sense.  But when life gives you lemons, you are supposed to make lemonade, right?  

Didn’t know the taste of disappointment yet.

So I had started the day full of excitement for my first cache because I knew GC5PMQW (Amphitheater of the Three Gauls) was going to lead me to some ancient Roman ruins.  Originally built around 19 AD, this former amphitheater could seat up to 20,000 people. Not much remains now except the floor of the arena and some surrounding terraced seating. 

Amphitheatre of Three Gauls

Turns out Lyon used to be a Roman city named Lugdunum, which served as the capital of three provinces of Gaul. This location may have been the site of the first national parliament because it was used by the 60 Gallic nations as a meeting place.  Around 177 BC, early Christians were thrown to the lions here.  The geocache describes the martyrdom of Blandine, the patron saint of Lyon.  She was first fed to lions but survived, then she was flogged and thrown on a hot grill, but that didn’t work, so they threw her in the ring with a bull.  It finally got down to Roman soldiers stabbing her to death and throwing her body in the nearby river.  This eventually led to the rise of Christianity in Lyon.

Even though I did not find cache number one, it did not stop me from trying for another at my next stop, the Musee des Beaux-Arts.  This beautiful building was formerly a Benedictine convent in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Amongst the numerous Egyptian carvings on display is this stunning Gate from a Temple at Medamud dating from the Reign of Ptolemy IV, circa 221-205 BC.  

The GEO admiring the Gate from a Temple at Medamud

The collection in this museum spans centuries. We came upon a room full of modern art, including this Picasso masterpiece, Woman on the Beach, painted in 1937.  Quite popular with visitors, it took a few minutes before we got our chance to admire this intriguing artwork up close.  

Woman on the Beach, Picasso, 1937

On the way out, I spent some time exploring the courtyard where I was able to enjoy some much appreciated sunshine after a long rainy winter at home.  I took the opportunity to look for GC584RD (Beaux-Arts), but had no luck. I bet I was only a foot away from the cache but I could not reach the hiding spot I thought it was in.  Too bad I am too far away to go back and try again.

Muggles in the courtyard

At least I eventually found one cache. Thank goodness for those virtuals!  (It helped that I had looked this one up before leaving the States so I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.)  The recently created GC7B9GM (Paul Bocuse) celebrates the beloved award winning chef who was born and died here. This one held extra meaning for me because if it wasn’t for Chef Bocuse, I may never have set foot in lovely Lyon. Chef Bocuse put Lyon on the culinary map and our visit was in pursuit of the extraordinary food this area had to offer due to his culinary influences. It was sad to hear of his passing last year so soon after my first visit. 

To claim credit for the cache, all I had to do was get a picture with this fabulous statue.

We ended our perfect day literally wining and dining at one of my favorite spots, La Cave Des Voyageurs.  This bar highlights the exquisite wines produced in the Rhone region. You can enjoy a glass for about the price of a latte at home.  And don’t forget the charcuterie!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Feeling cosmopolitan in gourmand heaven

Even though I am a highly competitive person, I have come to the realization that my favorite geocaching memories are not about the caches I find but the journey to Ground Zero. How much fun have I had just wandering around lost with my friends, how many times have I been pleasantly surprised by an unexpected piece of history or a beautiful view I stumbled upon because of this game?  I may not be the most prolific geocacher and it’s not always fun when you can’t find one after another, but a magical day like this makes it all worth it.

If you are interested in travel to Lyon, the visitor center is an incredible resource and a great place to start your research.

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