Living like the King of France
Lyon – the capital of Gaul, renowned for exquisite fabrics and the third largest city in France. A party of eight, we set off to explore the city and improve our French. From total noobs to near-native speakers, students of mechanical engineering to modern languages, our group was none the less harmonious for being so highly diverse.
After flying from Berlin to Lyon and cracking the ticket system of the Rhône Express through close teamwork, we received a warm welcome at the student services provider CROUS de Lyon and were shown to our rooms – which turned out to be more like luxury apartments: Queen size beds, fitted closets, TVs, bathtubs and fully equipped modern kitchens with welcome baskets that showered us with goodies for a whole week. On top of all this, the rooms received a thorough cleaning each working day.
But that was still not the end of the surprises. The next day, we made our way to the language school Alliance Française. There we were treated to a small buffet with French pastries and coffee, and gifted alter ego+ textbooks and workbooks that corresponded to our individual levels.
After class each day we went to the dining hall. Unlike Dresden, the cafeteria utilized a sophisticated points system that allowed us to enjoy a three-course meal every day. But we weren’t always sure what the individual dishes were. Through trial and error, we quickly developed a feeling for which foods we liked and disliked.
Twice a week, a cultural event was held for us following lunch. The program was very exciting and broad. We started with a city tour through the old city and continued through the secret passages or traboules before finally seeing some of the impressive murals on the sides of Lyon’s buildings. We were especially impressed by the ruins of the Gallo-Roman theater on the hill of Fourvière which afforded a fantastic view of the city. The museums we visited also offered something interesting for everyone in our party. The Musée Gadagne was perfect for the history buffs, the Musée Beaux Arts thrilled the art lovers and the Maison des Canuts was a must for the technology and fashion freaks among us.
But that’s not all. The city of Lyon has plenty to offer in the way of leisure activities! In addition to the Musée des Confluences, which is well worth seeing, the city has a large park with a free zoo. It is the ideal location for a stroll on sunny days or even a small boat tour.
A particular highlight was at the Musée Lumière. Besides the permanent exhibit on the history of film, since 2015 the museum has organized a reenactment of the first film ever made (19 March 1895) each year on its anniversary – and all are invited to participate. All you need to do is sign up online, and you can be a film star!
The student union also organizes regular events for students in which we were also able to participate: Yoga, a theater course, language tandem and country-themed evenings and creative workshops afford opportunities to come into contact with French students to put your language skills to the test outside the classroom.
The weekend is a great time for excursions to the surrounding area. We opted for a quaint medieval town situated in the Alps: Annecy. Nestled among the snow-capped Alps and only about 2.5 hours from Lyon, the small city is perfect for a day trip. Depending on the weather, you can visit museums, make a trip to the mountains or take a boat trip on the lake.
Our three-week trip was wonderful, but too short, as always. We would gladly repeat this trip and highly recommend it to all. But two noteworthy bits of information should be mentioned:
- For all travelers over the age of 25: in France, it does not matter if you are students. You still (almost always) have to pay the full price.
- All activities organized by Alliance or CROUS are in French. It doesn’t matter whether you’re well-versed or a total beginner in the language.
But don’t let that keep you from the experience! Even if you don’t understand all that is said around you, Lyon is worth the trip!