How to Best Explore Lyon, Chamonix, and Beaune, France

Dijon, France

Explore Lyon, Chamonix, and Beaune, France

(Here is Part 2 of of our 3 part series about our road trip around France!)

Things to do in LYON

After bidding adieu to Avignon and cherishing our new found friends, we packed up Lucy (our 4 door rental car) and headed to Lyon with a promise of good food. Upon arrival in Lyon we were thwarted with one problem after another. The airbnb we were staying out was near impossible to find and our host was difficult to reach. We had to find wifi in order to get in touch with him. We ended up in a burger joint that served RAW burgers. Oh I mean tartare. We kindly asked that our ground beef be cooked WELL DONE and our server complied but in a very French way said, “We call this burnt”. My Southern attitude kicked in, to which I replied, “We call this a burger!” Secondly, our host had not cleared his garage for us to park Lucy, so we had to pay to park in a parking lot across the water from where we were staying! To say that we were livid is an understatement. I am frustrated just typing this out. Additionally, we made sure to let our host know that this was unacceptable! Nonetheless, we would soon learn that this was to be the best apartment of the entire trip, despite the 8 flights of stairs and no elevator access (which is normal in Europe).

Furthermore, the first day was a general waste as we had to run around town to figure out where we could park Lucy. Finally, we ended up parking her across the street after 8pm for FREE but had to move her before 8am to another “daily” parking lot about 2 miles away, at a reduced cost. It was madness that lasted the three days we were here. Thankfully my husband did the running around and allowed me to sleep in!

The transportation system was wonderful which made it easy to get around the city without a personal car. Unfortunately, Lyon was a let down for us versus what our expectations were for this city. The food was so-so and it was more of a city for business folk than travelers, which we did not expect. The one really great find was the park here, Parc de la Tete d’Or. It took some hiking to get to but it was a gem! We literally walked about 8-10 miles to get there! This is where the locals, young and old, spend their evenings after work. We stayed until the park closed because there is so much to explore: a zoo, rose garden, walking trails, and a lake. This was the stress reliever we needed after our not-so-fun 1st day. That evening, we made our way to Vieux Lyon or “Old Lyon” for history and FOOD! As you can imagine, we were famished from all the walking and stair climbing! We settled for pasta as was most appropriate item on the menu. During dinner, we talked with an Australian couple on holiday. They too were driving around parts of France and staying in mostly rural regions.

Things to do in CHAMONIX

After catching up on sleep and having early nights, we were ready for the French Alps. On to Chamonix. Chamonix is about 2 hrs away from Lyon. Unfortunately, Chamonix was filled with rain and fog on our short visit. It was difficult to see the mountains. We did not take the airlift to Mount Blanc as desired because there was zero visibility up there. (this saved us a pretty penny) We did explore the city and downtown areas but were even unable to go on hikes due to the fog advisories. We were pretty exhausted after the week already traveled, so we felt this was God’s and the Universe’s way of making us slow down. Rest we did! Pizza, beer, Netflix, and a hot radiator was all we needed. We began a new Netflix series called “The Musketeers” and were hooked! It was based in France which made aligned perfectly with our road trip.

Things to do in BEAUNE

After 1.5 days in Chamonix, we moved on to Wine country. This was an enjoyable drive filled with country roads and vineyards lining the way. Our apartment was in Ladoix-Serrigny, about 10 minutes between Beaune and Dijon in the Burgundy Region. Our hosts worked during the day and we enjoyed our garage apartment. We made friends with our host’s dog as well as the other neighborhood dogs because we were missing our Maui something fierce! We slept in each day, visited with local winemakers inside their wine caves, took day trips to Beaune and Dijon, and shuffled through the vineyards each sunset. True relaxation before the City of Light. Beaune was a cute town with its own Arch and Weekend markets. We wanted to buy some cheese at the Beaune market and began sampling a variety. We found some we thoroughly enjoyed made from sheep on a farm near our apartment.

ROOKIE MISTAKE: We did not pay attention to the cute, young guy slicing the cheese and ended up with 35 euros worth! OMGOSH that is like two meals for us budget travelers! I WISH I would have taken selfies with this block of cheese for the remainder of the trip! We ate it with EVERYTHING and not 1 drop went to waste. There also may have been some constipation to follow…shh..

Dijon seemed to be business-like but we found plazas to picnic in alongside locals on their lunch breaks. Dijon is larger than I expected it to be and we walked it ALL, though there were buses we stuck to our own 2 feet. Also, like good travelers, we purchased local goods AKA: dijon mustard. The mustard complimented our cheese and baguette perfectly!

     I loved the Burgundy region and really began appreciating RED wines for the first time EVER-I am a stout beer or sweet white wine type of girl! It was time to say good bye to yet another city on this road trip, and begin our 3 hour trek to Paris.

Here’s our Guide in List form!

Things to do in Lyon:

  1. sunset walks along the Rhone river
  2. stroll through the Parc de la Tete D’Or
  3. glance high up at the La Basilque Notre Dame de Fourviere
  4. shop til’ you drop near the museum of arts

Things to  do in Chamonix

  1. ride the tram to Mount Blanc-on a clear day
  2. gather your winter gear at the downtown mountain shops
  3. warm up in the brandy and wine shops
  4. indulge in the chocolatiers and pastry shops

Things to do in Beaune

  1. Take a day trip to Dijon
  2. enjoy market day in Beaune and Dijon
  3. take a stroll through the many vineyards at sunset
  4. bring back some Dijon mustard (of course)
  5. shop local and cook at home BUT buy the WINE

You can read the first part of this trip about Normandy, the Loire Valley, and Avignon OR you can read about our Paris Adventure!

Be Well and Travel Often!

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Explore Lyon, Chamonix, and Beaune, France     Explore Lyon, Chamonix, and Beaune, France     Explore Lyon, Chamonix, and Beaune, France

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*This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**


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About Author

Maegan and Michael are Adventurous Southerners who share their world journey and approach to living the travel lifestyle. You can expect humor and lighthearted banter blended with REAL travel stories and tips. Maegan is a registered dietitian, while Michael has an excerise science background, but both are outdoor lovers, and revel in the beauty of cultures unlike their own. Now, Maegan and Michael are working towards expat life through remote work. Join the adventure. Do you love to travel? Does your full time job or career prevent you from living the life you dream of? This is the duo to follow. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Thanks for sharing this travel guide! I met a French woman living in Chamonix last summer, and she told me how incredible it is. I’m sad to hear you were fogged out of the beauty, but it’s great hearing about all the other things to do in addition to the outdoor activities I’ll enjoy. I look forward to the next installment of your travel adventures!

  2. Lynn says:

    Great post! I live in Paris/Versailles and just got back a short while ago from a trip to Chamonix – I’m sorry that the weather was bad while you were there, although the fog rolling off the mountains looks beautiful in your photos! Lyon and Beaune sound lovely as well, I think I might go to visit sometime!

    1. maegan89 says:

      Thank you! I wish it was clear while we were there but of course it was my fault for just planning 1 day there. Beaune was a pleasant surprise and not far from Paris! (Which we also loved)

  3. Karen says:

    Wow, the wine caves in BEAUNE sound interesting! I went to some in Hungary and found them fascinating, so would love to visit some others! The wine and architecture sound great. 🙂

    1. maegan89 says:

      I had no idea that Hungary had wine caves…it seemed a very French thing to have lol

  4. Love this post. I feel like people forget that there is more to France than Paris. Kind of like there is more to New York than NYC. Just really happy to see Lyon not because it sounded amazing, although the park sounded great, but I had a friend from Lyon and it reminded me of her. Thanks!!

    1. maegan89 says:

      Aww that’s great! I agree there is so much more to see, though we love Paris!

  5. Found the incident with cheese very funny 😀 Even I faced such situations a few times and they are always funny later 😛
    Priyadarshini Rajendran recently posted…Travel Tips for Parents With Young KidsMy Profile

    1. maegan89 says:

      Yes, we laugh now about it LOL
      maegan89 recently posted…The fears of moving abroadMy Profile

  6. It’s always lovely to learn about lesser expected destinations. It’s also nice to read honest accounts and perspectives on any location!

    1. Maegan says:

      Thank you, we try to be transparent but still optimistic. LOL

  7. Great post! Lyon has been REALLY high on my list. And Chamonix is rapidly climbing it. I love France but haven’t been anywhere in this post. This would be a fantastic trip!
    Alex of Wanderlust Marriage recently posted…Amazingly Romantic Day Trips from BrusselsMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      Though we were short on days in a few places, it was so beautiful and relaxing before the hustle and bustle of Paris!

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