Lyon for the last past years really worked on getting more attractive for the tourists. The third biggest French city can be visited for a week-end, the city won in 2016 the price of “Best European destination for a weekend” at the World Travel Awards. I found three activities that step apart from the classic places to visit in Lyon.
1 – Solex tour
First of all, what is a “Solex”? The Solex is an old French means of transport, its belongs to the French culture. It is in between a bike and motorbike. When I wrote old it is older than what you might expect, the company was created in 1905 by two engineers Maurice Goudard and Marcel Mennesson. The Solex was created years later. Both of them were certain about the fact that the car industry was going to skyrocket. At the start, the company was named “Goudard et Mennesson” but it was too long and no so easy to remember.
Then, they made a brainstorming and decided to go for an easy name brand, five letters, no more than two syllables and euphonic, can be pronounced in every language: the name Solex was born! The beginning were hard for the founders, they had to go to the WWI in 1914,1918.
They created the first prototype only in 1940 with an economical and little engine fixed in front of the bike. The first sales started after the WW2 in 1946 and it was a huge commercial success! It was a cheap means of transport and it was using few gas. Also, the customer service was excellent. At the end of the 40s the company was selling around 100 of Solex per day.
The company was keep growing, in the mid 60s the company was selling 1500 solex per day! The famous french actress Brigitte Bardot was the ambassador of the brand and the Solex was part of many french movies at that time. From there the sales decrease but in 2005 the Solex came back with a new fresh design and has now an electric engine.
To come back about the Solex Tour, you can go for an hour and half (or more) in the beautiful area of La Croix Rousse in Lyon. You will discover the joy of driving an old Solex in the street of Lyon. You will be going with the owner, who is highly passionate about his work. At the end of the tour, you will be for sure smiling 🙂 You can find further information in the credits section and this is not an affiliate link.
Here a picture of the shop of “Le Brélon de Lyon”:
And the inside of the shop, full of Solex 🙂
On their website you can read :
The Solex it is an opportunity to ride on the road but also to go wherever bicycles are allowed. Just lift the engine (the engine can be either on the wheel or off the wheel). The maximum speed is 30 Km / h on a flat road. On a steep road, the speed depends only of the size of your calves.
2 – Jardin Rosa Mir Mercader
The hidden garden is open from beginning of April until the end of October only on Saturday from 2pm to 6pm, be on the line! This garden is located in the district of Lyon of La Croix Rousse. This place was created by Jules Senis a Spanish mason who escaped the Spanish civil war. He did it to honor his mum Rosa Mir, and he started the construction of the garden in 1958. He made up the garden with shells and pebbles that’s remind us the style of“ Le facteur Cheval”. He was suffering from a cancer of the throat in 1952, he received an unexpected remission after 3 years of hospitalization and made the wish to create the garden. This construction help me to surpass the disease. The 400 meters square garden now belongs to the city of Lyon and was renovated during five years. You can see an “impressive palette of 5000 plants imported from the Mediterranean”.
3 – Vaporetto
When you will be done with your Solex tour and your visit of the garden Rosa Mir Mercader, you can reach the hipster district of Lyon: Confluence, old industrial district that is now full of modern buildings. The best way to reach this district from the city center of Lyon is to take the boat named: Vaporetto. In less than 30 minutes you will be over there enjoying the pleasant view of the banks of the Saône.
Have you ever been to Lyon? Do you know other original places to visit in Lyon? Let me know in the comment section! 🙂 I invite you to read the article Discover Normandy from its heritage to its beaches.