Pink carrousel outside Parc de la Tête d'Or, Lyon, France


January 19th 2014

On this day in particular, I made a trip to Lyon's largest park - Parc de la Tete d'Or. If I tried to translate the park's name with my utterly terrible French, I would say it means "Park of the golden head." An odd thing to name a park, one might say, but this park was built on the site of a legend...


Before the park was ever built it is said that a treasure, taken by Crusaders, was buried here in the swampy land. Among this treasure was a golden head in the Christ's likeness. In 1855, a clairvoyant was hired to try and find this golden head, but all her efforts failed. Two years later, in 1857, the park was opened, in order to 'give nature to those who don't have it.' As yet, the mystery remains unsolved. 


The park that now sits on the site of buried treasure could be said to be a gem in itself. Centred around a boating lake, and filled to the brim with beauty in every corner, there is always something to discover here.

In one section is a zoo, dating back to the park's original creation, and home to all manner of animals, such as: flamingos, lions, baby giraffes, turtles, monkeys, and bat-eared-foxes. In another section: a rose garden, lush and blooming with wooden seats for those who feel contemplative. In fact, the park acts as the headquarters of the French Society of Roses. Then there is the area created for children, (and children at heart), where puppet shows are held, and carrousels tune merrily, while the smell of crepes and nutella wafts through the wintery air. 

But my favourite section of all has to be that one area, furnished with old trees which touch the sky, and a little bridge, and in the middle: a pagoda. There you may sometimes find a grand piano, put there for the enjoyment of all the passers by. And on a summer's day, you may hear some unseen person playing from across the lake.

Flamingos in zoo of Parc de la Tête d'Or
Grasses and paths at Parc de la Tête d'Or
Old French couple walking hand in hand, Parc de la Tête d'Or
Carrousel and children's park at the Parc de la Tête d'Or


Making a picnic out of pastries from the nearby Bernachon, while being watched by curious monkeys and grazing deer. 
The delight of watching a baby giraffe, gangly and awkward. 
Swinging my legs in the river, from my seat on an overhanging tree.
Tentatively sounding out one of Elton John's melodies on the piano under the pagoda.
Pastries and photoshoots with Penny and Nicole on the grass by the English greenhouse.
Wandering through the rose gardens, smelling roses to my heart's content. 
Midnight shenanigans with Maria and Nicole, and a bunch of Frenchies, before making a bonfire by the waterside. 
Watching all kinds of people at play - rollerskaters, skateboarders, bikers, joggers, old couples walking hand-in-hand, and a few on horseback.
Bittersweet goodbyes said to Lyon from my favourite place by the water. An ache in my heart, knowing I will leave.

Fourvière seen from Parc de la Tête d'Or