I was looking forward to visiting Parc de la Tete d’Or (“park of the golden head”) in Lyon with my son this coming summer. I had a mommy-and-son itinerary all sketched up for our upcoming trip. But life had a different plan, and so, not so long ago, I found myself roaming this gem of a park on a chilly spring afternoon, soaking up its breathtaking sights by my lonesome.
The first question that popped into head when I first heard of this park was, “What’s with the name?”
Well, legend has it that a treasure, which includes a golden head of Christ, is buried somewhere in the park. It was said to have been discovered in 1856 by a former weaver while working on construction of the park. Unfortunately, his jealous co-workers made off with the bounty. Christ, saddened by the greed of men, wept a giant lake, engulfing the treasure and rendering it hidden forevermore.
Parc de la Tete d’Or is located on the north bank of the River Rhone in Lyon City. With a total area covering 117 hectares,it is considered the largest park within an urban area in France.
The park is a place for everyone—for families with or without kids to hang out; for couples to spend time with each other; for individuals to take a breather; for travelers to chill; and for fitness enthusiasts to move around in.
And given the variety of activities and attractions that it offers, it’s absolutely a delight to visit. It’s almost impossible to get bored here. Some popular spots are the Animal Zoo, which occupies 10 hectares of land; the Rose Garden; and the Botanical Garden. I missed the roses but I did spot some elegant white tulips in full blooms.Speaking of tulips, did you know that the different colors of this flower carry different meanings?
Red tulips are most strongly associated with true love. Purple ones symbolize royalty. Meanwhile, yellow tulips represent sunshine and cheerful thoughts (though they previously signified hopeless love). White tulips are used to claim worthiness or to send a message of forgiveness. And variegated tulips, which are among the most popular varieties due to their striking color patterns, represent beautiful eyes.
Meanwhile, at the zoo, I took a quick peak at what is meant to imitate the African savannah, and was happy to spot some giraffes wandering around in what closely resembled their natural environment. I’m sure if they had to give me a message to pass on to their brothers and sisters in Wakanda, they would’ve said they were doing fine, but the cold weather is kicking their ass. I should know because I was freezing! Other animals found in the park are zebras and flamingos. The zoo is just one of the many child-friendly attractions and activities to keep curious little minds and itsy-bitsy feet busy all day long. It’s literally kids’ heaven, and I can’t wait till my son and I finally get to fulfill our mommy-and-son itinerary someday.The day of my visit was one of the few sunny days Lyon was experiencing in spring, so the park was loaded people who had come out to enjoy some outdoor fun with beautiful weather. To escape the crowds, I spent most of my time walking along the lake, gazing at its magnificent setting, and marveling at the ducks gracefully gliding along the water’s surface. While there, I listened and felt spring’s gentle wind blow, and allowed the peace of nature to flow into me.It was an afternoon well-spent.
Parc de la Tete d’Or (Park of the Golden Head}
Brotteaux, 6thArrondissement of Lyon
Hours: 6:30 AM-10:30 PM