Looking out from my hotel window I could see one of Lyon’s most famous landmarks, the LCL-Tour Part Dieu, affectinaltly known as “Le Crayon” (the pencil), by most locals and tourists. It was the first skyscraper to be built in Lyon in 1977. It currently stands as the ninth-tallest building in France. Before checking out of the hotel, I decided to leave my bags with reception and stroll around perhaps one of the most beautiful green spaces I’ve ever seen, the Parc de la Tête d'Or. This magnificent park is Lyon’s main “breathing space” at 290 acres. The name of the English-style gardens derives from local folklore, which claims that a golden head of Christ is buried here. Huge wrought-iron gates known as the Porte des Enfants du Rhône mark the entrance. The park was originally planned for during the 18th century but was not built until 1856. The prefect Claude-Marius Vaïsse entrusted the task to Joseph-Gustave Bonnet, the city’s chief engineer. He was responsible for creating a nature area, intended to be healthier than the lowly “guinguettes” along the waterfront and to give the bourgeoisie a place to parade their carriages and finery, in imitation of the Bois de Boulogne outside of Paris. The Swiss landscape designers Eugene and Denis Bulher spent five years trying to tame the swampy terrain and built a dam creating a huge lake with an island in the middle known as Swan Island. Although not finished, the park opened in 1857 to the public, but the great greenhouse, the chalet restaurant, the dairy farm and the zoo were not completed until 1862. Today, the Parc de la Tête d'Or has four rose gardens and a botanical garden with 15,000 listed plants. The zoo has about 1000 animals, including 300 farm animals, 700 wild animals (250 mammals, 300 birds, 80 reptiles, 70 fish) the most popular being the Atlas lion. Personally, I liked the flamingo pond, the monkey cages and the turtle sanctuary. There are several monuments placed throughout the park including the Espace droits de l'homme in the northern part of the park. Monoliths erected around the site contain the text of the famous statement. Another, more recent monument is the sculpture Ensemble pour la Paix et la Justice, made up of bronze and stone. It was created in 1996 by Xavier de la Fraissinette to commemorate the meeting of the G7. The most elegant part of the park in my opinion was the botanical gardens with its greenhouses. They enclose a total of 6,500 m² in area, and include a central pavilion for tropical plants including camellias over a hundred years old; a greenhouse-aquarium with Amazonian water lilies; a Dutch greenhouse containing carnivorous plants; small greenhouses with orchids; and small cold greenhouses with azaleas and cacti. A statue of Bernard de Jussieu, the botanist who in 1759 arranged and classified the plants in the royal garden of the Trianon at the Palace of Versailles guards the entrance to the large greenhouses. With time to spare I decided to visit another of Lyon’s wonderful churches. Located in the in the Presqu'île district, the Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay started out as a Benedictine priory in 859. The abbey church was built at the end of the 11th century, consecrated in 1107 and dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours by Pope Pascal II. It is one of the rare Romanesque churches still extant in Lyon. The basilica at Ainay contains several architectural styles: the chapel of Saint Blandina is pre-Romanesque; the principal structure is Romanesque; the chapel of Saint Michael is Gothic; and the overall restoration and enlargement of the 19th century is Romanesque Revival.