On one of those sunny days we walked down the hill from the Croix Rousse to the Parc de la Tête d'or (literally, park of the golden head). Legend says that there's a golden head in the image of the Christ buried somewhere in the park. Thus the origin of the name.
Main entrance to the park
We never found the golden head. But we didn't spend much time digging either. Instead we picnicked on one of the long stretches of grass just inside the entrance, then strolled over to the African Plain, a relatively new section of the park (opened in 2006) that lets visitors observe giraffe and other large African mammals and birds in their..."natural" habitat.
There are even lions, tigers, and one bear, plus a host of monkeys, crocodile, pink flamingo, pelicans and various species of tortoise.
But for me, the main attraction are the green houses with their constant balmy weather, jungles of plants from nearly everywhere on the planet, and relatively few people.
I thought I had walked into Africa here with this cool photo backdrop.
The bamboo reaches nearly to the glass ceiling.
Not far from the greenhouses is this little stand of yucca.
"South-western United States" says the name plate. And I must admit,
every time I walk by it, I feel a bit nostalgic for home.
A tribute to the Easter Island statues near the entrance to the greenhouses.
One reason I love the park is that I can wander through secluded groves of trees (nearly 9,000), enough to let me forget I'm really in the middle of a large cosmopolitan city.
The Parc de la tête d'or is said to be one of Europe's largest urban parks, which sprawls more than 260 acres and includes a 40-acre lake.
From mid-April to mid-October you can visit from 6:30am to 10:30pm. The rest of the year the park closes at 8:30pm.
* speaking of photos, the above are all © Alex Quici 2011.