Lyon is one of the foremost and more influential cities of France. It is particularly famous for being the gastronomic capital of the country and is home to some of France’s most decorated and most famous chefs, including Paul Bocuse. Because of its rich historical, architectural and cultural heritage, Lyon is sure to impress, with a variety of ways to spend your leisure time. However, if you are still left yearning for more, the city is in close proximity to the mountains and to wonderful natural parks. You can also drive to Switzerland or Italy from Lyon, and these destinations can constitute great weekend trips.
If you request a local to guide you through the city, you will probably start by a bite and have a drink in Vieux Lyon, which has retained many of its architectural characteristics. Despite being centuries old, Lyon has remained dynamic and lively, and much of the city’s old charms have been preserved. Towards the South of Lyon, the Confluence is another popular place of interest and gives you a different sense of the city. Formerly an industrial neighbourhood, Confluence is now a modern urban area with lush nature. The nautical plaza and the Saône river banks are also worth a visit. Lyon also hosts many interesting neighbourhoods, namely:
- La Cité internationale
- La Cité des Étoiles
- Vieux Lyon
Despite being a modern city, Lyon has managed to preserve, and even create many green spaces which provide relaxation and a deep breath of fresh air. There are amazing parks, gardens, river banks, domains and castles all around the city, and some of the most popular are the Tête d'Or, les Hauteurs, Gerland and La Cerisaie are the most popular ones. If you are willing to explore further outside the city, know that Lyon is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Alps”, making it a favorite destination for mountain lovers both in the summer and in the winter. If you are not willing to strain yourself too much, there are many natural reserves around the city. You can travel to the wilderness of the Alps by train (1 hour ride away).
History and culture
Lyon is 2,000 years old and consequently has a rich and unique history. However Lyon’s historical heritage does not limit itself to its museums but is breathed and smelled in every street corner. You can start by visiting the Maison de la Danse, or indulge in performances at the Opéra de Lyon or the Orchestre National de Lyon. Cinema lovers should head to the Institut Lumière, and those interested in museums should check out the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Sucrière, the Théâtre des Célestins and the Contemporary Art Museum. Lyon organises a range of yearly events, some of which are:
- La Fête des Lumières in December
- La Biennale d’Art Contemporain from September to January
- La Biennale de la Danse in September
- Les Nuits Sonores (which is an electronic music festival) in May
- Le Festival Lumière (dedicated to cinema) in October
- Le Festival des Nuits de Fourvière from June to July
- Le Festival Jazz in Vienna in July
Lyon is synonymous with gastronomy. Specialities of the city include the rosette, the Lyon salad with poached egg, dumplings, the Saint-Marcellin and of course the Beaujolais. The city is full of three-starred Michelin restaurants, but also offers a range of more affordable alternatives, both of which should definitely be on your to-do list while you are in the city.
If you wish to keep fit, you will have no trouble in finding ice rinks, swimming pools as well as a wealth of other sports infrastructure. Football lovers should definitely head to one of the games of the home team, the Olympique Lyonnais, which has been very successful in the past, both in the domestic league and in European championships. Children, for their part, can enjoy various programs tailored especially for them, either after school or during the holiday season.