Lyon: what to do, what to see...



Derrière la place Bellecour, vue des quais de Saône et de la colline de Fourvière
© RossHelen / Istockphoto - Derrière la place Bellecour, vue des quais de Saône et de la colline de Fourvière

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 17 February 2023, updated on 20 April 2024

As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lyon is also a city of lights, a living history book and a constant succession of music, theatre and film festivals. Lyon and its region are engaged in endless culinary and wine adventures, and also offer an enormous playground for those who like their sporty adventures. Come with us!

Not to miss sights in the Lyon region

• The Vieux Lyon district

What a pleasure to sneak about in the narrow alleys of Old Lyon, this Renaissance neighborhood, the former stomping ground of bankers and wealthy Italian traders. Take the traboules (distinctly Lyonnais secret passageways first created by silk traders, then used by the French Résistance during WWII) that pass from one street to another crossing buildings. Take in the incredible towers, and discover secret sites. It's like playing spy in a true-life period piece!

• The country of golden stones in Beaujolais

The south of Beaujolais is dotted with villages built in ocher stone that give them that incomparable golden sheen. Houses, churches, castles illuminate the hilly landscape, giving it the nickname "little Beaujolais Tuscany".

• The Le Corbusier site in Firminy

The stadium, the church, the house of culture and the housing unit can all be claimed by the visionary architect Le Corbusier. The set is emblematic of France's Trente Glorieuses (the 3 decades of post-war growth in France), with principles that remain innovative today: car limitation, favorization of pedestrian spaces, school and roof terraces in buildings, and a premium of light in churches.

• The International City of Gastronomy in Lyon

Opening in 2019 in the renovated walls of the Grand Hotel-Dieu, featuring a pedagogical and interactive taste course on four levels, the space will have demonstrations, experiments, fun workshops, tastings—we're already drooling!

• The Tête d'Or Park

A 17-hectare (42 acre) lake, an African zoo, a botanical garden of 20,000 species, a brilliant rose garden, centuries-old trees, a mini-golf course, ponies for the little ones and soon an Asian forest: more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of park right in the city! Suffice it to say, it's easy to love the Tête d'Or.

• The ponds of the Dombes

Northeast of Lyon lies the land of a thousand ponds—and the first-rate freshwater fishing area of France. The Dombes are a paradise preserved for fishermen and bird watchers.

• The medieval city of Pérouges

Pérouges is ranked in the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, and you'll understand why when you walk through its high-perched streets, which enclose the church and the square tower. The atmosphere here is still authentically medieval.

• The slopes of Croix-Rousse and its traboules in Lyon

The sloping streets that run down the hill are classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This was the district of the canuts, the silk workers who had invested in high buildings to house the precious looms. Like the canuts of old, take narrow passages between two streets, the famous traboules of Lyon.

• The castle of Montmelas in Beaujolais

Built in the 12th century, the castle has retained its medieval fortress silhouette, although it was restored in the 19th century. The estate has produced Beaujolais Village Marquis de Montmelas wine since 1566!

• Opera and Confluence Museum in Lyon

Lyon dares to play with its architecture. The Opera House was rebuilt by the architect Jean Nouvel in the original walls, crowned by a dome of granite and wood. As for the Museum of Confluences, its glass-concrete-stainless steel silhouette is visible from afar, glinting above the cape between the Rhône and Saône rivers.

Things to do in the Lyon region

• Taste the products at Les Halles Paul Bocuse

In the district of Part-Dieu, push open the door of this gigantic covered market, to which the famous chef Paul Bocuse gave his name. Here, nearly 50 traders (market gardeners, bakers, pastry chefs, fishmongers, delicatessens, cheese makers, wine merchants, and more) more than honor the heritage of gastronomic excellence of Lyon in particular and France in general.

• Climb to the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Built at the end of the 19th century, the basilica draws its white silhouette on the Fourvière hill overlooking Lyon. The interior mosaics are beautiful, as well as its marble decorations.

• Take up residence in the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône

On both banks of the Rhône, between Vienna and Avignon, more than 20 grape varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, etc.) produce world-famous wines, mainly red, such as Côte Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage, and Château-Neuf-du-Pape.

• Vibrate to the rhythms of electro during Nuits sonores

For 17 years, during the weekend of the Ascension, Lyon is transformed into a stage of electro music, with an electric program and concerts throughout the city.

• Be dazzled by the Festival of Lights in Lyon

Since December 8, 1852, the Lyonnais kept the habit of hanging candles at their windows to brighten their city. Today, during four very busy evenings, the Festival of Lights showcases new scenographic lights on the monuments, squares, courtyards and famous buildings of the city.

• Rush off to Place Jacobins and sneak passage of the Argue

Impossible to miss, the place is in the heart of the peninsula, complete with classic buildings lining a plaza sporting a beautiful white marble fountain. From here, stroll over to the passage of the Argue, a covered gallery stocked with speciality shops (hat makers, watchmaker, cutlery shops...)

• Burn calories by bike on the bois de Bouchat course

In the mountains of Lyon, south of the city, this wood offers beautiful hilly mountain bike trails for beginners and experienced athletes. The reward: the panoramic view of the Mornantais countryside.

• Delight in a little Lyon bouchon

These regional restaurants, which have given birth to a label, serve a warm atmopshere and Lyonnais specialties: dumplings, tablier de sapeur (double fat beef tripe), lyonnaise salad, cervelle de canut cheese—remember to RSVP, the bouchons fill up quickly!

• Nestle in Glay quarries

These quarries merit a visit; located at 420 meters (1378 feet) above sea level, they lord over the hamlet of Glay where the gold stonemasons resided. From there, the view stretches 50 km (31 miles) around, from the mountains of Lyon to the valley of Azergues.

• Take a dip in the lac des Sapins in Beaujolais

The man-made lake is nestled in the green Beaujolais pine forest, north of Lyon. Dip into an organic bath, thanks to plant filtering.

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By Redazione

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…