Welcome to Lyon, a city of rich history, founded as a Roman city, and now known as France's gastronomic capital. This vibrant city offers a blend of old town charm, famous landmarks, and a lively sporting scene, led by Olympique Lyonin. It's worth visiting for the culture, the weather, and the matches. Whether you're flying in from London or taking the train from Gare de Part Dieu, your Lyon adventure awaits.
Unveiling the Charm of Lyon
Lyon, often referred to as a 'small Paris', enchants with its contrast of historic and contemporary charm. Its distinct areas, each with their own unique allure, make for an engaging exploration.
The Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon), a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of narrow Renaissance streets, Italian-style galleries, and traditional traboule passageways.
A visit to the Fourvière Hill unveils the architectural wonder of the Roman amphitheatre and the majestic Basilica of Fourvière.
The Presqu'île district, nestled between the Saône and Rhône rivers, is a hub of vibrant restaurants, boutiques, and cultural landmarks. The modern face of Lyon is embodied in the Confluence district, a testament to the city's ambitious development plans.
Uncover the city's rich history, from Roman ruins to silk workers' traboules, and savor the gastronomic delights that crown Lyon as the 'Capital of Gastronomy'. Whether it's the Michelin-starred eateries or the traditional Lyonnais bouchons, food is at the heart of Lyon's charm.
The city's vibrant neighborhoods like Terreaux and Ainay, the sprawling Parc de la Tête d'Or, and the bustling Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse food market further contribute to the city's irresistible allure.
In essence, Lyon is a blend of delightful contrasts and a celebration of France's rich cultural heritage.
Historical Highlights of Lyon
Founded by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. as Lugdunum, Lyon's illustrious past has left a vivid imprint on its urban fabric and architecture. Home to numerous historic buildings from different eras, the city's long journey from a Roman capital to a vital European center is truly remarkable.
The Gallo-Roman amphitheater, a testament to the city's ancient past, and the 15th-century Saint-Jean Cathedral are among the prominent historical landmarks.
The city underwent significant transformations during the French Revolution and the Renaissance era, leaving indelible marks on its culture and structure.
The 19th century witnessed the city's silk trade boom, with traboules (secret passageways) used by silk workers becoming an integral part of Lyon's history.
Lyon also played a vital role in World War II, hosting the city's resistance to the Nazis, enhancing its historical significance.
The city's rich heritage led to the listing of 427 ha, including districts like Vieux-Lyon, Fourvière Hill, and the slopes of Croix-Rousse, as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
Lyon's Rich Cultural Tapestry
The Old Town: A Walk through History
The Old Town, or Vieux-Lyon, is a living museum of Lyon's past. This Renaissance-era district, nestled between the Fourvière Hill and the River Saône, is one of the largest intact Renaissance neighborhoods in Europe. It’s a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets, Italian-style galleries, and spiral traboule passageways that once facilitated the city's silk trade.
This UNESCO-listed site is divided into three quarters: Saint-Paul, Saint-Jean, and Saint-Georges. Notable landmarks include the Saint-Jean Cathedral, a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, and the Manécanterie, one of Lyon's oldest buildings.
Visitors can also explore:
Traboules: These historical passageways were used by silk workers to transport materials.
Galleries: Italian-inspired architectural features offering glimpses into the city's Renaissance period.
Remember, a visit to the Old Town is more than a walk through history. It's a chance to experience the essence of Lyon's past, alive in its architecture, streets, and landmarks.
Noteworthy Museums and Galleries
Lyon is renowned for its extensive range of museums and galleries, showcasing everything from ancient history to modern art. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the largest art museums in France, is housed in a former 17th-century Benedictine convent and holds a diverse collection of art and design. For a taste of local history, the Gallo Roman Museum is a must-visit, easily accessible by funicular railway from the city center.
Another notable institution is the Musée des Confluences, featuring an impressive collection of nearly 3.5 million artifacts, covering natural sciences, human sciences, and technology. Not to miss is the Museum of Miniature and Cinema, a unique venue that fascinates both adults and children.
For contemporary art enthusiasts, the Museum of Contemporary Art situated next to the stunning Parc de la Tête d’Or, offers chic and quirky exhibitions. The Musée Gadagne, home to the Museum of the History of Lyon and the Puppetry Museum, is a gem located in the heart of Old Lyon, showcasing the city's largest Renaissance building.
Festivals and Events in Lyon
Lyon's vibrant cultural scene is further amplified by its year-round events and festivals. The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) in December stands out as a must-attend event, transforming the cityscape with stunning light installations. The Nuits de Fourvière festival, held annually in the ancient Roman Theater of Fourvière, offers a diverse range of performances, from theatre to concerts.
Electronica lovers will appreciate the Les Nuits Sonores festival in May, while those interested in literature and film will find the Quai du Polar festival at the end of March an exciting event.
The Bachata Festival in March celebrates the rhythm of Latin dances.
In June, the Les Invites de Villeurbanne festival showcases a plethora of art forms.
The Biennale de Lyon is another major event, alternating between contemporary art and dance each year.
The Christmas Market of Croix-Rousse adds a festive touch to the city in December.
These events, among others, ensure that Lyon remains a dynamic city all year round, offering experiences that cater to varied interests.
The Gastronomic Capital of France
Traditional Cuisine of Lyon
Lyon's traditional cuisine, deeply rooted in its history and geography, is one of the city's greatest attractions. A blend of simplicity and richness, it boasts dishes that have stood the test of time, often enjoyed in bouchons, traditional Lyon restaurants.
Key dishes include Quenelles, a type of dumpling, typically made from ground fish, chicken, or meat, combined with breadcrumbs and a light egg binding. Coq au Vin, a slow-cooked chicken dish prepared in a luscious red wine sauce with mushrooms, onions, and bacon, is another classic.
Boudin Blanc, a 'white sausage' made from a mix of cream, breadcrumbs, fat, starch, and boiled pork or chicken, is a dish that has been popular since the Middle Ages.
Lyon is also known for its sausage in brioche and andouillette tirée à la ficelle, a traditional French sausage, dishes that are still savored by food enthusiasts today.
However, it's not just about the traditional; Lyon's cuisine constantly reinvents itself, thanks to young chefs and prestigious culinary schools like the Paul Bocuse and Vatel institutes.
Famous Restaurants in Lyon
Lyon's reputation as the gastronomic capital of France extends to its diverse culinary establishments. From Michelin-starred destinations to the traditional bouchons, Lyon offers a dining scene that caters to all tastes and budgets.
Paul Bocuse, a legendary figure in French [cuisine](Cuisine in Lyon (france.fr), has left his mark in Lyon with several establishments, including the esteemed Restaurant Paul Bocuse.
For a taste of traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, Le Bouchon Sully offers a menu filled with hearty, meaty dishes.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cercle Rouge delivers an exotic fusion of French and international flavors, all at wallet-friendly prices.
For a more modern take on French cuisine, the Kitchen Café in Lyon's university district is a sought-after spot. A more casual but equally delicious option is Le Sirius, known for its understated chic vibe and affordable French fine dining.
For vegetarian options, Manna offers a fully meatless menu with abundant organic and gluten-free options.
Notable mentions also include Le Musée and Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a food market named after the famous chef, where you can sample a variety of local dishes.
Why Lyon is the gastronomic capital?
Lyon's status as a culinary haven extends beyond its traditional cuisine and renowned restaurants. It's a city that lives and breathes gastronomy, making it a foodie's paradise. The city is home to an impressive number of Michelin-starred restaurants, with the Rhône department alone holding 26 Michelin stars. The city's culinary excellence is further evidenced by the prestigious culinary schools located here, including the Paul Bocuse and Vatel institutes. Moreover, Lyon's gastronomic prowess is deeply intertwined with its vibrant culture. The city hosts various food-related events and boasts a number of food markets, such as the famous Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. This focus on high-quality, delicious cuisine has resulted in Lyon being dubbed the 'Capital of Gastronomy' since 1935.
A Guide to Lyon's Nightlife
As the sun sets, Lyon's vibrant nightlife springs to life, offering a diverse spectrum of experiences. From relaxed wine bars to energetic nightclubs, there is something to fit every preference.
Cocktail enthusiasts will appreciate L'Antiquaire, renowned for its old-world charm and expertly crafted drinks. For those seeking a night of dance and music, L'Imperial offers one of the best dance floors in the city.
Jazz lovers should head to La Clef de Voute, an intimate space that showcases excellent jazz performances. For a unique night out, attend the Nuits de Fourvière, a famous performing arts festival held annually.
If you're looking for a more casual experience, consider exploring Lyon's microbreweries, such as Ninkasi, offering live music, fresh beer, and a lively atmosphere.
Remember, Lyon's nightlife is about more than just bars and clubs. Don't miss the opportunity to see the city's architectural heritage illuminated at night, a sight that adds a different dimension to its beauty.
Lyon's nightlife is as eclectic and varied as the city itself, ensuring that every evening holds the promise of a new adventure.
Lyon's Retail Therapy: From Antiques to Fashion
Exploring the Markets of Lyon
In the heart of Lyon, you'll find a thriving market scene, showcasing the city's gastronomic prowess and the rich variety of local produce. Marché de la Croix-Rousse, one of the largest outdoor markets, offers a panoramic view of the city while you shop. On the other hand, the Jean Jaurès Market is a mix of food and flower stands, with a separate section for clothes and accessories.
For vintage enthusiasts, Les Puces du Canal is the second-largest flea market in France, where you can hunt for antiques, furniture, and unique finds. If you're looking for fresh produce, the Marché Alimentaire Victor Augagneur and Marché de Monplaisir are worth a visit.
A unique experience awaits at the Marché aux Bouquinistes, a book market providing an array of literary treasures. No matter your preference, exploring Lyon's markets is a sensory feast of vibrant colors, enticing aromas, and the lively chatter of vendors and shoppers.
Shopping Districts Worth Visiting
If you're seeking a shopping experience that combines both international brands and local boutiques, head to Rue de la République. This pedestrian street, lined with numerous stores, is a prime spot for shopping sprees. Large brands such as H&M, Zara, and Mango are readily available here.
For a more modern and trendy shopping experience, make your way to Confluence, a shopping center in the heart of the revamped docklands. This place is known for its airy, fresh atmosphere and wide range of stores.
If you fancy a visit to one of Europe's largest shopping centers, the La Part-Dieu mall is your destination. With more than 250 stores spread over three levels, it caters to a wide variety of shopping needs.
For something uniquely Lyonnaise, explore the Saint-Georges area in Old Lyon, famous for its silk shops. You can even visit the design workshop of CathAm Silk by appointment.
Lastly, don't miss the chance to visit Place des Terreaux. This iconic location is not only a historical site but also a lively shopping district.
Treasure Hunting in Antique Stores
Lyon's antique stores are a treasure trove for collectors and history enthusiasts. They offer a vast array of items, from vintage furniture to rare art pieces. Antiquités Poupée Marilyn, a small shop packed with antique dolls and ceramics, is beloved by locals and tourists alike. For Japanese art lovers, Le Bois Debout offers a stunning selection of antique artworks.
For a comprehensive antique shopping experience, visit the Cité des Antiquaires. Here, you can explore a large stock of 18th, 19th, and 20th-century furniture and art pieces.
Remember to also check out the city's flea markets. The Puces du Canal is a notable spot. It is one of the largest flea markets in France and offers a variety of antiques from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Whether you're a seasoned collector or a curious browser, Lyon's antique stores offer a unique trip down memory lane.
Education and Student Life in Lyon
Known as a top student destination, Lyon boasts a diverse educational landscape with institutions such as the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 and the world-renowned culinary schools of Paul Bocuse and Vatel.
In Lyon, education isn't confined within classroom walls. The city itself, with its rich history and vibrant cultural life, offers countless learning opportunities.
Student life in Lyon is dynamic and enriching. With nearly 150,000 students, including 15,000 international students, Lyon's student community is vibrant and diverse. The city is known for being personable and offering a high quality of life, attracting students from all over the world.
The city also encourages students to immerse themselves in its culture through initiatives like the "Pass Culture", offering access to cultural venues and events. From traditional festivals to contemporary art exhibitions, Lyon's cultural scene offers a wealth of experiences for students.
Healthcare is another important aspect of student life in Lyon. Students under the age of 28 are eligible for coverage under the national health insurance scheme.
Lyon's strategic location, close to the Alps and just two hours from Paris and the Mediterranean Sea by TGV, adds to its appeal as a student city.
In essence, education and student life in Lyon are about more than just academia; they're about experiencing and contributing to the life of a dynamic, historic city.
Lyon as a Business and Industrial Hub
Lyon's Role in Agriculture and Industry
Lyon plays a significant role in both agriculture and industry, contributing significantly to the economic vitality of the region. In the sphere of agriculture, Lyon has been at the forefront of innovative initiatives, such as the FoodTech Lyon AURA community, which supports entrepreneurial ventures related to food. This has also given rise to urban farming projects like the Ferme Urbaine de Lyon, aimed at meeting the city's growing food demand.
In terms of industry, Lyon is the first industrial agglomeration in France, providing 77,860 jobs in 7,610 industrial establishments. It is a significant player in the chemical, metallurgy, machines, and equipment sectors. Furthermore, Lyon has a rich industrial heritage, with the silk industry playing a crucial role in its economic development. Today, it remains an important center for banking, pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotech industries, underscoring its enduring industrial strength.
Business Opportunities and Growth in Lyon
Lyon presents an attractive business landscape with dynamic sectors and a thriving startup ecosystem. The region's economic vitality spans diverse sectors such as digital, sustainable tourism, and services for individuals and companies. In recent years, Lyon has seen significant growth in investor confidence, with startups raising a staggering $340 million in 2023.
Key business areas such as the Vienne Condrieu urban area and the Plaine de l’Ain Industrial Park offer top-quality sites for businesses, catering to both urban and rural settings. The city's strategic location, access to a highly skilled workforce, and excellent infrastructure make it an ideal choice for companies seeking to establish or expand their operations.
Lyon's startup scene is flourishing, with innovative enterprises such as Agicap, which provides a software-as-a-service platform for small businesses to manage their cash flows. Other notable startups include ENYO Pharma and Red Horticulture, reflecting the city's strengths in biotechnology and agriculture.
Furthermore, Lyon's digital sector stands out as a major driver of economic growth, with a significant increase in jobs and startup formation in recent years. This growth is supported by the city's commitment to fostering innovation, as evidenced by the services and solutions offered to companies looking to set up or expand in Lyon.
In summary, Lyon's diverse economy, coupled with its supportive business environment and dynamic startup sector, make it a city ripe with business opportunities and potential for growth.
Banking Sector in Lyon: An Overview
Lyon's banking sector plays a significant role in the city's economic landscape, with a rich history and evolving trends. As a key financial hub, Lyon hosts several major domestic and international banks, contributing to its vibrant business ecosystem.
The banking industry in Lyon is characterised by a strong presence of traditional banking institutions, alongside a growing number of innovative fintech companies. These firms leverage cutting-edge technology to offer a range of financial services, reflecting the sector's adaptability and resilience in the face of digital disruption.
Key players in Lyon's banking sector include BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, and Société Générale, among others, offering a range of services from retail banking to corporate finance. In addition, Lyon's financial sector is complemented by a thriving insurance industry, with the city ranking second in France for insurance jobs.
The sector's growth is also supported by Lyon's robust economic climate, strategic location, and access to a skilled workforce, factors that continue to attract investment and foster sector development.
In summary, Lyon's banking sector is a dynamic and critical component of the city's economy, underpinned by a blend of traditional institutions, innovative fintech companies, and a conducive business environment.
Sports Enthusiasm: The Olympique Lyonnais
Olympique Lyonnais: A Glance at the Team
The Olympique Lyonnais, commonly known as OL, is a top-tier football club based in Lyon. Founded in 1950, it has since gained a reputation as one of the most successful clubs in French football history. The team plays their home games at the impressive Groupama Stadium, which can host up to 59,186 spectators.
As of the current 23/24 season, the team consists of a diverse mix of talent, including five national team players. Notable transfers include Saïd Benrahma, who joined the team despite offers from other clubs.
The team is led by Fabio Grosso, a coach known for his strategic acumen and ability to bring out the best in his players. Under his leadership, the team's performance has shown marked improvement.
The OL's success is not only confined to the local stage. They also participate in international competitions, adding to the club's prestige and exposure.
Key facts about the team:
Stadium: Groupama Stadium
Coach: Fabio Grosso
National Team Players: 5
Recent notable transfer: Saïd Benrahma
Famous Matches and Players of Olympique Lyonnais
Olympique Lyonnais has a rich history of memorable matches and legendary players. Celebrated players include Serge Chiesa, the most capped player with 542 appearances, and Grégory Coupet, who participated in 518 matches. Another iconic figure is the Brazilian Juninho, widely recognized as one of the greatest free-kick takers of all time. Juninho joined Lyon in 2001 and left a significant mark on the team's history.
In the early years, significant contributors included the Argentine Nesto Combin and French striker Fleury Di Nallo. They formed an attacking duo that was instrumental in Lyon's successes in the 1960s.
In recent years, Lyon's youth academy has produced world-class talents such as Karim Benzema, Houssem Aouar, Moussa Dembélé, and Nabil Fekir. As of the 2023/2024 season, Alexandre Lacazette stands out as the club's top performer, with an impressive performance index of 95.99.
These players have contributed to unforgettable matches and have left an indelible imprint on the history of Olympique Lyonnais.
The Influence of Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon's Culture
Olympique Lyonnais, or OL, holds a significant place in Lyon's cultural fabric. Established in 1950, the club has won countless titles and honors, etching its name in the annals of French and European football. Beyond the field, the club has instrumental ties with the city. Its home ground, the Groupama Stadium, is not only a football ground but a cultural and social hub, hosting various events.
OL's influence is also felt in the city's neighborhoods, with many local bars and cafes featuring OL memorabilia, showing matches, and fostering a vibrant fan culture. This sense of community extends to the OL Foundation, the club's philanthropic arm, which undertakes various initiatives aimed at promoting sports education, social integration, and cultural development in Lyon.
Moreover, the club's history and success have inspired literature, films, and even a museum dedicated to its legacy, the OL Le Musée. Here, fans and visitors can explore the club's rich history, from its founding days to its modern triumphs.
OL's influence extends beyond football, shaping Lyon's identity and acting as a unifying symbol for its people. The club's motto, "Nous sommes l'Olympique Lyonnais" (We are Olympique Lyonnais), truly encapsulates its deep-rooted influence in Lyon's culture.
Navigating Through Lyon: Transportation Guide
Gare de Lyonin: Gateway to the City
The Gare de Lyon, located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, serves as a crucial gateway to Lyon. As one of the busiest railway stations in Europe, it offers a wide range of connections, including high-speed TGV services to major French cities and other European destinations. The station is divided into two main halls: Hall 1, which houses the majority of the TGV services; and Hall 2, which caters to regional trains, TER services, and a few TGV lines.
The Gare de Lyon also houses a RER station, with lines A and D providing easy access to the city of Lyon as well as other regions of France. Metro lines 1 and 14 also connect to the station, offering further options for intra-city travel.
To ensure a smooth journey, aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your train's departure. Tickets can be purchased at RER or Metro stations, with a single ticket for a journey within central Paris (zone 1) costing 1.90€.
Exploring Lyon: Public and Private Transport Options
Lyon is well-served by an efficient public transport network managed by TCL (Transports en Commun Lyonnais), including:
Metro: With four lines (A, B, C, D) running across the city, the Metro is an easy way to navigate Lyon, particularly during peak times.
Tram: Seven tram lines cover broad areas of Lyon, connecting key points of interest.
Bus: Over 120 bus lines complement the tram and Metro services, ensuring every part of the city is accessible.
Funicular: Two funicular lines run from Vieux-Lyon to Fourvière and St-Just, offering stunning views of the city.
For those who prefer private transport, Lyon offers car rental services and bike rentals. The city's bike-sharing scheme, Vélo'v, allows you to rent bikes from various locations around the city. Alternatively, taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are readily available.
For convenience, consider purchasing the Lyon City Card which offers unlimited access to public transportation, free entry to museums, and discounts on various attractions.
Flights to and from Lyon Airport Saint-Exupéry
Lyon Airport Saint-Exupéry (LYS), located east of Lyon, serves as the primary airport for domestic and international flights to and from the city. With its advanced facilities and services, it caters to a wide range of airlines including easyJet, British Airways, and Wizz Air UK.
Direct flights connect Lyon to many cities in France, Europe, and even the Maghreb. For real-time flight information, passengers can check the airport's official site or use applications like Flightradar24. Additionally, disruptions like ongoing protests can impact travel, so it's advisable to anticipate your arrival at the airport.
If you're traveling on a budget, platforms like Skyscanner and KAYAK offer options for cheap flights. For example, direct flights from London to Lyon with Wizz Air UK can cost as little as £23 return.
Upon arrival, passengers can discover services including cafes, restaurants, shops, and even a duty-free section. For accommodation near the airport, consider options like MOXY Lyon Airport.
Accommodation in Lyon: From Luxury to Budget
Top Hotels in Lyon for a Comfortable Stay
Lyon offers a diverse range of top hotels, ensuring travelers can find something that perfectly suits their needs.
Radisson Blu Hotel is an eye-catching skyscraper located in the business district of Part Dieu. Its contemporary style and high rating make it a popular choice among travelers.
Okko Lyon Pont Lafayette is a smartly designed hotel nestled beside the Rhône in the city center. It's distinguished by its modishly furnished 'Club' — a large space that offers comfort and style.
Just outside the city center, the Maison d'Anthouard Lyon is a boutique hotel with a stylish base. It's just 15 minutes from the city center and features a garden, wine bar, and restaurant.
For those seeking a five-star experience, Villa Florentine is a spectacular hotel located in the heart of the city.
Maison Nô is a boutique hotel with a heated rooftop restaurant offering panoramic cityscape views.
Hotel de l'Abbaye located in the central Ainay district of Lyon, offers an alluring balance between old-world, traditional charm, and contemporary design.
Sofitel Lyon Bellecour is another five-star hotel that offers free Wi-Fi and is ranked #6 in the best hotels in Lyon.
MEININGER Hotel Lyon Centre Berthelot is located near the Musée de la Résistance and offers a bar, private parking, a shared lounge, and a terrace.
Finally, NH Lyon Airport is a comfortable hotel offering direct access to the airport. It's equipped with a fitness center, sauna, steam room, and family rooms accommodating up to 4 people.
For a business-oriented stay, the Crowne Plaza Lyon – Cité Internationale is a luxurious yet affordable hotel with a wide array of services.