The second city of France is worth more than a passing glance. Whereas Paris has fallen prey to criticism for appealing to the masses, Lyon has maintained its own brand of sophistication. Born out of a Roman settlement over 2,000 years ago, Lyon has a rich mix of culture and history that makes it a truly unique experience.
Outside of Venice, Old Lyon offers the largest intact area of Renaissance architecture, housing three beautifully crafted churches: St Paul,St JeanandSt Georges. The Vieux Lyon Funicularprovides a bird’s-eye view of the city that is sure to leave you speechless. Lyon often suffers in comparison with its more famous northern cousin, but in many ways it has more to offer. Happily lacking the arrogance of Parisians, Lyon locals are warm and welcoming – and pleased to help you get the best out of their city, from dawn to dusk and far beyond.
Lyon's Top 10
10. Cathedral St Jean Baptiste The spires reach for the sky, but the stained-glass windows ground it firmly in the hearts of locals and visitors.
5. Musee Gadagne Histoire de Lyon et Marionettes du Monde Centred on local history, this museum displays the best local art, furniture and (oddly enough) puppets!
9. Palais Saint-Pierre The arched promenades are a feast for the eyes.
4. Basilique Notre Dama de Fourviere The extravagantly sculpted exterior contrasts with the delicately detailed interior.
8. Parc de la Tete d’Or This beautiful botanical garden is best enjoyed on a bike.
3. Fourviere Hill Home to must-see ancient Roman ruins and Lyon’s starting point.
7. Musee des Tissus et des Arts Decoratif Houses exceptionally detailed exhibitions based around the development of textiles and decorative arts in the region.
2. Vieux Lyon This World Heritage-listed neighbourhood is as good for walking and people watching as it is for dining and shopping.
6. Maison des Canuts If your eyes are more sartorially focused, this museum specialises in all things silk.
1. Tete d’Or Home to a rose garden, a Zen garden, a lake, a glasshouse and a zoo.
- Théâtre des Célestins – Designed by Gaspard André in 1877, this Lyon building boasts a beautiful Italian-style facade.
- St Jean Cathedral – A gothic-style cathedral built between 1180 and 1480.
- St Jean Archaeological Garden – Located next to St Jean Cathedral, this garden is home to the remains of several religious buildings.
- Fourvière Basilica – Built in 1872, this large church is constructed from white marble.
- Palais de Justice – This historical courthouse was built around 1835 by architect Louis-Pierre Baltard.
Lyon Art & Culture
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs – A museum celebrating the decorative arts.
- Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation – This popular museum depicts daily life in Lyon under the German occupation.
- International Puppet Museum – A museum dedicated to the history of puppets, ideal for children visiting Lyon.
- Musée Vivant du Cinéma – This fascinating museum offers an insight into the history of cinema.
- Auditorium – An impressive concert hall, home to the Lyon National Orchestra.
- Rue Auguste Comte – Here tourists will find Lyon’s antique stores.
- St. Antoine Market – One of the main food markets in Lyon.
- Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse – Found in the Part-Dieu area, some of the best fresh food can be found here.
- Rue Victor Hugo – Located just south of Bellecour, brand-name goods can be purchased here.
- La Part-Dieu – The largest downtown shopping centre in Europe.
Gay & Lesbian Lyon
- Forum Bar – This bar has predominantly gay and lesbian clientele.
- Gay Pride march – This annual event takes place in June each year and never fails to draw large crowds.
- United Café – Catering for young adults visiting Lyon, this popular bar offers a fun night out in a unique, cellar location.
- Le Medley Club – An intimate gay bar, perfect for catching up with friends and locals.
- Le 10 – This bar offers the excitement of theme nights and different music genres.
- Parc de la Tête d'Or – This 105-hectare, English-style garden is one of France’s most beautiful urban parks.
- Rhône Banks - Home to a 5km promenade featuring great views over the Croix-Rousse and Presqu'Ile areas.
- Parc de Gerland – This tranquil Lyon park boasts numerous examples of stunning modern landscaping.
- Jardin des Curiosités – A small garden designed by Canadian artists in a surrealistic spirit.
- Parc des Hauteurs – An aerial adventure course and a ski and mountain bike slope.
- Catch the Olympique Lyonnais play football at the Gerland Stadium.
- Check out ASVEL, where the Villeurbanne basketball team regular puts on a great game.
- Watch the LOU Rugby team get into a scrum at the Vuillermet Stadium.
- Pay a visit to the Club des Sports de Glace de Lyon, the former training base of the 2002 Olympic gold medallist ice dancers.
- Watch the tennis stars of the future train at the Tennis Club de Lyon.
Lyon International Fair inMarch celebrates everything from art to gastronomy.
April’s Original Hip-Hop Festival attracts the best in local and international hip-hop acts.
With spectacular parades and fireworks lighting up the skies and streets of Lyon, Bastille Day (14 July) is the best excuse to dance the night away.
Every building is lit up and an enormous procession marches down the main street of Lyon for December’s Festival of Lights.
When To Go
Cold winds off the Alps meet Mediterranean warmth, making Lyon fairly temperate all year round.
However, Lyon’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, so make sure to pack an umbrella just in case!
Autumn is the best time to visit, with moderate temperatures and less rainfall than in spring.
Public transport is the best options, with clean, safe and reliable travel guaranteed.
Bicycle is not only the green, but also the clever option. Rent-a-bike options are available throughout the city.
Leave the car at home, as Lyon traffic is dense and very difficult to manoeuvre within (which is about the only thing the city has in common with Paris).
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