City of Lyon

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Lyon or Lyons (map) is the third-largest city of France, the capital of the French administrative region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. It is located about 470 km (292 mi) southeast of Paris, 320 km (199 mi) north of Marseille.

Lyon is mostly known as the gastronomic epicentre of France, with one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita in the country. It is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph.

Districts Fourvière (map), Vieux Lyon (map), Croix-Rousse (map) and a large part of Presqu’île (map) are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded by the Romans, with many preserved historical areas, Lyon is the archetype of the heritage city, as recognised by UNESCO.

+ More information > WikipediaWikivoyageUNESCO
Official tourism website

All periods of Lyon’s 2,000-year history have left visible traces in the city’s architectural and cultural heritage, from Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces to contemporary skyscrapers. It never went through a major disaster (earthquake, fire, extensive bombing) or a complete redesign by urban planners. Very few cities in the world boast such diversity in their urban structure and architecture.

Vieux Lyon

After Venice, the Old Lyon (wikimap), a narrow strip along the right bank of the Saône, is the largest Renaissance area in Europe (well, it’s actually far behind Venice). Its current organization, with narrow streets mainly parallel to the river, dates back to the Middle Ages. The buildings were erected between the 15th and the 17th centuries.

The area is generally crowded in the afternoon, especially at weekends. To really enjoy its architectural beauties, the best time is therefore the morning. Around lunchtime, the streets somewhat disappear behind restaurant terraces, postcard racks and the crowd of tourists.

Traboules (wiki) are a type of secret covered passageways primarily associated with the city of Lyon. Closed at night. The traboules are a typical architectural feature of Lyon’s historical buildings. They are corridors which link two streets through a building, and usually a courtyard. Many traboules are unique architectural masterpieces, largely influenced by Italy and especially Florence.

Gastronomic capital

Lyon has a long and chronicled culinary arts tradition. The noted food critic Curnonsky referred to the city as “the gastronomic capital of the world”. >> Lyonnaise cuisine

The bouchon is a traditional Lyonnais restaurant that serves local fare such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork, along with local wines. Two of France’s best known wine-growing regions are located near the city: the *Beaujolais region to the north and the *Côtes du Rhône region to the south.

More recently, the *french tacos was invented in Lyon suburbs in the early 2000s and is now worldwide famous.

The Roman ruins on the hillside near the La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière (map), with the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (map), the Odeon of Lyon and the accompanying Gallo-Roman museum.

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls (map) ruins of a Roman amphitheatre.

The *Hôtel de Ville de Lyon (map) is the city hall of the City of Lyon and one of the largest historic buildings in the city, located between the Place des Terreaux.

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon (map), fine arts museum housed in a former convent of the 17th century, including the Baroque chapelle Saint-Pierre. (including Tintoretto; Paolo Veronese; Nicolas Poussin; Rubens; Rembrandt; Zurbaran; Canaletto; Delacroix; Monet; Gauguin; Van Gogh; Cézanne; Matisse; Picasso; Francis Bacon…). Collections of sculptures, drawings and printings, decorative arts, Roman and Greek antiquities; the second largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in France after that of the Louvre; and a medal cabinet of 50.000 medals and coins.

MAM – Musée des Arts de la Marionnette (map), museum of the history of Lyon housed in a historic building in Vieux Lyon. Also includes a large collection of marionettes.

*Cathedral of St. John (Lyon Cathedral, map), a medieval church with architectural elements of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, also the principal religious structure in the city and the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon.

*Basilica of St-Martin-d’Ainay (map), one of the rare surviving Romanesque basilica-style churches in Lyon.

Jardin botanique de Lyon (map), included in the Parc de la Tête d’Or, is a municipal botanical garden and is open weekdays without charge. The garden was established in 1857 as a successor to earlier botanical gardens dating to 1796, and now describes itself as France’s largest municipal botanical garden.

The Saint Francis of Sales church (map) is famous for its large and unaltered *Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ, attracting audiences from around the world.

8 December each year is marked by the Festival of Lights (la Fête des lumières). This unique Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets.

The two main focal points of activity are typically the Basilica of Fourvière (map) which is lit up in different colours, and the Place des Terreaux (map), which hosts a different light show each year.

Of course, the Festival of Lights is a thrilling experience. However, depending on your expectations, this may not be the best time to visit the city, given the weather and the overcrowding.

Public transport of Lyon

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TCL | Journey planner – Lyon’s public transportation system is regarded as one of the most efficient in the country.

CityMapper – Lyon | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.

+ Transport & Transfers (

 BUS > — sells bus tickets for all the bus companies. OuibusIsilinesFlixBusEurolinesMegabus >> (*Intercity buses in France)

 RAIL >   Gare de Lyon-Part-Dieu (map). Trains are a great way to get around in France. For regional trains, schedules can be found at You can get from pretty much anywhere to anywhere else by train. For long distances, use the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, or High-speed train) on which reservations are obligatory. TGVThelloOuigo. + RailEurope • EurostarThalysizy (Paris-Brussels) • TGV Lyria (Switzerland) • DB (Germany) • RENFE (Barcelona) >> *Rail travel in France

 AIRPORTS >   Lyon–Saint-Exupéry AirportRhônExpress. – list of airports in France. – Paris airport information.

 WATERWAYS >   Brittany FerriesP&O FerriesDFDS Seaways

Lyon has a public bicycle service called Vélo’v which allows travellers, after registering a credit card, to pick up, and drop cycles to and from over 300 points around the city. A map of cycling routes is available online.

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