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Coordinates: 45°45′35″N 4°50′32″E / 45.759723°N 4.842223°E / 45.759723; 4.842223

Ville de Lyon
Flag of Lyon
Coat of arms of Lyon
City flag City coat of arms

Motto: Avant, avant, Lion le melhor.
(Arpitan: Forward, forward, Lyon the best)

Vues de Lyon 2.jpg
Basilique de Fourvière and the Hôtel de Ville de Lyon
Lyon is located in France
Time zone CET (GMT +1)
Country France
Region Rhône-Alpes
Department Rhône (69)
Arrondissement Lyon
Canton chief town of 14 cantons
Subdivisions 9 arrondissements
Intercommunality Urban Community
of Lyon
Mayor Gérard Collomb (PS)
Elevation 162–305 m (531–1,001 ft)
Land area1 47.95 km2 (18.51 sq mi)
Population2 472,305  (2006
greater Lyon : 1,245,000)
 - Ranking 3rd in France
2nd agglomeration
 - Density 9,850 /km2 (25,500 /sq mi)
Urban spread
Urban area 954 km2 (368 sq mi) (1999)
 - Population 1,348,832 (1999)
Metro area 3,306 km2 (1,276 sq mi) (1999)
 - Population 1,748,271 (2006)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Historic Site of Lyons*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party  France
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 872
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1998  (22nd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Lyon (Arpitan: Liyon), often Anglicized as Lyons, is a city in east-central France in the region Rhône-Alpes, situated between Paris and Marseille. Its name is pronounced [ljɔ̃]  ( listen) in French and Arpitan, and /liːˈɒn/ or /ˈlaɪ.ənz/ in English. Lyon is located at 470 km from Paris, 320 km from Marseille, 160 km from Geneva, 280 km from Turin, 450 km from Milan and 600 km from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais (singular and plural).

Lyon is a major centre of business with a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy and having a significant role in the history of cinema due to Auguste and Louis Lumière. The local professional football team, Olympique Lyonnais, has increased the profile of Lyon internationally through participation in European football championships.

The population of the city of Lyon is 472,305. Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Lyon forms the second-largest metropolitan area in France after that of Paris, with the population of its urban area estimated to be 1,348,832 (Insee, 1999) and that of its metropolitan area 1,748,271 (2006). Its urban region (Urban Community of Lyon), represents half of the Rhône-Alpes région population with three million inhabitants.[1] Lyon is also a major industrial centre specializing in chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. The city also contains a significant software industry with a particular focus on video games.

Lyon is the préfecture (capital) of the Rhône département, and also the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known as the silk capital of the world. The city is known as the culinary capital of France. It also hosts the international headquarters of Interpol, Euronews, International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commission Intercultural cities programme.



Main article for early history: Lugdunum
Main article for later history: History of Lyon
Lucius Munatius Plancus, founder of Lyon

Lyon was founded on the Fourvière hill as a Roman colony in 43 BC by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar, on the site of a Gaulish hill-fort settlement called Lug[o]dunon, from the Celtic god Lugus ('Light', cognate with Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish ) and dúnon (hill-fort). Lyon was first named Lugdunum meaning the "hill of lights" or "the hill of crows". Lug was equated by the Romans to Mercury.

Agrippa recognized that Lugdunum's position on the natural highway from northern to south-eastern France made it a natural communications hub, and he made Lyon the starting point of the principal Roman roads throughout Gaul. It then became the capital of Gaul, partly thanks to its convenient location at the convergence of two navigable rivers, and quickly became the main city of Gaul. Two emperors were born in this city: Claudius and Caracalla. Today, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "le primat des Gaules" and the city often referred to as the "capitale des Gaules".

The Christians in Lyon were persecuted for their religion under the reigns of the various Roman emperors, most notably Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus. Local saints from this period include saints such as Blandina (Blandine), Pothinus (Pothin) , and Epipodius (Épipode), among others.

The great Christian bishop of Lyon in the 2nd century was the Easterner Irenaeus.

Lyon under siege (1793)

Burgundian refugees from the destruction of Worms by Huns in 437 were resettled by the military commander of the west, Aëtius, at Lugdunum, which was formally the capital of the new Burgundian kingdom by 461.

In 843, by the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon, with the country beyond the Saône, went to Lothair I, and later became a part of the Kingdom of Arles. Lyon only came under French control in the fourteenth century.

Fernand Braudel remarked, Historians of Lyon are not sufficiently aware of the bi-polarity between Paris and Lyon, which is a constant structure in French development from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution (Braudel 1984 p. 327). The fairs in Lyon, the invention of Italian merchants, made it the economic countinghouse of France in the late 15th century. When international banking moved to Genoa, then Amsterdam, Lyon simply became the banking centre of France; its new Bourse (treasury), built in 1749, still resembled a public bazaar where accounts were settled in the open air. During the Renaissance, the city developed with the silk trade, especially with Italy; the Italian influence on Lyon's architecture can still be seen[citation needed]. Thanks to the silk trade, Lyon became an important industrial town during the 19th century.

Lyon in the 18th century

Lyon was a scene of mass violence against Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres in 1572.

During the French Revolution, Lyon rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins. In 1793, the city was under siege for over two months, assaulted by the Revolutionary armies, before eventually surrendering. Several buildings were destroyed, especially around the Place Bellecour, and Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois with Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people. A decade later, Napoleon himself ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during this period.

The silk workers of Lyon, known as canuts, staged two major uprisings: in 1831 and 1834. The 1831 uprising saw one of the first recorded uses of the black flag as an emblem of protest. The world's first funicular railway was built between Lyon and La Croix-Rousse in 1862.

Lyon in 1860
The Saône River in Lyon as seen from Pont La Feuillée
View from Fourvière

Lyon was a centre for the occupying German forces and also a stronghold of resistance during World War II, and the city is now home to a resistance museum. (See also Klaus Barbie.) The traboules, or secret passages, through the houses enabled the local people to escape Gestapo raids.


Lyon's geography is dominated by the Rhône and Saône rivers that converge to the south of the historic city centre forming a peninsula or "Presqu'île"; two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the historic city centre; and a large plain which sprawls eastward from the historic city centre.

To the west is Fourvière, known as "the hill that prays", the location for the highly decorated Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, several convents, the palace of the Archbishop, the Tour métallique (a highly visible TV tower, replicating the last stage of the Eiffel Tower) and a funicular (a railway on a steep hill).

To the north is the Croix-Rousse, "the hill that works", traditionally home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was once renowned.

The original medieval city (Vieux Lyon) was built on the west bank of the Saône river at the foot of the Fourvière hill, west of the Presqu'île. This area, along with portions of the Presqu'île and much of the Croix-Rousse is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Place Bellecour is located on the peninsula (Presqu'île) between the rivers Rhône and Saône and is the third largest public square in France and one of the largest in Europe. Specifically, it is the largest clear square (i.e., without any patches of greenery, trees or any other kind of obstacles) in Europe.[citation needed] The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour. The 2nd arrondissement has many of the finest old residential buildings in Lyon and the area is known for its concentration of old Lyonnaise Catholic families, particularly in the Ainay part of the arrondissement.

East of the Rhône from the Presqu'île is a large area of flat ground upon which sits much of modern Lyon and most of the city's population. Situated in this area is the urban centre of Part-Dieu which clusters the former Tour du Crédit Lyonnais, "Part-Dieu Tower" today, the Tour Oxygène, the Tour Swiss Life , the Part-Dieu shopping centre, and one of Lyon's two major rail terminals, Lyon Part-Dieu.

North of this district is the relatively wealthy 6th arrondissement, which is home to the Parc de la Tête d'Or, one of Europe's largest urban parks, the prestigious Lycée du Parc to the south of the park, and Interpol's world headquarters on the park's western edge. The park contains a free zoo that has recently been upgraded.

Several buildings are being constructed in Part-Dieu such as the Tour Oxygène and other projects such as the Tour Incity



Climate Table
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 6.2 8.4 12.4 15.3 20.0 23.5 27.0 26.7 22.3 16.7 10.2 7.1 16.3
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) 0.1 1.2 3.3 5.6 9.9 13.1 15.6 15.3 11.9 8.4 3.6 1.5 7.5
Mean total rainfall (mm) 52.9 50.5 54.8 72.3 87.8 80.2 62.0 69.0 88.3 94.7 75.1 55.5 843.1
Mean number of rain days 9.4 9.0 8.8 9.5 11.3 8.8 6.8 7.2 7.7 10.3 9.2 9.5 107.5


Lyon is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région, the préfecture of the Rhône département, and the capital of 14 cantons, covering 1 commune, and with a total population of 488,300 (2007).


Lyon and its 9
Heraldry of Lyon
History of Lyon
Lugdunum · Geography of Lyon
1st arrondissement of Lyon 2nd arrondissement of Lyon 3rd arrondissement of Lyon 4th arrondissement of Lyon 5th arrondissement of Lyon 6th arrondissement of Lyon 7th arrondissement of Lyon 8th arrondissement of Lyon 9th arrondissement of Lyon Arrondissements of Lyon
About this image
Lyon's early 17th-century town hall.
Place Bellecour, the "official" center of Lyon

Like Paris and Marseille, Lyon is divided into a number of municipal arrondissements (sometimes translated into English as boroughs), each of which is identified by a number and has its own council and town hall.

Five arrondissements were originally created in 1852, when three neighbouring communes (La Croix-Rousse, La Guillotière, and Vaise) were annexed by Lyon.

Between 1867 and 1959, the 3rd arrondissement (which originally covered the whole of the Left Bank of the Rhône) was split three times, creating a new arrondissement in each case.

Then, in 1963, the commune of Saint-Rambert-l'Île-Barbe was annexed to Lyon's 5th arrondissement. A year later, in 1964, the 5th was split to create Lyon's 9th – and, to date, final – arrondissement.

Within each arrondissement, there are a number of recognisable quartiers or neighbourhoods:


The Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica, which overlooks the city
Bartholdi Fountain at the Place des Terreaux
A view of one of the many gardens in the Parc de la Tête d'Or
Statue of Louis XIV, with Ferris wheel in background, at Bellecour
The "Fête des Lumières" expresses gratitude to Mary
The Roman-era Theatre on the Fourvière hill
The Ile Barbe island along the Saône in Lyon's 9th arrondissement



Part Dieu District by night
  • Since the Middle Ages, the residents of the region, speak several dialects of Arpitan language. The Lyonnais dialect was partly replaced by the French language as the importance of the city grew. However, it is still alive and, in addition, some "frenchified" Franco-Provençal words can also be heard in the French of the Lyonnais, who call their little boys and girls "gones" and "fenottes" for example.[citation needed]
  • Lyon was an early centre for printing books, and nurtured a circle of 16th century poets.[citation needed]
  • The Lumière brothers invented cinema in the town in 1895. The Musée Lumière is there as a testimony, hosting many of their first inventions.[citation needed]
  • December 8 each year is marked by the Festival of Lights (la Fête des lumières), a celebration of thanks to the Virgin Mary, who purportedly saved the city from a deadly plague in the Middle Ages. During the event, the local population places candles (lumignons) at their windows and the city of Lyon organizes impressive large-scale light shows onto the sides of important Lyonnais monuments, such as the medieval Cathédrale St-Jean.
  • The church of Saint Francis of Sales is famous for its large and unaltered Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ, attracting audiences from around the world. Lyon also features a renowned opera house.
  • Lyon is also the French capital of "trompe l'œil"-walls, a very ancient tradition. Many are to be seen everywhere around the city. This old tradition is now expending in a contemporary expression. See for example Guillaume Bottazzi art work.[2][3]
  • The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic congregation that operates schools in Europe and North America, was founded in Lyon in 1821.
  • The African Museum of Lyon is one of the oldest museums situated in Lyon.[4]

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Historic Site of Lyon was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In their designation, UNESCO cited the "exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance."[5] The specific regions composing the Historic Site include:

  • the Roman district and Fourvière;
  • the Renaissance district, Vieux-Lyon
  • the silk district (slopes of Croix-Rousse), and
  • the Presqu'île, which features architecture from the 12th century to modern times.[6]

Both Vieux-Lyon and the slopes of Croix-Rousse are known for their narrow passageways (traboules) that pass through buildings and link streets on either side.


For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due, in part, to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings (e.g. Paul Bocuse). This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.

Lyon is the home of very typical and traditional restaurants: the bouchons. Bouchons are usually convivial restaurants serving local dishes, and local wines.

Lyon is famous for its morning snacks formerly had by its (silk) workers, the mâchons, made up of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Traditional local dishes include Rosette lyonnaise and saucisson de Lyon (sausage), andouillette, coq au vin, esox (pike) quenelle, gras double (tripe cooked with onions), salade lyonnaise (lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg), marrons glacés, coussin de Lyon and cardoon au gratin.


The GDP of Lyon is 52 billion euros, and the city is the second richest city after Paris. Lyon and its region Rhône-Alpes represent one of the most important economies in Europe and, according to the Loughborough university, can be compared to Philadelphia, Bombay or Athens concerning its international position. The city of Lyon is working in partnerships to more easily enable the establishment of new headquarters in the territory. (ADERLY, Chambre du commerce et d'industrie, Grand Lyon...). According to the ECER-Banque Populaire, Lyon is the 14th favorite city in the European Union concerning the creation of companies and investments.


Lyon is the headquarters of many companies like Euronews, Toupargel, Lyon Airports, BioMérieux, LVL Medical, Voisin (Chocolatier), CEGID, Boiron, Infogrames, GL Events, Alptis, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (C.N.R.)...

Business quarter

The specialization of some sectors of activities have the consequence of creating several main business centers: La Part-Dieu, located in the 3rd arrondissement is the second biggest business district after La Défense in Paris with its emblematic Tour du Crédit Lyonnais (Pencil tower) and Oxygen Tower. Cité Internationale (International City), completely created by the architect Renzo Piano and finished in 2006. This zone is located in the border of the Parc de la tête d'or in the 6th arrondissement. The worldwide headquarters of Interpol is located there. The quarter of the Confluence, in the south of the historic centre is a new pole of economical and cultural development. This zone is located in the south of Bellecour and the Perrache railway station.


The tourism industry is really beneficial to Lyon with one billion euros in 2007 and 3.5 million hotel nights from foreigners in 2006. Approximately 60% of tourists visit for business, with the rest for leisure. In January 2009, Lyon is in first place of the hostels business in France. The main tourist festivals are the Fête des lumières also known as the festival of lights. The Nuits de Fourvière, annual festival in June and August. The Biennale d'art contemporain. The Nuits Sonores


Laboratory P4 Jean Merieux

Lyon is home to some of the most dangerous viruses in the world (class 4) in the Jean Merieux laboratory of research, like Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, Hendra, and Lassa.[7]

Main sights

These are the main sights in Lyon.

Noteworthy sites


Middle Ages and Renaissance

  • Cathédrale Saint-Jean, medieval cathedral of Lyon with architectural elements of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. It is the principal religious structure in Lyon.
  • Basilica of St-Martin-d'Ainay is one of the rare surviving Romanesque basilica-style churches in Lyon.
  • Église Saint-Paul, Romanesque (12 and 13th century) and Gothic (15-16th century) church.
  • Église Saint-Bonaventure, 14th- and 15th-century Gothic church.
  • Eglise Saint-Nizier, Gothic church from the 15th century. Its doorway was carved in the 16th century by Philibert Delorme.
  • Vieux Lyon (English: Old Lyon) area – Medieval and Renaissance quarter of the town, with cobbled streets, shops, and dining.
  • The many Renaissance hôtels particuliers of the Old Lyon quarter, such as the Hôtel de Bullioud, also built by Philibert Delorme.

17th and 18th century

19th century and modern city


Parks and gardens

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. Today it contains about 15,000 plants, including 3500 plants of temperate regions, 760 species of shrubs, a hundred species of wild roses, 750 varieties of historical roses, 200 varieties of peonies recognized by the Conservatoire Français des Collections Végétales Spécialisées (CCVS), 1800 species of alpine plants, 50 varieties of water lilies, and 6,000 species in its greenhouses.

The garden's greenhouses enclose a total of 6,500 m2 (69,965.42 sq ft) in area, and include a central pavilion for tropical plants including camellias over a hundred years old; a greenhouse-aquarium with Amazonian water lilies; a Dutch greenhouse containing carnivorous plants; small greenhouses with orchids; and small cold greenhouses with azaleas, cactus, and so forth.

  • Parc de la Tête d'Or, (literally, Golden Head Park), in central Lyon is the largest urban park in France at 117 hectares. Located in the 6th arrondissement, it features a large lake on which boating takes place during the summer months. Due to the relatively small number of other parks in Lyon, it receives a huge number of visitors over summer, and is a frequent destination for joggers and cyclists. At the northern end of the park, there is a small zoo, with giraffes, elephants, tigers and other animals. There is also sporting equipment, such as a velodrome, boules court, mini-golf, horse riding, and even a miniature train.
  • Parc de Gerland, in the south of the city (20 hectares in 2000, 80 hectares in the end).
  • Parc des hauteurs, in Fourvières.
  • Parc de Miribel-Jonage, (300 hectares).
  • Parc de Lacroix-Laval, (115 hectares).
  • Parc de Parilly, (178 hectares).

Colleges and universities

International primary and secondary level schools in Lyon

There are some international schools in Lyon, including:


Lyon is home to the Ligue 1 football team Olympique Lyonnais, commonly known as "Lyon" or "OL". The team has enjoyed unprecedented success recently, winning seven consecutive national titles and establishing themselves as France's premier football club. The team competes in the prestigious UEFA Champions League and currently plays at the impressive Stade de Gerland, where the Danone Nations Cup is held every year. The team is set to move to a new stadium in Décines-Charpieu (in the eastern suburbs) in 2010, which will hold 61,556 people. Lyon also has a rugby union team, Lyon OU, currently playing in division 2, Rugby Pro D2. In addition, Lyon has a rugby league side: Lyon Villeurbanne Rhône XIII, or LVR XIII,[8] play in the French rugby league championship. The club's current home ground is Stade Georges Lyvet in Villeurbanne. Lyon is also home to the Lyon Hockey Club, an ice hockey team that competes in France's national ice hockey league. Finally, Villeurbanne also has a renowned basketball team, ASVEL, who play at the Astroballe arena in Cusset.



The Saint-Exupéry International Airport is located 20 km (12 mi) east of Lyon, and serves as a base for domestic and international flights. With its in-house train station (Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry) the airport is also connected to the TGV network.

The Lyon-Bron Airport is a smaller airport dedicated to General Aviation (both private and commercial), located 10 km (6.2 mi) east of the city centre. Having helipads, the facility hosts a Gendarmerie and a Sécurité Civile (civilian defence) Base. This smaller airport used to be Lyon's international airport before all the airline's activities got transferred to Lyon Saint-Exupéry.


Lyon is connected to the north (Lille, Paris, Brussels, and in the future Amsterdam) and the south (Marseille, Montpellier, and in the future Barcelona, Turin) by the TGV. It was the first city to be connected to Paris by the TGV in 1981.

Lyon has two major railway stations: Lyon Part-Dieu, which was built to accommodate the TGV and has become the principal railway station for extra-regional trains; and Lyon Perrache, which is an older station that now primarily serves regional rail services. In practice, many trains, including TGVs, serve both stations. Smaller railway stations include Gorge de Loup, Vaise, Vénissieux, St-Paul and Jean-Macé.


Network of highways around Lyon

The City is at the heart of a dense road network and is located at the meeting point of several highways: A6 (to Paris), A7 (to Marseille), A42 (to Geneve), A43 (to Grenoble). The city is now bypassed by the A46.

Intercity coach

Lyon is served by the Eurolines intercity coach organisation. Its Lyon terminal is located at the city's Perrache railway station, which serves as an intermodal transportation hub that also includes tramways, local and regional trains and busses, the terminus of metro line A, the bicycle service Vélo'v, taxis, and high-speed TGV trains.

Public transport

public transport map

The TCL (French: Transports en Commun Lyonnais), Lyon's public transit system, consisting of metro, buses and tramways, serves 62 communes of the Lyon agglomeration. The subway network has 4 lines ( A  B  C  D), 39 stations and runs with a frequency of up to a train every 2 minutes. The bus network consists of normal buses, trolleybuses and coaches for areas outside the centre. There are four tram lines since April 2009: T1 from Montrochet in the south to IUT-Feyssine in the north, Tram T2 from Perrache railway station in the southwest to Saint-Priest in the southeast, Tram T3 from Part-Dieu to Meyzieu, and Tram T4 from Mendès-France to Feyzin. There are also two funicular lines from Vieux Lyon to Saint-Just and Fourvière. Despite the existence of several systems and operators the ticketing is unified through a unique system.

The REAL project intends on promoting and eventually increasing, the usage of public transport means by commuters.

Public bicycle service Vélo'v

Rhônexpress (formerly The LESLYS - Liaison ExpresS LYon Saint-Exupéry[9]) will provide the metropolis with a light train shuttle ("Tram-Train") connecting the airport to the city's downtown. Rhônexpress (a consortium created for this purpose by major French construction companies) was awarded the operation of this rail link by the prime owner of the infrastructure (Département du Rhône) through a PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) vehicle.[10]

The public transit system is complemented by Vélo'v, a bicycle network providing a low cost and convenient bicycle hire service where bicycles can be hired and dropped off at any of 340 stations throughout the city. Borrowing a bicycle for less than 30 minutes is free.

Lyon's tramway

International attraction

The unusual project Lyon Dubai City, a reproduction of some districts of Lyon in Dubai, is a major point for the tourism in Lyon.

People from Lyon

Movies in Lyon

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Lyon is twinned with:[11]

The lion is a common sight in Lyon:

See also


Lyon centre, view to Fourvière Hill from Presqu'île near Place Bellecour


  1. ^ "The RUL website (French)". Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  2. ^ "Pierre Alain Muet Archives 2008". 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Bottazzi fait le mur". Brefonline.Com. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  4. ^ "The African Museum of Lyon Website". Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  5. ^ Entry on Historic Site of Lyons UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
  6. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Site. City of Lyon official website. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
  7. ^ "Le laboratoire P4, ménagerie virale". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  8. ^ Le site de Lyon Villeurbanne Rhône à XIII - LVR XIII
  9. ^ Press release for the official name change signature
  10. ^ Press release from local authorities reporting the contract awarding to Rhônexpress
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Partner Cities of Lyon and Greater Lyon". © 2008 Mairie de Lyon. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Twinning the Cities". City of Beirut. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ "Partner Cities". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  14. ^ "Sister Cities of Guangzhou". Guangzhou Foreign Affairs Office. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  15. ^ "Frankfurt -Partner Cities". © 2008 Stadt Frankfurt am Main. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  16. ^ "Leipzig - International Relations". © 2009 Leipzig City Council, Office for European and International Affairs. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  17. ^ "Official Yokohama City Tourism Website: Sister Cities". © Yokohama Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  18. ^ "Yerevan Municipality - Sister Cities". © 2005-2009 Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  19. ^ "Twin Cities". The City of _Łódź_ Office. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of Poland.svg (English) and (Polish) © 2007 UM_. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  20. ^ "Milano - Città Gemellate". © 2008 Municipality of Milan (Comune di Milano). Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  21. ^ "Twin towns of Minsk". © 2008 The department of protocol and international relations of Minsk City Executive Committee. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  22. ^ "Montreal partner city". Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  23. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures - International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Fourvière basilica from the river Saône.
Fourvière basilica from the river Saône.

Lyon [1], also written Lyons in English, is the third largest city in France and centre of the second largest metropolitan area in the country. It is the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region and the Rhône département. Lyon is known as a gastronomic and historical city with a vibrant cultural scene.


Founded by the Romans, with many preserved historical areas, Lyon is the archetype of the heritage city, as recognised by UNESCO. Long seen as a dreary, grey city, partly because of urban planning errors such as building motorways right through the city centre, Lyon is now a vibrant metropolis which starts to make the most out of its unique architectural, cultural and gastronomic heritage, its dynamic demographics and economy and its strategic location between Northern and Southern Europe. It is more and more open to the world, with an increasing number of students and international events.

The city itself has about 470,000 inhabitants. However, the direct influence of the city extends well over its administrative borders. The figure which should be compared to the population of other major metropolises is the population of Greater Lyon (which includes 57 towns or communes): about 1,200,000. Lyon and its metropolitan area are rapidly growing and getting younger, because of their economic attractivity.


Lyon is not shaped by its two rivers, the Rhône (to the East) and the Saône (to the West), which both run North-South. The main areas of interest are:

Main districts of interest in Lyon with arrondissement numbers and borders
Main districts of interest in Lyon with arrondissement numbers and borders
Fourvière hill
Also known as "the hill that prays" due to the numerous churches and religious institutions it hosts. The hill was also the place where the Romans settled.
Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon)
The Renaissance area, along the right bank of the Saône.
Between the two rivers, the real heart of the city.
North of Presqu'île between the two rivers, it is known as "the hill that works" because it was home to the silk workers (canuts) until the 19th century. This industry has shaped the unique architecture of the area.

Among the other districts:

  • The left bank of the Rhône is a more residential area (neighbourhoods of Brotteaux, Guillotière, Montchat, Monplaisir, etc.), with the notable exceptions of the business area of Part-Dieu and industrial zones in the south. The main attraction is Tête d'Or park.
  • Vaise and St Rambert, to the northwest, are two rapidly developing areas, both for residency and high-tech industries.

Fourvière, Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse and a large part of Presqu'île are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Lyon has nine administrative subdivisions called arrondissements, which are designated by numbers. They correspond approximately to the following neighbourhoods:

  • 1st arrondissement (centre): North of Presqu'île and slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill; home of the canuts (silk workers), and still a 'rebel' neighbourhood.
  • 2nd arrondissement (centre): Most of Presqu'île; basically, this is where the action is.
  • 3rd arrondissement (East): Part-Dieu, North of Guillotière, Montchat, North of Monplaisir; the most populated arrondissement with wealthy and popular neighbourhoods, former industrial or military sites and a modern business district.
  • 4th arrondissement (North): Plateau of the Croix-Rousse hill; historical area with a "village" mood.
  • 5th arrondissement (West): Vieux Lyon, Fourvière, Saint-Just, Point du Jour; historical sites and quiet residential neighbourhoods.
  • 6th arrondissement (Northeast): Brotteaux; the wealthiest part of the city.
  • 7th arrondissement (South): South of Guillotière, Gerland; from popular neighbourhoods to high-tech industrial zones.
  • 8th arrondissement (Southeast): South of Monplaisir, Etats-Unis, industrial and popular neighbourhoods built mainly in the 1920s-1930s.
  • 9th arrondissement (Northwest): Vaise, La Duchère, St Rambert; some of the areas which have evolved the most in recent years.

Zip codes for Lyon begin with 69 for the Rhône département and end with the number of the arrondissement: 69004 is therefore the zip code for the 4th arrondissement. Special zip codes may be used for businesses.


All periods of Lyon's 2000-year history have left visible traces in the city's architectural and cultural heritage, from Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces to contemporary skyscrapers. Very few cities in the world boast such diversity in their urban structure and architecture.

The Roman theatre in Fourvière, the most important remain of the Roman city of Lugdunum.
The Roman theatre in Fourvière, the most important remain of the Roman city of Lugdunum.

Early traces of settlement date back to 12,000 BC but there is no evidence of continuous occupation prior to the Roman era. Lugdunum, the Roman name of the city, was officially founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, then Governor of Gaul. The first Roman settlements were on Fourvière hill, and the first inhabitants were probably veterans of Caesar's war campaigns. The development of the city was boosted by its strategic location and it was promoted Capital of Gauls in 27 BC by General Agrippa, emperor Augustus's son-in-law and minister. Large carriageways were then built, providing easy access from all parts of Gaul. Lugdunum became one of the most prominent administrative, economic and financial centres in Gaul, along with Narbonne. The main period of peace and prosperity of the Roman city was between 69 and 192 AD. The population at that time is estimated between 50,000 and 80,000. Lugdunum consisted of four populated areas: the top of Fourvière hill, the slopes of Croix-Rousse around the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, the Canabae (around where Place Bellecour is today) and the right bank of the Saône river, mainly in what is today St Georges neighbourhood.

Lugdunum was the place where the first Christian communities of Gaul appeared. It was also where the first martyrdoms took place, most notably in 177 AD when the young slave Blandine was killed in the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, along with 47 other martyrs.

The city lost its status of Capital of Gauls in 297 AD. Then, in the early years of the 4th century, the aqueducts which brought water to the top of Fourvière suddenly stopped functioning. This was due to a lack of funds for their maintenance and security; the lead pipes which carried the water were stolen and could not be replaced. The city was completely deprived of water overnight. This triggered the end of the Roman Lugdunum, which lost a large part of its population and was reorganised around the Saône.

In the Middle Ages, the city developed on both banks of the Saône. The name "Lion" or "Lyon" appeared in the 13th century. The early Middle Ages were very troubled politically. Since the political geography of France kept changing, the city belonged successively to multiple provinces. It then belonged to the Holy Roman Empire from 1018 to 1312, when it was given to France at the Vienna Council. At that time, the city was still of limited size but had a large religious influence; in 1078, Pope Gregory VII made the Archbishop of Lyon the highest Catholic dignitary in the former Gaul (Primat des Gaules).

In the Renaissance, fiscal advantages and the organisation of numerous trade fairs attracted bankers from Florence and merchants from all over Europe; the city became more and more prosperous and experienced a second golden age. The main industries were silk weaving, introduced in 1536, and printing. Lyon became one of Europe's largest cities and its first financial place, helped by the advantages given by King François I who even considered, at one time, making Lyon the capital of France. Around 1530, the population of Lyon reached 50,000.

In the following centuries, Lyon was hurt by the religious wars but remained a major industrial and intellectual centre, while the financial activity moved to Geneva and Switzerland. In the 18th century, half of the inhabitants were silk workers (canuts).

The eastern bank of the Rhône was not urbanised before the 18th century, when the swamps (called Brotteaux) were dried out to allow construction. Those massive works were led by engineer Morand. In the meantime, works conducted by Perrache doubled the area of the Presqu'île. The extension works were halted by the French revolution but started again in the early 19th century.

During the Revolution, in 1793, Lyon took sides against the central power of the Convention (Parliament), which caused a severe repression from the army. Over 2,000 people were executed.

In the early 19th century, the silk industry was still developing, notably thanks to Jacquard's loom which made the weaving work more efficient. Social crises, however, occurred: in 1831, the first revolt of the canuts was harshly repressed. The workers were protesting against the introduction of new technology, which was likely to cause unemployment. Other riots took place in 1834, 1848 and 1849, especially in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. From 1848, the Presqu'île area was redesigned in a way similar to Haussmann's works in Paris. In 1852, the neighbouring towns of Vaise, Croix-Rousse and Guillotière were made districts of Lyon. The traditional silk industry disappeared at the end of the century because of diseases affecting the French silk worms and the opening of the Suez Canal which reduced the price of imported silk from Asia.

Edouard Herriot was elected mayor in 1905 and governed the city until his death in 1957. He initiated a number of important urban projects, most notably in partnership with his favourite architect Tony Garnier: Grange Blanche hospital (today named after Herriot), Gerland slaughterhouses (now Halle Tony Garnier) and stadium, the Etats-Unis neighbourhood, etc.

During World War II, Lyon was close to the border between the "free zone" and the occupied zone and was therefore a key strategic place for the Germans and the French Resistance alike. Jean Moulin, head of the Resistance, was arrested in Caluire (North suburb of Lyon). On 26 May 1944, Lyon was bombed by the Allied aviation. The Liberation of Lyon occurred on 3 September.

A view of Part-Dieu business area; in the back, the Part-Dieu Tower, locally known as the "pencil".
A view of Part-Dieu business area; in the back, the Part-Dieu Tower, locally known as the "pencil".

In the 1960s, the construction of the business district of Part-Dieu began; its symbol is the "pencil" tower, the tallest building in Lyon. Meanwhile, the association "Renaissance du Vieux Lyon" (Rebirth of the Old Lyon) managed to have this Renaissance area classified by the government as the first preserved landmark in France, while it was threatened by a highway project defended by mayor Louis Pradel. Pradel was a convinced "modernist" and supporter of the automobile. He also backed the construction of the Fourvière tunnel, opened in 1971 and of the A6/A7 freeway through Presqu'île, near Perrache station, a decision later described as "the screw-up of the century" by mayor Michel Noir, in the 1990s. In 1974, the first line of the metro was opened. In 1981, Lyon was linked to Paris by the first TGV (high speed train) line. In the 1980s and 1990s, a huge number of buildings in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse were renovated. The landscape of Lyon is still evolving, notably with the new Rhône banks promenade or the construction of new skyscrapers in Part-Dieu.

In the future, the banks of the Saône should also be given a second youth. The completion of the Lyon beltway on the western side should relieve the central areas from some of the traffic. A high-performance train network serving exurban areas (like the RER around Paris) is also planned.


A city of merchants and industry, Lyon has a long tradition of centre-right governments and mayors, even if some neighbourhoods, most notably Croix-Rousse, have a very strong left-wing inclination. In 2001, however, Gérard Collomb, a member of the moderate left-wing Socialist party, was elected mayor. He completed several successful projects such as the Vélo'v shared bike system or the Rhône banks promenade; some of these had actually been initiated by previous city governments. He was re-elected triumphantly in 2008; his main right-wing opponent was Dominique Perben, whose campaign was handicapped by divisions among his supporters.


The silk industry was the main activity for centuries. Since the end of the 19th century, it has been successfully replaced by a number of others. Feyzin, a southern suburb, is home to a major oil refinery and a large number of chemical plants are also located along the Rhône river south of Lyon. Pharmaceutics and biotechnology are also important; they were historically fueled by Lyon's prominence in medical research, and the local authorities are trying to maintain an international leadership in these industries. The southeastern suburbs of Vénissieux and St Priest host large automotive plants, such as Renault's truck and bus factories. But as in most Western metropolises, the service industry is now dominant. Many large banking and insurance companies have important offices in Lyon, and the IT services industry is also well developed. From an economic point of view, Lyon is the most attractive and dynamic city in France. This may be explained by the easy access from all over Europe (probably second only to Paris in the country), the availability of qualified workforce and research centres, and cheaper real estate prices compared to the capital.


Lyon has a "semi-continental" climate. Winters are cold but temperatures under -5°C (23°F) remain rare. You can, however, experience an awful freezing sensation when northerly winds blow. Snowfalls happen but snow-covered streets are quite exceptional. Summers can be hot; temperatures around 35°C (95°F) are not exceptional in July and August. Precipitations are moderate and happen throughout the year; the mountains to the west (Massif central) protect the area against perturbations from the Atlantic. During the summer, especially in August, precipitations often take the form of thunderstorms whereas in winter, lighter but more continuous rain is more common. Spring and early autumn are usually enjoyable.

A view of Vieux Lyon and Fourvière during the Festival of Lights.
A view of Vieux Lyon and Fourvière during the Festival of Lights.
  • The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) [2] is by far the most important event of the year. It lasts four days around the 8th of December. It was initially a traditional religious celebration: on December 8th, 1852, the people of Lyon spontaneously illuminated their windows with candles to celebrate the inauguration of the golden statue of the Virgin Mary (the Virgin had been the saint patron of Lyon since she allegedly saved the city from the plague in 1643). The same ritual was then repeated every year.
    In the last decade or so, the celebration turned into an international event, with light shows by professional artists from all over the world. Those range from tiny installations in remote neighbourhoods to massive sound-and-light shows, the largest one traditionally taking place on Place des Terreaux. The traditional celebration lives on, though: during the weeks preceding December 8th, the traditional candles and glasses are sold by shops all over town. This festival attracts around 4 million visitors every year; it now compares, in terms of attendance, to the Oktoberfest in Munich for example. Needless to say, accommodation for this period should be booked months in advance. You will also need good shoes (to avoid the crowd in the metro) and very warm clothes (it can be very cold at this time of year).

When to visit

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. If you are particularly interested in one of the city's events, then go for it! Otherwise, avoid coming in August at any expense, especially during the first two or three weeks: the city is deserted, nothing really interesting happens and it is very difficult to find a decent restaurant... the capital of gastronomy is on holiday! In July, the activity is close to normal but the weather may be unpleasantly hot. May-June and September are probably the best times: the weather is usually nice and warm and you can enjoy quite long daylight hours.

  • The Nuits de Fourvière festival [3]: From June to early August, the Roman theatres host various shows such as concerts (popular music, jazz, classical), dancing, theatre and cinema. International artists who usually fill up much larger venues are often seduced by the special atmosphere of the theatres.
  • Nuits sonores [4]: an increasingly popular festival dedicated to electronic music, every year in May.
  • The Biennals [5]: Lyon alternatively hosts a dancing (even years) and a contemporary art (odd years) biennals from September to December/January. The dancing biennal is traditionally opened by a street parade in which inhabitants of the Greater Lyon take part through neighbourhood associations. If you are in town at this moment, do not miss this colourful and funny event.


The language of the city is French. The local dialect (patois, basically French with a number of typical local words or expressions) has practically disappeared since one out of two inhabitants were born outside the Rhône département.

Hotels, tourist attractions and restaurants in popular areas generally have staff capable of working in English. You could, however, experience difficulties in more remote areas. The transportation system also has little information written in English. On the street, many people (especially young people) speak at least basic English, but they will appreciate a little effort in French. Using basic words like bonjour (hello), s'il vous plaît (please), merci (thank you) or excusez-moi (excuse me) will certainly make people even more friendly and willing to help you.


As everywhere in France, smoking is prohibited in all closed public places, including bars, restaurants and night clubs.

  • Tourist office, place Bellecour (M: Bellecour), +33 04 72 77 69 69, [6]. 9AM-6PM daily, 9AM-8PM during the Festival of Lights. The office is in the southeast corner of place Bellecour.  edit

Get in

By plane

Lyon's Saint-Exupéry Airport [7] (old name: Satolas, IATA code: LYS), some 25 km east of Lyon, is a rapidly developing airport. It still hosts few intercontinental flights (the Lyon-New York service was reopened in 2008 though), but can easily be reached via a European hub (Paris, London, Frankfurt...). Air France serves most airports in France and major European airports. EasyJet serves a number of destinations in Europe, including London and Berlin, along with a few domestic destinations which are not easily reached by train (Bordeaux, Toulouse). Most other major European airlines also operate flights between Lyon and their respective hubs.

The connection between the city and the airport is definitely to be improved, which should be achieved by the construction of a tram line due to open in August 2010. Until then, there is only a bus service called Satobus [8]. It will take you from the airport to central Lyon in 30-50 minutes and costs €8.60 (€6.50 if you are under 24). Buses depart every 20 minutes outside Terminal 1. If returning, save yourself time and money by asking for a return at the Satobus desk in the airport (buy before you board). A tip: if you are going somewhere around the metro line D, is will probably be faster to get off the bus at Mermoz-Pinel (first stop) than to go all the way to Part-Dieu or Perrache. When going to the airport, allow extra time because the service is frequently delayed by traffic jams, even outside of peak times. Taxis to Lyon from the airport cost around €50.

Grenoble airport is actually about midway between Lyon and Grenoble and is served by some low-cost airlines. There are bus services to Lyon from there [9].

Another possibility is to fly to Geneva, which can save money by using low-cost airlines. Then Lyon can be reached by train, but it takes about two hours (€21.50 for under 26s).

By train

From the rest of France, train is generally the most convenient way to reach the city, except for some regions, the Southwest for example. Lyon has three main train stations serving national and regional destinations:

  • Perrache (M/T: Perrache) is the historical station. It is just a short walk away from Place Bellecour and generally more handy if you are staying in the city centre.
  • Part-Dieu station (M/T: Part-Dieu) was opened with the first TGV line in 1981. It is in the heart of Lyon's main business district.
  • Saint-Exupéry (the station is outside the city and serves the airport).

There are also three smaller stations serving suburban and regional destinations: St Paul (B: C3-Gare St Paul), Vaise (M: Gare de Vaise) and Gorge de Loup (M: Gorge de Loup).

Lyon is linked by TGV (fast trains) to Paris (two hours) and Marseille (1 hr 45 min). Many other domestic destinations are served directly, and there are several direct services to Brussels every day (4 hours). TGVs to and from Paris serve both Perrache and Part-Dieu stations; other TGVs generally serve only Part-Dieu.

Coming to Lyon from London by Eurostar may be interesting given the bad quality of the city-airport link. It is faster and easier to change trains in Lille rather than Paris.

For schedules, fares and bookings, see the SNCF website [10].

By bus

International bus services are operated by Eurolines to and from Perrache station [11].

By car

Lyon is a major automotive hub for central and southern France:

Get around

On foot

The city centre is not so big and most attractions can be reached from each other on foot. The walk from Place des Terreaux to Place Bellecour, for example, is about 20 minutes. The rule of thumb is that metro stations are generally about 10 minutes walk apart.

Be careful when crossing major axes: traffic is dense and running red lights is a very popular sport.

You can also visit Lyon in footing. Jogg'in City offers several sightjogging tours of Lyon. [12]

By public transport

Lyon's public transportation system, known as TCL [13], is regarded as one of the most efficient in the country. Central areas are very well served; so are the campuses and eastern suburbs, where many jobs are concentrated. The western suburbs are more residential and can be difficult to reach. As everywhere in France, the network can be perturbed by strikes from time to time.

There are four metro (subway) lines (A to D). The first line of the network was line... C in 1974 (lines A and B were already planned but line C took less time to complete because it used an existing funicular tunnel). Line A opened in 1978. Trains generally run every 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the line and the time.

  • Line A (Perrache - Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie) serves Presqu'île, the neighbourhoods around Parc de la Tête d'Or and then runs under Cours Emile Zola, Villeurbanne's main artery. The last two stops (Laurent Bonnevay and Vaulx La Soie) provide numerous connections with buses to the eastern suburbs. Line A connects with line D at Bellecour, line C at Hôtel de Ville, line B at Charpennes and tram lines T1 and T2 at Perrache. It is very busy during rush hours, especially between Bellecour and Hôtel de Ville.
  • Line B (Charpennes - Stade de Gerland) serves most notably Part Dieu station and Gerland stadium. It connects with line A at Charpennes and line D at Saxe-Gambetta.
  • Line C (Hôtel de Ville - Cuire) uses a short cog railway and serves the Croix-Rousse hill. Due to the configuration of the infrastructure, the frequencies are not very good.
  • Line D (Gare de Vaise - Gare de Vénissieux), the busiest of the four lines, is entirely automated; this allows good frequency in off-peak hours, especially at night and on Sundays. There are many bus connections to the suburbs at Gare de Vaise, Gorge de Loup, Grange Blanche, Parilly and Gare de Vénissieux.

The metro is generally reliable, clean and comfortable. Besides the classical metro, two funiculars run from Vieux Lyon metro station to Saint-Just and Fourvière respectively.

There are also four tram lines (T1 to T4). They are not very interesting if you stay within the city centre; they are most useful to reach campuses and suburban areas.

Inside a trolley bus on the C1 line.
Inside a trolley bus on the C1 line.

With more than 100 bus lines, you should be able to go virtually anywhere reasonably far away from the centre. Some of them use trolley (electric) buses; Lyon is one of the few cities in France which still use this system. There are two special bus lines: C1 and C3, where you will find big articulated trolley buses which run very frequently. These are sometimes referred to as Cristalis (actually the brand name of the vehicles) but people do not really use, or even know about this name.

Metros and trams run approximately from 5AM to midnight. Some bus lines do not run after 9PM. Check the TCL website for details.

Maps can be found online:

  • Detailed map: [15]. You can ask for a copy of this one in the main metro stations.

The prices are: €1.60 for a single journey (valid for 1 hour after the first use on buses, trams, metro and funiculars, unlimited number of transfers, no return), €4.50 for a daily pass. Tickets can be purchased from electronic kiosks located at the stations, but it is important to note that they do not accept paper money (only coins) and foreign credit cards are likely to be rejected. Group tickets are available from the tourist office.

In the directions given in this article, M stands for metro, F for funicular, T for tram and B for bus (line(s) and stop are indicated).

By bicycle

Lyon has an increasing number of safe cycling routes. Problematic points remain, especially when it comes to crossing major roads. Also keep in mind that there are two hills with steep slopes! A map of cycling routes is available online: [16].

Public bicycle service Vélo'v
Public bicycle service Vélo'v

Since May 2005, Lyon has also had a public bicycle service called Vélo'v [17] which allows travellers, after registering a credit card, to pick up, and drop cycles to and from over 300 points around the city. You need a credit card (Visa/MC/French CB) to make use of the service. It is very cheap:

  • 1-day ticket: €1, then free for the first 30 minutes of each ride, €1 for 30 to 60 minutes, then €2 every 30 minutes.
  • 7-day ticket: €3, then same fares as the 1-day ticket.

30 minutes is generally more than enough if you stay close to the city centre.

If you have taken a bike and realize that it has a problem (broken chains, warped wheels, flat tires or even missing pedals are commonplace), just put it back into its place and repeat the procedure to take another one. Recent improvements to the system have made this operation fast and easy.

Note that the system only works with a European credit/debit card. Otherwise the transaction is aborted, no explanations given on the terminal. It is supposed to accept all cards with a chip, but those with foreign cards could experience difficulties. Also note that you must rent a bike immediately after purchasing a temporary pass or the ticket will become inactive (this is only true for the first rental). The terminals have only limited English translation making it a rough start, but once you get to know the system, it is a great way to move around the city. There are so many bikes that it can sometimes be a problem to return them.

There is an iPhone app called Vélo which can help you find a bike or a free parking slot.

By car

Traffic is dense, parking is either very difficult or quite expensive, and there are quite few directional signs. Avoid driving within the city if you can. For the city center, look for signs reading "Presqu'île". In the Presqu'île and other central neighbourhoods, it is strongly advised not to park in 'prohibited parking' areas; you could be towed. Tickets for unpaid parking are also commonplace; a specific brigade of the city police is in charge of checking parking payments in the city centre. The penalty for unpaid parking is €11 (you might get several tickets in the same day in central neighbourhoods); the penalty for parking in a prohibited area is €35. If you park in a dangerous place (e.g., you block an emergency exit), the fine can be up to €135.

The minimum age to rent a car is 21 and an additional charge may be required for drivers under 25 years old. Major rental companies have offices at Part-Dieu and Perrache railway stations, and at the airport. Best to hire from Part-Dieu, as the subsequent navigation is much easier.


Taxis are quite pricey. The fares are fixed by the authorities: €2 when you board, then per km: €1.34 (daytime, 7AM-7PM) or €2.02 (night, Sundays, holidays). The driver may charge a minimum of €6 for any trip. There are also a number of possible extra charges: €1.41 for the 4th passenger, €0.91 per animal or large piece of luggage, €1.41 for a pickup at a train station or airport.

Taxis cannot be hailed on the street; you need to go to a taxi station or to call for one. The major taxi companies are:

  • Lyon Taxi Prestige (Personal Welcome Lyon Airport, City and Wine tours), +33 687 974 790, [18]. Lyon Taxi Prestige, for the regular cost of a taxi, provide high level taxi service in Lyon and everywhere in France. Executive and VIP Service with personal welcome at Lyon Airports and Train stations. City tours. Ski resort transfers, free Wifi on board.  edit
  • Allo Taxi, +33 04 78 28 23 23‎.  edit
  • Taxi-Radio, +33 04 72 10 86 86‎.  edit
  • Cabtaxi, +33 04 78 750 750.  edit


Lyon may not have world-famous monuments such as the Eiffel tower or the Statue of Liberty, but it offers very diverse neighbourhoods which are interesting to walk around and hide architectural marvels. As time goes by, the city also becomes more and more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists. So a good way to explore it may be to get lost somewhere and enjoy what comes up, and not to always follow the guide...

Local specialities you cannot eat

Lyon has an international reputation for the lighting of buildings, and not only during the December 8th festival. When the sun sets, many major monuments such as the City Hall, Hôtel-Dieu or the Fourvière basilica are illuminated in a spectacular way. The Lyon II/Lyon III University buildings along the Rhône are also among the most beautiful illuminations.
Another local speciality is painted walls: about 100 trompe-l'oeils of all sizes can be seen around the city.

A good point for visitors is that most attractions will not cost you a cent: churches, traboules, parks, etc. For those intending to visit several museums (which are almost the only attractions you cannot see for free), the Lyon City Card may be interesting. Available from the Tourist office, it costs €18 for one day, €27 for 2 days and €36 for 3 days. It includes unlimited rides on the public transport network, free or reduced entry fee to major museums and exhibitions and one guided tour per day per person (Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse, etc.). The price is still a bit high, so count before you buy to see if this is a good deal considering your plans.

Do not hesitate to buy a detailed map with a street index from a book shop or a newsagent; many places of interest or good restaurants are located in small streets you will not find on simplified maps, such as the ones you can get from the Tourist office.

Whatever the time of year (except for the Fête des Lumières), tourists are not very numerous yet, but they concentrate in a few small areas, especially Fourvière and Vieux Lyon, where the pedestrian streets are just as crowded as the Champs-Elysees sidewalks on sunny weekends.


The classics:

  • The view from Fourvière basilica.
  • Streets and traboules in Vieux Lyon, St Jean cathedral.
  • Traboules in Croix-Rousse.
  • Musées Gadagne.
  • Parc de la Tête d'Or.

Off the beaten path:

  • Musée urbain Tony Garnier and Etats-Unis neighbourhood.
  • St Irénée church, Montée du Gourguillon, St Georges neighbourhood.
  • A drink on Place Sathonay.
  • St Bruno church.
  • Parc de Gerland.
The astronomical clock in St Jean cathedral.
The astronomical clock in St Jean cathedral.

After Venice, the Old Lyon, a narrow strip along the right bank of the Saône, is the largest Renaissance area in Europe. 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, notably by wealthy Italian, Flemish and German merchants who settled in Lyon where four fairs were held each year. At that time, the buildings of Lyon were said to be the highest in Europe. The area was entirely refurbished in the 1980s and 1990s. It now offers the visitor colorful, narrow cobblestone streets; there are some interesting craftmen's shops but also many tourist traps!

It is divided into three parts which are named after their respective churches:

  • St Paul, north of place du Change, was the commercial area during the Renaissance;
  • St Jean, between place du Change and St Jean cathedral, was home to most wealthy families: aristocrats, public officers, etc;
  • St Georges, south of St Jean, was a craftsmen's district.

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.

Guided tours in several languages, including English, are available from the tourist office (€9, [19]).

  • St Jean Cathedral, place St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon). M-F 8:15AM-noon, 1:45PM-7:30PM, Sa Su 8:15AM-noon, 1:45PM-7PM; services (no visits) M-F 9AM and 7PM, Sa 9AM, Sun 8:30AM and 10:30AM (high mass). Officially, the cathedral is dedicated to both St John the Baptist (St Jean-Baptiste) and St Stephen (St Etienne) and has the title of primatiale because the Bishop of Lyon has the honorary title of Primat des Gaules. Built between 1180 and 1480, it is mostly of Gothic style with Romanesque elements; the oldest parts are the chancel and the lateral chapels, and as one goes towards the facade, the style becomes more and more Gothic. The cathedral hosts a spectacular astronomical clock originally built in the 14th century but modified later. It is especially worth seeing when the bells ring, daily on the hour from noon-4PM. Over the main door, the rose window, known as the "Lamb rose window", is an admirable work of art depicting the life of St Stephen and St John the Baptist. Free, appropriate dress required.  edit
  • St Jean archaeological garden, rue de la Bombarde/rue Mandelot/rue des Estrées (M: Vieux Lyon). Next to St Jean cathedral (on the northern side), this small garden shows the remains of the religious buildings which occupied the site before the cathedral was erected. The oldest remains date back to the 4th century (baptistery of the former St Etienne church). Free.  edit
  • Traboules, (M: Vieux 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.
    Some of them are officially open to the public. They link the following addresses:
    - 54 rue St Jean <> 27 rue du Boeuf (the longest in Lyon)
    - 27 rue St Jean <> 56 rue des Trois Maries
    - 2 place du Gouvernement <> quai Romain Rolland.
    To open the doors, just press the service button next to the door code keyboard. In the morning, many other doors are open for service (mail, garbage collecting), so more traboules are accessible. There are traboules in almost all buildings between Quai Romain Rolland and Rue St Jean/Rue des Trois Maries, and others between Rue St Jean and Rue du Boeuf.

The buildings are inhabited. As everybody, people who live there like to sleep on Sunday mornings, or may work at night, or simply prefer not being disturbed, so please be as quiet as possible, regardless of whether you are in an 'officially open' or in a 'normally closed' traboule. It is best to whisper when talking because the small courtyards amplify the sound of voices, and even normal conversation can be quite disturbing for the inhabitants.

Free.  edit

  • Renaissance courtyards, (M: Vieux Lyon). Closed at night. Besides the buildings cited above, some have very beautiful courtyards but no real traboules (that is to say, no crossing from one street to another). The most outstanding are: Maison du Chamarier (37 rue St Jean) and Maison du Crible (16 rue du Boeuf), in which stands the famous "Pink Tower". Free.  edit
Rue St Jean.
Rue St Jean.
  • Rue St Jean, (M: Vieux Lyon). This cobblestone pedestrian street is the main axis of the area. It is full of souvenir shops and restaurants mainly intended for tourists. Local people are aware that real good bouchons are extremely rare here! On a sunny Sunday afternoon, it may be hard to walk because of the crowd of both locals and tourists. You can also check out the more quiet rue des Trois Maries which runs parallel to rue St Jean, between place de la Baleine and rue du Palais de Justice.  edit
  • Rue du Boeuf, (M: Vieux Lyon). Parallel to rue St Jean, this street is much more quiet and just as beautiful. It also has a number of restaurants, more expensive than in rue St Jean but, on average, much more worth the money.  edit
  • Place du Change, (B: C3-Gare St Paul). The largest square in the area has two remarkable buildings. The Loge du Change, on the west side, was partially built by the great architect Soufflot. It is now a Protestant church known as Temple du Change. It can be visited on Saturdays. Religious services on Sundays, 10:30AM. Opposite is the Maison Thomassin, with its Gothic-style 14th-century fafade. The Thomassins were a powerful merchant family in the Renaissance. Above the 2nd floor windows are the arms of the King of France, of the Dauphin (heir of the Kingdom) and of Duchess Anne of Brittany. Unfortunately, the courtyard is closed to the public.  edit
  • Rue Juiverie, (B: C3-Gare St Paul). Another typical street of Vieux Lyon. It is named after the Jews who originally settled there but were expelled in the 14th century. Check out the back courtyard at Hôtel Builloud (number 8); it has a magnificent gallery on the first floor, designed by Philibert Delorme who was one of the most prominent local architects during the Renaissance.  edit
  • St Paul church, rue St Paul (B: C3-Gare St Paul). A very nice church, with mixed Romanesque and Gothic styles. The oldest parts are from the 10th century.  edit
  • St Georges neighbourhood, rue St Georges, rue du Doyenné and other smaller streets (M: Vieux Lyon). St Georges is the name given to the south part of the Vieux Lyon. It is very picturesque, with nice Renaissance buildings which, however, do not really compare to the palaces of St Jean; on the other hand, it is much more quiet than the St Jean area.  edit
  • Montée du Gourguillon, (M: Vieux Lyon/F: Minimes). This picturesque montée (sloping street on hillside) starts behind Vieux Lyon metro station and ends quite close to the Roman theatres of Fourvière. It was the main link between the river Saône and the top of Fourvière throughout the Roman era, Middle Ages and Renaissance. Nowadays it keeps a medieval spirit. Around numbers 5-7 is Impasse Turquet, a small cul-de-sac named after Etienne Turquet, an Italian who is said to have founded the silk industry in Lyon in 1536. In this small passageway are the oldest houses of the city, dating back to the 13th or 14th century, with wooden balconies.  edit
  • Palais de Justice, Quai Romain Rolland (M: Vieux Lyon). The historical court house, also named "the 24 columns", was built between 1835 and 1842 by architect Louis-Pierre Baltard. It is a fine example of French "neo-classical" architecture. It now hosts only the criminal court (Cour d'Assises) and the court of appeal. The other jurisdictions moved to a new building in Part-Dieu in 1995. The most famous trial held there was that of the former head of the Lyon Gestapo, Klaus Barbie, in 1987. The building is currently undergoing major refurbishment works.  edit

Fourvière, Saint-Just

Take the funicular up the hill from Vieux Lyon metro station, or if you are fit, walk up Montée des Chazeaux (starts at the southern end of Rue du Boeuf), Montée St Barthélémy (from St Paul station) or Montée du Gourguillon (from the northern end of Rue St Georges, behind Vieux Lyon metro station). This is a 150-meter vertical ascent approximately.

  • Fourvière basilica, place de Fourvière (F: Fourvière), +33 04 78 25 86 19, [20]. 10AM-5PM. Built in 1872 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, saint patron of Lyon, this massive church made of white marble has been compared to an elephant with its feet up. It is a typical example of the 19th-century "eclectic" style, with architectural elements recalling antique, classical and Gothic eras. The Byzantine-style interior decoration is extremely exuberant, too much so for some people. Free.  edit
  • Panoramic viewpoint, place de Fourvière (F: Fourvière). Next to the basilica is the panoramic viewpoint, with the best view over the city. If the weather is clear, Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance. This is a very good point to start your visit of the city because you can really see its general layout.  edit

To go down from there, you can take Rue du Cardinal Decourtray, then Rue Cléberg and Rue de l'Antiquaille which lead to the Roman theatres, or walk down through the Jardins du Rosaire, a nice garden; then stairways lead to Rue du Boeuf in Vieux Lyon. Of course, you can also take the funicular.

  • Metal tower, (M: Fourvière). Next to the basilica stands a smaller (86 m, 282 ft) replica of the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1894. Its construction was supported by anticlerical people in order to have a non-religious building as the highest point in Lyon, which it actually is with an altitude of 372 m (1272 ft) at the top. It now serves as a radio and TV antenna and is closed to the public.  edit
  • Roman theatres. These two well-preserved theatres are the most important remnant of the Roman city of Lugdunum. The Gallo-Roman museum was built next to them. The summer festival "Nuits de Fourvière" takes place here every year. Free.  edit

Saint-Just neighbourhood, south-west of the Roman theatres, has less famous but also interesting historical sites.

  • St Irénée church, 51 rue des Macchabées (F: St Just), +33 04 78 25 43 26, [21]. Church 8:30AM-6PM daily, crypt Sa 2:30PM-5PM, closed in Aug. The oldest church in Lyon, and one of the oldest in France. The site is built on a Gallo-Roman necropolis which was in use for centuries, until the Middle Ages. Some sarcophagi from the 5th or 6th century are visible in the courtyard. The crypt dates back to the 9th century and was renovated in the 19th century. Early Christian remains (from the 4th-6th centuries) are kept inside. The church was rebuilt in the 19th century in a neo-classical style with a Byzantine influence. An arch from the 5th century remains. Behind the church, the calvary built in 1687 is also a great viewpoint. Free.  edit


The area, especially the traboules, may be worth taking a guided tour (available from the tourist office).

Croix-Rousse is known as the "working hill" but for centuries, it had been as much of a "praying hill" as Fourvière. On the slopes was the Roman Federal Sanctuary of the Three Gauls, which comprised the amphitheatre (built in 19) and an altar (built in 12 BC). This sanctuary was abandoned at the end of the 2nd century. In the Middle Ages, the hill, then called Montagne St Sébastien, was not part of the free town of Lyon but of the Franc-Lyonnais province, which was independent and protected by the King. The slopes were then dedicated to agriculture, mostly vineyards. In 1512, a fortified wall was built at the top of the hill, approximately where Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse is today. The pentes (slopes) and the plateau were therefore separated. The slopes became then part of Lyon while the plateau was outside the borders of the city. Up to thirteen religious congregations then settled on the slopes and acquired vast pieces of land. Their possessions were seized and many buildings destroyed during the French Revolution.

Croix-Rousse is known as the main silk production area, but the industry did not exist on the hill until the early 19th century and the introduction of new weaving technology; at that time, silk had already been produced in Lyon for over 250 years. The industry gave birth to a unique architecture: the canuts' apartments had very high ceilings to accommodate the newly introduced Jacquard looms, which were up to 4 metres high; high windows gave the necessary natural lighting for the delicate work; and mezzanines provided space for family life. The neighbourhood is still one of the most densely populated in Europe. The first revolt of the canuts in 1831 is regarded as one of the first social conflicts of the industrial era. It gave the hill its reputation of a "rebel" neighbourhood. In 1852, the commune (town) of Croix-Rousse, actually the plateau, was made a district of Lyon. Local people still talk about "going to Lyon" when they go down to the city centre. Then important works were undertaken, such as the construction of the first funicular in the world, linking the plateau to central Lyon (it started in Rue Terme; the tunnel is now a road tunnel), or the creation of the Croix-Rousse hospital.

Nowadays the plateau keeps a "village" mood, the slopes still have a "rebel" spirit, with many artists and associations based there, but the sociology of the neighbourhood has considerably evolved with the renovation works and the subsequent rise in real estate prices and massive arrival of upper-middle-class families (bobos). Local authorities, however, are committed to preserving social diversity.

The name "Croix-Rousse" comes from a limestone cross which was erected at the top of the hill in the beginning of the 16th century. It was then destroyed and rebuilt several times. A replica installed in 1994 can be seen on Place Joannès Ambre (between the hospital and Croix-Rousse theatre).

  • Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, rue Lucien Sportisse (M: Hôtel de Ville). This Roman theatre is the place where the first Christian martyrs of Gaul were killed. Documents say that it was the largest theatre in Gaul at that time, but nobody knows exactly how far it extends under the neighbouring buildings, nor what remains from the Roman era after centuries of construction. After the recent closing of the old Fine Arts school (the grey building overlooking the theatre), a debate was initiated about what should be done with this exceptional archaeological site. The theatre can be seen from the street but is not open to the public for safety reasons.  edit
  • Montée de la Grande Côte, (M: Hôtel de Ville/Croix-Rousse). This steep street has Renaissance buildings and offers a very beautiful view over the city from its top.  edit
  • Croix-Rousse traboules: Look for the lanterns over the doors and the specific signs.
  • 7 rue Mottet-de-Gérando <> 8 rue Bodin
  • 9 place Colbert <> 14 bis montée St Sébastien: the beautiful Cour des Voraces.
  • 14 bis montée Saint-Sébastien <> 29 rue Imbert-Colomès
  • 20 rue Imbert Colomès <> 55 rue Tables Claudiennes
  • 30 bis rue Burdeau <> 17 rue René Leynaud (passage Thiaffait)
  • 6 rue des Capucins <> 1 rue Sainte Marie des Terreaux
  • 12 rue Sainte-Catherine <> 6 place des Terreaux
  • Mur des Canuts, Boulevard des Canuts (M: Hénon). This painted wall is dedicated to the history and typical architecture of the Croix-Rousse hill.  edit
  • St Bruno church, 9 impasse des Chartreux (B: 2/13/18/45-Clos Jouve), [22]. M-Sa 3PM-5PM. The only Baroque church in Lyon. The interior is magnificent, especially the altar (by Servandoni, modified by Soufflot, 18th century) and the canopy (by Servandoni). Free.  edit
  • Jardin Rosa Mir, 87 grande rue de la Croix-Rousse (M: Hénon), [23]. 1 Apr-30 Nov, Sa 3PM-6PM. This amazing garden was built by a Spanish refugee, Jules Senis, and dedicated to his mother. Senis had cancer and had made the vow of building this garden if he ever came out of the hospital; fortunately, he did. The garden is a fine mixture of mineral and vegetal elements, in a style influenced by Gaudi's works in Barcelona. Free.  edit


For the people of Lyon, Presqu'île is the place to go for shopping, dining or clubbing. It also represents a large part of the city's economic activity.

This peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers was largely shaped by man. When the first inhabitants settled on what was then called Canabae, the junction of the river was located near the current site of St Martin d'Ainay basilica. South of this point was an island. From 1772, titanic works led by engineer Antoine-Michel Perrache reunited the island to the mainland. The swamps which existed there were then dried out, which allowed the construction of Perrache station, opened in 1846. Northern Presqu'île was largely redesigned from 1848; the only remaining Renaissance part is around rue Mercière.

Most of the action on Presqu'île actually takes place between Terreaux and Bellecour. Between Bellecour and Perrache, the neighbourhood of Ainay is traditionally home to the Catholic bourgeoisie. Perrache station and its "exchange centre" (freeway interchange, car parks, metro and bus station) are a very important border; going from one side to the other is a challenge, be it on foot or by car. In the area south of Perrache, there were until very recently two prisons (closed down Apr 2009), a wholesale food market (recently moved to Corbas in the southern suburbs) and large warehouses and workshops belonging the the national railway company SNCF. A massive renovation plan was put under way a few years ago with the construction of a new tram line and the opening of a cultural centre (La Sucrière). In the next years, a huge number of new housing, office and administrative buildings should appear, including new headquarters for the Rhône-Alpes region. A new museum is under construction (Musée des Confluences) as well as a "nautical plaza".

  • Place des Terreaux, (M: Hôtel de Ville). This large square was completely redesigned in the 1990s by the artist Daniel Buren. On the East side stands the City Hall. On the North side, you will find the fountain sculpted by Bartholdi, the 'father' of the Statue of Liberty; this fountain was moved from the West side when the square was renovated. It now faces Palais St Pierre, which hosts the Museum of Fine Arts.  edit
City Hall on place des Terreaux.
City Hall on place des Terreaux.
  • Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), place des Terreaux and place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville). The city hall, built in the 17th century, has a very beautiful facade on Place des Terreaux. The most notable feature of this facade is the sculpture representing King Henri IV on horseback (in the middle of the upper part). Unfortunately, it is impossible to visit the building except during the "Heritage days" (Journées du patrimoine) in mid-September.  edit
  • Opera house, place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville). Opposite the City Hall stands the opera house. The 1826 theatre built by Chenavard and Pollet was completely redesigned by Jean Nouvel who kept only the façades and the foyer on the first floor. The building was reopened in 1993. The history of these works was epic: a lot of technical problems occurred and the final cost of the project was six times the initial estimate. Today, the glass top has become a classical landmark of the city but the interior design is criticised, for both aesthetic and functional reasons.  edit
  • Mur des Lyonnais, rue de la Martinière (M: Hôtel de Ville). This impressive painted wall portraits some of the most famous people who were born in Lyon, from Renaissance poet Louise Labé to the Lumière brothers, the inventors of cinema, to chef Paul Bocuse.  edit
  • Place Sathonay, (M: Hôtel de Ville). A charming neighbourhood square planted with old plane trees. Just sit at a terrace, watch the locals playing pétanque and enjoy the mood.  edit
  • St Nizier church, place St Nizier (M: Hôtel de Ville). Very nice church of flaming Gothic style.  edit
  • Rue Mercière, (M: Cordeliers). This cobblestone pedestrian street is the only significant remain from the Renaissance in Presqu'île. The name of the street refers to the clothing industry. There are traboules connecting the street to the buildings on the Saône bank. The street hosts very numerous restaurants which are far from being all good!  edit
  • Place des Jacobins, (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour). The state of this square is typical of the "automobile-friendly" urban planning of the 1960s: it is covered with tarmac, too much so given the reasonable traffic around it. A renovation project is under way, which should give the square a greener aspect. The main interest is the central fountain (1885) by architect Gaspard André and sculptor Degeorges. The four statues portray Lyon-born artists: painter Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864), engraver Gérard Audran (1640-1703), sculptor Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746) and architect Philibert Delorme (1510-1570).  edit
  • Hôtel-Dieu, place de l'Hôpital (M: Bellecour). The oldest hospital in Lyon and one of the largest buildings in Presqu'île. The facade along the river Rhône is over 300 m (984 ft) long. The first hospital was built in 1184-1185; it was modified several times before Soufflot designed the current building, built from 1741 to 1761. The large dome was completed in 1765. The newly built Grange Blanche hospital (today Edouard Herriot) then became the main medical centre in the city. Hôtel-Dieu doctors were pioneers in numerous specialities, including radiology (Etienne Destot), oncology (Léon Bérard), surgery (Joseph Gensoul, Matthieu Jaboulay) and orthopedics (Louis Léopold Ollier); they contributed in making Lyon the second medical centre in the country after Paris. The building no longer fits the needs of modern medicine, therefore the hospital will close down in 2010.
    Hôtel-Dieu hosts the Lyon hospitals museum (Musée des Hospices civils de Lyon).
  • Théâtre des Célestins, place des Célestins (M: Bellecour). Designed by Gaspard André and opened in 1877, the building has a beautiful Italian-style facade. In the middle of the quiet plaza outside the theatre stands a strange periscope in which you can see rotating geometric shapes, like a kaleidoscope. Those were actually painted in the car park beneath the plaza by the famous artist Daniel Buren and they are reflected by a rotating mirror. To enter the car park and see the other side, take the stairway on your right when looking at the theatre.  edit
Place Bellecour seen from the hill of Fourvière
Place Bellecour seen from the hill of Fourvière
  • Place Bellecour, (M: Bellecour). The largest clear square in Europe. In the center stands the equestrian statue of Louis XIV ("under the horse's tail" is a usual meeting point for locals). Apart from this, it is rather empty, windy and not so pleasant. A renovation project is under way. Between the southeast corner of Place Bellecour and the river Rhône is Place Antonin Poncet. There was a hospital there (Hôpital de la Charité), built in 1622 and demolished in 1934. The only remain is the bell tower (Clocher de la Charité) built in 1667.  edit
  • Basilique St Martin d'Ainay, rue de l'Abbaye d'Ainay (M: Ampère Victor Hugo), +33 04 72 40 02 50, [24]. M-Sa 8:30AM-noon, 2:30PM-6PM, Su 8:30AM-noon. The only entirely Romanesque church in Lyon, dating back to the 11th-12th centuries. The abbey of Ainay was one of the most powerful in France between the 13th and the 16th centuries. A must-see for its very nice atmosphere. Free.  edit
  • Boat trips on the Saône (Navig'Inter company), Quai des Célestins (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour, near Passerelle du Palais de Justice), +33 04 78 42 96 81, [25]. 28 Mar-8 Nov, Tu-F 2PM-6PM, Sa Su 11AM-6PM. A boat trip can be a good way to see Lyon from a different point of view. Boats will take you either upstream to Ile Barbe or downstream to the Confluence. Night trips available on Fridays and Saturdays. €9, child €6.  edit
Cité Internationale, from the park side.
Cité Internationale, from the park side.
  • Cité Internationale, quai Charles de Gaulle (B: C1). This business and residential area is the most important urban project Lyon has seen in recent years. Designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano (also known for Beaubourg modern art centre in Paris and part of the Potsdamer Platz area in Berlin), it comprises a convention centre, hotels and luxury apartments just between the Rhône and Parc de la Tête d'Or.  edit
  • Etats-Unis neighbourhood, boulevard des Etats-Unis (T: Etats-Unis-Musée Tony Garnier). This neighbourhood was built by the famous local architect Tony Garnier in the 1920s to house industry workers. Along with Edouard Herriot hospital, it is one of the masterpieces of this visionary architect. The main axis of the neighbourhood, boulevard des Etats-Unis, was named to honour the U.S, which had just entered World War I when the street was opened in 1917. 25 wall paintings made in the 1980s and 1990s show examples of Garnier's work and his "ideal city projects"; see also "Musée urbain Tony Garnier" in the museums section.  edit
  • Ile Barbe, (B: 31/40/43-Ile Barbe). This charming island on the river Saône is the only inhabited island in Lyon. In the 5th century, one of the first monasteries in Gaul was founded there. It became a powerful Benedictine abbey (from the 9th century) but was finally ruined in 1526 by Protestants, during the religious wars. Of the three churches that existed on the island, only the Romanesque Notre-Dame remains. The island also has other old buildings in a quiet and green environment. The suspension bridge was built in 1827.  edit
  • Palais Saint-Pierre / Musée des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), 20 place des Terreaux (M: Hôtel de Ville), +33 04 72 10 17 40, [26]. M, W, Th, Sa 10AM-6PM, F 10:30AM-6PM, partial closures noon-2:15PM, ticket office closes 5:30PM. €6, reduced €4, under 18 and some others free, audioguide €3.  edit
  • Musée d'Art contemporain (Museum of Contemporary Art), 81 quai Charles de Gaulle (B: C1-Musée d'Art contemporain), 04 72 69 17 18, [27]. Wed-Sun 12PM-7PM. Holds only temporary exhibitions which are often very interesting and popular. Fees vary depending on the exhibition.  edit
  • Institut Lumière - Musée vivant du Cinéma, 25 rue du Premier Film (M: Monplaisir-Lumière), +33 04 78 78 18 95, [28]. Tu-Su 11AM-6:30PM. Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, and 25 Dec. Open on bank holiday Mondays. Located in the Lumière brothers' house, this museum presents an interesting history of cinema through various items and film excerpts. Also worth seeing for the lovely architecture. €6, under 18 and students €5.  edit
  • Musées Gadagne: Historical museum of Lyon and International puppet museum, 14 rue de Gadagne/1 place du Petit Collège (M: Vieux Lyon / B: C3-Gare St Paul), +33 04 78 42 03 61, [29]. W-Su 11AM-6:30PM except public holidays. After 10 years of major refurbishment works, these museums dedicated to the history of the city and to puppets (like the famous Guignol from Lyon) was reopened in June 2009, with great public and critical success. The building itself, a magnificent Renaissance palace, is worth a visit. A nice garden and cafe have also been created at the top of the building (free access). 1 museum: €6 including audioguide, 2 museums: €8. Under 26 and disabled: free.   edit
  • Musée urbain Tony Garnier, 4 rue des Serpollières (T: Etats-Unis-Musée Tony Garnier), +33 04 78 75 16 75, [30]. Visitor centre: Tu-Sa 2PM-6PM, guided tours Sa at 2:30PM or by appointment for groups of 10 or more. This museum was created during the renovation of the Etats-Unis neighbourhood in the 1980s and 1990s, and the inhabitants were strongly involved in the project. The museum comprises a recreated apartment of the 1930s, which shows how life was like in these very modern housing units, and the 25 wall paintings depicting Garnier's work and ideals. You can also see the walls on your own but you will miss the interesting comments on the history of the area and the social project behind it. Guided tours: €6, under 18 €4, children under 5 free; audioguide: €5, under 18 €3, children under 5 free.  edit
  • Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (Museum of the Resistance during World War II), 14 avenue Berthelot (T: Centre Berthelot), +33 04 72 73 33 54, [31]. W-Su 9AM-5:30PM, Closed on holidays. Located in the former Gestapo regional headquarters, this museum depicts the daily life in Lyon under the German occupation and keeps memories of this tragic period. Often holds exhibitions (mostly photography). €3. Free for children under 18.   edit
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs / Musée des Tissus (Decorative Arts museum / Fabrics museum), 34 rue de la Charité (M: Ampère Victor Hugo), +33 04 78 38 42 00 (), [32]. Tu-Su 10AM-noon, 2PM-5:30PM, closed on holidays. €4.58, groups (10 adults minimum) €3.81, students €2.29, free for children under 18.   edit
Museum of Contemporary Art.
Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Musée gallo-romain de Fourvière, 17 rue Cléberg (F: Minimes-Théâtres Romains), +33 04 72 38 49 30, [33]. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM, closed 1Jan, 1 May, 1 Nov and 25 Dec. The second largest museum in France, it has all kinds of things relating to Rhone-Alps history. A free visit to the Roman theatres may be just as interesting for those not into the details. €4, reduced fee €2.50, under 18 and disabled free; free for all on Th.  edit
  • Musée de la Miniature et des Décors de cinéma (Miniature and Movie scenery Museum), 60 rue St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), +33 04 72 00 24 77, [34]. M 2PM-6:30PM, Tu-F 10AM-6:30PM, Sa Su 10AM-7PM. Created by artist Dan Ohlmann, this private gallery shows about 120 miniature models of all kinds of scenes: houses, restaurants, workshops, schools, etc., from Lyon or elsewhere, historical or contemporary. The accuracy of the models is astonishing and some sections will be real fun for children. Movie sceneries are also presented. The gallery is in a large 16th-century building called Maison des Avocats (Lawyers' house). €7, under 15/student €5.50.   edit
  • Musée des Hospices civils de Lyon (Lyon hospitals museum), 1 place de l'Hôpital (M: Bellecour), +33 04 72 41 30 42, [35]. M-F 1PM-6PM except public holidays. This museum recreates the rich history of medicine in Lyon; it also exhibits art works donated to the hospitals by their benefactors (paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture). A number of items come from the former Hôpital de la Charité, demolished in 1934. Full fee €4, student €2.  edit
  • Musée de l'Imprimerie (Printing museum), 13 rue de la Poulaillerie (M: Cordeliers), +33 04 78 37 65 98 (), [36]. W-Su 9:30AM-noon, 2PM-6PM, closed on holidays. Visit it only if you're a printing specialist, the collection is important, but it is presented in a totally outdated way. To avoid. €3.80, students in groups: €2.  edit
The large greenhouses in Parc de la Tête d'Or.
The large greenhouses in Parc de la Tête d'Or.
  • Parc de la Tête d'Or, Between boulevard des Belges, quai Charles de Gaulle and boulevard de Stalingrad (M: Masséna / B: C1-several stops around the park). 15 Oct -14 Apr 6:30AM-8:30PM, 15 Apr-14 Oct 6:30AM-10:30PM. Completed in 1862, this 105-hectare English-style garden is one of the largest and arguably one of the most beautiful urban parks in France. It is a popular place for families as well as joggers. The highlights of the park include the large greenhouses, the botanical garden, the rose garden and the recently added "African plain" in which animals wander in a natural-style environment — perfect for children.  edit
  • Rhône banks, quai Charles de Gaulle, ave de Grande-Bretagne, quai de Serbie, quai Sarrail, quai Augagneur, quai Claude Bernard, ave Leclerc (M: Foch, Guillotière, Stade de Gerland). The right bank of the river Rhône has recently been turned from an ugly car park into a 5-km promenade with various landscapes and great views over the Croix-Rousse and Presqu'Ile areas. The place had immediate success among locals. A bicycle is perfect to enjoy it, except on sunny weekends, when it is too crowded to ride safely.  edit
  • Parc de Gerland, avenue Jean Jaurès (M: Stade de Gerland). The Rhône banks promenade ends here. This recent park does not have the majesty of Parc de la Tête d'Or but it is far less crowded and boasts some nice examples of modern landscaping. Still under development, it should cover 80 hectares when completed.  edit
  • Parc des Hauteurs, place de Fourvière/Montée Nicolas de Lange (F: Fourvière). Located between the metal tower of Fourvière and the Loyasse cemetery, this is rather a promenade with a nice footbridge offering great views towards the Monts d'Or and Beaujolais. There is an aerial adventure course and a skiing and moutain bike slope.  edit
  • Jardin des Curiosités (Garden of Curiosities), Passage des Hauts de St Just (F: Minimes/St Just). Small garden hidden in the bottom of a street/car park, behind a metallic door. It was designed by Canadian artists in a surrealistic spirit (recalls Magritte or Dali). Also a very nice viewpoint over the southern part of Lyon.  edit


Cultural events are listed by two weekly magazines: Le Petit Bulletin (free, available in cinemas, theatres, some bars, etc. and online [37]) and Lyon Poche (from newsagents or online [38]).

  • Auditorium, 84 rue de Bonnel (M: Part-Dieu), +33 04 78 95 95 95, [39]. The Lyon National Orchestra plays in this impressive, modern concert hall which also hosts some jazz and world music concerts.  edit
  • Opera house, 1 place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville), +33 04 72 00 45 00, [40]. The old opera house was completely redesigned by Jean Nouvel in the 1990s and hosts opera and dancing shows, along with a few other concerts (especially jazz) in the smaller "Amphithéâtre" room.  edit
  • Transbordeur, boulevard Stalingrad, Villeurbanne (B: C1-Palais des Congrès), +33 04 78 93 08 33, [41]. The medium-sized hall (capacity 1,500) for rock or popular music concerts.  edit
  • Ninkasi, 267 rue Marcel Mérieux (M: Stade de Gerland), +33 04 72 76 89 00, [42]. This is a modern-day institution in Lyon. Ninkasi has two places for live music: Kafé (free shows, essentially electronic music) and Kao (a concert hall dedicated to rock and electronic music). It is also a beer brewery and has bars all over the Presqu'île, and also in Villeurbanne.  edit
  • Maison de la Danse, 8 avenue Jean Mermoz (T: Bachut), +33 04 72 78 18 18, [43]. A theatre dedicated to modern dancing. Also a fine example of architecture of the 1960s.  edit


Lyon has a large number of theatres ranging from tiny "cafés-théâtres" to big municipal institutions. You can enjoy any type of show from comedy to classical drama to avant-garde productions.

  • Théâtre des Célestins, Place des Célestins (M: Bellecour), +33 04 72 77 40 00, [44]. The historical theatre, in a beautiful 19th century building by Gaspard André, recently refurbished. Serious programme.  edit
  • Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, place Joannès Ambre (M: Hénon), +33 04 78 27 90 42, [45]. 'The other' theatre, with a more avant-garde programme.  edit
  • TNP, 8 place Lazare Goujon, Villeurbanne (M: Gratte-Ciel), 04 78 03 30 00, [46]. Jean Vilar's spirit of 'popular theatre' lives on in the historically left-wing Villeurbanne.  edit.
  • Théâtre Tête d'Or, 60 avenue du Maréchal de Saxe (B: C3-Saxe-Lafayette / T: Saxe-Préfecture / M: Place Guichard), +33 04 78 62 96 73, [47]. This is the only theatre in Lyon showing popular comedies in the Parisian "boulevard" style.  edit

There are also a number of small independent theatres. Check out Les Ateliers, Espace 44, Théâtre des Clochards Célestes.

"Café-théâtre" is a very nice way to spend an evening with a show (usually comedy), drinks and food. Here is a small selection:

  • Complexe du Rire, 7 rue des Capucins (M: Hôtel de Ville), +33 04 78 27 23 59, [48]. Two rooms and talented young comedians.  edit
  • Espace Gerson, 1 place Gerson (B: C3-Gare St Paul), +33 04 78 27 96 99, [49].  edit

The 200-year-old Guignol is a very famous character of puppet theatre. This irreverent canut who frequently challenges the law in his adventures was created by Laurent Mourguet, a canut himself, in 1808. The main side characters in Guignol shows are his wife Madelon, his Beaujolais-drinking friend Gnafron and the policeman, who always ends up being ridiculous. It was only in the 1950s that Guignol became a children's favourite. Nowadays, a few theatres perpetuate the tradition for children and adults.

  • Théâtre le Guignol de Lyon (Compagnie des Zonzons), 2 rue Louis Carrand (B: C3-Gare St Paul), +33 04 78 28 92 57, [50]. The largest Guignol theatre, showing original creations for children and adults. €9, child under 15 €7.  edit
  • Véritable Guignol du Vieux Lyon et du Parc, place de Guignol, Parc de la Tête d'Or (M: Masséna / B: C1-several stops around the park), +33 04 78 28 60 41, [51]. W, Sa Sun, bank and school holidays 3PM, 4PM, 5PM, 6PM. Especially intended for children, this theatre is conveniently located within the park, near the lake and the zoo.  edit
  • Institut Lumière, Rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon (M: Monplaisir-Lumière), 04 78 78 18 95, [52]. The museum also has a theatre showing thematic series of cinema masterpieces (in original version). The theatre is in the former Lumière factory, which was the scenery of the first movie in history (La sortie des usines Lumière).  edit
  • Comoedia, 13 avenue Berthelot, 69007 Lyon (T: Centre Berthelot), 04 26 99 45 00, [53]. After a few years of closure followed by refurbishment works, this independent cinema is now very comfortable and has a relatively avant-garde programme. All foreign movies are shown in original version.  edit
  • CNP, Bellecour: 12 rue de la Barre, 69002 Lyon; Terreaux: 40 rue du Président Edouard Herriot, 69001 Lyon (M: Bellecour,Hôtel de Ville). Two independent cinemas; the Bellecour branch has the most avant-garde programme. All foreign movies in original version.  edit
  • Pathé, [54]. This major national firm has four cinemas in Lyon (Cordeliers, Bellecour, Vaise, Carré de Soie) offering essentially American blockbusters and mainstream French movies. The Cordeliers branch has foreign films in original version.  edit
  • UGC, [55]. The other major cinema firm, has three cinemas in Lyon (Part-Dieu, Cité Internationale, Astoria). The Astoria (M: Masséna) has foreign movies in original version.  edit
  • Olympique Lyonnais, Stade de Gerland, 69007 Lyon (M: Stade de Gerland), [56]. The local football (soccer) team have been national champions from 2002 through 2008. Their ladies' team also dominates the championship. They play at Gerland stadium, built by Tony Garnier in the 1930s and renovated for the 1998 World Cup.  edit
  • ASVEL, Astroballe, 69100 Villeurbanne (M: Laurent Bonnevay), [57]. The Villeurbanne basketball team has a long history as one of the major clubs in the country.  edit
  • LOU Rugby, Stade Vuillermet, av. Paul Santy, 69008 Lyon (M: Mermoz-Pinel), [58]. The rugby team of Lyon plays in second division.  edit
  • CS Bourgoin-Jallieu, Stade Pierre Rajon, av. du Professeur Tixier, 38300 Bourgoin-Jallieu, [59]. Rugby fans have to travel to Bourgoin-Jallieu, about 40 km east of Lyon, to see CSBJ play top league matches.  edit
  • Jogg'in City, 00 33(0)6 77 79 35 14 (), [60]. 7/7d to 6:30am to 9pm. Sightjogging Lyon, run and visit Lyon. Jogg'in City a fun way to discover the city. [61] 15€/pers for a group of 4 or +, 50€ for individuals.  edit


Lyon is an important university center. French language courses are available at Inflexyon [62], Alliance Francaise [63], Lyon-Bleu [64], Ecole Interculturelle de Francais [65]. If you look for an immersion program, you can have a look at ESL schools groups Learn French in Lyon with ESL [66].


Money can be made by giving private English lessons. Most French are keen to speak English. There are some schools which accept non-TEFL qualified teachers, but obviously a qualification helps. Try Berlitz or Demos. There are several anglophone pubs which rely on student servers. Speaking French to a reasonable level is a must, even though bar vocabulary is limited. There is an ANPE next to the Opera on Rue de la Republique. Just go in, you don't have to book, and there are lots of job vacancies to be found. Also search for a shelf with black folders on it. They contain details of better paid jobs.


The usual hours for downtown shopping are 10AM-7PM, Monday to Saturday. Some larger places close a bit later (7:30PM). Shops are closed on Sundays, except in December and in Vieux Lyon where Sunday is the busiest day of the week!

  • La Part-Dieu, Boulevard Vivier-Merle, 69003 Lyon (M: Part-Dieu), [67]. Mon-Sat 10AM-8PM. A huge shopping mall (the largest downtown mall in Europe) on four levels, with most major fashion brands. Avoid Saturday afternoons, the place is awfully crowded.  edit
  • Rue de la République, 69002 Lyon (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour). This pedestrian street is the main downtown shopping spot. Also check out Rue du Président Edouard Herriot (more expensive in general) and Rue de Brest; these three streets run parallel to each other along Presqu'île.  edit
  • Rue du Président Edouard Herriot, rue Gasparin, rue Emile Zola, rue des Archers, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour). In the "golden square" between Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins, you will find a number of famous luxury brands.   edit
  • Rue Victor Hugo, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo/Perrache). Brand names and tourist traps south of Bellecour.  edit
  • Rue Auguste Comte, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo). Parallel to rue Victor Hugo, this is where you will find most antique shops in Lyon.  edit
  • Carré de Soie, Avenue de Böhlen, 69120 Vaulx-en-Velin (M/T: Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie), [68]. Mon-Sat 10AM-7:30PM, some stores open Sun. New shopping mall (opened April 2009) with fashion stores, restaurants and a cinema multiplex, in a developing suburban area.  edit
  • Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, 102 cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon (B: C3-Halles Paul Bocuse, M/T: Part-Dieu). Tue-Sat 7AM-12PM and 3PM-7PM, Sun 7AM-12PM. Formerly located on Place des Cordeliers, the Halles moved to the Part-Dieu area in 1971. If you want the very best food, this is the place to go. It has a price however...  edit
  • Croix-Rousse market, Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69001 Lyon (M: Croix-Rousse). Tue-Sun 7AM-1PM. Very popular and typical market mith many local producers. On Tuesdays, also sells non-food items. Very crowded on sunny Sundays, but this is the right time to enjoy the particular mood of the neighbourhood.  edit
  • St Antoine market, Quai St Antoine and Quai des Célestins, 69002 Lyon (M: Cordeliers). Tue-Sun 7AM-1PM. The other major market, in a wealthier part of town. Also some local fruit and vegetable producers. Eating oysters by the Saône is a very pleasant occupation before Sunday lunch.  edit
  • Bahadourian, 20 rue Villeroy, 69003 Lyon (M: Guillotière), 04 78 60 32 10, [69]. Mon-Fri 8:30AM-12:30PM / 2:30PM-7:30PM, Sat 8:30AM-7:30PM. A large Oriental shop, with all kinds of exotic foods, especially North African. In the heart of the picturesque Guillotière neighbourhood.  edit
  • Antic Wine, 18 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 37 08 96 (), [70]. Tue-Sun 11AM-8PM. This tiny shop has an exceptional selection of wines from all over the world. Very interesting selection of Rhône valley wines, amazing collection of old Burgundies. Very reasonable prices. Also a must-see for port amateurs, with the largest selection in France and prices ranging from €12 to €3,000.  edit
  • Vercoquin, 33 rue de la Thibaudière, 69007 Lyon (M: Saxe-Gambetta), 04 78 69 43 87 (), [71]. Tue-Sat 10AM-8PM, Sun 10AM-1PM. This wine store is specialised in organic and "natural" wines. It is also a wine bar, all bottles of the shop can be drunk there with a price supplement of €6.  edit


Restaurants have their menus with prices displayed outside. As everywhere in France, the prices always include service, bread and tap water (ask for a carafe of water). Tipping has become a rare practice, which contributes to the bad image of French people abroad! You are expected to tip only if you are particularly satisfied with the service. This is especially true in budget or mid-range restaurants, maybe less so in expensive places where a little more generosity can be expected; nothing is compulsory, though. Typical tips depend, of course, on the price of the menu and your level of satisfaction but they are generally not as high as in the US, for example. If you pay by credit card and wish to add a tip, you can tell the person in charge how much he/she should charge your card.

The traditional restaurants in Lyon are called bouchons; the origin of the word is unclear (it literally means "cork"). They appeared at the end of the 19th century and flourished in the 1930s, when the economic crisis forced wealthy families to fire their cooks, who opened their own restaurants for a working-class clientele. These women are referred to as mères (mothers); the most famous of them, Eugénie Brazier, became one of the first chefs to be awarded three stars (the highest ranking) by the famous Michelin gastronomic guide. She also had a young apprentice called Paul Bocuse. Eating in a good bouchon is certainly a must-do. They serve the typical local dishes:

  • salade lyonnaise (Lyon salad): green salad with bacon cubes, croutons and a poached egg;
  • saucisson chaud: a hot, boiled sausage; can be cooked with red wine (saucisson beaujolais) or in a bun (saucisson brioché);
  • quenelle de brochet: dumpling made of flour and egg with pike fish and a crayfish sauce (Nantua sauce);
  • tablier de sapeur: marinated tripes coated with breadcrumbs then fried, even locals often hesitate before trying it;
  • andouillette: sausage made with chopped tripes, usually served with a mustard sauce;
  • gratin dauphinois: the traditional side dish, oven-cooked sliced potatoes with cream;
  • cervelle de canut (canut brain): fresh cheese with garlic and herbs.
  • rognons de veau à la moutarde: veal kidneys in a mustard sauce. Delicious and textural experience!

These dishes are very tasty. They were originally workers' food, so they are generally fat and the portions are usually quite big. The quality is very variable since the bouchons are one of the main tourist attractions of the city. A good tip: never trust big signs reading "Véritable bouchon lyonnais" (genuine bouchon) or with a list of typical dishes on the front window. Those who need to write this are most often tourist traps. And if someone on the street tries to get you into a restaurant, run! A good bouchon, however, offers very good value for money.

Good bouchons?

A local association awarded the "Authentique bouchon lyonnais" label to 22 restaurants all over town (but mostly on Presqu'île), considering the quality of their food and wine, the typicity of their decor and the owner's strong personality! They have a metal plate on their façade representing Gnafron, Guignol's friend, with his glass of Beaujolais.

In bouchons and other lower- to mid-range restaurants, basic wines can be served by the pot, a typical bottle containing 46 cl and filled from a cask or wine box. The smaller fillette (little girl) contains 28 cl. This is definitely cheaper than a 75 cl bottle, but the quality is not always guaranteed...

Lyon was named "capital of gastronomy" by the great gastronomic writer Curnonsky in 1935; at that time there were no exotic restaurants, no diets and nobody was talking about fusion cuisine or bistronomy. Fortunately, the local gastronomy has considerably evolved since then and there is now far more to dining in Lyon than the bouchons. Kebab shops, Asian food, bistros, three-star restaurants: Lyon has them all.

The locals are generally fond of eating out and the best places get known quickly by word of mouth. Moreover, the restaurants are quite small on average. It is strongly advised to book a table, especially for dinner, otherwise you may end up in one of the multiple tourist traps.

  • Chez Mounier — A traditional bouchon (restaurant) with good food for a very reasonable price (a complete menu for €10). Located on the south-east street of the Place Bellecour.
  • Otherwise, kebab shops abound, most with the same price: €4.50 for a kebab, €5 for a kebab with frites. Look especially near Place des Terreaux (M: Hôtel de Ville).
  • El Loco Latino, 15 minutes across the Rhone from Hotel de Ville. Latino bar with low budget food. The day menu is €7.50 and the empanada is €4.
  • Wallace Whisky Bar, five minutes across the Saone from Hotel de Ville. Mixture of French and British food. Fish 'n chips, bacon and egg, etc. Prices from €7.
  • Many bakeries offer good quality sandwiches, made with fresh baguette of course! Try, for example, Chez Jules, 7 rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), or Le Fournil de l'Opéra, Place Louis Pradel, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville).
  • Le Resto d'Alice, 34, Rue Sergent Blandan (Rue de Capucins begins just south of Croix Paquet metro station, take it 300m west; note street name changes), 04 78 28 09 33‎. Small bouchon with cute rustic interior and patio located on nice green plaza. The Andouillette and gratin dauphinois are particularly good. Service is very friendly. Also surrounded by other interesting looking eating options and convenient velo'v station on plaza. Full dinner w/dessert and wine €30.  edit
  • Chez Martial, 34 rue Saint Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 38 31 75. Tiny bouchon, maybe the only acceptable one in a street full of tourist traps. Menu €19.  edit
  • Le Bistrot de St-Paul, 2 quai de Bondy, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), 04 78 28 63 19, [72]. This restaurant serving mostly specialities from southwestern France (duck, foie gras, cassoulet...) has become locally famous for its "crisis" menu: at lunch, you can decide what the price of your menu should be. Most people, however, pay the normal price or even more because the food is worth it! Lunch €14.50, dinner €21.50/29.50/33.  edit
  • Le Layon, 52 rue Mercière (M: Cordeliers), 04 78 42 94 08. Mon-Sun, lunch and dinner. Serves all day (12PM-12AM) on Sat. In another street full of tourist traps, this restaurant offers very good, classical local and French cuisine. Try the grenouilles (frogs)! Very nice terrace. Good wine list at interesting prices. Full menu €23.50/27.50.  edit
  • Les Adrets, 30 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 38 24 30. Very good classic French cuisine, made from quality products, in a nice decor. One of the best places in the area. Lunch from €13, dinner €23 to €38.  edit
  • Le Potager des Halles, 3 rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 72 00 24 84, [73]. Closed Sun, Mon. This restaurant serves traditional French cuisine made from very good and very fresh products, with a Mediterranean influence. Very good wine list too. The lunch menu is an absolute steal! Lunch €15, dinner €32/35.  edit
  • Brasserie Georges, 30, cours de Verdun (Located behind Perrache Station), +33 (0)4 72565456, [74]. An exceptional traditional Brasserie, serving traditional food with an Alsatian leaning in a fine interior. A real Art Deco treat. Founded in 1836, with a tradition of high quality service. It also contains a brewery and bar and the interior is worth a look even if you don't want to eat. from €25 to 35.  edit
  • Le Resto, 20, rue Mulet (Just off rue de la Republique). Very nice little restaurant with great Lyon food and very lovely decor. Very Reasonable wine prices as well.  edit
  • Bouchon Chez Paul, 11 rue du Major Martin, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 78 28 35 83 (), [75]. Closed Sun, Mon (lunch). A very good bouchon serving huge portions. Noisy and friendly. Full menu €25.  edit
  • L'Ouest, 1 quai du Commerce, 69009 Lyon (M: Gare de Vaise), 04 37 64 64 64, [76]. A brasserie owned by Paul Bocuse, near the river Saône. The specialities are fish and cuisine of the Caribbean. Full menu from €24.  edit
  • L'Art et la Manière, 102 Grande rue de la Guillotière, 69007 Lyon (M: Saxe-Gambetta), 04 37 27 05 83, [77]. Closed Sat, Sun, Mon dinner. Small no-tourist restaurant in a no-tourist area. Short menu but very creative, high-quality cooking. Good (although short) wine list at reasonable prices. Lunch from €16, dinner €26/33.  edit
  • Espace Le Bec, Le Centre, upper level, St Exupéry airport, 04 72 22 71 86. Before boarding your return flight, you can treat yourself with a last fine meal in Lyon. This place was opened by Nicolas Le Bec, who runs the most trendy gastronomic restaurant in the city and offers quality bistronomic cuisine. 2-course menu from €20, 3-course menu from €25.  edit
  • Christian Têtedoie, 54 quai Pierre-Scize, 69005 Lyon (B: 19/31/40/44-Homme de la Roche), 04 78 29 40 10 (), [78]. Closed Sat (lunch), Mon (lunch), Sun. A "modern/classic" cuisine, served with great professionalism in a very nice decor. A wine list so big they have to carry it around on a trolley. Good value for money. Full menu from €50.  edit
  • La Mère Brazier — Mathieu Viannay, 12 rue Royale, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 78 23 17 20, [79]. The restaurant opened in 1921 by the legendary Eugénie Brazier was recently taken over by the talented young chef Mathieu Vianney and awarded 2 stars by the Michelin guide only a few months after its opening. Revisited all-time classics (Bresse poultry with truffles, artichokes with foie gras). Lunch menu €35, dinner menus €55/75/95.  edit
  • L'Auberge de l'Ile, Place Notre-Dame, île Barbe, 69009 Lyon (B: 40/43/31-Ile Barbe), [80]. One of the best places in Lyon, in a 17th century building on a lovely island on the Saône. Menus €95/125.  edit
  • Paul Bocuse (Auberge du Pont de Collonges), 40 rue de la Plage, 69660 Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, 04 72 42 90 90, [81]. The master of all chefs. Taste the legend of "Monsieur Paul", who is over 80 years old and still runs this palace restaurant... and many others! From €100.  edit
  • Nardone, 3 place Ennemond Fousseret/26 quai de Bondy, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 28 29 09, [82]. Summer: Mon-Sun 9AM-1AM, winter: Wed-Sun 10AM-7PM, closed Dec 31-Mar 10. Delicious ice cream with very original flavours, served on a very pleasant terrace. Completely overcrowded on sunny weekends, be prepared to queue... but it is worth the wait if you are a real ice cream fan. From €7.  edit
  • Boulangerie du Palais, 8 rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 37 09 43. In this small bakery, you will find good praline tarts, a popular local dessert.  edit
  • Les Enfants Gâtés, 3 place Sathonay, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 78 30 76 24. Summer: Mon-Sun 12PM-12AM, winter: Tue-Sun 10AM-7PM. Very good ice cream, on a lovely neighbourhood square. Also a good Sunday brunch.  edit
  • Pain et Cie, 13 rue des Quatre Chapeaux, 69002 Lyon (M: Cordeliers), 04 78 38 29 84. Mon-Sat 7AM-10:30PM. This place is quite popular for its Sunday brunch. Brunch €18.  edit


Lyon offers some nice nightlife. A good starting point is Place des Terreaux and then upwards towards the Croix Rousse. In the streets that climb the hill there are many nice places.

English/Irish pubs

Foreign students often gather in English or Irish pubs, which are more particularly concentrated in the Vieux Lyon area. English-speaking staff everywhere of course...

  • Albion, 12 rue Sainte Catherine (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 78 28 33 00. Beer, whiskey and rock. "The best pub quiz in Lyon" - Special Music Quiz once a month.  edit
  • Johnny Walsh's, 56 rue St Georges (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 42 98 76, [83]. Tue-Thu 7PM-2AM, Fri-Sun 7PM-3AM. Nice, authentic Irish pub with good music and some live performances.  edit
  • Wallace, 2 rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), 04 72 00 23 91, [84]. Mon-Sun 11AM-3AM. Comfortable beer and whisky bar with a nice terrace, live sports, pub quiz on Thursdays.  edit
  • St James's Pub, 19 rue St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 78 37 36 70. Irish pub.  edit
  • The Smoking Dog, 16 rue Lainerie (B: C3-Gare St Paul), 09 64 06 68 90. English pub. Pub quiz on Tuesdays. Air conditioning.  edit
  • Le Bec de Jazz, 19 rue Burdeau, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville / Croix Paquet), 06 81 24 37 83. Wed-Sat 10PM-5AM. Nice jazz club, with live jazz and a great atmosphere.  edit
  • Le Phoebus, 22 rue Pouteau, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville / Croix Paquet), 06 84 62 52 69. Tue-Wed 6PM-2AM, Thu 6PM-3AM, Fri-Sat 12PM-3AM. Pub with nice live music (African, reggae).  edit
  • L'Abreuvoir, 18 rue Ste Catherine, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 78 30 17 90. Mon-Sun 5PM-1AM. There you can join some crazy French listening to crazy French music. Definitely an experience, though not everyone's cup of tea.  edit
  • El Loco Latino, 32, rue Pasteur, next to the Guillotière metro station. A small, but lively Latin bar, open daily until 1AM.
  • L'Amsterdam, 21 Quai Romain Rolland, nice dutch pub.
  • Le Perroquet Bourré (The Drunk Parrot), 18 Rue Saint Catherine. Cheap rum, the inside is decorated as a pirate ship.


At the quai Albert Augagneur is another centre of Lyon nightlife. Along the Rhone river are several out of duty riverboats (péniches) that serve as nightclubs or bars.

  • Sirius, 21 quai Augagneur. Live events almost every day of the week. The weekends party on two levels. Nice.
  • Q-Boat, 21 Quai Augagneur. Another boat, here the hype crowd will feel at home.
  • Marquise [85], Quai Augagneur. Here you get nice alternative hip-hop, retro soul, etc. Sometimes theatre performances.

Beaujolais wine: is it really that bad?

The region of Beaujolais, north of Lyon, is famed worldwide for the "Beaujolais nouveau", released on the 3rd Thursday of November each year. The average quality is terrible and due to this, the region is quite ill-reputed amongst French consumers. But there is far more to Beaujolais than nouveau! Look for the best winemakers in the ten crus, most notably Juliénas, Fleurie, Morgon, Chénas and Moulin-à-Vent. Their value for money is excellent and the best wines tend to acquire a "Burgundian" taste with age. Winemakers are usually very welcoming and the area is very beautiful.

Wine bars are increasingly popular in Lyon. Here are a few addresses.

  • La Cave des Voyageurs, 7 place St Paul, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M: Hôtel de Ville/Vieux Lyon), 04 78 28 92 28 (), [86]. Tue-Sat 6PM-1AM. This small and friendly wine bar has a good selection of wines, especially from Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Rhône valley. Also serves some quality food: ham, sausages, cheese. Wine by the glass from €3.  edit
  • Georges Five, 32 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 72 40 23 30, [87]. Tue-Sat 7PM-1AM. This place was recently opened by the owner of the wine shop Antic Wine. It has therefore a very wide selection of wines (2,800 references), ranging from small local producers to the most famous and sought-after names. Also top-quality food: ham, cheese, etc. Be careful: the place is small, very often packed and hosts numerous private events, so a reservation is highly recommended. Wine by the glass from €3, bottles €18-€3,000.  edit
  • Vercoquin. See "Buy".  edit


It is generally not difficult to find a hotel room in Lyon, except for the Fête des Lumières and during some important professional trade shows like SIRHA (food, hotels and restaurants) and POLLUTEC (environment technology). The dates of those events can be found on the exhibition centre's website [88].

  • Hotel Vaubecour, 28 rue Vaubecour (2nd arrondissement), 04 78 37 44 91, [89]. A very simple, but clean and friendly hotel with large rooms and two beds, TV, and washstand. Near Perrache train station and close to just about everything. Under €30.  edit
  • Auberge de Jeunesse de Vieux Lyon (youth hostel). Belongs to YHA (international youth hostels association). Bunk bed in a dorm, plus breakfast for €15 (plus fee, if not member of YHA). Take the metro to Vieux Lyon station then the funicular to Place des Minimes (otherwise a serious hike up a steep hill). Excellent views over city. Tiny kitchen, extremely limited rooms for couples/families. Keeps with the Catholic 1900s tradition of no gender-mixed rooms. No telephone bookings.  edit
  • Hotel Les Carres Pegase, 31 Rue Chevreul, 04 72 72 08 36. Totally worn down business appart-hotel, in serious need of modernisation - but apart from that with clean sheets and friendly service. Small duplex for four people as low as €60 through hostelbookers. But be aware that you get what you pay for. The views for 7th floor is good.
  • Hotel Victoria, 3, rue Delandine, Lyon 69002 (Behind Perrache Station opposite Brasserie George), (, fax:, [90]. This place is unpretentious and satisfactory. Reasonable value accommodation in a handy location with a friendly welcome. €45-55.  edit
  • Hotel Saint Paul, 6 rue Lainerie, 69005 Lyon (B: C3/Gare St Paul), 04 78 28 13 29, [91]. Very conveniently located in Vieux Lyon, this 2-star hotel offers rather small rooms but very good service and cleanliness. Good value for money. The street can be quite noisy, so ask for a room on the courtyard side or bring your earplugs... Double rooms €66/74/80.  edit
  • Hotel Sofitel Lyon Bellecour, 20, quai Gailleton (2nd arrondissement), (+33)4 72412020, [92]. Luxury hotel close to the famous Place Bellecour. Large number of meeting rooms for conventions.
  • Collège Hôtel, 5 place St Paul, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M:Vieux Lyon/Hôtel de Ville), 04 72 10 05 05 (), [93]. Conveniently located in the Vieux Lyon area, this 3-star hotel is decorated in the manner of an early 20th century school. Rooms €116 to €146 (tax inclusive), breakfast €12, parking €15.  edit
  • Cour des Loges, 2-8 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), 04 72 77 44 44 (), [94]. Located in an exceptional 14th-century building in the heart of the old town. Rooms €249 to €620, breakfast €25.  edit
  • Main Post Office, 10 place Antonin Poncet, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour), 04 72 40 65 22, [95]. Mon-Fri 9AM-7PM, Thu open until 8PM, Sat 9AM-12:30PM.  edit
  • Terreaux Post Office, 3 rue du Président Edouard Herriot (M: Hôtel de Ville), 04 72 00 58 34, [96]. Mon-Fri 10AM-7PM, Sat 10AM-5PM.  edit

There are 42 other post offices in all neighbourhoods.

Most internet cafés and call shops are in the Guillotière neighbourhood (M: Guillotière) and behind Place des Terreaux (Rue Ste Catherine, Rue Romarin, M: Hôtel de Ville), because of the large population of immigrants living there.

To call from abroad, omit the first 0 of the phone number. To call abroad from France, dial 00.

Stay safe

Real security problems in the Lyon center are rare, but as in any big city, be on your guard. Pay attention to your surroundings, be aware of pickpockets in crowded places, try not to go out at night alone (especially if you are a woman), etc.

Rue Ste Catherine, behind Place des Terreaux, is locally famous for its bars; on weekend nights there are a lot of drunk people on the street, who might be violent. The police keep a close watch but it is probably better to avoid the area if you are on your own.

In populated places such as Rue de la République or outside Part-Dieu station, you may come across people advertising for charities; they can be recognised by their specific, coloured clothing. They will not ask you for money but rather give you information documents which encourage you to donate. Homeless people sell newspapers such as Macadam or Sans-abri which help them making some money without begging; they should have an ID card issued by the editors. But there are also people trying to con you and get money for some imaginary charity, sometimes by selling postcards or other items. Never give money directly to someone on the street who claims to be working for charity and does not have official documents, or if the documents look doubtful.

The police can be reached by dialling 17; for the fire brigade, call 18 and for medical emergency, 15. The European emergency number 112 should be used on mobile phones.

Go skiing from Lyon!

In winter, the nearest ski resorts are less than two hours away. Several travel agencies sell day "packages" (journey by coach and ski pass); the coaches depart from Lyon between 6 and 7AM and come back around 8PM. This is a convenient and inexpensive way to go skiing; these one-day trips cost €30-40, excluding equipment hire and food. [97], [98], [99].

  • The car museum of Rochetaillée has a very nice collection of modern and old cars. The main attraction of the museum is Adolf Hitler's armored car. Château Rochetaillée, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, Tel: 04 78 22 18 80, Fax: 04 78 22 69 60. Open 9AM-7PM daily (EXCEPT Monday) in July and August, 9AM-6PM the rest of the year. Closed on Christmas and New Year. Fees: Adults €5, free for children under 18.
  • Perouges is a small village 30 minutes outside of Lyon. Its buildings all date to the middle ages and it's a popular weekend destination for people who live in Lyon.
  • The bird park of Villars-les-Dombes.
  • Vienne and its international jazz festival.
  • The Swiss border and the city of Geneva are just over two hours away by train.
  • Annecy, the "Venice of Savoie" with its beautiful lake and canals, is about 2 hours away and makes a nice daytrip.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Lyón, and lyön



Proper noun




  1. Alternative spelling of Lyons.




Proper noun


  1. The city of Lyons, France.

Derived terms


Swedish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia sv

Proper noun

Lyon n.

  1. Lyons (a city in France)


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Marcus Ward Lyon article)

From Wikispecies

U.S. naturalist (1875-1942).

Simple English

Location of Lyon in France

[[File:|thumb|right|150px|Place Du Griffon, Lyon, France]] Lyon (English Lyons) is a city in the south-east of France. Today it is the second largest metropolis, or metro area in France. Paris is the largest. Marseille is the third largest. In 2005, about 472,000 people lived in Lyon intra muros, about 4,115,000 in the urban area.

In ancient history, the name of Lyon was Lugdunum. Someone who lives in Lyon is called a Lyonnais (male) or a Lyonnaise (female) in french.

Lyon is located between the Rhone and the Saône. It is situated about 150 km west of the Italian border.

Famous people from Lyon

  • The Lumière Brothers who created cinema
  • Paul Bocuse, a world renowned chef


Famous sports clubs from Lyon are

  • Olympique Lyonnais: The local football team in lyon
  • ASVEL: The local BasketBall team
  • LOU: (Lyon Olympique Universitaire) The local Rugby team
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