Lyon

Lyon

A city full of gastronomic delights, Lyon is also straining at the girth with history and culture: it was here that the Lumière brothers invented cinema. France's third largest city stands as the gateway to the south. The city centre sits on a promontary between the Rhône and the Saône, just before the two rivers join. The Place Bellecour, with its statue of Louis XIV, is the largest pedestrianised square in Europe, and has been flooded several times. Beside the river you'll find the spendid barrel-vaulted glass roof of the Opéra national de Lyon which was rebuilt by Jean Nouvel.

Check out the astrological clock at the Saint Jean Cathedral, and take the funicular railway up to the Fourvière Basilica where you'll get a fantastic view over the city. Not far from here is the antique Roman Theatre whic recall Lyon's days as the capital of celtic Gaul. This well-preserved amphitheatre serves as a fine backdrop for the great annual festival of theatre, dance, cinema and music: the Nuits de la Fourvière, which goes on throughout June and July.
The Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale is also a reference in the world of the arts, like its sister festival, the Lyon Dance Biennale.

The historic city centre is a Renaissance labyrinth of "traboules" (passageways from one building to another). For an authentic eating experience in Lyon, head to a "bouchon lyonnais". These traditional local restaurants in Lyon will serve up "rosette", delicous slices of a giant pork sausage, meaty dumplings and of course a good Côte de Rhône wine.

The Fine Arts Museum or "little Louvre" has put all its post -1940 art into the Contemporary Art Museum, which itself is a stone's throw from the verdant Parc de la Tête d'Or. Lyon, the cradle of avant-garde creation, not only saw the birth of cinema in 1895 but also saw early book printing develop in the 15th and 16th centuries. Find out more about these fascinating historical inventions at the Lumière Institute and the Printing Museum. Lyon lights up again with the annual Fête des Lumieres or Festival of Lights, for four days in December, when a spectacular light show in Lyon

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