Lyon city breaks
Follow your appetite to the gastronomic capital of France
Lyon holidays and city breaks
Considered the capital of French gastronomy, Lyon has a long and storied history, plus irresistible charisma and a lively cultural scene.
For foodies, it's a must. Whether you're seeking Michelin stars or a heavenly slice of praline tart, the city delivers on every epicurean front. And if it's art you're after, the birthplace of cinema doesn’t disappoint. From the movie museum to the incredible murals, there's creativity at every turn.
Things to do in Lyon
If it's culture you're after, make for the city's unconventional museums, head off in search of some massive murals, or seek out some peace at the hilltop basilica.
If your devotion leans more towards shopping, Lyon's design-led stores offer a great way to discover new names and pick up a unique piece or two. And that's before we get onto the festivals…
Musée des Confluences
86 Quai Perrache, 69002
From the big bang to the human brain, the stunning Musée des Confluences explores the origins of life on earth, and is worth a visit for the architecture alone.
Head inside though to boldly tackle the big questions: life, death, rituals and the history of humankind.
Existential queries answered, pop up to Le Comptoir Gourmand for a bite to eat and a great view from the terrace.
Musée Cinéma et Miniature
60 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005
From Star Wars to Spiderman, Men in Black to… Mrs Doubtfire, this quirky museum houses an impressive collection of more than 450 film props.
Eight rooms of animatronics and monsters, masks and prostheses, costumes and creatures give a fascinating insight into the backstage magic of movie-making.
And then there's the miniatures. The 120 intricate 1:12-scale masterpieces recreate everything from Maxim's in Paris to the dinosaur hall of a natural history museum – all in mind-blowing, teeny tiny detail.
Notre-Dame de Fourvière
8 Place de Fourvière, 69005
Consecrated in 1896, Lyon's landmark basilica was built in thanks to the Virgin Mary, who's credited with saving the city from a 17th-century plague.
While you can drop in any time for a peek, from April to November, guides are on hand to talk you through the building's history.
Stay inside to admire the mosaics and stained-glass windows, or climb the 345 steps to the roof for a bird's-eye view of the city below.
Go for a stroll
Simply wandering through Lyon's beautiful streets is a history lesson, from Renaissance-era Vieux-Lyon to the cobbled, hilly streets of La Croix-Rousse.
The former is famed for its traboules, secret passageways once used by silk-workers. During the war, Resistance cells used them to evade the Nazis. These days they serve as handy shortcuts for in-the-know locals.
On your way around town, try to spot some of the 100 murals and trompe l'oeil. The highlight is the spectacular Mur des Canuts, which transformed an eyesore into a towering optical illusion of ivy-covered apartments, shops and busy Lyonnais going about their day.
Join in the festival fun
May: Nuits Sonores – an annual event dedicated to electronic and independent music.
June: Les Nuits de Fourvière – everything from music and film to circus and dance takes over the city's two Roman amphitheatres.
September: La Biennale de Lyon – a joyous celebration of all things creative, alternating each year between dance and contemporary art.
December: Fête des Lumières – see Lyon's at its twinkly best in this spectacular city-wide light show.
Best restaurants in Lyon
Known as la capitale gastronomique, the city is a hotbed of culinary creatives, Michelin-starred restaurants and cosy home cooking. So be sure to pack your appetite as you set off to explore the best places to eat in Lyon.
For a Lyonnais spin on French cuisine, try some dumpling-like quenelles, brave an andouillette, sample some Saint-Marcellin or devour a pretty-in-pink praline tart.
Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
102 Cours Lafayette, 69003
A temple to legendary chef Paul Bocuse’s legacy, this sprawling indoor food market is heaven for gastronomes, and a whole day could be spent happily browsing the abundant stalls.
For the full experience, pick up some local cheese and charcuterie for an impromptu picnic, or stop for lunch in one of the specialty restaurants.
In search of souvenirs? Plump for some pretty rose praline or cook-at-home quenelles to take back a taste of Lyon.
12 Rue Royale, 69001
Celebrated chef Eugénie Brazier is another legend of the Lyonnais food scene.
Famed as the first person to be awarded six Michelin stars – three each at her two restaurants in the city – her legacy lives on in the hands of chef Mathieu Viannay.
Now a holder of two Michelin stars, Mère Brazier dishes up perfectly styled plates including crab with caviar, venison with wild berries and a fragrant Chartreuse soufflé with nougat ice cream. Divine.
2 Rue des Forces, 69002
Generous portions: check. Warm, gregarious host: check. Checked tablecloths: check check.
One of the joys of a trip to Lyon is the chance to eat in a traditional bouchon. And this is one of the best. These homely restaurants serve up hearty dishes of local favourites with a heavy emphasis on meat.
Think everything from pâté and chicken casserole to heavily seasoned andouillette and a salad of trotters and brawn. All washed down with a carafe of the delicious house wine.
27 Rue Capitaine Robert Cluzan, 69007
This airy café specialises in feelgood food, whether you're after a tasty midweek lunch or a laidback weekend brunch.
The weekday formules are a great way to mix and match dishes which run from velvety parsnip velouté to butternut flan and a flavoursome coconut shrimp curry.
Come the weekend, the simple brunch menu packs a flavoursome punch, offering everything from pancakes with caramelised pork, to pear and rosemary waffles via some egg-based breakfast favourites.
Frequently asked questions about taking a city break in Lyon
In a word: food. Nicknamed la capitale gastronomique, Lyon has long been home to some of France's top chefs.
Local delicacies include dumpling-like quenelles, heavily seasoned andouillette sausage, Saint-Marcellin cheese and pretty pink praline.
On a more modest budget? Friendly bouchons like Le Musée serve up hearty portions (of mostly meat) in cosy surroundings.
For a sunny Lyon weekend break, hit the town between May and September. It's also festival time.
For a winter escape, the city's at its festive best during December, when the Fête des Lumières sees candles and lamps adorn every window, while the city's landmarks are illuminated by spectacular light shows.
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For foodies and history lovers alike, Lyon has it all. The gastronomic capital of France and a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s perfect for a holiday or city break.