Lyon is a vibrant city, ideally located in the heart of France and nestled between the Rhône and the Saône rivers. With more than 2,000 years of historical heritage, world famous food and a fascinating culture it is very easy to fall in love with.
Considered the capital of French gastronomy, this metropolitan city has charisma as well as cuisine. From convivial lunches in its myriad bouchons to getting lost in historic Vieux-Lyon, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Thanks to its strategic location on two rivers, Lyon’s been an important settlement since Roman times. These days it’s UNESCO-listed and a magnet for history aficionados, drawn by its stunning Renaissance and medieval architecture.
But there’s nothing antiquated or old-school about this city when it comes to art and architecture. Take a walk through the city and try to spot some of the 100 spectacular trompe l'oeil wall murals. Or head over to the Confluence district – the city’s newest neighbourhood. Once an industrial wasteland it’s changing apace, and home to the futuristic steel-and-glass Musée des Confluences.
The city of Lyon combines historic districts with booming modern areas. Hitch a ride on the funicular to hilltop basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière, built in thanks to the Virgin Mary after Lyon escaped the plague. Seek out La Cour des Voraces’ 19th-century staircase, a local icon forming part of one of the city’s most famous traboules. Then get lost in the city’s 20-acre botanical gardens, with their lush tropical palms and cool carnivorous plants.
The new district of Confluence offers completely different scenery, with contemporary architecture. The area is the symbol of Lyon's modernity and urban dynamism. Culture vultures won't be disappointed as Lyon hosts many museums, but is also an open-air museum as the city has hundreds of mural paintings and trompe-l'oeil artwork on building facades.
For many foodies Lyon is considered as the world's gastronomic capital. There are plenty of places to choose from as the city offers more than 2,000 restaurants, including 20 Michelin-starred restaurants in the 2017 guide.
World-famous chef, Paul Bocuse, is an iconic figure of Lyonnaise cuisine and the bustling Halles market is names after him. The Halles is the perfect spot to find the best regional products or to stop for an improvised lunch in one of the specialty restaurants.
While you're there, why not do a bit of shopping? Pick up some local saucisson to bring home with you (or have with your apéro and a glass of feisty local red wine) and some rose praline as a gift for your sweet-toothed friends.
Your holiday to Lyon is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a meal in a 'Bouchon'. These traditional restaurants are typical to Lyon and are informal, but inviting, places to stop for a hearty meal of local specialities.
Come apéro hour, go wild for the globe-trotting tapas and cocktails at chic newcomer Sauvage. The laid-back vibe’s contagious at La Madone, in bohemian Croix-Rousse. Pick a local beer, then find a spot on the terrace. Set in the once-industrial Confluence district, former sugar factory Le Sucre is now a club with a relaxed rooftop bar and mellow river views to boot.
Lyon is a city that really embraces cultural events, many of which happen in the streets of the town, accessible to everyone, whatever your budget.
Depending on when you visit you can experience the Biennale de la Danse (dance Festival) and its famous parade, Les Nuits Sonores (music festival) and Les Nuits de Fourvière (cultural festival hosted in the Roman theatre).
The most spectacular of Lyon's events is probably the 'Fête des Lumières' (Festival of Lights), which takes place every December. This is originates from a Lyonnais tradition, where locals place lights and candles at their windows to celebrate Mary. However, over the years, this has expanded into a much bigger event, and is now a spectacular light show projected onto buildings and in the streets all over the city, attracting millions of visitors every year.
We’d like one of everything in Inès and Pascale Dayet’s store Le Dadashop, from the arty, offbeat postcards to the Baggu rucksacks. Prepare to be blown away by Cica Gomez’s minimalist ceramics, made in situ and glazed with metal oxides. Stock up on playful jewellery and prints in studio-slash-store La Fabriq, where five local creatives showcase their designs.
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