Lyon City

Lyon is an old city which was founded by the Romans in 43 BC. Now the France’s third largest city is famous for rich history, world-famous cuisine and impressive architecture.

Lyon is an easy city to explore on foot. Like Paris, Lyon is divided into nine arrondissements. Each one has its own identity and vibe, making exploring Lyon very diverse and fun. The Renaissance architecture of old Lyon, the heart of Lyon surrounding the Place Bellecour, the lively neighborhood around the Place des Terreaux, the Croix-Rousse with the locals shopping in little markets, the newly-developed contemporary Confluence district . . .

And of course, the food! It is not a surprise that France’s most famous chef, Paul Bocuse, was born and based here!

5.0
Liz & Bruce
We definitely experienced a new way of traveling : out-of-the-way places, local markets and quaint little restaurants. We met a lot of French people and other travelers and always …
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 4640
Region
in Paris, Alsace, Burgundy, Lyon & Provence

This itinerary takes you to Eastern France from North to South. After spending a few days in Paris, you will enjoy the Alsace region on the German border and then drive your way south all the way to Provence. The best itinerary to discover l'Est de la France !

Heritage & History Tours
Countryside Tours
Lyon

How to Get to Lyon

A nice stop between Burgundy & Provence

  • Lyon is perfectly located for a stop between Burgundy (2hr drive from Dijon) and Provence (2hr30 drive to Avignon).
  • If you want to drive from Paris to Lyon, it is about 4hrs30 and in this case, better to take a train.

Reach Lyon By Train

  • Lyon is a 2hr high-speed train ride from Paris, there are several direct connections per day from downtown Paris, as well as to Paris CDG Airport.
  • There are 2 main train stations in Lyon: Lyon Part-Dieu and Lyon Perrache. You should be very careful if you connect in Lyon to do it in the same station. We handle these details for our travelers. 

 

The History of Lyon

It is believed that Lyon was inhabited over 40,000 years ago. But the city we know today started with the arrival of the Romans who, wanting to conquer Gaul, saw Lyon as the ideal site. Multiple vestiges from this period remain on Fourvière Hill and in the Croix Rousse.

forviere hill

Fourvière Hill from the river - ©T.Deschamps - OT Lyon

 

Lyon - during the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, Lyon became an important trade center. Merchants and bankers from Italy came, building beautiful houses in the “Vieux Lyon” that still exist today. Printing and silk-making became important industries. The “Canuts” silk workers created passageways for carrying the products down to the river and not get rained on. These “traboules” still exist, and were used by the French Resistance during WWII to quickly and secretly get around the city.

Lyon - during World War II

During WWII, Lyon was one of the main sites of the Resistance movement (Jean Moulin operated here), as well as a stronghold for the SS (Klaus Barbie’s headquarters were in Lyon). The Resistance and Deportation History Center is located in the buildings occupied by Barbie and is an important site serving the memory of this time.

Lyon - constantly moving

The Lumières brothers who lived in Lyon invented the cinema in the 1890s. Since then, the city has constantly developed with great modernity. Jean Nouvel designed the opera house in 1990, the banks of the Rhone river were refurbished in the mid-2000s, and the new Confluence district has regenerated the southern Presqu’île with contemporary architecture and sustainable development.

 

The Food, oh the Food!

Lyon is the gastronomical capital of the top gastronomical country in the world! Tummies get ready, and let the adventure begin!

The city is surrounded by areas provided top quality products : meats from the Monts du Lyonnais and the Dombes, fish from Savoy, chicken from Bresse, wines from the Rhone valley and the Beaujolais, tons of local cheese . . . all which are on display at the numerous outside markets or at the famous Les Halles indoor market.

Here are some self-drive trip ideas for gourmet travelers

Bouchon Lyonnais

Typical Bouchon Lyonnais brasserie restaurant - ©OT Lyon

 

Some of the specialties that should not be missed (and this is only a small sample. . .), be it either in a typical bouchon restaurant or at a Michelin starred establishment:

  • Quenelles : a pike dumpling soufflé often covered in Nantua sauce made with crayfish from nearby Nantua lake, then baked in the oven
  • Saucisson brioche: a sausage made with pistachios and surrounded by a soft brioche
  • Salade lyonnaise : you will be surprised as to how delicious a simple salad can be (frisée lettuce, lardons, croutons and a poached egg)
  • For the more adventurous, the Tablier de sapeur : cooked beef tripe, marinated in white wine, then covered in breadcrumbs and fried. It is usually served with steamed potatoes and sauce gribiche, made from hard-boiled eggs, mustard and chives.
  • Cheese : creamy Saint Marcellin and St Félicien, the Cervelle des canuts (fromage blanc seasoned with herbs, shallots, olive oil and vinegar usually served as a starter), and the Arôme de Lyon (dried cow’s milk cheese that is macerated in wine for 3 weeks, with the grapes encrusting the final product)
  • Sweets: Coussin de Lyon (from Voisin chocolate shop) and the Tarte à la Praline (a cream tart covered in delicious pink pralines)

 

Tarte à la praline

Tarte à la Praline - ©Ji-Elle, CC BY-SA 4.0 - Wikimedia Commons

 

Where to stay in Lyon

As with Paris, to optimize your stay, we recommend staying in the heart of Lyon, on its “presqu’île”. We have selected boutique-hotels very central that will enable you to easily explore and make the most of your time in “the other city of lights”.

 

Lyon by night

Staying in the very heart of Lyon is the best way to make the most of your stay - ©T.Deschamps - OT Lyon

Visit other French regions

Alsace

North

Somme

Champagne

Verdun

Normandy

Provence

Dordogne

Loire Valley

Paris

Bordeaux

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Wendy & Ron
We could not be happier. When we first received the guide book and brochures, we thought we would not need them, but they were invaluable! Our first stay with Florence and Phil was especially memorable but really we cannot think of a highlight because it was all wonderful. We will certainly recommend your company to anyone we know travelling to …
Marlene & Terry
Emilie, You are the best! Everything you selected for us was perfect in every way. All the tickets, tours and reservations were handled well and we thank you for arranging such a beautiful vacation. We are recommending you to everyone we talk to. If you are ever in Toronto, we would be happy to host you and Guillaume!
Robert
Everything you need and things you didn’t know you needed. Emilie is very kind, a good soul. And don’t you want the people who handle your holidays to radiate happiness? A happy itinerary = a lovely journey!

Our Travelers’ Photos

Ginette and Craig
from the US
In Chaumont castle, Loire Valley
Amy
from the US
Enjoying a great view in Burgundy
Dina & Jim
from the US
Who just received their travel pack at home
Patricia, Brandon, Alyssa & Anika
from Canada
in a cellar in the Loire Valley
David
From the US
Celebrating his 80th birthday at a cooking class in Burgundy
Tonya & Robert
From the US
In Versailles - Hall of Mirrors
Naomi
From the US
In Villandry gardens in the Loire Valley
Ginette, Craig, Bev & Dan again
from the US
Having breakfast on their private terrace near Aix en Provence
Darlene & Howard
from the US
At Emilie's parents with Jeanne & Pauline (our daughters)
Rory & Mike
From the US
Enjoying a romantic moment
Scott & Linda
From Australia
In Mont Saint Michel
Deborah & Richard
from the US
On Omaha Beach, Normandy