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 it’s 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!

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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 Wolrd 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 regenerized the southern Presqu’île with contemporary architecture and eco-responible 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.

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

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Bobbi
We like to travel independently and Emilie was fantastic in providing us everything we needed to do so. We had wonderful information to read beforehand and received maps and GPS coordinates to get us where we needed to go.This is a great service to use to set up your hotel and car arrangements along with suggested itineraries that can be modified …
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My sister and I wanted to plan a vacation together with our husbands to Normandy and the Loire Valley so I started online only to find it was a difficult process. We found "France Just for You" and our problems were solved, Emilie planned every detail! Our hosts in all accommodations spoke English and made us feel most welcome, our stay in each …
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My wife and I recently engaged Emilie, of France Just For You, to plan a two week trip to Provence in the first two weeks of May. It was mid-March and we found Emilie during a web search of self-driving tours of France. What a find! Emilie responded within twenty-four hours with very specific questions, wanting to know more about us, our interests …

Our Travelers’ Photos

Mary-Ann & Ruth
From the US
Meeting Emilie in Normandy
Ron
From the US
Cycling in the Loire Valley vineyards
Ginette and Craig
from the US
In Chaumont castle, Loire Valley
Cynthia & Roger
from the US
Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley
Theresa & Bill
From the US
Between the vineyards & the lavenders in Provence
Sally & Mike
From the US
With their hosts in the Loire Valley
Frederick
from Canada
Enjoying some cheese
Sheena & Anna
From the US
In Provence
Phyllis, Gyu & the boys
from Korea
in Nice
Andy
from the US
Enjoying a drink on a brasserie terrace in Paris
Muriel & Michael
from the US
In Utah Beach, Normandy
Scott
From Australia
Making "chou" buns in the Loire Valley