Lyon Halal Travel Guide
Covid-19 Situation in France
Lyon is the capital of the French administrative region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, created by a 2016 merger of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes with Auvergne. It also serves as the administrative centre for Metropolitan Lyon (French: Métropole de Lyon) and the Greater Lyon département; the two entities were separated in 2015. A city of half a million, Lyon alone is the country’s third-largest city, but its metropolitan area is only second in population to Paris. Lyon is mostly known as an economic centre with many corporate headquarters and bustling financial, IT and natural science industries, but it is also rich in historic and architectural heritage, and has a very vivid cultural life. It is also considered the gastronomic epicentre of France.
Lyon is shaped by its two rivers, the Rhône (to the east) and the Saône (to the west), which both run north-south. The main areas of interest are:
Also known as “the hill that prays” due to the numerous churches and religious institutions it hosts. The hill was also the place where the Romans settled.
|Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon)
The Renaissance area, along the right bank of the Saône.
Between the two rivers, the real heart of the city.
North of Presqu’île between the two rivers, it is known as “the hill that works” because it was home to the silk workers (canuts) until the 19th century. This industry has shaped the unique architecture of the area.
An emerging district with great contemporary architecture in a former industrial area.
The main business district and home to the main train station of Lyon.
The wealthiest district, next to the beautiful Tête d’Or park.
A picturesque district with a large immigrant population.
An interesting 1920s housing project.
Another developing district.
Fourvière, Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse and a large part of Presqu’île are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage List.
Lyon has nine administrative subdivisions called arrondissements, which are designated by numbers. They correspond approximately to the following neighbourhoods:
- 1st arrondissement (centre): North of Presqu’île and slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill; home of the canuts (silk workers), and still a ‘rebel’ neighbourhood.
- 2nd arrondissement (centre): Most of Presqu’île; basically, this is where the action is.
- 3rd arrondissement (East): Part-Dieu, North of Guillotière, Montchat, North of Monplaisir; the most populated arrondissement with wealthy and popular neighbourhoods, former industrial or military sites and a modern business district.
- 4th arrondissement (North): Plateau of the Croix-Rousse hill; historical area with a “village” mood.
- 5th arrondissement (West): Vieux Lyon, Fourvière, Saint-Just, Point du Jour; historical sites and quiet residential neighbourhoods.
- 6th arrondissement (Northeast): Brotteaux; the wealthiest part of the city.
- 7th arrondissement (South): South of Guillotière, Gerland; from popular neighbourhoods to high-tech industrial zones.
- 8th arrondissement (Southeast): South of Monplaisir, Etats-Unis, industrial and popular neighbourhoods built mainly in the 1920s-1930s.
- 9th arrondissement (Northwest): Vaise, La Duchère, St Rambert; some of the areas which have evolved the most.
- Don’t forget to visit Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, a nice little town on the western hill of Lyon,across the river Saône, where you can enjoy a walk halfway between the city and the countryside, with marvellous views of the city.
Zip codes for Lyon begin with 69 for its former département of Rhône and end with the number of the arrondissement: 69004 is therefore the zip code for the 4th arrondissement. Special zip codes may be used for businesses.
Introduction to Lyon
Founded by the Romans, with many preserved historical areas, Lyon is the archetype of the heritage city, as recognised by UNESCO World Heritage List. Lyon is a vibrant metropolis which starts to make the most out of its unique architectural, cultural and gastronomic heritage, its dynamic demographics and economy and its strategic location between Northern and Southern Europe. It is more and more open to the world, with an increasing number of students and international events.
The city has about 470,000 inhabitants. However, the direct influence of the city extends well over its administrative borders. The figure which should be compared to the population of other major metropolises is the population of Greater Lyon (which includes 57 towns or communes): about 1,200,000. Lyon and its metropolitan area are rapidly growing and getting younger, because of their economic attractiveness.
History of Lyon
All periods of Lyon’s 2,000-year history have left visible traces in the city’s architectural and cultural heritage, from Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces to contemporary skyscrapers. It never went through a major disaster (earthquake, fire, extensive bombing) or a complete redesign by urban planners. Very few cities in the world boast such diversity in their urban structure and architecture.
Early traces of settlement date back to 12,000 BC but there is no evidence of continuous occupation prior to the Roman era. Lugdunum, the Roman name of the city, was officially founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, then Governor of Gaul. The first Roman settlements were on Fourvière hill, and the first inhabitants were probably veterans of Caesar’s war campaigns. The development of the city was boosted by its strategic location and it was promoted Capital of Gauls in 27 BC by General Agrippa, emperor Augustus’s son-in-law and minister. Large carriageways were then built, providing easy access from all parts of Gaul. Lugdunum became one of the most prominent administrative, economic and financial centres in Gaul, along with Narbonne. Emperor Claudius, who reigned from 41 to 54 AD, was born here, on 10 BC, when his father Drusus was Governor of Gaul. The main period of peace and prosperity of the Roman city was between 69 and 192 AD. The population at that time is estimated between 50,000 and 80,000. Lugdunum consisted of four populated areas: the top of Fourvière hill, the slopes of Croix-Rousse around the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, the Canabae (around where Place Bellecour is today) and the right bank of the Saône river, mainly in what is today St Georges neighbourhood.
Lugdunum was the place where the first Christian communities of Gaul appeared. It was also where the first martyrdoms took place, most notably in 177 AD when the young slave Blandine was killed in the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, along with 47 other martyrs.
The city lost its status of Capital of Gauls in 297 AD. Then, in the early years of the 4th century, the aqueducts which brought water to the top of Fourvière suddenly stopped functioning. This was due to a lack of funds for their maintenance and security; the lead pipes which carried the water were stolen and could not be replaced. The city was completely deprived of water overnight. This triggered the end of the Roman Lugdunum, which lost a large part of its population and was reorganised around the Saône.
In the Middle Ages, the city developed on both banks of the Saône. The name “Lion” or “Lyon” appeared in the 13th century. The early Middle Ages were very troubled politically. Since the political geography of France kept changing, the city belonged successively to multiple provinces. It then belonged to the Holy Roman Empire from 1018 to 1312, when it was given to France at the Vienna Council. At that time, the city was still of limited size but had a large religious influence; in 1078, Pope Gregory VII made the Archbishop of Lyon the highest Catholic dignitary in the former Gaul (Primat des Gaules).
In the Renaissance, fiscal advantages and the organisation of numerous trade fairs attracted bankers from Florence and merchants from all over Europe; the city became more and more prosperous and experienced a second golden age. The main industries were silk weaving, introduced in 1536, and printing. Lyon became one of Europe’s largest cities and its first financial place, helped by the advantages given by King François I who even considered, at one time, making Lyon the capital of France. Around 1530, the population of Lyon reached 50,000.
In the following centuries, Lyon was hurt by the religious wars but remained a major industrial and intellectual centre, while the financial activity moved to Geneva and Switzerland. In the 18th century, half of the inhabitants were silk workers (canuts).
The eastern bank of the Rhône was not urbanised before the 18th century, when the swamps (called Brotteaux) were dried out to allow construction. Those massive works were led by engineer Morand. In the meantime, works conducted by Perrache doubled the area of the Presqu’île. The extension works were halted by the French revolution but started again in the early 19th century.
During the Revolution, in 1793, Lyon took sides against the central power of the Convention (Parliament), which caused a severe repression from the army. Over 2,000 people were executed.
In the early 19th century, the silk industry was still developing, notably thanks to Jacquard’s loom which made the weaving work more efficient. Social crises, however, occurred: in 1831, the first revolt of the canuts was harshly repressed. The workers were protesting against the introduction of new technology, which was likely to cause unemployment. Other riots took place in 1834, 1848 and 1849, especially in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. From 1848, the Presqu’île area was redesigned in a way similar to Haussmann’s works in Paris. In 1852, the neighbouring towns of Vaise, Croix-Rousse and Guillotière were made districts of Lyon. The traditional silk industry disappeared at the end of the century because of diseases affecting the French silk worms and the opening of the Suez Canal which reduced the price of imported silk from Asia. Various other industries developed at that time; the most famous entrepreneurs of the late 19th century were the Lumière brothers, who invented cinema in Lyon in 1895.
Edouard Herriot was elected mayor in 1905 and governed the city until his death in 1957. He initiated a number of important urban projects, most notably in partnership with his favourite architect Tony Garnier: Grange Blanche hospital (today named after Herriot), Gerland slaughterhouses (now Halle Tony Garnier) and stadium, the États-Unis neighbourhood, etc.
During World War II, Lyon was close to the border between the “free zone” and the occupied zone and was therefore a key strategic place for the Germans and the French Resistance alike. Jean Moulin, head of the Resistance, was arrested in Caluire (North suburb of Lyon). On 26 May 1944, Lyon was bombed by the Allied aviation. The Liberation of Lyon occurred on 3 September.
In the 1960s, the construction of the business district of Part-Dieu began; its symbol is the “pencil” tower, the tallest building in Lyon. Meanwhile, the association “Renaissance du Vieux Lyon” (Rebirth of the Old Lyon) managed to have this Renaissance area classified by the government as the first preserved landmark in France, while it was threatened by a highway project defended by mayor Louis Pradel. Pradel was a convinced “modernist” and supporter of the automobile. He also backed the construction of the Fourvière tunnel, opened in 1971 and of the A6/A7 freeway through Presqu’île, near Perrache station, a decision later described as “the screw-up of the century” by mayor Michel Noir, in the 1990s. In 1974, the first line of the metro was opened. In 1981, Lyon was linked to Paris by the first TGV (high speed train) line. In the 1980s and 1990s, a huge number of buildings in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse were renovated. The landscape of Lyon is still evolving, notably with the new Rhône banks promenade or the construction of new skyscrapers in Part-Dieu.
In the future, the banks of the Saône should also be given a second youth. The completion of the Lyon beltway on the western side should relieve the central areas from some of the traffic. A high-performance train network serving exurban areas (like the RER around Paris) is also planned.
Politics in Lyon
A city of merchants and industry, Lyon has a long tradition of centre-right governments and mayors, even if some neighbourhoods, most notably Croix-Rousse, have a very strong left-wing inclination. In 2001, however, Gérard Collomb of Lyon, a member of the moderate left-wing Socialist party, was elected mayor. Although many controversies initially surrounded Collomb, he enjoyed broad popularity and served until 2017. He adopted a pro-business strategy and launched several public infrastructure projects and urban renewal operations.
The silk industry was the main activity for centuries. Since the end of the 19th century, it has been replaced by a number of others. Feyzin, a southern suburb, is home to a major oil refinery, and there are a lot of chemical plants along the Rhône river south of Lyon. Pharmaceutics and biotechnology are also important; they have been fueled by Lyon’s prominence in medical research, and the local authorities are trying to maintain an international leadership in these industries. The southeastern suburbs of Vénissieux and St Priest host large automotive plants, such as Renault’s truck and bus factories. But as in most Western metropolises, the service industry is now dominant. Many large banking and insurance companies have important offices in Lyon, and the IT services industry is also well developed. From an economic point of view, Lyon is the most attractive and dynamic city in France. This may be explained by the easy access from all over Europe (probably second only to Paris in the country), the availability of qualified workforce and research centres, and cheaper real estate prices compared to the capital.
Lyon has a “semi-continental” climate. Winters are cold but temperatures under −5 °C (23 °F) remain rare. You can, however, experience an awful freezing sensation when northerly winds blow. Snowfalls happen but snow-covered streets are generally not seen for more than a few days every winter. Summers can be hot; temperatures around 35 °C (95 °F) are not exceptional in July and August. Precipitations are moderate and happen throughout the year; the mountains to the west (Massif central) protect the area against perturbations from the Atlantic. During the summer, especially in August, precipitations often take the form of thunderstorms whereas in winter, lighter but more continuous rain is more common. Spring and early autumn are usually enjoyable.
- The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) is by far the most important event of the year. It lasts four days around the 8th of December. It was initially a traditional religious celebration: on December 8, 1852, the people of Lyon spontaneously illuminated their windows with candles to celebrate the inauguration of the golden statue of the Virgin Mary (the Virgin had been the saint patron of Lyon since she allegedly saved the city from the plague in 1643). The same ritual was then repeated every year.
In the last decade or so, the celebration turned into an international event, with light shows by professional artists from all over the world. Those range from tiny installations in remote neighbourhoods to massive sound-and-light shows, the largest one traditionally taking place on Place des Terreaux. Most major monuments such as the City Hall, Hôtel-Dieu or the Fourvière basilica are illuminated in a spectacular way. The Lyon II/Lyon III University buildings along the Rhône are also among the most beautiful illuminations. The traditional celebration lives on, though: during the weeks preceding December 8, the traditional candles and glasses are sold by shops all over town. This festival attracts around 4 million visitors every year; it now compares, in terms of attendance, to the Oktoberfest in Munich for example. Needless to say, accommodation for this period should be booked months in advance. You will also need good shoes (to avoid the crowd in the metro) and very warm clothes (it can be very cold at this time of year).
- The Nuits de Fourvière festival: From June to early August, the Roman theatres host various shows such as concerts (popular music, jazz, classical), dancing, theatre and cinema. International artists who usually fill up much larger venues are often seduced by the special atmosphere of the theatres.
- Nuits sonores: an increasingly popular festival dedicated to electronic music, every year in May.
- The Biennals: Lyon alternatively hosts a dancing (even years) and a contemporary art (odd years) biennals from September to December/January. The dancing biennal is traditionally opened by a street parade in which inhabitants of the Greater Lyon take part through neighbourhood associations. If you are in town at this moment, do not miss this colourful and funny event.
The language of the city is French. The local dialect (patois, basically French with a number of typical local words or expressions) has practically disappeared since one out of two inhabitants were born outside the Rhône département.
Hotels, tourist attractions and restaurants in popular areas generally have staff capable of working in English. You could, however, experience difficulties in more remote areas. The transportation system also has little information written in English. On the street, many people (especially young people) speak at least basic English, but they will appreciate a little effort in French. Using basic words and phrases like bonjour (hello), s’il vous plaît (please), merci (thank you) or excusez-moi (excuse me) will certainly make people even more friendly and willing to help you.
As everywhere in France, smoking is not allowed in all closed public places, including bars, restaurants and night clubs.
- Tourist office, Place Bellecour (M: Bellecour), . 09:00–18:00 daily, 09:00–20:00 during the Festival of Lights. The office is in the southeast corner of place Bellecour.
Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport (, formerly known as Lyon–Satolas), Rue de Grèce, Colombier-Saugnieu (some 25 km east of Lyon), . A rapidly developing airport. It hosts few intercontinental flights (Dubai, North Africa), but can easily be reached via a European hub (Paris, London, Frankfurt).
Air France serves most airports in France and major European airports.
EasyJet serves a number of destinations in Europe, including London, Berlin, Brussels, Rome, Edinburgh and Madrid, along with a few domestic destinations which are not easily reached by train (Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nice). Most other major European airlines also operate flights between Lyon and their respective hubs.
Getting to the airport:
- RhônExpress. The airport is linked to the city centre through a light rail line. This is the only way to reach Lyon by public transport. While faster and more reliable than the former bus shuttles (which no longer run), Rhônexpress connects in the city at the main Lyon Part-Dieu station. There are two stops along the way, including one connecting with the metro (line A) at Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie (second stop), which is convenient if you are staying in Presqu’île or Villeurbanne. The train provides power sockets and free WiFi. Trains run between 04:25 and 00:00 and depart every 15 min (06:00-21:00) to 30 min, every day of the year. Adults €16.10 single, €27.80 return; children €13.40 single, €23.50 return. To find the station in airport, follow the red signs in the airport terminals. You have to walk through the TGV station, which can be as long as 10 minutes if you arrive at Terminal 3 (low-cost airlines). To reach the platform (not to be confused with the general railway) one needs to leave the terminal building and take the escalator downwards.
- Taxi. If you don’t want to bother with public transportation, you can take a taxi. Taxis are found outside Terminal 1 (follow the signs). Around €40-50 depending on the exact destination, so if you are a group of four people this could be an option. Ask to be dropped at one of the metro stations on the eastern side of town (Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie, Mermoz-Pinel) to save money.
Other regional airports
Grenoble airport () is actually about midway between Lyon and Grenoble and is served by some low-cost airlines. There are bus services to Lyon from there.
Another possibility is to fly to Geneva (), which can save you money if you use low-cost airlines. Then Lyon can be reached by train, but it takes about two hours (€21.50 for under 26s).
Finally, an interesting option for intercontinental visitors may be to fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) and take a TGV (high-speed train) to Lyon Part-Dieu station directly from the CDG train station. In some cases, this makes the journey faster and more convenient (no need to go from LYS to the city). Trains run every hour or so; be sure to buy an exchangeable ticket to be able to catch the first available train after you land.
From the rest of France, train is generally the most convenient way to reach the city, except for some regions, the Southwest for example. Lyon has three main train stations serving national and regional destinations:
- Gare de Lyon-Part-Dieu, 5, Place Charles-Béraudier, Part-Dieu, 3th arr. Opened with the first TGV line in 1981. It is in the heart of Lyon’s main business district. It is the city’s main railway station: almost all national and international trains serving the city stop here.
- Gare de Lyon-Perrache, 14, cours de Verdun, Perrache, 2th arr. The historical station, although it is now of lesser importance. It is served mostly by regional and some national trains. It is just a short walk away from Place Bellecour and generally more handy if you are staying in the city centre.
- Gare de Saint-Exupéry TGV (formely Satolas TGV), BP 176, 69125 Colombier-Saugnieu. Outside the city, it serves the airport. Only TGV trains stop here.
There are also smaller stations serving suburban and regional destinations: St Paul (B: C3-Gare St Paul), Vaise (M: Gare de Vaise), Jean Macé (M: Jean Macé), Vénissieux (M: Gare de Vénissieux) and Gorge de Loup (M: Gorge de Loup).
Lyon is linked by TGV (fast trains) to Paris (two hours) and Marseille (1 hour 36 min). Many other domestic destinations are served directly, and there are several direct services to Brussels every day (4 hr). Other international destinations include Barcelona, Frankfurt, Basel and Geneva. As a general rule, TGVs to and from Paris serve both Perrache and Part-Dieu stations; other TGVs generally serve only Part-Dieu.
Coming to Lyon from London by Eurostar may be interesting, and there are now direct trains from St Pancras International to Part-Dieu several times a week, with a journey time of 4 hr 41 mins.
For schedules, fares and bookings, see here.
International bus services are operated by most major companies such as Eurolines, Starshipper, Ouibus, Flixbus and serve most major European cities. Buses usually stop at the Perrache bus station, which is next to Perrache railway station.
The tickets of all those companies can be purchased on Sobus.
Lyon is a major automotive hub for central and southern France:
- A6 to the north — Paris.
- A7 to the south — Marseille, Nice, Spain, Italy.
- A43 to the east — Grenoble, the Alps, Northern Italy.
- A47 and A89 to the west — Saint-Étienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Massif Central, west of France.
- A42 to the northeast — Bourg-en-Bresse, Geneva (Switzerland), Germany.
These highways are linked around the city on the east by a ring road (Périphérique) that is toll-free except in its northern portion (Périphérique Nord). Toll costs €2.20, but it is a good alternative to the always-congested Fourvière tunnel on the A6.
Real-time information about traffic jams, scheduled tunnel closures, weather alerts, etc. can be found on the Onlymoov’ website maintained by the local authorities.
If you are coming for a one-day trip, leave your car in one of the many park-and-ride carparks around the city. Follow the blue P+R signs from the highway. P+R parks are operated by the local public transportation company TCL and are next to major metro or tram lines. They are closed after 01:00, so you cannot leave your car for the night.
The city has many underground car parks, where you can safely leave your car for a hefty price. Most of them are operated by Lyon Parc Auto.
You can access Lyon by bike using the ViaRhôna route, a 750-km bike path linking Geneva to the Mediterranean coast along the Rhône river.
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The city centre is not so big and most attractions can be reached from each other on foot. The walk from Place des Terreaux to Place Bellecour, for example, is about 20 min. The rule of thumb is that metro stations are generally about 10 min walk apart.
Be careful when crossing major axes: traffic is dense and running red lights is a very popular sport.
By public transport
Lyon’s public transportation system, known as TCL, is regarded as one of the most efficient in the country. Central areas are very well served; so are the campuses and eastern suburbs, where many jobs are concentrated. The western suburbs are more residential and can be difficult to reach. As everywhere in France, the network can be perturbed by strikes from time to time.
There are four métro (subway) lines (A to D). The first line of the network was line C in 1974 (lines A and B were already planned but line C took less time to complete because it used an existing funicular tunnel). Line A opened in 1978. Trains generally run every 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the line and the time. Information screens above the platforms display the waiting times for the next two trains and useful information such as delays, upcoming closures, etc. (in French).
- Line (Perrache — Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie) serves Presqu’île, the neighbourhoods around Parc de la Tête d’Or and then runs under Cours Émile Zola, Villeurbanne’s main artery. The last two stops (Laurent Bonnevay and Vaulx La Soie) provide numerous connections with buses to the eastern suburbs. Line A connects with line D at Bellecour, line C at Hôtel de Ville, line B at Charpennes, tram lines T1 and T2 at Perrache and T3 at Vaulx La Soie. It is very busy during rush hours, especially between Bellecour and Hôtel de Ville.
- Line (Charpennes — Gare d’Oullins) serves most notably Part-Dieu station and Gerland stadium. It connects with line A at Charpennes and line D at Saxe-Gambetta.
- Line (Hôtel de Ville — Cuire) uses a short cog railway and serves the Croix-Rousse hill. Due to the configuration of the infrastructure, the frequencies are not very good.
- Line (Gare de Vaise — Gare de Vénissieux), the busiest of the four lines, is entirely automated; this allows good frequency in off-peak hours, especially at night and on Sundays. There are many bus connections to the suburbs at Gare de Vaise, Gorge de Loup, Grange Blanche, Parilly and Gare de Vénissieux.
The metro is generally reliable, clean and comfortable. Besides the classical metro, two funiculars run frommetro station to Saint-Just and Fourvière respectively.
There are also five tram lines (T1 to T5). But for providing a direct connection between Lyon’s two major train stations (Perrache and Part-Dieu, both on the T1), they are not very interesting if you stay within the city centre; they are most useful to reach campuses and suburban areas.
With more than 130 bus lines, you should be able to go virtually anywhere reasonably far away from the centre. Some of them use trolley (electric) buses; Lyon is one of the few cities in France which still use this system. There are three special bus lines: C1, C2 and C3, where you will find big articulated trolley buses which run very frequently. These are sometimes referred to as Cristalis (actually the brand name of the vehicles) but people do not really use, or even know about this name.
Metros and trams run approximately from 05:00 to 00:00. Some bus lines do not run after 21:00. Check the TCL website for details :
- Detailed schedules
- Journey planner
Maps can be found online on the TCL website:
- Downloadable maps
- Interactive map
A ticket for a single journey costs €1.90 (valid for 1 hour after the first use on buses, trams, metro and funiculars, unlimited number of transfers, return travel allowed), or you can buy a carnet of 10 tickets for or €14.5 for students. A day pass costs €5.80. Tickets can be purchased from electronic vending machines in the stations, but they do not accept paper money (only coins) and foreign credit cards without chips (magnetic stripe only) are likely to be rejected. Tobacco shops and newsagents showing a “TCL” sign also sell tickets. Single tickets can be purchased from bus drivers but the price is €2.2 in that case. Group tickets are available from the tourist office, as is the Lyon City Pass, which gives unlimited travel and free admission to many museums. Weekly and monthly passes are only available to residents.
Tickets can also be purchased at TCL offices (agences TCL) near the major metro stations. To find the one at Part-Dieu, exit the railway station through the Rhône gate (follow the metro B signs), cross the plaza and turn right, then walk past the restaurant terraces.
Make sure to validate your ticket every time you board a bus or tram, even when transferring, or else you could be fined. Look for a grey machine near the doors.
For general information on the network you can call the TCL hotline ☎ +33 4 26 10 12 12. They are open every day until 00:00 and have English-speaking staff.
|Note: In the directions given in this article, M stands for metro, F for funicular, T for tram and B for bus (line(s) and stop are indicated).|
Lyon has an increasing number of safe cycling routes. Problematic points remain, especially when it comes to crossing major roads. Also keep in mind that there are two hills with steep slopes. A map of cycling routes is available online.
Lyon has a public bicycle service called Vélo’v which allows travellers, after registering a credit card, to pick up, and drop cycles to and from over 300 points around the city. You need a credit card (Visa/MC/French CB) to make use of the service. It is quite cheap:
- Single ride: €1.8, the first 30 minutes of this ride are included. Beyond that, pay only what you consume: 0.05€/min for 30 to 60 min, then 0.10€/min for 60 to 90 min, then: 0.15€/min.
- 1-day ticket: €4, then free for the first 30 min of each ride, 0.05€/min for 30 to 60 min, then 0.10€/min for 60 to 90 min, then: 0.15€/min.
- 3-day ticket: €5, then same fares as the 1-day ticket. Available only for Lyon City Card holders.
30 min is generally more than enough if you stay close to the city centre.
If you have taken a bike and realize that it has a problem (broken chains, warped wheels, flat tyres or even missing pedals are commonplace), just put it back into its place and repeat the procedure to take another one. Improvements to the system have made this operation fast and easy.
The system only works with a European credit/debit card. Otherwise the transaction is aborted, no explanations given on the terminal. It is supposed to accept all cards with a chip, but those with foreign cards could experience difficulties. You will need to pre-authorise a €150 deposit that will be refunded (minus your fare) as long as you return your bike properly and within 24 hours. You need to have a sufficient balance on your bank account.
You must rent a bike immediately after purchasing a temporary pass or the ticket will become inactive (this is only true for the first rental). The terminals have only limited English translation making it a rough start, but once you get to know the system, it is a great way to move around the city. There are so many bikes that it can sometimes be a problem to return them.
When returning a bike, listen for two short beeps and make sure the green light on the pole is on. This indicates that it has been returned and locked. A long, continuous beep and no status light means that something went wrong. Try again by lifting the bike out by the saddle and pushing it back in – it can be a bit fiddly to get it right.
There is an Android/iPhone app called Vélo’v which can help you find a bike or a free parking slot.
A classic bike rental service is available from:
- Lyon Location bike rental, 16b rue d’Alsace, Villeurbanne (M: République), . M-Sa 09:00-13:00, 15:00-19:00, Su by appointment. Also rents scooters and motorbikes. Adult bike €29/day, €119/week.
Traffic is dense, parking is either very difficult or quite expensive, and there are quite few directional signs. Avoid driving within the city if you can. For the city centre, look for signs reading “Presqu’île”. In the Presqu’île and other central neighbourhoods, it is strongly advised not to park in ‘prohibited parking’ areas; you could be towed. Tickets for unpaid parking are also commonplace; a specific brigade of the city police is in charge of checking parking payments in the city centre. The penalty for unpaid parking is €11 (you might get several tickets in the same day in central neighbourhoods); the penalty for parking in a prohibited area is €35. If you park in a dangerous place (e.g., you block an emergency exit), the fine can be up to €135.
The minimum age to rent a car is 21 and an additional charge may be required for drivers under 25 years old. Major rental companies have offices at Part-Dieu and Perrache railway stations, and at the airport. Best to hire from Part-Dieu, as the subsequent navigation is much easier.
Taxis are quite pricey. The fares are fixed by the authorities: €2 when you board, then per km: €1.34 (daytime, 07:00-19:00) or €2.02 (night, Sundays, holidays). The driver may charge a minimum of €6 for any trip. There are also a number of possible extra charges: €1.41 for the 4th passenger, €0.91 per animal or large piece of luggage, €1.41 for a pickup at a train station or airport.
Taxis cannot be hailed on the street; you need to go to a taxi station or to call for one. The major taxi companies are:
- Lyon Taxi Prestige (Personal Welcome Lyon Airport, City and Wine tours), . Lyon Taxi Prestige, for the regular cost of a taxi, provide high level taxi service in Lyon and everywhere in France. Executive and VIP Service with personal welcome at Lyon Airports and Train stations. City tours. Ski resort transfers, free Wifi on board.
- Allo Taxi, .
- Taxi-Radio, .
- Cabtaxi, .
Lyon may not have world-famous monuments such as the Eiffel tower or the Statue of Liberty, but it offers very diverse neighbourhoods which are interesting to walk around in and which hide architectural marvels. As time goes by, the city also becomes more and more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists. So a good way to explore it may be to get lost somewhere and enjoy what comes up, and not to always follow the guide…
A good point for visitors is that most attractions will not cost you a cent: churches, traboules, parks, etc. For those intending to visit several museums (which are almost the only attractions you cannot see for free), the Lyon City Card may be of interest. Available from the Tourist office and some hotels, it costs €22.90 for one day, €31.90 for 2 days and €40.90 for 3 days. It includes unlimited rides on the public transport network, free or reduced entry fee to major museums and exhibitions and one guided tour per day per person (Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse, etc.). The price is still a bit high, so count before you buy to see if this is a good deal considering your plans.
Do not hesitate to buy a detailed map with a street index from a book shop or a newsagent; many places of interest or good restaurants are in small streets that you will not find on simplified maps, such as the ones you can get from the Tourist office.
Whatever the time of year (except for the Fête des Lumières), tourists are not very numerous yet, but they concentrate in a few small areas, especially Fourvière and Vieux Lyon, where the pedestrian streets are just as crowded as the Champs-Élysées sidewalks on sunny weekends.
- The view from Fourvière basilica, and the basilica itself.
- Streets and traboules in Vieux Lyon, St Jean cathedral.
- Traboules in Croix-Rousse.
- Musée Gadagne.
- Parc de la Tête d’Or.
Off the beaten path:
- Musée urbain Tony Garnier and États-Unis neighbourhood.
- St Irénée church, Montée du Gourguillon, St Georges neighbourhood.
- A drink on Place Sathonay.
- St Bruno church.
- Parc de Gerland.
- Gratte-ciel neighbourhood in Villeurbanne.
After Venice, the Old Lyon, a narrow strip along the right bank of the Saône, is the largest Renaissance area in Europe (well, it’s actually far behind Venice). Its current organization, with narrow streets mainly parallel to the river, dates back to the Middle Ages. The buildings were erected between the 15th and the 17th centuries, notably by wealthy Italian, Flemish and German merchants who settled in Lyon where four fairs were held each year. At that time, the buildings of Lyon were said to be the highest in Europe. The area was entirely refurbished in the 1980s and 1990s. It now offers the visitor colorful, narrow cobblestone streets; there are some interesting craftmen’s shops but also many tourist traps.
It is divided into three parts which are named after their respective churches:
- St Paul, north of place du Change, was the commercial area during the Renaissance;
- St Jean, between place du Change and St Jean cathedral, was home to most wealthy families: aristocrats, public officers, etc.;
- St Georges, south of St Jean, was a craftsmen’s district.
The area is generally crowded in the afternoon, especially at weekends. To really enjoy its architectural beauties, the best time is therefore the morning. Around lunchtime, the streets somewhat disappear behind restaurant terraces, postcard racks and the crowd of tourists.
Guided tours in several languages, including English, are available from the tourist office (€7-12, ).
- St Jean Cathedral, place St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon). Monday to Friday 08:15-12:00, 13:45-19:30, Sa Su 08:15-12:00, 13:45-19:00; services (no visits) Monday to Friday 09:00 and 19:00, Sa 09:00, Su 08:30 and 10:30 (high mass). The cathedral is dedicated to St John the Baptist (St Jean-Baptiste) and St Stephen (St Etienne) and has the title of primatiale because the Bishop of Lyon has the honorary title of Primat des Gaules. Built between 1180 and 1480, it is mostly of Gothic style with Romanesque elements; the oldest parts are the chancel and the lateral chapels, and as one goes towards the façade, the style becomes more and more Gothic. The cathedral hosts a spectacular astronomical clock built in the 14th century but modified later. It is especially worth seeing when the bells ring, daily on the hour from 12:00-16:00. Over the main door, the rose window, known as the “Lamb rose window”, is an admirable work of art depicting the life of St Stephen and St John the Baptist. Free, appropriate dress required.
- St Jean archaeological garden (Jardin archéologique), rue de la Bombarde/rue Mandelot/rue des Estrées (M: Vieux Lyon). Next to St Jean cathedral (on the northern side), this small garden shows the remains of the religious buildings which occupied the site before the cathedral was erected. The oldest remains date back to the 4th century (baptistery of the former St Etienne church). Free.
- Traboules (M: Vieux Lyon). Closed at night. The traboules are a typical architectural feature of Lyon’s historical buildings. They are corridors which link two streets through a building, and usually a courtyard. Many traboules are unique architectural masterpieces, largely influenced by Italy and especially Florence.
Some of them are officially open to the public. They link the following addresses:
– 54 rue St Jean <> 27 rue du Boeuf (the longest in Lyon)
– 27 rue St Jean <> 6 rue des Trois Maries
– 2 place du Gouvernement <> quai Romain Rolland.
To open the doors, just press the service button next to the door code keyboard. If you are unable to enter from one side, try the opposite entrance. In the morning, many other doors are open for service (mail, garbage collecting), so more traboules are accessible. There are traboules in almost all buildings between Quai Romain Rolland and Rue St Jean/Rue des Trois Maries, and others between Rue St Jean and Rue du Boeuf. Free.
|Note: The buildings are inhabited. As everybody, people who live there like to sleep on Sunday mornings, or may work at night, or simply prefer not being disturbed, so please be as quiet as possible, regardless of whether you are in an ‘officially open’ or in a ‘normally closed’ traboule. It is best to whisper when talking because the small courtyards amplify the sound of voices, and even normal conversation can be quite disturbing for the inhabitants.|
- Renaissance courtyards (M: Vieux Lyon). Closed at night. Besides the buildings cited above, some have very beautiful courtyards but no real traboules (that is to say, no crossing from one street to another). The most outstanding are: Maison du Chamarier (37 rue St Jean) and Maison du Crible (16 rue du Boeuf), in which stands the famous “Pink Tower”. Free.
- Rue St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon). This cobblestone pedestrian street is the main axis of the area. It is full of souvenir shops and restaurants mainly intended for tourists. The locals are aware that real good bouchons are extremely rare here. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, it may be hard to walk because of the crowd of both locals and tourists. You can also check out the more quiet rue des Trois Maries which runs parallel to rue St Jean, between place de la Baleine and rue du Palais de Justice.
- Rue du Boeuf (M: Vieux Lyon). Parallel to Rue St Jean, this street is much more quiet and just as beautiful. It also has a number of restaurants, more expensive than in rue St Jean but, on average, much more worth the money.
- Place du Change (B: C3-Gare St Paul). The largest square in the area has two remarkable buildings. The Loge du Change, on the west side, was partially built by the great architect Soufflot. It is now a Protestant church known as Temple du Change. It can be visited on Saturdays. Religious services on Sundays, 10:30. Opposite is the Maison Thomassin, with its Gothic-style 14th-century façade. The Thomassins were a powerful merchant family in the Renaissance. Above the 2nd floor windows are the arms of the King of France, of the Dauphin (heir of the Kingdom) and of Duchess Anne of Brittany. Unfortunately, the courtyard is closed to the public.
- Rue Juiverie (B: C3-Gare St Paul). Another typical street of Vieux Lyon. It is named after the Jewish community who settled there but were expelled in the 14th century. Check out the back courtyard at Hôtel Builloud (number 8); it has a magnificent gallery on the first floor, designed by Philibert Delorme who was one of the most prominent local architects during the Renaissance.
- St Paul church (Église Saint-Paul), rue St Paul (B: C3-Gare St Paul). A very nice church, with mixed Romanesque and Gothic styles. The oldest parts are from the 10th century.
- St Georges neighbourhood, rue St Georges, rue du Doyenné and other smaller streets (M: Vieux Lyon). St Georges is the name given to the south part of the Vieux Lyon. It has nice Renaissance buildings which, however, do not really compare to the palaces of St Jean; on the other hand, it is much more quiet than the St Jean area.
- Montée du Gourguillon (M: Vieux Lyon/F: Minimes). This picturesque montée (sloping street on hillside) starts behind Vieux Lyon metro station and ends quite close to the Roman theatres of Fourvière. It was the main link between the river Saône and the top of Fourvière throughout the Roman era, Middle Ages and Renaissance. Nowadays it keeps a medieval spirit. Around numbers 5-7 is Impasse Turquet, a small cul-de-sac named after Etienne Turquet, an Italian who is said to have founded the silk industry in Lyon in 1536. In this small passageway are the oldest houses of the city, dating back to the 13th or 14th century, with wooden balconies.
- Palais de Justice, Quai Romain Rolland (M: Vieux Lyon). The historical court house, also named “the 24 columns”, was built between 1835 and 1842 by architect Louis-Pierre Baltard. It is a fine example of French “neo-classical” architecture. It now hosts only the criminal court (Cour d’Assises) and the court of appeal. The other jurisdictions moved to a new building in Part-Dieu in 1995. The most famous trial held there was that of the former head of the Lyon Gestapo, Klaus Barbie, in 1987. The building is undergoing major refurbishment works.
Take the funicular up the hill from Vieux Lyon metro station, or if you are fit, walk up Montée des Chazeaux (starts at the southern end of Rue du Boeuf), Montée St Barthélémy (from St Paul station) or Montée du Gourguillon (from the northern end of Rue St Georges, behind Vieux Lyon metro station). This is a 150 m (500 ft) vertical ascent approximately.
Fourvière was the original location of the Roman Lugdunum. In the 19th century, it became the religious centre of the city, with the basilica and the Archbishop’s offices.
- Fourvière basilica, place de Fourvière (F: Fourvière), . 10:00-17:00. Masses: M-Sa 07:15, 09:30, 11:00, 17:00; Su 07:30, 09:30, 11:00, 17:00. Built in 1872 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, patron saint of Lyon, this massive church made of white marble has been compared to an elephant with its feet up. It is a typical example of the 19th century “eclectic” style, with architectural elements recalling antique, classical and Gothic eras. The Byzantine-style interior decoration is extremely exuberant, too much so for some people. Tours of the roof and bell towers are available in the afternoons for €6. Free admission.
- Musee d’art religieux (Museum of Religious Art), 8 place de Fourvière, . Daily 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-17:30, closed in January and February. The small museum holds treasures donated to the church for its construction.
- Esplanade de Fourvière (Panoramic viewpoint), place de Fourvière (F: Fourvière). Next to the basilica is the panoramic viewpoint, with the best view over the city. If the weather is clear, Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance. This is a very good point to start your visit of the city because you can really see its general layout.
To go down from there, you can take Montée Cardinal Decourtray, then Rue Cléberg and Rue de l’Antiquaille which lead to the Roman theatres, or walk down through the Jardins du Rosaire, a nice garden; then stairways lead to Rue du Boeuf in Vieux Lyon. Of course, you can also take the funicular.
- Metallic tower of Fourvière (tour métallique de Fourvière) (M: Fourvière). Next to the basilica stands a smaller (86 m, 282 ft) replica of the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1894. Its construction was supported by anticlerical people in order to have a non-religious building as the highest point in Lyon, which it actually is with an altitude of 372 m (1272 ft) at the top. It now serves as a radio and TV antenna and is closed to the public.
- Roman theatres (F: Minimes). These two well-preserved theatres are the most important remnant of the Roman city of Lugdunum. The Gallo-Roman museum was built next to them. The summer festival “Nuits de Fourvière” takes place here every year, which may cause access restrictions in the evening from June to early August. Free.
Saint-Just neighbourhood, south-west of the Roman theatres, has less famous but also interesting historical sites.
- St Irénée church, 51 rue des Macchabées (F: St Just), . Church 08:30-18:00 daily, crypt Sa 14:30-17:00, closed in Aug. The oldest church in Lyon, and one of the oldest in France. The site is built on a Gallo-Roman necropolis which was in use for centuries, until the Middle Ages. Some sarcophagi from the 5th or 6th century are visible in the courtyard. The crypt dates back to the 9th century and was renovated in the 19th century. Early Christian remains (from the 4th-6th centuries) are kept inside. The church was rebuilt in the 19th century in a neo-classical style with a Byzantine influence. An arch from the 5th century remains. Behind the church, the calvary built in 1687 is also a great viewpoint. Free.
The area, especially the traboules, may be worth taking a guided tour (available from the tourist office).
Croix-Rousse is known as the “working hill” but for centuries, it had been as much of a “praying hill” as Fourvière. On the slopes was the Roman Federal Sanctuary of the Three Gauls, which comprised the amphitheatre (built in 19 BC) and an altar (built in 12 BC). This sanctuary was abandoned at the end of the 2nd century. In the Middle Ages, the hill, then called Montagne St Sébastien, was not part of the free town of Lyon but of the Franc-Lyonnais province, which was independent and protected by the King. The slopes were then dedicated to agriculture, mostly vineyards. In 1512, a fortified wall was built at the top of the hill, approximately where Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse is today. The pentes (slopes) and the plateau were therefore separated. The slopes became then part of Lyon while the plateau was outside the borders of the city. Up to thirteen religious congregations then settled on the slopes and acquired vast pieces of land. Their possessions were seized and many buildings destroyed during the French Revolution.
Croix-Rousse is known as the main silk production area, but the industry did not exist on the hill until the early 19th century and the introduction of new weaving technology; at that time, silk had already been produced in Lyon for over 250 years. The industry gave birth to a unique architecture: the canuts’ apartments had very high ceilings to accommodate the newly introduced Jacquard looms, which were up to 4 metres high; tall windows gave the necessary natural lighting for the delicate work; and mezzanines provided space for family life. The neighbourhood is still one of the most densely populated in Europe. The first revolt of the canuts in 1831 is regarded as one of the first social conflicts of the industrial era. It gave the hill its reputation of a “rebel” neighbourhood. In 1852, the commune (town) of Croix-Rousse, actually the plateau, was made a district of Lyon. The locals still talk about “going to Lyon” when they go down to the city centre. Then important works were undertaken, such as the construction of the first funicular in the world, linking the plateau to central Lyon (it started in Rue Terme; the tunnel is now a road tunnel), or the creation of the Croix-Rousse hospital.
Nowadays the plateau keeps a “village” mood, the slopes still have a “rebel” spirit, with many artists and associations based there, but the sociology of the neighbourhood has considerably evolved with the renovation works and the subsequent rise in real estate prices and massive arrival of upper-middle-class families (bobos). Local authorities, however, are committed to preserving social diversity.
The name “Croix-Rousse” comes from a limestone cross which was erected at the top of the hill in the beginning of the 16th century. It was then destroyed and rebuilt several times. A replica installed in 1994 can be seen on Place Joannès Ambre (between the hospital and Croix-Rousse theatre).
- Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, rue Lucien Sportisse (M: Hôtel de Ville). This Roman theatre is the place where the first Christian martyrs of Gaul were killed. Documents say that it was the largest theatre in Gaul at that time, but nobody knows exactly how far it extends under the neighbouring buildings, nor what remains from the Roman era after centuries of construction. After the closing of the old Fine Arts school (the grey building overlooking the theatre), a debate was initiated about what should be done with this exceptional archaeological site. The theatre can be seen from the street but is not open to the public for safety reasons.
- Église du Bon-Pasteur, 21 Rue Neyret (M: Croix-Rousse). 19th-century Romanesque church unique for not having a front entrance due to construction conflicts with the barracks across the street.
- Montée de la Grande Côte (M: Hôtel de Ville/Croix-Rousse). This steep street has Renaissance buildings and offers a very beautiful view over the city from its top.
- Croix-Rousse traboules: Look for the lanterns over the doors and the specific signs.
- 7 rue Mottet-de-Gérando <> 8 rue Bodin
- 9 place Colbert <> 14 bis montée St Sébastien: the beautiful Cour des Voraces.
- 14 bis montée Saint-Sébastien <> 29 rue Imbert-Colomès
- 20 rue Imbert Colomès <> 55 rue Tables Claudiennes
- 30 bis rue Burdeau <> 17 rue René Leynaud (passage Thiaffait)
- 6 rue des Capucins <> 1 rue Sainte Marie des Terreaux
- 12 rue Sainte-Catherine <> 6 place des Terreaux
- Mur des Canuts, Boulevard des Canuts (M: Hénon). This painted wall is dedicated to the history and typical architecture of the Croix-Rousse hill.
- Church of Saint-Bruno des Chartreux (église Saint-Bruno des Chartreux), 9 impasse des Chartreux (B: 2/13/18/45/61-Clos Jouve). M-Sa 15:00-17:00. The only Baroque church in Lyon. The interior is magnificent, especially the altar (by Servandoni, modified by Soufflot, 18th century) and the canopy (by Servandoni). Free.
- Jardin Rosa Mir, 87 grande rue de la Croix-Rousse (M: Hénon). 1 Apr-30 Nov, Sa 15:00-18:00. This amazing garden was built by a Spanish refugee, Jules Senis, and dedicated to his mother. Senis had cancer and had made the vow of building this garden if he ever came out of the hospital; fortunately, he did. The garden is a fine mixture of mineral and vegetal elements, in a style influenced by Gaudi’s works in Barcelona. Free.
For the people of Lyon, Presqu’île is the place to go for shopping, dining or clubbing. It also represents a large part of the city’s economic activity.
This narrow peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers was largely shaped by man. When the first inhabitants settled on what was then called Canabae, the junction of the river was near the current site of St Martin d’Ainay basilica. South of this point was an island. From 1772, titanic works led by engineer Antoine-Michel Perrache reunited the island to the mainland. The swamps which existed there were then dried out, which allowed the construction of Perrache station, opened in 1846. Northern Presqu’île was largely redesigned from 1848; the only remaining Renaissance part is around rue Mercière.
Most of the action on Presqu’île actually takes place between Terreaux and Bellecour. Between Bellecour and Perrache, the neighbourhood of Ainay is traditionally home to the Catholic bourgeoisie. Perrache station and its “exchange centre” (freeway interchange, car parks, metro and bus station) are a very important border; going from one side to the other is a challenge, be it on foot or by car. The area south of Perrache is dealt with in the next section.
- Place des Terreaux (M: Hôtel de Ville). This large square was completely redesigned in the 1990s by the artist Daniel Buren. On the East side stands the City Hall. On the North side, you will find the fountain sculpted by Bartholdi, the ‘father’ of the Statue of Liberty; this fountain was moved from the West side when the square was renovated. It now faces Palais St Pierre, which hosts the Museum of Fine Arts.
- City Hall (Hôtel de Ville), place des Terreaux and place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville). The city hall, built in the 17th century, has a very beautiful façade on Place des Terreaux. The most notable feature of this façade is the sculpture representing King Henri IV on horseback (in the middle of the upper part). Unfortunately, it is impossible to visit the building except during the “Heritage days” (Journées du patrimoine) in mid-September.
- Opera house (Opéra Nouvel), place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville). Opposite the City Hall stands the opera house. The 1826 theatre built by Chenavard and Pollet was completely redesigned by Jean Nouvel who kept only the façades and the foyer on the first floor. The building was reopened in 1993. The history of these works was epic: a lot of technical problems occurred and the final cost of the project was six times the initial estimate. Today, the glass top has become a classical landmark of the city but the interior design is criticised, for both aesthetic and functional reasons.
- Mur des Lyonnais, rue de la Martinière (M: Hôtel de Ville). This impressive painted wall portraits some of the most famous people who were born in Lyon, from Renaissance poet Louise Labé to the Lumière brothers, the inventors of cinema, to chef Paul Bocuse.
- Place Sathonay (M: Hôtel de Ville). A charming neighbourhood square planted with old plane trees. Just sit at a terrace, watch the locals playing pétanque and enjoy the mood.
- Saint-Nizier Church, place St Nizier (M: Hôtel de Ville). Very nice church of flaming Gothic style.
- Rue Mercière (M: Cordeliers). This cobblestone pedestrian street is the only significant remain from the Renaissance in Presqu’île. The name of the street refers to the clothing industry. There are traboules connecting the street to the buildings on the Saône bank. The street hosts very numerous restaurants which are far from being all good.
- Place des Jacobins (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour). The state of this square is typical of the “automobile-friendly” urban planning of the 1960s: it is covered with tarmac, too much so given the reasonable traffic around it. A renovation project is under way, which should give the square a greener aspect. The main interest is the central fountain (1885) by architect Gaspard André and sculptor Degeorges. The four statues portray Lyon-born artists: painter Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864), engraver Gérard Audran (1640-1703), sculptor Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746) and architect Philibert Delorme (1510-1570).
- Hôtel-Dieu, place de l’Hôpital (M: Bellecour). The majestic Hôtel-Dieu was the oldest hospital in Lyon and is one of the largest buildings in Presqu’île. The façade along the river Rhône is over 300 m (984 ft) long. The first hospital was built in 1184-1185; it was modified several times before Soufflot designed the current building, built from 1741 to 1761. The large dome was completed in 1765. The newly built Grange Blanche hospital (today Edouard Herriot) became the main medical centre in the city in the 1930s. Hôtel-Dieu doctors were pioneers in numerous specialities, including radiology (Etienne Destot), oncology (Léon Bérard), surgery (Joseph Gensoul, Matthieu Jaboulay) and orthopedics (Louis Léopold Ollier); they contributed in making Lyon the second medical centre in the country after Paris. The building no longer fits the needs of modern medicine, therefore the hospital has been closed down in 2010. Its future is not completely clear; it should be at least partially converted into a luxury hotel and shopping mall.
Hôtel-Dieu hosts the Lyon hospitals museum (Musée des Hospices civils de Lyon).
- Théâtre des Célestins, place des Célestins (M: Bellecour). Designed by Gaspard André and opened in 1877, the building has a beautiful Italian-style façade. In the middle of the quiet plaza outside the theatre stands a strange periscope in which you can see rotating geometric shapes, like a kaleidoscope. Those were actually painted in the car park beneath the plaza by the famous artist Daniel Buren and they are reflected by a rotating mirror. To enter the car park and see the other side, take the stairway on your right when looking at the theatre.
- Place Bellecour (M: Bellecour). The largest clear square in Europe. In the centre stands the equestrian statue of Louis XIV (“under the horse’s tail” is a usual meeting point for locals). Apart from this, it is rather empty, windy and not so pleasant. A renovation project is under way. Between the southeast corner of Place Bellecour and the river Rhône is Place Antonin Poncet. There was a hospital there (Hôpital de la Charité), built in 1622 and demolished in 1934. The only remain is the bell tower (Clocher de la Charité) built in 1667.
- Basilica of Saint-Martin d’Ainay (Basilique St Martin d’Ainay), rue de l’Abbaye d’Ainay (M: Ampère Victor Hugo), . M-Sa 08:30-12:00, 14:30-18:00, Su 08:30-12:00. The only entirely Romanesque church in Lyon, dating back to the 11th-12th centuries. The abbey of Ainay was one of the most powerful in France between the 13th and the 16th centuries. A must-see for its very nice atmosphere. Free.
- Boat trips on the Saône (Navig’Inter company), Quai des Célestins (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour, near Passerelle du Palais de Justice), . F – Su 11:00-18:00. A boat trip can be a good way to see Lyon from a different point of view. Boats will take you either upstream to Ile Barbe or downstream to the Confluence. Night trips available on Fridays and Saturdays. €10-15.
The area south of Perrache is turning from a mostly industrial area into one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in the city. There used to be two prisons (closed Apr 2009), a wholesale food market (which moved to Corbas in the southern suburbs) and large warehouses and workshops belonging the national railway company SNCF. One of the largest development plans in Europe was put under way a few years ago with the construction of a new tram line and the opening of a cultural centre (La Sucrière). The Western side of the area now boasts a number of new buildings, most of which are interesting pieces of contemporary architecture. The new headquarters for the government of Rhône-Alpes region has just been put into service, and a new mall is well under way. A new phase of the project is about to start with the demolition of the huge former wholesale market.
So far there is one major attraction: the “Musée des Confluences”, which opened in 2014 and is becoming a must-see for its architectural audacity and its art collections. Otherwise, it is interesting to take a walk or a bicycle ride there to see how Lyon can still be evolving after 2000 years of history.
- Cité Internationale, quai Charles de Gaulle (B: C1). This business and residential area in an important urban project for Lyon. Designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano (also known for Beaubourg modern art centre in Paris and part of the Potsdamer Platz area in Berlin), it comprises a convention centre, hotels and luxury apartments just between the Rhône and Parc de la Tête d’Or.
- États-Unis neighbourhood, boulevard des États-Unis (T: Etats-Unis-Musée Tony Garnier). This neighbourhood was built by the famous local architect Tony Garnier in the 1920s to house industry workers. Along with Edouard Herriot hospital, it is one of the masterpieces of this visionary architect. The main axis of the neighbourhood, boulevard des États-Unis, was named to honour the United States, which had just entered World War I when the street was opened in 1917. 25 wall paintings made in the 1980s and 1990s show examples of Garnier’s work and his “ideal city projects”; see also “Musée urbain Tony Garnier” in the museums section.
- Ile Barbe (B: 31/40/43-Ile Barbe). This charming island on the river Saône is the only inhabited island in Lyon. In the 5th century, one of the first monasteries in Gaul was founded there. It became a powerful Benedictine abbey (from the 9th century) but was finally ruined in 1526 by Protestants, during the religious wars. Of the three churches that existed on the island, only the Romanesque Notre-Dame remains. The island also has other old buildings in a quiet and green environment. The suspension bridge was built in 1827.
- Gratte-Ciel, Cours Émile Zola / avenue Henri Barbusse / place Lazare Goujon, 69100 Villeurbanne (M: Gratte-Ciel). The neighbouring city of Villeurbanne can be seen as the 10th arrondissement because the urban continuity with Lyon is obvious. It has, however, a strong identity of its own. As an industrial town, Villeurbanne has always had a very strong left-wing political inclination. It was governed by the Communist party for the first decades of the 20th century. A strong testimony of this era remains in the form of massive Soviet-style buildings erected in the 1930s. The Gratte-Ciel (“skyscrapers”) ensemble comprises the city hall, the National Popular Theatre and housing buildings, including the skyscrapers themselves. These are 19 stories high. They are not skyscrapers to American eyes, and were not even in the 1930s, but they were considered huge by European standards at that time.
Museums and galleries in Lyon
- Palais Saint-Pierre / Musée des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), 20 place des Terreaux (M: Hôtel de Ville), . M W Th Sa 10:00-18:00, F 10:30-18:00, partial closures 12:00-14:15, ticket office closes 17:30. €6, reduced €4, under 18, EU students, and some others free, audioguide €3 or free for some.
- Musée d’Art contemporain (Museum of Contemporary Art), 81 quai Charles de Gaulle (B: C1-Musée d’Art contemporain), . W-Su 12:00-19:00. Holds only temporary exhibitions which are often very interesting and popular. Fees vary depending on the exhibition.
- Institut Lumière – Musée vivant du Cinéma, 25 rue du Premier Film (M: Monplaisir-Lumière), . Tu-Su 11:00-18:30. Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, and 25 Dec. Open on bank holiday Mondays. This museum in the Lumière brothers’ house presents an interesting history of cinema through various items and film excerpts. Also worth seeing for the lovely architecture. €6, under 18 and students €5.
- Musées Gadagne: Historical museum of Lyon and International puppet museum, 14 rue de Gadagne/1 place du Petit Collège (M: Vieux Lyon / B: C3-Gare St Paul), . W-Su 11:00-18:30 except public holidays. These museums dedicated to the history of the city and to puppets (like the famous Guignol from Lyon). The building itself, a magnificent Renaissance palace, is worth a visit. A nice garden and cafe have also been created at the top of the building (free access). Unfortunately there is no view, however. Portions of the local history museum were closed (galleries 7-9) during June 2015. Temporary exhibitions are shown. The puppet museum is mostly for kids and is skippable if you don’t read French and don’t have a fascination for either the local puppet tradition or seeing a small number of typical pieces from the most known and easily collected traditions (Turkey, Java, Japan, Siam). Wheelchair or pram access is possible to the historical museum through a labyrinthine series of lifts, though only to portions of the puppet museum. 1 museum: €6 including audioguide, 2 museums: €8, 2 museums + temporary exhibition: €10. Under 26 and disabled: free.
- Musée urbain Tony Garnier, 4 rue des Serpollières (T: Etats-Unis-Musée Tony Garnier), . Visitor centre: Tu-Sa 14:00-18:00, guided tours Sa at 14:30 or by appointment for groups of 10 or more. This museum was created during the renovation of the États-Unis neighbourhood in the 1980s and 1990s, and the inhabitants were strongly involved in the project. The museum comprises a recreated apartment of the 1930s, which shows how life was like in these very modern housing units, and the 25 wall paintings depicting Garnier’s work and ideals. You can also see the walls on your own but you will miss the interesting comments on the history of the area and the social project behind it. Guided tours: €6, under 18 €4, children under 5 free; audioguide: €5, under 18 €3, children under 5 free.
- Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (Museum of the Resistance during World War II), 14 avenue Berthelot (T: Centre Berthelot), . W-Su 09:00-17:30, closed on holidays. This musrum in the former Gestapo regional headquarters depicts the daily life in Lyon under the German occupation and keeps memories of this tragic period. Often holds exhibitions (mostly photography). €3. Free for children under 18.
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs / Musée des Tissus (Decorative Arts museum / Fabrics museum), 34 rue de la Charité (M: Ampère Victor Hugo), . Tu-Su 10:00-12:00, 14:00-17:30, closed on holidays. Great if you are into old European oil paintings, or relocated Egyptian, Greek or Mesopotamian antiquities. An impressively large local numismatic gallery. Housed in an interesting building with a pleasant courtyard. Probably disappointing if you have come from larger museums such as those in Paris, unless you have a specific local history or antiquarian focus. €7, free for children under 18.
- Musée gallo-romain de Fourvière, 17 rue Cléberg (F: Minimes-Théâtres Romains), . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, closed 1Jan, 1 May, 1 Nov and 25 Dec. The second largest museum in France, it has all kinds of things relating to Rhone-Alps history. A free visit to the Roman theatres may be just as interesting for those not into the details. €4, reduced fee €2.50, under 18 and disabled free; free for all on Th.
- Musée de la Miniature et des Décors de cinéma (Miniature and Movie scenery Museum), 60 rue St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), . M 14:00-18:30, Tu-F 10:00-18:30, Sa Su 10:00-19:00. Created by artist Dan Ohlmann, this private gallery shows about 120 miniature models of all kinds of scenes: houses, restaurants, workshops, schools, etc., from Lyon or elsewhere, historical or contemporary. The accuracy of the models is astonishing and some sections will be real fun for children. Movie sceneries, models, costumes, masks and props are also presented. The gallery is in a large 16th-century building called Maison des Avocats (Lawyers’ house). €7, under 15/student €5.50.
- Musée de l’Imprimerie (Printing museum), 13 rue de la Poulaillerie (M: Cordeliers), . W-Su 09:30-12:00, 14:00-18:00, closed on holidays. An excellent collection of some facets of printing. The collection features some particularly early works and a reasonable amount of supporting material. Unfortunately, the collection is quite biased towards local Lyonnaise history and thus coverage of printing as an art remains regrettably rather spotty overall. Minimal coverage of photographic processes, weak coverage of typography, zero technical information about later post-physical developments such as postscript and TeX, etc. There is no disabled or child-friendly access (no lifts, and no strollers allowed for fire safety reasons). Budget about an hour and a half if you are in to this sort of thing, 45 minutes otherwise. €5.
- Musée des Confluences, 86 quai Perrache, . The spectacular building at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saone is built in a deconstuctivist style and has expositions on science and mythology.
Parks and gardens
- Parc de la Tête d’or, Between boulevard des Belges, quai Charles de Gaulle and boulevard de Stalingrad (M: Masséna / B: C1-several stops around the park). 15 Oct–14 Apr: 06:30–20:30, 15 Apr–14 Oct: 06:30–22:30. Completed in 1862, this 105-hectare (260-acre) English-style garden is one of the largest and arguably one of the most beautiful urban parks in France. It is a popular place for families as well as joggers. The highlights of the park include the large greenhouses, the botanical garden, the rose garden and the “African plain” in which animals wander in a natural-style environment, perfect for children. free of charge.
- Lyon Zoo (Jardin zoologique de Lyon) (southeast corner in Parc de la Tête d’Or), . Nov–Mar: 09:00–17:00 daily; Apr–Oct: 09:00–18:00 daily; May–Sep: 09:00–18:30 daily. free of charge.
- Rhône banks, quai Charles de Gaulle, ave de Grande-Bretagne, quai de Serbie, quai Sarrail, quai Augagneur, quai Claude Bernard, ave Leclerc (M: Foch, Guillotière, Stade de Gerland). The right bank of the river Rhône has been turned from an ugly car park into a 5-km promenade with various landscapes and great views over the Croix-Rousse and Presqu’Ile areas. The place had immediate success among locals. A bicycle is perfect to enjoy it.
- Parc de Gerland, avenue Jean Jaurès (M: Stade de Gerland). The Rhône banks promenade ends here. This park does not have the majesty of Parc de la Tête d’Or but it is far less crowded and boasts some nice examples of modern landscaping. Still under development, it should cover 80 hectares when completed.
- Saône banks, quai Rambaud, quai Saint-Antoine, quai Gillet (M: Perrache, Hôtel de Ville, B:40 Fontaines-sur-Saône). Following the success of the Rhône banks operation, the municipality decided to do renew the operation, this time with the Saône river. The aim is to create a 22km-long promenade between along the Saône banks, separated into two parts (for now): between Confluence and île Barbe, and between the neighboring cities of Fontaines-sur-Saône and Rochetaillée-sur-Saône (north of Lyon). Work is still ongoing but some portions are already open. The promenade extends largely into suburban teritory and is much greener than the Rhône banks. The portion near Rochetaillée features many waterside restaurants (guinguettes) serving fresh fish.
- Parc Sergent Blandan, rue du Repos, rue de l’Epargne, boulevard des Tchécoslovaques (T: Lycée Colbert). A park built on the grounds of former military barracks. It includes a large skatepark and many sports playgrounds. Still under development, it should cover 17 hectares when completed.
- Parc des Hauteurs, place de Fourvière/Montée Nicolas de Lange (F: Fourvière). This park between the metal tower of Fourvière and the Loyasse cemetery is a promenade with a nice footbridge offering great views towards the Monts d’Or and Beaujolais. There is an aerial adventure course and a skiing and mountain bike slope.
- Jardin des Curiosités (Garden of Curiosities), Passage des Hauts de St Just (F: Minimes/St Just). Small garden hidden in the bottom of a street/car park, behind a metallic door. It was designed by Canadian artists in a surrealistic spirit (recalls Magritte or Dali). Also a very nice viewpoint over the southern part of Lyon.
Cultural events are listed by the weekly magazine Le Petit Bulletin (free, available in cinemas, theatres, some bars, etc. and online ).
Early booking is often necessary for the major institutions (Auditorium, opera house, Célestins and Croix-Rousse theatres). The big names sell out months in advance. Unlike London or New York, there is no place in Lyon where you can buy reduced-price tickets for same day shows. (There used to be one but it was very short-lived, possibly because it had too few seats to sell.)
Music, dancing and opera
- Auditorium, 84 rue de Bonnel (M: Part-Dieu), . The Lyon National Orchestra plays in this impressive, modern concert hall which also hosts some jazz and world music concerts.
- Opera house, 1 place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville), . The old opera house was completely redesigned by Jean Nouvel in the 1990s and hosts opera and dancing shows, along with a few other concerts (especially jazz) in the smaller “Amphithéâtre” room.
- Transbordeur, boulevard Stalingrad, Villeurbanne (B: C1-Palais des Congrès), . The medium-sized hall (capacity 1,500) for rock or popular music concerts.
- Ninkasi, 267 rue Marcel Mérieux (M: Stade de Gerland), . This is a modern-day institution in Lyon. Ninkasi has two places for live music: Kafé (free shows, essentially electronic music) and Kao (a concert hall dedicated to rock and electronic music). It is also a beer brewery and has bars all over the Presqu’île, and also in Villeurbanne.
- Maison de la Danse, 8 avenue Jean Mermoz (T: Bachut), . A theatre dedicated to modern dancing. Also a fine example of architecture of the 1960s.
Lyon has a large number of theatres ranging from tiny “cafés-théâtres” to big municipal institutions. You can enjoy any type of show from comedy to classical drama to avant-garde productions.
- Théâtre des Célestins, Place des Célestins (M: Bellecour), . The historical theatre, in a beautiful 19th century building by Gaspard André. Serious programme.
- Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, place Joannès Ambre (M: Hénon), . ‘The other’ theatre, with a more avant-garde programme.
- TNP, 8 place Lazare Goujon, Villeurbanne (M: Gratte-Ciel), . Jean Vilar’s spirit of ‘popular theatre’ lives on in the historically left-wing Villeurbanne. .
- Théâtre Tête d’Or, 60 avenue du Maréchal de Saxe (B: C3-Saxe-Lafayette / T: Saxe-Préfecture / M: Place Guichard), . This is the only theatre in Lyon showing popular comedies in the Parisian “boulevard” style.
There are also a number of small independent theatres. Check out Les Ateliers, Espace 44, Théâtre des Clochards Célestes.
“Café-théâtre” is a very nice way to spend an evening with a show (usually comedy), drinks and food. Here is a small selection:
- Complexe du Rire, 7 rue des Capucins (M: Hôtel de Ville), . Two rooms and talented young comedians.
- Espace Gerson, 1 place Gerson (B: C3-Gare St Paul), .
The 200-year-old Guignol is a very famous character of puppet theatre. This irreverent canut who frequently challenges the law in his adventures was created by Laurent Mourguet, a canut himself, in 1808. The main side characters in Guignol shows are his wife Madelon, his Beaujolais-drinking friend Gnafron and the policeman, who always ends up being ridiculous. It was only in the 1950s that Guignol became a children’s favourite. Nowadays, a few theatres perpetuate the tradition for children and adults.
- Théâtre le Guignol de Lyon (Compagnie des Zonzons), 2 rue Louis Carrand (B: C3-Gare St Paul), . The largest Guignol theatre, showing original creations for children and adults. €9, child under 15 €7.
- Véritable Guignol du Vieux Lyon et du Parc, place de Guignol, Parc de la Tête d’Or (M: Masséna / B: C1-several stops around the park), . W Sa Su, bank and school holidays 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00. Especially intended for children, this outdoor theatre is in the park, near the lake and the zoo.
- Institut Lumière, Rue du Premier Film (M: Monplaisir-Lumière), . The museum also has a theatre showing thematic series of cinema masterpieces (in original version). The theatre is in the former Lumière factory, which was the scenery of the first movie in history (La sortie des usines Lumière).
- Comoedia, 13 avenue Berthelot (T: Centre Berthelot), . After a few years of closure followed by refurbishment works, this independent cinema is now very comfortable and has a relatively avant-garde programme. All foreign movies are shown in original version.
- CNP, Bellecour: 12 rue de la Barre; Terreaux: 40 rue du Président Edouard Herriot (M: Bellecour,Hôtel de Ville). Two independent cinemas; the Bellecour branch has the most avant-garde programme. All foreign movies in original version.
- Pathé. This major national firm has four theatres in Lyon (Cordeliers, Bellecour, Vaise, Carré de Soie) offering essentially American blockbusters and mainstream French movies. The Bellecour branch has foreign films in original version.
- UGC. The other major cinema firm, has four theatres in Lyon (Part-Dieu, Cité Internationale, Astoria, Confluence). The Astoria (M: Masséna) has foreign movies in original version.
- Watch football at Parc Olympique Lyonnais (Groupama Stadium), 10 avenue Simone-Veil, 69150 Décines-Charpieu. The local soccer team Olympique Lyonnais play in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football, and often qualify for European tournaments. Their ladies’ team also dominates the national & European scene. The stadium, capacity 59,186, is in the suburb of Décines 15 km east of the city centre.
- ASVEL, Astroballe, 69100 Villeurbanne (M: Laurent Bonnevay). The Villeurbanne basketball team has a long history as one of the major clubs in the country.
- LOU Rugby, Matmut Stadium de Gerland, 353, Avenue Jean-Jaurès. The rugby team of Lyon has bounced between the top two levels of the country’s league system (Top 14 and Pro D2) in the 2010s; they have played in Top 14 since 2016–17. The team moved to OL’s former home of Stade de Gerland for 2017–18.
Lyon is an important university centre. French language courses are available at Inflexyon, Alliance Francaise, Lyon-Bleu, École Interculturelle de Francais. If you look for an immersion program, you can have a look at Alpadia Language School, formerly known an ESL schools, groups Learn French in Lyon.
Money can be made by giving private English lessons. Most Lyonnais are keen to speak English. There are some schools which accept non-TEFL qualified teachers, but obviously a qualification helps. Try Berlitz or Demos. There are several anglophone pubs which employ young English-speaking workers, occasionally with limited French. Speaking French to a reasonable level is often a must. There is an ANPE (job centre) next to the Opera on Rue de la République. Just go in, you don’t have to book, and there are lots of job vacancies to be found. Also search for a shelf with black folders on it. They contain details of better paid jobs.
The usual hours for downtown shopping are 10:00-19:00, Monday to Saturday. Some larger places close a bit later (19:30). Shops are closed on Sundays, except in December and in Vieux Lyon where Sunday is the busiest day of the week!
- La Part-Dieu, Boulevard Vivier-Merle (M: Part-Dieu). M-Sa 10:00-20:00. A huge shopping mall (the largest downtown mall in Europe) on four levels, with most major fashion brands. Avoid Saturday afternoons, the place is awfully crowded.
- Rue de la République (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour). This pedestrian street is the main downtown shopping spot. Also check out Rue du Président Edouard Herriot (more expensive in general) and Rue de Brest; these three streets run parallel to each other along Presqu’île.
- Rue du Président Edouard Herriot, rue Gasparin, rue Émile Zola, rue des Archers (M: Bellecour). In the “golden square” between Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins, you will find a number of famous luxury brands.
- Rue Victor Hugo (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo/Perrache). Brand names and tourist traps south of Bellecour.
- Rue Auguste Comte (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo). Parallel to rue Victor Hugo, this is where you will find most antique shops in Lyon.
- Carré de Soie, Avenue de Böhlen, Vaulx-en-Velin (M/T: Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie). M-Sa 10:00-19:30, some stores open Su. Shopping mall with fashion stores, restaurants and a cinema multiplex, in a developing suburban area.
- Confluence, 7 rue Paul Montrochet (T: Hôtel de Région-Montrochet). M-Sa 10:00-20:00, some stores open Su. Shopping mall with fashion stores, restaurants and a cinema multiplex, in a new area.
Where to stay in Lyon
It is generally not difficult to find a hotel room in Lyon, except for the Fête des Lumières and during some important professional trade shows like SIRHA (food, hotels and restaurants) and POLLUTEC (environment technology), when every last room in and around Lyon is booked. The dates of those events can be found on the exhibition centre’s website. You can find hotels from the major chains, such as Sofitel, Hilton, Best Western, Accor, as well as many independent hotels.
- Hôtel Vaubecour, 28 rue Vaubecour (2nd arrondissement), 2nd floor, . Clean, quite and friendly hotel with small bedroom and modern bathroom. No air conditioning. Double €89.
- Auberge de Jeunesse de Vieux Lyon (youth hostel) (Take the metro to Vieux Lyon station then the funicular to Place des Minimes (otherwise a serious hike up a steep hill).). Belongs to YHA (international youth hostels association). Bunk bed in a dorm, plus breakfast for €21 (plus fee, if not member of YHA). Excellent views over city. Tiny kitchen, extremely limited rooms for couples/families. Keeps with the Catholic 1900s tradition of no gender-mixed rooms. No telephone bookings.
- Hotel Les Carres Pegase, 31 Rue Chevreul, +33 4 72 72 08 36. Totally worn-down business appart-hotel, in serious need of modernisation – but apart from that with clean sheets and friendly service. Small duplex for four people as low as €60 through hostelbookers. But you get what you pay for. The views for 7th floor is good.
- Camping des Barolles, 88, Avenue Maréchal Foch, 69230 Saint Genis Laval (motorway A450, junction 6b), . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Campsite caters for camper vans, chalets and free camping. There is a small shop at reception. It is a couple of minutes’ drive from a large shopping centre. To get to Lyon by public transport, take bus 78 to Oullins and then change to the metro. Friendly staff. Free Wi-Fi. e.g. One adult/one child/one tent/one car = €19 (June 2016).
- Citadines Part-Dieu Lyon, 91-95, rue Moncey, , fax: . Housing 98 flats over 7 floors, varying from studios to one-bedrooms; Each apartment has a bathroom with a hairdryer, a separate kitchen area, TV with satellite channels and a direct-line phone. Daily rates starts from €170.
- Hotel Victoria, 3, rue Delandine (Behind Perrache Station opposite Brasserie George), , fax: . This place is unpretentious and satisfactory. Reasonable value accommodation in a handy location with a friendly welcome. €45-55.
- Hotel Saint Paul, 6 rue Lainerie (B: C3/Gare St Paul), . This 2-star hotel offers rather small rooms but very good service and cleanliness. Good value for money. The street can be quite noisy, so ask for a room on the courtyard side or bring your earplugs. Double rooms €66/74/80.
- NH Lyon Aéroport, BP 202. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Aéroport, . 245 modern rooms and Nhube restaurant, meeting rooms and a spa. Rooms from €109.
- LaTour-Lyon, 21 rue Juiverie (M: Vieux Lyon), . An accommodation in a renaissance tower in Vieux-Lyon. A delightful duplex and unique setting with a panoramic view through 17 windows and luxurious amenities. €80-110.
- Hotel Sofitel Lyon Bellecour, 20, quai Gailleton (2nd arrondissement), . Luxury hotel with a large number of meeting rooms for conventions.
- Collège Hôtel, 5 place St Paul (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M:Vieux Lyon/Hôtel de Ville), . This 3-star hotel is decorated in the manner of an early 20th century school. Rooms €116 to €146 (tax inclusive), breakfast €12, parking €15.
- Cour des Loges, 2-8 rue du Boeuf (M: Vieux Lyon), . In an exceptional 14th-century building Rooms €249 to €620, breakfast €25.
Telecommunications in Lyon
- Main Post Office, 10 place Antonin Poncet (M: Bellecour), . Monday to Friday 09:00-19:00, Th open until 20:00, Sa 09:00-12:30.
- Terreaux Post Office, 3 rue du Président Edouard Herriot (M: Hôtel de Ville), . Monday to Friday 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-17:00.
There are 42 other postal offices throughout all neighbourhoods of Lyon.
Most internet cafés and call shops are in the Guillotière neighbourhood (M: Guillotière) and behind Place des Terreaux (Rue Ste Catherine, Rue Romarin, M: Hôtel de Ville), because of the large population of immigrants living there.
To make a telephone call from abroad, dial the international access code appropriate to your location, followed by the IDD access code for France 33, followed by the regional code (ignoring the 0 prefix) followed by the local number.
To call abroad from France, dial the international access code 00, followed by the international destination IDD country code, followed by the regional code (ignoring the 0 prefix) followed by the local number.
The regional (city) code for Lyon is 04. A telephone number in Lyon looks like this; (04) XX XX XX XX. In international format it looks like this;+33 4 XX XX XX XX.
- To dial a Lyon number from a different country use your local international access code (such as 00), followed by 33 4 XX XX XX XX.
- To dial a Lyon number from within France use 04 XX XX XX XX.
- When dialling from a mobile (cellphone) phone it may be easier to always just dial +33 4 XX XX XX XX, whether inside France or elsewhere at the time, however you must always drop the leading 0 from the 04 city code.
Stay safe and avoid Scams in Lyon
Real security problems in the city centre are rare, but the usual advice applies.
Rue Ste Catherine, behind Place des Terreaux, is locally famous for its bars; on weekend nights there are a lot of drunk people on the street, who might be violent. The police keep a close watch but it is probably better to avoid the area if you are on your own, especially after 3AM when the bars are closed. Similar problems may be encountered in Vieux Lyon.
In populated places such as Rue de la République or outside Part-Dieu station, you may come across people advertising for charities; they can be recognised by their specific, coloured clothing. They will not ask you for money but rather give you information documents which encourage you to donate. Homeless people sell newspapers such as Macadam or Sans-abri which help them making some money without begging; they should have an ID card issued by the editors. But there are also people trying to con you and get money for some imaginary charity, sometimes by selling postcards or other items. Never give money directly to someone on the street who claims to be working for charity and does not have official documents, or if the documents look doubtful.
Emergency numbers in Lyon
- Police ☎ 17
- Fire brigade ☎ 18
- Medical emergency ☎ 15.
The European emergency number ☎ 112 should be used on mobile phones.
Consulates in Lyon
- China, 26, rue Louis Blanc, .
- Germany, 33, boulevard des Belges, , fax: .
- Greece, 7 Rue Barreme, , fax: .
- Russia, 66 rue Cuvier, .
- United States of America, 1, quai Jules Courmont, .
- Switzerland, 4, Place Charles Hernu – Immeuble “Le Colysée”, Villeurbanne (M/T/C2 Charpennes), , fax: .
Thanks to its central geographical position and its historical role as a trading hub, Lyon is at the centre of a dense communications hub and thus is a great starting point to explore southeastern France. Most destinations around Lyon are served by regional trains of the TER Rhône-Alpes network. The extensive highway network in the region also allows for quick and efficient travel. Plenty of interesting cities, attractions and natural sites can be reached in less than 2 hours of travel! A more detailed listing can be found at the regional tourist office.
The Grand parc de Miribel-Jonage, just outside Lyon, is a large park (more than 6,000 acres (2,400 hectares)) including a lake near the Rhône river where you can indulge in many recreational (hiking, horse riding, biking, golf) and nautical activities (rowing, swimming, windsurfing, boating). There are several beaches, large stretches of forest, plenty of picnic and barbecue spots. It is a popular destination for locals, especially during summer when it gets too hot in the city. Entrance is free. Access is possible by bike from Lyon, using the bike path that runs along the Rhône (it takes about 20 min from the Tête d’Or park – follow the ViaRhôna signs). Also, during the spring and summer months, the area is served by bus line 83 of the TCL, from the Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie station (metro line A, tram T3).
North of Lyon lies the Dombes region of the Greater Lyon département. Its many lakes and ponds provide a nice setting for hiking and birdwatching. The main attractions are the bird park of Villars-les-Dombes, featuring a large collection of exotic birds, and Pérouges, a small medieval village. Its buildings all date to the Middle Ages and it’s a popular weekend destination for people who live in Lyon.
Some other attractions:
- Vienne (city), 30 km south of Lyon, is famous for its international jazz festival organized every summer. It also features many medieval and antique Roman buildings. There is also a large archaeological museum in the nearby town of Saint-Romain-en-Gal. Access by train (TER) or highway A7.
- The car museum of Rochetaillée has a very nice collection of modern and old cars. The major tourist attraction of the museum is Adolf Hitler’s armored car. Château Rochetaillée, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, ☎ +33 4 78 22 18 80, (Fax +33 4 78 22 69 60). Open Tu-Su 09:00-19:00 in July and August, Tu-Su 09:00-18:00 the rest of the year. Closed on Christmas and New Year. Fees: Adults €5, free for children under 18.
- Eveux, about 20 km northwest of Lyon is home to the Sainte Marie de La Tourette convent. Designed by Le Corbusier, it’s one of 17 of his works worldwide to be listed as a world heritage site.
The French Alps offer an extraordinary natural setting with gorgeous landscapes and numerous opportunities for outdoors activities: hiking, mountainnering, rock climbing, ski, and snowboard. All this only a couple of hours away from Lyon! Plenty of natural parks and ski resorts, from the upscale to the family-oriented. There are also many interesting cities to discover: Annecy, the “Venice of Savoie” with its beautiful lake and canals, Chambéry (historical capital of Savoy), Aix-les-Bains (thermal city overlooking the lake Bourget), Chamonix (gateway to the Mont Blanc), Grenoble (the “French Silicon Valley”, with its high-tech industries and its vibrant student life), with plenty of museums, local culinary specialities and historical sites to make a nice daytrip. Access is easy by highway, from Lyon using the A43 highway. Regional trains serve all the major cities of the Alps from Lyon, often in less than 2hrs. However, most popular ski and mountain resorts (except Chamonix) have no railway station. There are some intercity bus lines, but service is often poor and not always reliable. Having a car may thus be highly desirable but if you dont have one, some local travel agencies sell day or week-end skiing packages to major ski resorts including transportation from Lyon (see box on the right).
Some other nice spots:
- The French-speaking parts of Switzerland and especially the cities of Geneva and Lausanne, as well as the beautiful localities surrounding Western Switzerland. Regional trains from Lyon stop in Geneva. You have to use the Swiss railways (CFF) to go further. By car, drive through the A42 to Geneva. If you intend to drive on the Swiss highways, dont’t forget to buy the highway vignette! You can purchase one at the border or at the Automobile Club of Lyon (18, Quai Jean Moulin +33 478 425 101).
- Southern Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, especially the city of Macon, the basilica of Paray-le-Monial and the abbey of Cluny.
- Jura mountains and the small town of Nantua, whose lake is famous for its crayfish. The sauce Nantua is a staple of lyonnaise cuisine.
- The thick forests of Auvergne and its capital, Clermont-Ferrand, which is the gateway to the extinct volcanoes of Puy-de-Dôme. Great if you like nature and hiking. Another interesting city is Le-Puy-en-Velay, whose cathedral is one of the four starting points for pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela.
- Saint-Étienne, a former industrial powerhouse and once renowed for its arms manufacturers. A city with many elegant buildings, public squares and some narrow, pedestrian streets all within walking distance of Place du Peuple. Less than 1 hour by car or train.
- Northern Italy, especially Aosta Valley, Piedmont and Turin. 3 hr by car, through the Mont-Blanc motorway tunnel. Direct train service is unfortunately non existent, although a direct high-speed train route between Lyon and Turin is expected to be built by 2025.