Just two hours from Paris by TGV, Lyon offers its visitors a glimpse of life in France.
France's second-largest city manages to combine the charm of an ancient capital with the energy of a young and attractive metropolis. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should definitely visit Lyon.
1.The city's architecture is an impressive mix of old and new
Despite its relatively small size, Lyon is home to many ancient structures, including several famous churches such as Saint-Nizier, Saint-Jean, and the Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica. This old-world splendor is mixed with an exceptional post-modern style, which emphasizes the revitalization of the city. La Confluence, the convergence of Lyon's two rivers (the Saône and the Rhône), was once a neglected piece of land before becoming the largest renovation project in Europe. It is now home to the incredible Musée des Confluences, designed by Coop Himmelblau, as well as other fascinating buildings, such as the Orange Cube and Euronews, designed by Jakob + MacFarlane.
2. Lyon has quality local products
While Bordeaux is most famous for its wines and Normandy for its cheeses, Lyon wouldn't be the culinary capital of the country without access to an unprecedented selection of local producers. Notwithstanding a series of scandals in the 2000s, Beaujolais has made a strong comeback alongside the famous Côtes du Rhône and Mâcon, Burgundy and Condrieu are all within an hour's drive of the city. Similarly, local cheeses make up the vast majority of market stalls and supermarket shelves that showcase regional specialties. The same is true for the selection of meats.
3. Visit the cradle of cinema
What would cinema be without the Lumière brothers? Fortunately, there's no need to answer that question, but it's fair to say that this pioneering duo put modern cinema on the agenda. Lyon's legacy is evident in the emphasis on film in the city's many cinemas and, of course, in the excellent Institut Lumière. The latter offers a fascinating look at the birth of the industry and also has its own cinema, which hosts the Lyon Film Festival in October.
4. Let yourself be carried away by the Roman ruins!
Once the seat of Gallic culture, Lyon's history as a city is a true masterpiece of many dimensions. High above the city is the Roman amphitheater of Fourvière, which is an architectural marvel, and the perfect place to have a picnic while imagining what was going on over 2,000 years ago.
5. Discover the secret traboules in Lyon
Traboules are a unique part of Lyon. They are hidden passages between the buildings of Lyon. They were used to facilitate the transport of silk.
The canuts were able to move from one street to another and reach the river pretty quickly.
There are still 500 Traboules in Lyon and the majority of them are concealed behind doors in Vieux Lyon. Feel free to try to push a door, you might just uncover a Traboule.
6. The city's restaurants serve delicious food
To the surprise of many, Lyon has more restaurants per capita than any other city in France. The city is world-renowned for its gastronomy and its ranks are filled with famous chefs, the most famous of whom was Paul Bocuse, the "pope" of French cuisine. For decades, the city has been praised for the high quality of its products and the prestige of its cuisine.
7. Breathtaking murals and optical illusions
One of the unique attractions of Lyon is the multitude of murals and other visual beauties that adorn the city. From the Fresque des Canuts in the Croix-Rousse to the Fresque des Lyonnais on the banks of the Saône, these works are just a few of the many examples that are scattered throughout the city and all deserve to be admired.
8. An outdoor getaway
If eating, drinking, taking pictures and soaking up the city isn't your thing, Lyon also offers you the chance to get away. One-fifth of France's national parks are located in the Lyon area of the Rhône-Alpes region, and several regional parks are also scattered throughout the area. Summer and winter alike, Lyon is ideally situated for a multitude of outdoor activities: hiking, climbing, biking, canoeing, rafting, and, of course, skiing.
9. Festival of Lights
Every year in December, the Festival of Lights illuminates the entire city of Lyon through the efforts of world-renowned artists. This festival, which celebrates the Virgin Mary, dates back to 1643. Lasting three to four days, the festival brings together millions of captivated spectators every year.
10. The city's various museums are all worth a visit
Finally, if you have decided to visit Lyon, you should know that the city has many museums, all of them extremely interesting. We recommend some of them below.
The Museum of Fine Arts
Inside, there are works by Italian artists (Tintoretto, Veronese, and Guido Reni) and French artists such as Manet, Matisse, and Gauguin, but also works by Van Gogh, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
The Museum of Confluences
An innovative and special museum that was opened in 2014. It reflects the history of humanity through multidisciplinary approaches involving scientific and humanistic aspects.
The museum of contemporary art
If you are interested in contemporary art, you should visit this museum. The structure was designed by Renzo Piano and inside there is no permanent exhibition, but from time to time it hosts different artists.
We hope to have intrigued you and made you want to visit Lyon. We look forward to seeing you and discovering together the architecture, beauty, and gastronomy of the city and reserve many other surprises for you.
See you soon!