Welcome to Lyon

Guide to Lyon, France
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.

Some cities hit visitors like a Broadway musical, with a dazzle of famous monuments and applauding crowds. Lyon unspools slowly, like a soft skein of the silk for which it was once famed. In only a little while, this huge, gently contented city makes itself felt; not so much in displays of architectural virtuosity, or panoramic vistas- although there are a few- but in an unexpected sense of wellbeing, a feeling that one could happily live here, make friends with the locals, spend mornings shopping at the market and afternoons strolling the wide boulevards, perhaps stopping to hear a concert in the square, or resting with a good strong coffee at a café table... and in the evening, ambling through the streets of old Lyon, in the purple dusk, idly wondering which cosy, centuries-old restaurant to choose, which dish from each delicious menu to order.

And although it is France’s largest city outside Paris, Lyon has the atmosphere of a safe, rambling old town, albeit one with world-class restaurants and chic, modern hotels. Bounded by two rivers, the Rhone and the Saone, and watched over by two hills, Fourviere and Croix-Rousse, there is a charming duality about Lyon- the old, medieval town and the new, shining streets of glamorous shops; or the gleaming food halls of polished produce at Les Halles Paul Bocuse, where Michelin starred chefs pore like mathematicians over cases of perfectly-aligned artisan cheese, and the rambunctious morning market by the river, thronged with jolly crowds, stalls loaded with produce straight from the farm. Because Lyon is the food capital of France- there are restaurants so exquisite and expensive, one visit provides a lifelong memory and cafes so cheerful and cheap you could go every morning for a pain au chocolat.

Lyon is a slow burn of a city, a gradual awareness that you don’t want to leave, a feeling that somehow, all cities should be like it; with its graceful 19th century buildings facing the wide sweep of river; its awareness of what matters- food, warmth, entertainment- and its unusual talent for preserving the past, whilst openly welcoming the future. It is a city that does stay in the heart, long after leaving- perhaps forever.

Guide to Lyon, FranceGuide to Lyon, France


Les Halles Paul Bocuse

For anyone that loves food, to eat, look at, or to cook, Les Halles Paul Bocuse, named after Lyon’s most famous living chef, are a fantasy of gastronomic wonders more
156 Rue Garibaldi 69003 Lyon 04 78 62 39 33

Vieux Lyon

Across the river, at the foot of Fourviere, the Old Town of Lyon dates back to the middle ages more
Place St.Jean 69005 Lyon Vieux Lyon

The Presqu’ile

Here are grander streets, just as picturesque as the old town, but reminiscent of Paris with their curving, storm-grey roofs, wide squares and stone palaces and statues more
Place Bellecour 69002 Lyon Bellecour


Marché St.-Antoine

This food market is a wild local dance, a swirl of colour and taste more
Quai Saint-Antoine 69002 Lyon Cordelliers / Bourse

Brasserie George

As huge as a railway station, this Art Deco restaurant feels utterly authentic- if you could reduce the elements of the perfect French brasserie down to its very essence, this would be left more
30 Cours de Verdun Perrache 69002 Lyon 04 72 56 54 54 Perrache Perrache

Les Bouchons des Filles

This cosy restaurant is as unpretentious as its lighthearted owners- a place where the food is the star more
20 Rue Sergent Blandan 69001 Lyon 04 78 30 40 44 Croix Paquet

Guide to Lyon, FranceGuide to Lyon, France


Cafe Des Negociants

This lovely Rococo style café is like a miniature 19th century theatre, with gilt mirrors, velvet drapes, murals and chandeliers, almost exactly as it was when it opened back in 1864 more
1 Place Francisque Regaud 69002 Lyon 04 78 42 50 05 Cordeliers / Bourse


The cocktail menu is impressive and extensive, with 30 different drinks requiring glamorous, speakeasy-style additions more
20 Rue Hyppolyte Flandrin 69001 Lyon 04 72 26 18 07

Cafe Juliette

Named after famous 18th century socialite and benefactress Juliette Recamier, who was born in Lyon but hosted salons for high society in Paris, this charming bar is a pleasing tribute to her charms more
41 Rue Juliette Recamier 69006 Lyon 04 78 52 83 80 Brotteaux


Novotel Lyon Confluence

Ideal for driving routes, this glamorously contemporary, 4* Novotel is easy to reach without ploughing through city traffic more
3 Rue Paul Montrochet 69002 Lyon

Hotel Cour Des Loges

Staying at this 5 star hotel is a little like going to bed in a Renaissance painting. more
6 Rue Du Boeuf 69005 Lyon Vieux Lyon

Hotel Le Royal

The grand, Parisian style building with its dramatic Renaissance dome, stands sentinel on Place Bellecour, lit up like an ocean liner pulling into port more
20 Place Bellecour 69002 Lyon Bellecour

Guide to Lyon, France

In The Mood


The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Bocuse in Your Kitchen: Simple French Recipes for the Home Chef - Paul Bocuse

Bouchons : Brasseries & Restaurants Lyonnais [French] - Matthieu Flory.


The Unbearable Lightness Of Being- (partly filmed in Lyon)


The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (from Lyon)

Short Stories - Franck Avitabile (from Lyon)


The Lumiere Brothers, the inventors of cinema, were botn in Lyon and the Museum Lumiere celebrates their achievement. Plenty of unique old cinematographs are fascinating for the gadget buff, but children may be very bored- for them, the Museum of Mineiatures is a much better option.

For a picnic, visit the Parc de la Tete D’Or, a huge park, filled with groves of trees and flower beds bursting with roses, which also contains a small zoological reserve, the 'Africa Plain' with giraffes, zebras, antelopes and ostriches all living in happy harmony on the banks of the Rhone. Perhaps fortunately, no lions have been added for authenticity.

Don’t assume that excellent food means exceptional prices- Lyon is very democratic, and there is good food everywhere. For an unforgettable exoerience, Restaurant Paul Bocuse is the obvious choice, but a picnic by the river can be just as enjoyable.

While there are museums and galleries, don’t pack your time in Lyon with ‘things to do’ – it’s such a lovely city for wandering, it can be more fun to take the funicular up Mount Fouviere and wander back down than to dash about absorbing culture. In Lyon, the real culture is in the streets and markets.

Get a city card (www.lyon-france.com) which lets you travel all over the city free and offers discounted entry into over 30 attractions and free guided tours. Available for 1,2 or 3 days, priced between €21-41.

Getting Around




The traffic in Lyon itself is often heavy and so staying at hotels on the edge of the city and then using the excellent public transport system makes sense. There are Lyonnaise police  appointed specifically to monitor parking, and cars are often towed if parked in the wrong place.

Taxis can be called from cab stations or by phone, but tend to charge at least 6€ irrespective of the journey’s length.

Part-dieu and Perreche railway stations have hire car offices.


Public transport in Lyon is excellent with metro, trams and buses all available. A ticket for public transport – buses, trams and metro – can be bought from any station at a rate of 1.60€ per journey or 4.90€ for a daily pass. There are four subway lines (A,B,C,D) covering all parts of the city, while trams can be used to reach the suburban areas.

All public transport runs from 5:00am to around midnight. The bus system features at least 100 lines, with C1 and C3 buses – the larger versions – also running frequently, around the city centre.


Lyon’s velo’v system allows a customer to register a credit card, then pick up and drop off bicycles at will across 300 points in the city. Tickets are only 1.50€ for the day, or 5€ for the week – the first thirty minutes of a day ticket is free.

 Tourism Office: Office du Tourisme & des Congrès du Grand Lyon Place Bellecour - BP 2254 69214

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