City Guide: Lyon

River Saone

After our visit to the South of France in May, we took the train to Lyon for another stop before going home. Lyon is located in the east-centre of France and is the third largest city.

Locals here are famously referred to as Lyonnais and the city is also known for its Lyonnaise cuisine. A must-do during our visit was therefore a visit to a Lyonnais bouchon, a typical type of restaurant serving local food.

Lyon Place de Jacobines (3)

Lyon Place de Jacobines

Overall we spent one and a half days in Lyon and were blessed with amazing, somewhat too hot weather…at least for the hills.

Old Town Lyon

As we stayed in the Le Royal Lyon, we started off our tour at the Bellecour Square. From there on we walked towards the old town, which is located at the other side of the Saone river. With the funicular we went up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. From up there you get quite a beautiful view of the city. The basilica was financed by private funds and stands on the site where the Roman forum of Trajan used to be located. Behind the basilica you can spot a building that reminded us of the Paris Eiffel tower. This is Lyon’s metallic tower of Fourviére. Nearby there is also the Roman museum as well as the historic Roman theatre.

Instead of taking the funicular back down to the rest of the historic quarter, we chose to walk. There are two possible ways: one goes through the Parc des Hauteurs and the other takes you down on the road Montée Saint-Barthélémy.

Back down in the historic quarter you can walk along nice little streets, visit the Saint-Jean Baptiste Cathedral (also simply known as Lyon Cathedral). From there we took a quick détour to the Court of Justice and then headed towards a nice restaurant away from the crowds in the centre. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the name of it!

Croix-Rousse in Lyon

To be honest we had planned to walk up to Croix-Rousse, but didn’t end up actually going as it was way too hot and we had just eaten beforehand.

Croix-Rousse is supposed to be a little quarter on a hill with some artists and a village-like feel. The narrow paths leading up there already had a really nice touch to them.

Lyon City Centre – Squares, Cathedrals, Cafés and more

To be honest, there are so many historic buildings and sights in Lyon that it is hardly impossible to see everything within such a short time, so we have probably missed a few by taking different streets.

The main highlights in the city centre, however, I would say are the City Hall and the National Opera of Lyon. Anyways, ther are also lots of nice cafés and squares – these were particularly nice and packed with people on this sunny weekend.

The two rivers in Lyon – the Saone and the Rhone

Lyon is divided by two major rivers, the Saone and the Rhone. As such the city centre (first and second arrondissement) is sort of located on an “island” between the two. This makes for quite a special location, because you can easily reach either river and go for a nice walk or run.

On Sunday morning during our run, we also saw the market just above the Rhone. During the evening lots of people meet here for drinks (unfortunately this creates a rather unpleasant smell in the morning).

Park of the Golden Head in Lyon

This green oasis is located in the 6th arrondissement and approximately a half-hour walk away from the Bellecour Square. The park is massive and has its own lake inside.

There are also both a zoo and botanical garden in the park of the golden head. It is therefore the ideal place to go to for enjoying the nature, spending time with your family or just getting away from normal city life.

Our overall impression of Lyon

Lyon was absolutely beautiful in all matters. The weather was great, the city has a lot of interesting sights to visit and also lets you rewind near the rivers or in the greenery. On top of that you can find some really delicious food here. Despite the high number of people I utterly enjoyed our visit and can’t wait to go back to explore more of Lyon! Next time we might also be lucky to be taken around by one of the Lyon City Greeters.

Have you been to Lyon? What do you like most about the city?

Check here for more reviews of cities all around the world!

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