City Breaks

Guide to Lyon

Lyon is a fantastic city to visit as there’s so much to see and do. You’ll never be hungry in the world’s gastronomic capital.

The food capital of the world

For decades, Lyon has been celebrated as not only the food capital of France, but of the world. This might be seen as a traditional view, but you can't deny that the city has some incredible restaurants and food markets, such as the famous Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse (named after the revered chef).

This indoor market has dozens of stalls that are overflowing with delicious goodies. As you walk around you can try all kinds of delights, from scrumptious French cheeses to richly flavoured saucissons, which the area is famous for. On Sundays the market is particularly popular, and you can rub shoulders with the locals as they wine and dine on an early lunch.

Display of different cheeses at the Lyon Market, France

There are countless fantastic restaurants to choose from, and whilst many of the Michelin star restaurants have a price tag to match, you can eat well in Lyon without breaking the bank. You will find meat here in abundance; beef and pork cooked in every way imaginable, accompanied by creamy sauces and fresh vegetables. For contemporary food at a manageable price, head to Le Jean-Moulin, where you'll find classic French dishes reimagined. Daniel et Denise serves up traditional Lyonnaise food in a comfortable setting and offers a fixed menu, which is great value for money.

If you want to try your hand at cooking, Lyon boasts some great cookery schools that do lessons for visitors and children too. Délicieusement Vôtre holds classes in a handful of different languages and the team here is committed to learning, helping you to discover your hidden culinary talents! If you've got a sweeter disposition, head to La Maison de Karen Chocolat, where you can take home your chocolate creations at the end of the lesson.

Plenty of things to do

The great thing about Lyon is that it's jam packed full of activities for all ages to enjoy, so make sure you put enough time aside to explore France's third largest city. The warm climate here means that watersports are a popular pastime for many, who head to Gorges de l'Ardèche just 200 km south of Lyon. If you're looking to see the city from the comfort of a boat, take one of the many cruise tours along the rivers Rhône and Saône.

Calm river passing through the Gorges de l’Ardèche stone archway

Lyon boasts a fantastic aquarium, Aquarium du Grande Lyon, which explores the life within our oceans and is divided into sections such as fresh and tropical water, along with a shark tank and touch pool which is great for kids. For a more hands-on family activity, France Aventures is an adventure park in Lyon where kids from 4 years+ can climb trees, whilst adults can go bungee jumping and take part in fun team building activities.

If golf helps you to unwind, there's a great selection of courses in and round Lyon. Golf Blue Green Lyon Chassieu is home to one 18-hole course and another 6-hole course, which is just a fifteen minute drive from Lyon's centre. Also, not far from the centre is the Lyon Salvagny Golf Club, where you'll find both 18-hole and 9 hole-courses, great for intermediate players. For little golf enthusiasts, there’s a kid's golf school which boasts some great lessons for beginners.

Parks and recreation

Lyon is home to a handful of beautiful parks, and during sunny weather, exploring them is a great way to unwind during your stay in the city. If you only have time for one, head to Parc de la Tête d'Or. This green expanse to the south of the river Rhône has a large lake in the middle, an impressive rose garden, a botanical garden and a zoo that's full of rare animals, such as the Barbary lion, which is extinct in the wild today.

You can take part in plenty of sports activities here; cyclists can head to the park's velodrome, take a horse riding lesson, or enjoy a game on the boules court and mini golf course. A great way to see the park with young children is to take the miniature train.

Looking to pamper yourself during your stay? Head to the Lyon Plage Spa, where you can relax in a Jacuzzi, take a dip in the Olympic-sized pool, or have a makeover at the beauty salon.

Bikers riding through Lyon’s famous Parc de la Tête d'Or

A city for culture vultures

This historic part of Lyon is recognised by UNESCO and was founded by the Romans in the first century. The entire city has architecture from all periods and you'll find something special in each of the city's arrondissements (or districts). One of the Renaissance districts worth visiting is Vieux Lyon. Venture down the Rue de Gadagne to see some beautiful examples of renaissance architecture, then pop into the Musée Gadagne to find out more about Lyon's history.

Connected to this street is Rue du Bœuf, where you'll find more stunning buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries. These cobbled streets are a wonderful place to get lost, and you can find a few select restaurants hidden away in these narrow buildings. Wander down the streets of the Saint-Paul quarter and watch out for the many traboules that this part of the city is famous for – tall elegant passageways that were originally constructed for silk merchants.

Multicoloured houses along the Saone Riverbank in Lyon, France

The Fourvière district is known for its location on a hill, sitting neatly beside the river Saône, as well as being the home of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which can be seen from across the city. Next to the hill you'll find the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, which was built in 15 BC and finished in the second century. Another landmark to watch out for is the Tour Métallique, which used to be a restaurant and observation tower.

The Lyon Museum of Fine Arts is one of France's biggest art museums and is home to an incredible number of pieces ranging from Egyptian coffins, to Japanese ceramics, classical portraits and modern sculptures. This museum is definitely worth a visit, the vast 17th  century building itself with beautiful gardens and the Fontaine Bartholdi nearby.

Getting there and around

Lyon is just a six hour drive from Calais and only 2 hours south of Dijon. France is so easy to explore by car, and you can get across the Channel from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes with LeShuttle.

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