Lyon is France’s third biggest city that has more than a thousand years of history engraved on its cobblestone roads. Part of this interesting history can be seen along the serpentine roads of the Quartier Renaissance Saint Jean. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great neighborhood with beautiful courtyards, alleyways, museums, and cathedrals. Lyon has a fine-looking old center where a host of other bridges is connected with the other gorgeous parts of the city.
In the old town you can wander through the lovely narrow streets and on almost every street corner find something delicious to eat or drink from its row of authentic and local restaurants. This is the living and historic heart of Lyon, strategically placed between the cathedral and the river. Get lost in the alleys of the Renaissance Quarters and discover the innate natural charm of Lyon City.
When To Go:
July is the perfect time to visit Lyon as it has the most elevated normal temperatures and a low precipitation throughout the span of the month implying that you get to experience the city with only a small amount of rainfall. The city has a marine atmosphere with warm summers and a mellow atmosphere yet encounters precipitation lasting through the year. It encounters four unique seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter). The winter season begins in December until February.
The summer season reaches Lyon in June to August. July is one of the driest months of the year with a substantial amount of rainfall throughout the span of the month. Autumn season begins from September up to November. Temperatures additionally begin to drop significantly towards the winter with normal every day high of around 25 ° Celsius down to 10 °Celsius.
Here are the top tourist sites and
things to do
in the city of Lyon:
The climb to
is pretty tough but can be easily accessed by a cable car. Once on the top, the views of Lyon are great. It is a location that dominates the center of Lyon to the west, giving you a great view of the entire city and its rivers. This hill is also the place to visit the Basilica of Fourvière, a beautiful and sacred building that is full of history. Do not forget to visit the Roman ruins located next door. Easily accessible by subway and walk downhill is very interesting. Instead of the usual reach this viewpoint is easy and undemanding; with the funicular from St. Jean Cathedral in a few minutes you get to the stop of the esplanade-terrace of the Basilica of Fourviere, with a small fee (Euro 2.6).
The view is very wide and on a day with clear sky goes far! It‘s a simple and pleasant way to see almost all the “attractions” of the City, and to evaluate the spaces and the amplitudes (Parc de Tete d’Or and Place Bellecour).
To appreciate the beauty of the place and enjoy the beautiful view that you can enjoy from it, climbing on foot, although tiring is much more romantic and you can see the gardens of the Rosary and experience the calm surrounding the hill. And then, once you reach the top enjoy a splendid view that encompasses the entire city runs and on clear days, up to Mont Blanc.
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere (Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere)
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere or the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere
is located on a hill behind the old Lyon. It’s a white building with high-impact. The golden color dominates inside and the style attracts a mixture of Byzantine and Romanesque, although the building construction is much more recent (late 1800). From the terrace next to the church you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city of Lyon. To reach the basilica you can use the funicular from Old Lyon, at the foot of the hill (5 minutes), or walking path that goes up the hill (half an hour). It is a recommended step for those visiting the city.
The sanctuary, which is within walking distance from the Basilica of St. Jean or more conveniently by funicular, is located on the hill of Fourvière hole where once stood the ancient Roman city of Lugdunun, ancient name of Lyon. Fourvière in fact comes from the contraction of “Forum Vetus” (ancient blog). The hill was considered a place of worship by the early Christians after the martyrdom of St. Potino and in the twelfth century there was erected a chapel in honor of Our Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury, canonized in that period. The church, which was severely damaged due to the wars of religion, was rebuilt in 1586. Since then the hill Fouruvière has been a pilgrimage destination by Lyon, who prayed to the Virgin to protect them from all the epidemics and natural disasters over the centuries. In 1852, it was placed on top of the bell tower of the old chapel the gigantic gilded bronze statue of the Madonna that you can still admire.
The present sanctuary was born following a public subscription on the contract vote by the citizens of Lyon during the Franco-Prussian war; they engaged the fact to build the monumental church we see now, if the Virgin had protected the city from German. The sanctuary was built between 1872 and 1896 by architect Bossan. Made in aclettico style, it consists of a church and a crypt. The top is reminiscent of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris and characterized by high vaulted ceilings and illuminated by bright windows.
The sides show eight chapels with scenes from the life of Mary. Six great golden and multicolored mosaic murals celebrate the Virgin in the history of France and that of the universal Church. The outer, part is visible from every sides of Lyon, and, according to some like a fortress is decorated with marble sculptures and statues among which the requirements are the sculptures about angelic creatures. The sanctuary which has the dignity of a Minor Basilica annually attracts two million pilgrims from all over France and is the biggest tourist attraction of the Region Rhone-Alpes. Moreover, being inside the perimeter of the old city, it is part of the protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Outside, after the path for the large square, you will arrive at a lookout terrace which offers a breathtaking view of the city. Next to it there is a spot for pilgrims and a metal tower that reproduces the small Eiffel Tower and which acts as a replica of the famous landmark. You must also observe the statue of the Saint Pope John Paul II, at the center of the square. After visiting the shrine it is highly recommended to walk down to the old town and Lyon’s archaeological zone. Here you can visit the Roman theater, the Odeon, and the Museum of Gallo-Roman civilization. The very enjoyable visit is engaging as a whole and requires an entire day to appreciate everything.
Parc de la Tete d’Or
Parc de la Tete d’Or
is an impressive park in the heart of Lyon that offers visitors the chance to spend a day in contact with nature. The gardens are well kept and you can see a wide variety of plants and inside you can visit for free a small zoo with exotic animals (kept in cages with transparent glass). There is also the opportunity to take a tour inside the park while comfortably seated on a train.
The park is located near the Rhone. This park offers visitors an immersion in the most beautiful nature in the middle of the city.
For those who want to enjoy a walk among the willows, sycamores and cedars, or perhaps paddle in the waters of a lake in the pleasant company of his better half, away from the noise of city traffic, the Parc de la Tete d’Or is the appropriate choice. It covers more than 100 acres and houses in addition to the lake with boat rental, various botanical gardens, a zoo, and free access to a large velodrome. Created in 1857 and extended over time, this city park which is also the largest urban green space of France is a must see for anyone visiting Lyon.
Quartier Renaissance Saint Jean
Lyon is a city with charming architecture. The Quartier Renaissance Saint Jean in addition to its strong gastronomic vocation and film cradle is one of its stunning examples. The entire region of the Saint Jean Church (much simpler than the Cathedral but with a strong history), the Rue du Boeuf, Trois Marie, La Tour Rose, the traboules, cafes, bouchons, restaurants and charming shops make this area an unforgettable ride. Lyon is separated by the junction of the rivers Rhône and Saône, in a modern way and the other part which is known as Vieux Lyon situated in another side of the hill.
You’ll be surprised by the beauty of the narrow streets full of cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, bookstores, architectural firms, art galleries, smaller churches and museums. The architecture is amazing, very old and lined with adjacent buildings. Considered one region of the medieval era the Church of Saint Jean delimits the two areas. You can still find in some corner people playing classical music to the sound of violins. The various options of cafe, bars and restaurants are a niche options worth venturing. The internal decoration of the establishments is incredible.
Musee Miniature et Cinema
Musee Miniature et Cinema Musee Miniature et Cinema
has authentic settings of the film Perfume. It is a museum dedicated to special effects and you must have good legs because you will climb many stairs but it is all worth it. The museum is simply fantastic and has hundreds of cinematic pieces from movies like; Gremlins, Alien, Terminator, etc. It explains the various phases of assembling a movie, and usually has exhibitions about some recent film (at the moment it shows “Perfume, The Story of a Murderer “).
This museum houses scenarios, miniatures and costumes used in American and European film studios. There are 8 rooms that delight without exception. The highlight are the thumbnails and it is very cool also to watch the scenes of the films in which they were used (3 Musketeers, The Perfumer, Planet of the Apes, 2012, etc.). This is a museum dedicated to special effects and you must have good legs because you will climb many stairs but it is all worth it.
Le Mur Des Canuts
Le Mur Des Canuts
is an interesting example of urban art. The visit to this mural is really interesting not only because it is yet another demonstration of how art can transform a drab gray wall in a beautiful fresco of daily life, but also for the brilliant idea to update the work every 10 years . In a small porch on the sides of the murals, you can also witness the transformation of the city life.
In addition to the inevitable funny photos in front of the life-size figures, a visit to this place also arouses reflections on urban civilization. If you go to Lyon do not miss this beautiful mural because it looks real and tells so much about the city. This optical illusion art is large, animated, well designed and painted.
Traboules du Vieux Lyon
Traboules du Vieux Lyon
visit is a fun experience. These traboules (to cross) are passages from one street to another often with beautiful staircases and ceilings where some are covered while others are not. You can try the traboules and a walk to Saint Jean and Presqu’il center. The traboules you’ll find are mostly behind front doors of large buildings. They are often closed because there are houses / apartments that open onto the traboule. The site regularly opens from 11 to 12 o’clock in the morning and if you plan to visit just press the large button (intercom) key and then the door will usually open.
Musee des Beaux-Arts
Musee des Beaux-Arts
occupies an entire side of the central Place des Terraux which is located in the Palais St Pierre, a seventeenth-century building that originated as convent of the Benedictine order. On this primitive destination, you can still see the spacious refectory with rich stucco, statues and large paintings and a cloister adorned with numerous sculptures but now accessible to the public as a green area. During the French Revolution, the monastic community was dissolved, the building expropriated and subsequently transferred to the City of Lyon, who decided to turn it into a museum of fine arts. It is one of the most important museums in France after the Louvre. Inside there is a beautiful art gallery, a section dedicated to modern and contemporary art, to ancient Greek-Roman and Egyptian Oriental, an area dedicated to numismatics and more.
It is a visit that takes time because; thanks to a free audio guide available in Italian at the entrance you can hear explanations and insights on many works and artifacts on display. Truly original about it is the comment of paintings based on the “theory of the looks” a kind of psychological interpretation of the expression of the characters represented. The windows of the higher floors offer a stunning view of the Place des Terraux and in particular the fountain that is surrounded by the Lyon Rhone and Saone Rivers.
is a modern district that is situated between the rivers Saone and Rhone and Quartier of Croix-Rousse. The Presqu’ile is dotted with palaces and churches, squares and streets, and one of the most beautiful gems of Lyon! Rue de la Republique connects major places of interest and many of its paths. It affects all of the cleaning and care of the place and the attention given to those who go on foot or by bike.
In the alleys, you can find a myriad of nice little restaurants, popular for lunch and the beautiful view of Notre Dame de Fourviere on the hill; a spectacular wonder to live day and night.
Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization
Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization
is designed by Bernard H. Zehrfuss and inaugurated in 1975. The museum is seamlessly integrated into the hillside of Fourvière right next to the Theatre and Odeon. The building is made of reinforced concrete structures and divided internally into a spiral shape to five levels to symbolize for visitors coming from the top, the descent in time until the beginning of the Roman colonization. The exhibits on display range from prehistoric times to the end of the seventh century A.D., and the collection is among the richest in France because it provides a complete picture of public and private life, traditions, religions and customs of ancient funerary Lyon, founded in 43 B.C. by the Romans on the hill of Lugdunum; “the hill of light” in the Celtic language.
Among the most important exhibits are the Tablets Claudiane; a bronze plate on which is engraved the text of a speech given by the Emperor Claudius before the Senate of Rome in order to get to the notable Lyons the same privileges of Roman citizens including the possibility of access to public office. Equally noteworthy are the fragments of the Lunar Calendar of Coligny, one of the longest documents found in the Celtic language and written in Latin characters. You will certainly appreciate the original architecture of the museum that offers through two large portholes and a privileged view of Odeon Theatre. Admission to the museum is free every Thursday.
The best way to enjoy the city of Lyon is to explore its streets, discover the traboules, and immerse oneself into its lively atmosphere. The architectural set is not to be missed and there are passages (almost secret) between the blocks, to cut corners, created in the Middle Ages. The line of fine restaurants and shops are all well and pleasant with different decoration. Lyon is one of the exciting cities and travel destinations to discover in France, don’t miss it.