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Place Bellecour seen from the hill of Fourvière

Lyon is a city in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Lyon is the third-largest city in France after Paris and Marseille, but Greater Lyon (Lyon and its suburbs) is the second-largest urban area in France, being slightly larger than that of Marseille.


Lyon is a city rich in history, from Roman times to the Resistance. It is also renowned for its gastronomy.

The city is based around two hills and two rivers. In the west is the hill of Fourvière, topped by the prominent 19th Century basilica and in the north, the hill of the Croix Rousse, where silk weavers used to work.

The Saône river cuts through the two hills and is met at the southern point of the city by the Rhône river, coming from the east.

The city is divided into 9 districts or 'arrondissements': The 1st and 2nd arrondissements cover the area between the Rhône and the Saône (the Presqu'île), including the slopes of the Croix Rousse hill. It is an area where you will find many bars, restaurants, Lyon's opera house, and interesting pedestrian shopping streets.

The 3rd, 6th and 7th arrondissements are to the East of the Rhône.

The 4th arrondissement includes the Croix Rousse plateau

The 5th arrondissement includes the hill of Fourvière and the old city

The 8th arrondissement is to the south east

The 9th arrondissement is in the north west.

Get in

By plane

The Saint-Exupéry airport [5] (old name: Satolas), 25 km west of Lyon, is linked to the main cities of France and the world. The Satobus service will take you by bus from the airport to central Lyon in 30-50 minutes and cost around 8.60€ (6.50€ if you are under 24). Taxis to Lyon from the airport cost around 75€.

By train

Lyon has four train stations:

  • St Paul - in the heart of the city, 5 mins from hotel de ville over the Saone. Serves regional destinations.
  • Perrache - On of the two main stations of Lyon serving national and regional destinations. It is only a short walk to Place Bellecour along an interesting pedestrian shopping street (Rue Victor Hugo).
  • Part-Dieu - The other main train station serving national and regional destinations. This station is close to a large shopping mall and is in the heart of Lyon's business center. It has good transportation links to the rest of the city by tram bus and metro.
  • Saint-Exupéry (the station is outside the city and serves the airport)

Lyon is linked by TGV (fast trains) to Paris (2 hours) and Marseille (2 hours).

By car

Lyon is a major automotive hub:

Get around

By bus, tram, subway or bicycle

Public bicycle service Vélo'v

Lyon's public transport, TCL, consists of an extensive network of buses, subway (4 lines, 38 stations) and tramway (3 lines, 62 stations). The metro is efficient, relatively inexpensive, and by far the best way to easily move around. A single ticket costs 1.50€ (a common ticket for bus, metro and tram, valid for 1 hour after first use, but no return), whereas a daily pass is for 4.40€. Group tickets are also available so contact the tourism office.

Lyon has also 2 cable-car lines. These are accessible from the Vieux Lyon metro station and provide access to the Roman theatres and Basilica respectively.

Since May 2005, Lyon also has a public bicycle service which allows travellers, after registering a credit card, to pick up and drop cycles to and from points around the city. You may need a credit card (Visa/MC/French CB) to make use of the service. The prices are very cheap: 1 euro for the "velo'v" card, then 2 euros per hour of use, with the first half hour of each use free. Check that the bike you want is OK or you could have bad surprises. Note that the system only works with a European credit/debit card. Otherwise the transaction is aborted, no explanations given on the terminal.

By car

Traffic is dense. Avoid driving within the city if you can. The minimum age to rent a car is 21 and an additional charge may be required for drivers under 25 years old. There are car hire places at the major stations. Best to hire from Part-Dieu, as the subsequent navigation is much easier. For the city center look for sights "Presqu'île"


Lyon has many monuments and museums.

  • Theatres Romains de Fourviere, a Roman amphitheater.
  • Tête d'Or Park, including zoo and botanical garden.
  • Basilique de Fourvière (church) , nice view of the city
  • Tour de Fourvière
  • Palais Saint-Pierre
  • Place Bellecour - Europe's largest completely clear public square.
  • Place des Terreaux
  • Musée de la Résistance (museum of the Resistance during the Second Wold War): Often holds exhibitions (mostly photography). 14 avenue Berthelot, 69007 Lyon. Tel: 04 72 73 33 54, Fax: 04 72 73 32 98. Open 9AM-5:30PM. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays. Fees: 3 €. Free for children under 18.
  • Musées des Arts Décoratifs and Musée des Tissus: 34 rue de la Charité 69002, Lyon. Tel: 04 78 38 42 00, Fax: 04 72 40 25 12, [email protected], Open 10AM-12PM and 2PM-5:30PM. Closed on Mondays and holidays. Fees (can also be used for the Musée des Tissus): Adults: 4.58 €. Groups (10 adults minimum) : 3.81 €. Students : 2.29 €. Free for children under 18.
  • Musée historique de Lyon et Musée de la Marionnette
  • Musée de l'Imprimerie: Visit it only if you're a printing specialist, the collection is important but it is presented in a totaly outdated way. To avoid. 13 rue de la Poulaillerie, 69002 Lyon. Tel: 04 78 37 65 98, Fax: 04 78 38 25 95. [email protected] Open W-Su 9:30AM-12PM and 2PM-6PM. Closed on holidays. Fees: 4 €, students in groups: 2 €.
  • Institut Lumière: 25 rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon. Tel: 04 78 78 18 95. Open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays and main holidays. Fees: 6 € (adults) or 5 € (younger than 18 or students).
  • Musée d'Histoire naturelle: 28 Boulevard des Belges, 69006 Lyon. Tel: 04 72 69 05 00, Fax: 04 78 94 62 25. Open W-Su 1PM-6PM. Fees: 3 €.
  • Musée d'Art contemporain
  • Musée des Beaux Arts
  • Musée de la Civilisation gallo-romaine:The second largest museum in France, it has all kinds of things relating to Rhone-alps history. A free visit to the Roman amphitheatres may be just as interesting for those not into the details.
  • Olympique Lyonnais, or "l'OL" for short is Lyon's soccer team. In 2007 they won their sixth national championship--in a row! There home games are played at Gerland stadium (by metro). Good atmosphere. Tickets from the club shop, 50 metres from the carousel on Rue de la République between H-d-v & Bellecour
  • Parc des Hauteurs Little known park tucked behind Fourvière close to the large tower. Contains aerial adventure course, ski slope and fantastic views towards the Beaujolais.


  • Get lost in the traboules. These intra-building passages link inner courtyards with the streets and are found mainly in "Vieux Lyon" (old Lyon) and on the Croix Rousse hill. They were first made for the use of the "canuts" (silk workers of the late XVIII to mid XIX century) so that the pieces of fabric could be moved from workshop to workshop without being spoiled by rain. They also were used as hiding places during the German occupation by the resistance members. Certain traboules are not open to the public because of security measures, but the city has made a point of keeping the most beautiful ones open during daytime hours.
  • Visit the Old town (Vieux Lyon), which features well preserved medieval and renaissance buildings, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Go on a guided tour of the Croix-Rousse or Vieux Lyon. English speaking guides. Info from the tourist office at Bellcour


Lyon is an important university center. French language courses are available at Inflexyon, Alliance Francaise, Lyon-Bleu, Ecole Interculturelle de Francais. If you look for an immersion programme, you can have a look at ESL schools groups Learn French in Lyon with ESL


Money can be made by giving private English lessons. Most French are keen to speak English. There are some schools which accept non TEFL qualified teachers but obviously a qualification helps. Try Berlitz or Demos. Often a lot of hours and sometimes travelling for not a great reward. There are several anglophone pubs which rely on student servers. Speaking French to a reasonable level is a must, even though bar vocabulary is limited. There is an ANPE next to the Opera on Rue de la Republique. Just go in, you don't have to book and there are lots of job vacancies to be found. Also search for a shelf with black folders on it. They contain details of better paid jobs


'La Part-Dieu' is the biggest shopping mall in France.

Rue de la République, wide pedestrian street north of Bellecour


In the traditional bouchons lyonnais you can usually eat and drink at a good price. Restaurants have their menus with prices displayed outside. The region around Lyon is generally considered to have some of the best food in all of France. For vegetarians, though, the choice might be limited.


  • Chez Mounier: a traditional bouchon with good food for a very reasonable price: a complete menu for 10 euros. Located on the south-east street of the Place Bellecour.
  • Otherwise, kebab shops abound, all with the same price: 4 euros for a kebab, 3.50 for chicken or vegetarian. Look especially near Place des Terreaux (metro Hotel de Ville).
  • Wallace Whisky Bar. 5 minutes across the Saone from Hotel de Ville. Mixture of French & British food. Fish n chips, bacon & egg etc. Prices from 7 euros


  • Le Layon [6] - excellent French cuisine, situated in the center of the old-town, with a great terrace. Typical price 15 - 25 €. The grenouilles are fantastic.
  • Brasserie Georges, 30, cours de Verdun (Located behind Perarache Station), +33 (0)4 72565456, [1]. An exceptional traditional Brasserie, serving traditional food with an Alsacian leaning in a fine interior. A real Art Deco treat. Founded in 1836, with a tradition of high quality service. It also containas a brewery and bar and the interior is worth a look even if you don't want to eat. from 25 to 35 €.


  • Le Nord' - one of Paul Bocuse's 4 brasseries in Lyon, located in the 9eme arrondisement, near the shores of the Saone river. Exquisite meals from €35 onwards.
  • Auberge du Pont de Collonges : Paul Bocuse's restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant of France. 40 Quai de la Plage. Tel 04 72 42 90 90, Fax 04 72 27 85 87. From 100 € onward.


Lyon offers some nice nightlife. A good starting point is Place des Terreaux and then upwards towards the Croix Rousse. In the streets that climb the hill there are many nice places.

  • Albion. 12 rue Sainte Catherine (Place Terreau) [7]. Beer, whisky and rock. "The best pub quiz in Lyon" - Special Music Quiz once a mounth
  • Becs de Jazz nice jazz club open the week-end from 1 a.m. with live jazz and great atmosphere.
  • Phoebus, 22 rue Pouteau, pub with nice live music (African, reggae).
  • L'Abreuvoir, rue de st catherine, just above Terreaux there you can join some crazy French listening to crazy French music. Definitively an experience, though not everyone's cup of tea.
  • Johnny Walsh's, near the Saint Georges Church, nice authentic Irish pub with good music and some live performances.
  • The New Albion, Rue St. Catherine. Scottish pub with every Monday. . Student friendly. Live music most weekends.
  • Wallace, Place Saint Paul, cool whisky bar with a wide range of drinks.
  • St James and The Smoking Dog near the Place Saint Paul.
  • L'Amsterdam, 21 Quai Romain Rolland, nice dutch pub.
  • Le Perroquet Bourré (The Drunk Parrot), 18 Rue Saint Catherine, cheap rhum, the inside is decorated as a pirate ship.

At the quai Albert Augagneur is another centre of Lyon nightlife. Along the Rhone river are several out of duty riverboats (péniches) that serve as nightclubs or bars.

  • Sirius, 21 quai Augagneur, live events almost every day of the week. The week-ends party on two levels. Nice.
  • Fish, 21 Quai Augagneur, another boat, here the house and techno crowd will feel at home.
  • Marquise [8], Quai Augagneur, here you get nice alternative hip-hop, retro soul and other nice stuff. Sometimes theatre performances.
  • River Side, 5 rue St Paul, this is one of the rare places where they play rock music in Lyon. Admission after midnight. Only open on week-ends and before holidays.



  • Hotel Vaubecour, 28 rue Vaubecour (2nd arrondissement), 04 78 37 44 91, [2]. A very simple, but clean and friendly hotel. Near Perrache train station and close to just about everything. Looked the same as always as of June 2004. Under €30.
  • Auberge de Jeunesse de Vieux Lyon (youth hostel), [3]. Belongs to YHA (international youth hostels association). Bunk bed in a dorm plus breakfast for 13 euros (plus fee if not member of YHA). Take the metro to Vieux Lyon station then the funicular to Place des Minimes (otherwise a serious hike up a steep hill). Excellent views over city. Tiny kitchen, extremely limited rooms for couples/families. No telephone bookings.


  • Hotel Victoria, 3, rue Delandine, Lyon 69002 (Behind Perrache Station opposite Brasserie George), (, fax:, [4]. This place is unpretentious and satisfactory. Reasonable value accomodation in a handy location, with a friendly welcome. €45-55.


  • Hotel Sofitel Lyon Bellecour [9], 20, quai Gailleton (2nd arrondissement). Luxury hotel close to the famous Place Bellecour. Large number of meeting rooms for conventions. Phone: (+33)4/72412020.


Most of cybercafes and call shops are in the district of Guillotière, because of the large population of immigrants living there but you will also find cybercafes in the center.

Stay safe

Real security problems in the Lyon center are rare, but as in any big city, be on your guard. Pay attention to your surroundings, try not to go out at night alone, etc.


Get out

  • The car museum of Rochetaillée [10] has a very nice collection of modern and old cars. The main attraction of the museum is the armoured car of Adolf Hitler. Château Rochetaillée, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, Tel: 04 78 22 18 80, Fax: 04 78 22 69 60. Open 9AM-7PM every day in July and August, 9AM-6PM the rest of the year. Closed on Christmas and New Year. Fees: Adults 5 €, free for children under 18.
  • Perouges is a small village at 30 minutes of Lyon. Its buildings all date to the middle ages and it's a popular week-end destination for people who live in Lyon.
  • The bird park of Villars-les-Dombes
  • Vienne and its international jazz festival.
  • The Swiss border and the city of Geneva are just over two hours away by train.
  • Annecy, the Venice de Savoie is about 2 hours away a and makes a nice daytrip.

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