Lyon view from the river

22 Amazing Things to Do In Lyon

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Here Are The Best Things To Do In Lyon France

How can there be so many things to do in Lyon?  We have visited this wonderful city twice and each time find something new and exciting to explore. In fact, it is one of our favourite cities and we like to refer to it as a “little Paris”. It has all the architecture and culture but in our opinion so much more charm.

Highlights of Lyon

Lyon is a thriving metropolitan French city that has been at the crossroads of European trade since the 1st Century BC.  It is strategically located between Northern and Southern Europe in the heart of the Rhône-Alps region and, while it’s the 3rd largest city in France, it comprises the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the country.

View of Lyon from the river

The city was founded in 43 B.C. when the Roman senate wanted a colony to be set up in Gaul.  The chosen site was on what is now Fourviere Hill near the confluence of 2 rivers, the Rhône and the Saône.  They named the new colony Lugdunum.  Over the centuries, through the evolution of language, that name became modern-day Lyon.

Lyon was the most important city in Gaul and has held its importance throughout the millennia.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, Lyon became a prosperous stop on the trade routes between Asia and Europe.  It was to become the capital of the European silk trade and was an important stop on the Silk Routes from the Orient.

As a result of the silk trade, Lyon became an important Renaissance city drawing people and money from the richest parts of Italy and Europe.  The result was an influx of capital, culture, art and ingenuity. And Lyon thrived.

Beauty in Lyon

Today, much of that history and culture is still preserved and that is why there are so many things to do in Lyon.  UNESCO World Heritage Sites, amazing architecture, wonderful street art, and some of the world’s best-tasting food – Lyon has it all.

So, here is our list of 22 amazing things to do in Lyon.

1. Take a Walking Tour

We think taking a Walking Tour of Lyon is the best way to get to know this fabulous city.  Lyon is made for walking.  The major regions – Vieux Lyon, Fourviere Hill, Croix Rousse, Presqu’île, the Confluence, Quail de Rhône and Parc de la Tète d’Or  are all relatively close to one another.

Except for Fourviere (which you can access by funicular) and Croix Rousse, the rest of the districts are relatively flat.  And there are lots of pedestrian areas in Lyon.  The pedestrian boulevards tend to be wide with separate pathways for bikes.  There are also many plazas, parks, and benches to give your feet a rest If you get tired.

Large plazas in Lyon

Each district is rich in history, architecture, art and gastronomy and they all have a different vibe.  This means that you don’t have to walk very far before you come across another great site, sculpture, or photo opportunity.

We have done both guided walking tours and self walking tours in Lyon.  We would recommend doing a guided walking tour of Vieux Lyon and Fourviere Hill because there is so much history and culture here and you really want a local guide to reveal all of its fascinating secrets.  A guide will also take you to some of the most impressive Traboules in the city. 

Traboule in Lyon

We were able to get to all of the places we mention in this blog (with the exception of the Musée Lumière) on foot.

2. Visit Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica

Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica is one of the main attractions in Lyon.  This iconic landmark of the city sits atop the larger of the two hills in Lyon – le Fourviere, is known as the “hill that prays” because of the many churches, convents, and monasteries here.

Basilica of Notre Dame

The church was constructed over a 25-year period, from 1870 to 1895, and was consecrated as a Basilica and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1896.  A gold statue of the Virgin stands near the top of the structure and gazes out over the city watching over her patrons.

Interior of the Basilica

There was some controversy when the Basilica was completed because some said that from below, with its four towers framing the corners of the church, the grand building looked like an elephant lying on its back with its stubby legs sticking up in the air. 

The interior of the Basilica is unique in that there is only one painting that hangs over the main entrance.  All of the walls and ceiling are covered in a richly coloured mosaic that bestows a variety of moods depending on the intensity of the light coming in through the massive stained-glass windows.

Mosaic in the Basilica

Off to one side, there is a flight of stairs known as the Stairs of Wisdom, that lead down to a large chapel and access to the crypt.

Chapel under the Basilica

Around the exterior of the Basilica is a large plaza that offers magnificent views of the city below.  This is definitely one spot in Lyon that you don’t want to pass up.

View from the terrace of the Basilica

3. See the origins of Lyon at the Gallo-Roman Theatres & Museum

Lyon has been heavily influenced by its Roman roots and was once the most important city of the Roman Empire outside of Rome.  It is no wonder then that it has 2 theatres on Fourviere Hill and a partially visible amphitheatre on the hill at Croix Rousse.

The 2 theatres on Fourviere sit side by side and are extremely well preserved.  They were excavated at the beginning of the 20th century and today are used to host concerts and special events. 

Ancient Roman Theatre

The larger of the two theatres, known as the Great Theatre, is built into the side of the hill which was typically done to enhance the acoustics.  This is the oldest and one of the largest theatres in the Roman Gaul.

The smaller theatre, the Odeon, is a rare feature from the Roman Empire and was only bestowed on cities of great importance. Here the people would come to listen to poetry, literature and music.

The theatres on Fourviere Hill are located just a short distance from the Basilica and it is upon this very site that the Roman city of Lugdunum was founded in 43 BC. 

Roman theatre in Lyon

The museum, Lugdunum, takes its name from the original city name for Lyon.  It houses some of the most important historical artifacts of the Roman Empire.  The museum is built in such a way that it is totally inconspicuous and blends naturally into the surrounding landscape.

The whole site, including both theatres and the museum, is designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Definitely a place to stop at if you are visiting Lyon.

4. Ride the Funicular to Fourviere Hill

The Funicular is one of the best ways to get up or down the Fourviere Hill in Vieux Lyon.  It takes about 5 minutes each way and brings you from the south end of Vieux Lyon right to the Basilica de Notre Dame de Fourviere. 

Funicular in Lyon

The Funicular is accessed at the south end of Vieux Lyon.  It is only 290 metres past the Lyon Cathedral on Place St. Jean.  Once you come to the end of Place St. Jean, just continue down Avenue de Doyenné and watch for the Metro sign (blue M) on the right. 

Funicular in Lyon

The cost is quite reasonable too.  We paid 2€ per person.  This gives you access to the funicular for up to one hour, so you have plenty of time to go up, visit the Basilica and make your way back down to the old town on a single ticket. For Fourviere take Line 1.

Fun Fact

The original funicular was used to bring dead bodies from the old town for burial in the cemetery at the top of Fourviere Hill!

5. Wander the streets of Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon, or Old Lyon is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance architecture in Europe.  Not surprisingly it has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vieux Lyon is a wonderful place to stroll and explore.  Cobblestone streets, countless hidden passageways, plazas, and secret passages make this area a delight to wander.

Vieux Lyon

Read our separate blog on all the things to do in Vieux Lyon.

6. Stroll through Presqu’ile

Presqu’île is the nearly flat peninsula that sits between the Saône and Rhône in the middle of Lyon.  It is considered the city centre and contains many of Lyon’s most important attractions.

Presqu'ile

It features the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), the Opera de Lyon, the Bartholdi Fountain, and several museums.  This is also the area that provides some of the finest shopping in Lyon, ranging from local boutiques to luxury designer stores.

Presqu'ile

There are plenty of restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and hotels on Presqu’île.  This is where we stayed on our last visit and it made a great central location to visit the various districts of Lyon.  We were able to do most of our touring on foot because of how centrally located we were on Presqu’île.

7. Visit the Hotel de Ville – 17th Century Architecture

The Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Lyon is one of its most impressive structures in Lyon, and an example of 17th-century architecture.  The original building was constructed from 1646 to 1672, but unfortunately, was partially destroyed by fire shortly afterward in 1674.

Hotel de Ville

A second construction was designed and built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the same architect who designed the Palace at Versailles and the Dôme des Invalides in Paris.

Back of the Hotel de Ville

Fire struck the building once more in 1803 and it was reconstructed shortly thereafter. 

Hotel de Ville

Today, the stately Hotel de Ville is the highlight of the Place de Terreux flanked by the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Bartholdi Fountain.

8. See the Musée des Beaux Arts

Situated in the heart of Lyon in the Presqu’île region, between the Rhône and the Saône, this imposing Renaissance-style building was originally a 17th-century Benedictine Abbey.

It was designated a museum towards the end of the French Revolution and housed paintings, sculptures, medals, and other historical artifacts.

Musee des Beaux Arts

Le Musée des Arts went through an extensive renovation in the 1990s.  The museum now houses collections in 70 different rooms.  The collections include exhibits of the Antiquities, Art, Coins and Medals, Paintings, Sculptures and Graphic Arts.

One of its most interesting collections is the Antiquities section.  The Musée des Beaux Arts focuses on Egyptian, Near and Middle Eastern, Greek and Roman artifacts – all cultures that heavily influenced current day Lyon.

9. Behold the Bartholdi Fountain

The Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon is a stunning sculpture of a woman riding a chariot being pulled by 4 magnificent horses.  The Bartholdi Fountain was built by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in 1888, the same man who built the Statue of Liberty in 1886 as a gift to the United States.

The Bartholdi Sculpture and Fountain has an interesting history. It was originally commissioned by the City of Bordeaux, which had held a competition in 1857 for a new fountain in Place Quinconces.  Bartholdi won the competition, but the city decided not to move forward with the project.   At least not then!

Bartholdi Fountain

When Bartholdi built the famous Statue of Liberty in New York in 1886, Bordeaux suddenly had renewed interest in getting Bartholdi to build the fountain!  He finished the Fountain in 1888 but by then Bordeaux thought the project too expensive and didn’t pay him. 

The City of Lyon, a rival city to Bordeaux, decided that they would like to have the statue and fountain in their city, so they bought it and had it transferred to its current location in the Place des Terreaux in 1892.

So that leads to some interesting discussion on what exactly the famous statue represents. 

Some say that the woman on the horse Is Marianne who represents the embodiment of the French Revolution and that the four horses are the four main rivers of France – the Loire, the Seine, the Garonne, and the Rhône.

Bartholdi fountain

Another version suggests that the sculpture has a totally different meaning.  The woman is actually the Garonne River in Bordeaux, and the chariot is the city of Bordeaux itself.  The four fierce-looking horses represent the 4 tributaries that flow into the Garonne River.

We are kind of leaning toward the second version of the story since France actually has 5 main rivers (the first version of the story leaves out the Rhine) and it would make sense for the symbolism of the statue to represent Bordeaux since that is the city it was built for.  But we will leave you to your own conclusion!

Interesting Fact

The fountain was finished in 1888 and put on display at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in Paris – the same World’s Fair where the Eiffel Tower was erected and put on display!

10. Check out the Opera de Lyon – National Opera

The Opera de Lyon is one of the most striking buildings in the city and is easily recognizable because of its unique blend of Renaissance and Modern architecture. 

Opera de Lyon

The Opera is located on Presqu’île, not far from the Hôtel de Ville.  The original Opera was built in 1756 and 80 years later was reconstructed because the original opera house was considered too small. 

A subsequent renovation was completed in 1993 where the existing Opera house was used as the basis for the new structure.  The result was a mix of old and new architecture. 

Entrance to the Opera de Lyon

The building was doubled in height by adding a steel and glass half-barrel addition to the top of the original structure.  It is quite an interesting yet pleasing effect which increased the size and functionality of the Opera.

11. Walk around Place Bellecour

Located near the geographical centre of Lyon on Presqu’île, Place Bellecour is the 3rd largest square in France.  Moreover, it is the largest pedestrian-only square in all of Europe measuring 6 hectares.

Place Bellecour is also mile 0 for all roads in Lyon.  All distances in the city are measured from this point.  It is the cross-section of the 4 major boulevards of Lyon: Rue de la Republique, Rue Victor Hugo, Rue du Plat and Rue du Président Édouard Herriot.

Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour is surrounded by luxury shops, the tourist office is located here and one of the most prestigious hotels in Lyon, Hotel Le Royal Lyon-Mgallery.

At the centre of Place Bellecour there is a large equestrian statue of King Louis the XIV. The square is referred to as the Red Square of Lyon, coined from the reddish sand that covers most of the area of Place Bellecour. 

Place Bellecour

Based on its central location, immense size, and historical significance it hosts a series of events throughout the year.  In winter a skating rink is erected as well as a large ferris wheel.  It is also a popular location for protests and demonstrations, markets, and cultural festivals.

12. Relax in Parc de la Tête d’Or

Parc de la Tête d’Or (Golden Head) is truly one of Lyon’s hidden gems!  This immense green park is located completely within the city limits of Lyon at the north end of the city. 

Parc de la Tete d'Or

The large pie-shaped park follows the contours of the Rhone and encompasses 117 hectares (290 acres) of land making it the largest urban park in France (there is a park in Paris that is bigger but is not contained within the city limits). 

Fun Fact

Parc de la Tête d’Or was built in 1861, the same year as New York’s Central Park was built. 

It contains several sections including a zoological garden, botanical garden, rose garden, Asian forest, and a children’s play area with rides.

Botanical garden

There are massive lawns throughout the park and a lake that takes up nearly 1/3 of the park’s space. 

Parc de la Tete d'Or walking paths

The Zoological garden alone covers 8 hectares and is home to some 400 animals.  There is a 3 hectare section of the zoo that is dedicated to the African plains and here you can see giraffes, zebras, lemurs, watusis and other species. This reminded us of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

Giraffes at the zoo in Parc d'Or Tete

Parc de Tête D’Or is a great place to spend the day.  On our visit, there were countless people running or biking on the dedicated trails throughout the park. Others were just relaxing in the Zen-like gardens.  Many were meandering around the Botanical gardens and zoo while families were enjoying the many activities in the play area. 

This park really has something for everyone.  It is free and easy to get to from anywhere in Lyon, so it is a place to consider on your stay here.

13. Glimpse the future in the Confluence Neighbourhood, Mall and Museum

The Confluence district in Lyon stands in stark contrast to its neighbour, le Vieux Lyon, across the Saône.  Whereas Vieux Lyon is a bastion of Roman to Renaissance history and culture, La Confluence represents the future.

The Confluence is the juncture of the Rhône and Saône rivers at the southern tip of the Lyon peninsula.  This area was once a hub of industry including manufacturing and water transportation. 

Confluence Mall

Today it is in the midst of a massive urban renewal project.  The modern architecture, exemplified by the Confluence Mall and the Musée des Confluence is both futuristic and eco-friendly.

The Confluence Mall is the first in France that has a roof made from a chemical-free mineral that allows 90% of the light to pass through. 

The Musée des Confluence is an architectural marvel that focuses its exhibits on the history of life and humanity.  The design is based on the connection between nature and culture. 

Confluence Museum

On the outside, it has no main façade, but instead has many different angles and shapes and looks totally different depending on where you are viewing it from.  We took a boat trip along the Saône and were able to see it from different viewpoints.  It is truly a stunning structure and well worth visiting.

14. Enjoy La Croix Rousse Neighbourhood

La Croix Rousse (the Red Cross) is a historically significant neighbourhood that sits on a hill in the north part of the city. 

If you were to ask what is Lyon is famous for, one of the first answers would be silk.  For centuries Lyon was the centre of France’s silk industry and Croix Rousse is where the Canuts (silk workers) established their workshops. 

For this reason, the neighbourhood is referred to as the “hill that works”.  This is in contrast to Fourviere Hill upon which the Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica stands which is referred to as the “hill that prays”.

Croix Rousse

The tall buildings that contained the workshops were situated all over the hill. The windows in the buildings were quite large and the ceilings were high to accommodate the size of the looms.  The size of the windows, coupled with the elevation of the hill, provided unobstructed light so the weavers could work as late in the day as possible.

Today, Croix Rousse is a bustling residential and cultural part of the city.  The Montée de la Grande Côte is a terraced street that has existed since the Middle Ages and part of which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Its gradient slope takes you from Place des Terreux, near Hôtel de Ville at the bottom to the lower Croix Rousse plateau near the top of the hill.

Montee de la Grande Cote

Along both sides of the street are cafés, shops and restaurants interspersed with plazas and gardens. And like Vieux Lyon, there are many traboules that link to other streets and buildings in Croix Rousse.  

Croix Rousse

There is a real sense of community vibe and village feeling here and while the walk up the hill may be challenging, it is the prettiest street in all of Lyon.

15. Marvel at The Murals of Lyon

If you love great street art, then Lyon will surely impress you.  There are fabulous frescoes and murals on buildings all around the city. 

The Murals of Lyon are great works of urban art, mostly done by a group of artists from CitéCréation, a Lyon company that has over 80 craftsmen who have enveloped buildings in Lyon with their artistic flare.  They have been so popular that other cities around the world have commissioned CitéCréation to beautify their cities for nearly 40 years.

While there are dozens of buildings in Lyon that have been rejuvenated by this wonderful art form, we focused on a few in the Presqu’île and Croix Rousse region.

The Fresque des Lyonnaise

This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lyon.  The building is covered on 2 adjoining sides with a fantastic fresco that depicts 24 historic figures from Lyon along with 6 contemporary figures. 

Fresque des Lyonnaise

Each character is portrayed in a window or balcony on the building with the contemporary figures being on the lower floors as if they are interacting with the people on the streets.

Fresque des Lyonnaise

The three-dimensional effect of the fresco is quite fascinating and brings the building and its characters to life.  What is truly amazing is that the building itself is completely windowless. The mural is located at 2 rue de la Martinière.

Le Mur des Canuts

This is the largest fresco in Europe at 1200 m2.  It represents the silk worker’s life in the 19th and 20th centuries in Croix Rousse. 

Le Mur des Canuts

The original fresco was created in 1987 and has been updated in 1997 and in 2013.  Each iteration keeps part of the original but makes modifications to show the changing times of Lyon. 

Le Mur des Canuts

This spectacular mural has many elements, both old and new.  The façade highlights different buildings each very distinct from one another.

Le Mur des Canuts

The mural depicts an immense staircase rising between two buildings and up the hill of Croix Rousse to other buildings in the distance.  The overall effect is eerily realistic and lifelike. You can find it at 36 boulevard des Canuts.

Insider Tip

Be sure to look for the plaques just to the side of the building where it shows the before and after stages of the building.

La Bibliothèque de la Cité

This mural is located on the banks of the Saône in Presqu’île.  The mural is painted on the side of a tall narrow building on a street corner.  The bottom of the mural depicts a library café and lobby while the upper floors resemble bookcases framed by windows. 

Bibliotheque de la Cite mural

The books that are shown represent authors and works from Lyon and the Rhône region.

This was one of our favourite pieces with the enormous books bursting from the windows that acted like shelves. Such a clever design. Check it out at 6 rue de la Platière.

Bibliotheque de la Cite mural

Les Routes de la Soie

Translates to the Silk Roads is a lesser-known mural near the top of the Croix Rousse.  It is in the specific area where the silk workers plied their daily trade.  Aside from the very Oriental style of the murals, there is also a sketch of the actual routes from the Orient to Lyon that were followed by the merchants.

Les Routes de la Soie mural

This one is located in a residential area at 3 rue Carquillat.

16. Sail on a Saône river cruise

Because of the layout of Lyon, largely along the banks of 2 rivers (the Rhône and the Saône), a really great way to get an overview of the city is to take a 1-hour Saône River Cruise.

Soane river cruise

Most cruises follow the Saône because this gives you a glimpse of several key districts in Lyon including Vieux Lyon, Croix Rousse and Presqu’île.

view from the river Soane

You will receive running commentary in English and French on the history and culture of this ancient city as well as a look into the future as Lyon envisions an eco-friendly re-urbanization in the Confluence district.

Soane river cruise

Some of our best photos of Lyon were taken from our river cruise along the Saône.  You can get great angles of Vieux Lyon, Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica, le Musée Confluence and of course, the confluence itself, where the Rhône and the Saône meet.

Views from the Soane river cruise

17. Take a stroll on the Quais du Rhône

We did a lot of walking in Lyon.  And one of the best places to walk is on a specially constructed group of paths, streets, parks and quais known as the Quais du Rhône.

Quai du Rhone

The Quais du Rhône was constructed over a period of 2 years in the early 2000s and then added on to in 2012 and 2013.  The city effectively converted parking spaces on both banks of the Rhône River into an area of relaxation and outdoor activities for walkers, cyclists, and families.

The Quais du Rhône is quite extensive, covering more than 10 hectares (25 acres) and over 6 kilometres (4 miles) along the right bank of the Rhône from Parc de la Tête d’Or at the north end of the city to Parc de Gerland at the Confluence in the south.

The pathways along the Quais du Rhone are wide and relatively flat.  There is plenty of greenery on the pathways with intermittent play areas for kids.  There is also lots of room to accommodate both leisurely walkers out for a stroll and more energetic runners and cyclists of which there are plenty.

Quai du Rhone

The Quais du Rhône is a perfect way to enjoy being outside along the banks of one France’s great rivers in a beautiful and historic city.

18. Watch a film at Musée Lumière

The Musée Lumière is in the eastern part of Lyon and about 3.5 kms from the city centre on Presqu’île.  It is a relatively modern museum compared to other museums in Lyon, but also has a special purpose and significance.

The Musée Lumière is named after Auguste and Louis Lumière, the brothers who invented cinematography in 1895.  The museum is housed in the Chateau Lumière, where the brothers grew up and contains many of the artifacts that were used in the original production of films.

The original workshops have been preserved and the collection includes some very rare film footage and equipment.  One of the original laboratories has been converted into a large cinema hall where classic and rare films are screened daily.

19. Eat the most famous Food in Lyon

What food is famous in Lyon?  Well, since Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France, there are several and we have tried many of them!

✦ Let’s start with Quenelle.  This is one of our favourite dishes when we come to Lyon.  Quenelle is a fish-based dish that is mixed with breadcrumbs and an egg binding.  The mixture is typically shaped like an oval before it is poached in a cream sauce or broth.  The dish is very delicate when done properly and has the consistency of a fine soufflé.

Quenelle

✦ Another famous Lyon dish is Salade Lyonnaise.  This is made from bitter greens such as arugula or frisée, crispy bacon, dijon based vinaigrette and topped with a warm, runny egg.  While it is relatively simple in ingredients, it is quite tasty and makes for a light side dish.

Salade Lyonnaise

✦ Saucisson de Lyon is also very common at restaurants in Lyon, especially at lunch.  It is a cured sausage usually made with pork (sometimes mixed with veal or beef).  It tends to be much leaner than most sausage and goes well with cheese and wine.

Saucisson de Lyon

✦ Pralines are another famous Lyonnaise food, and you will find them in stores and candy shops all over Lyon.  While you will find pralines in various parts of France, the ones in Lyon are unmistakable – they are always a bright pink colour and are often referred to as praline roses.

Pralines of Lyon are made from a mixture of sugar, nuts, and vanilla, unlike the Belgian praline which are made with chocolate.  You can buy them in bags to be eaten as a snack. 

Praline products

Most bakeries will offer pralines coated on the top of pastries.  Restaurants often have a praline pie as their specialty dessert.  One of our favourite treats is a sweet brioche that has pralines cooked inside and sprinkled on top.  Decadent and delicious!

20. Stroll the Marché Sainte-Antoine Celestins

If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a good old local food market, then be sure to visit the Marché Sainte-Antoine Celestins.  This traditional farmer’s market is located in Presqui’île along the east bank of the Saône River and is open every day (except Monday) from 6:00am and closes at 1:00pm on weekdays and 1:30pm on weekends.

The weekend markets (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) are the largest with nearly 150 vendors selling everything including fruits, vegetables, cheese, fresh meat, charcuterie meats, household items and crafts.  The weekday markets are more subdued with about 50 vendors mostly selling produce.

The Marche de Saint Antoine is one of the best things to do in Lyon

It is an easy market to navigate as the vendors are set up on either side of the pedestrian boulevard that runs along the Saône River.

21. Feast at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Want to know another great place to eat in Lyon? Try the food at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. It is an upscale indoor food market that exemplifies why Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of France.

Les Halles de Lyon

This three-story complex of over 13,000 m2 features butchers, bakers, cheesemongers, chocolatiers, fishmongers, wine vendors as well as a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are several excellent restaurants located throughout the market, most focusing on traditional Lyonnaise cuisine as well as the mainstay oyster bars.

Oysters at Les Halles de Lyon

The structure was built in 1971 when the original indoor market that had been operating for more than a hundred years on Presqu’île was moved here.  It is located in the Part Dieu district near the train station.  We came directly here from the train station on our arrival in Lyon in order to have lunch.  Glad we did!

Les Halles de Lyon

The indoor market achieved international status when it was endorsed by Paul Bocuse and took on his name.  Paul Bocuse, a Lyonaisse celebrity chef was known as the “Pope of Gastronomy”.  He started a cooking contest in Lyon called the Bocuse d’Or which became the most famous in the world.

22. Drink at Les Péniches

As you walk along the banks of the Rhône River you will notice a number of barges docked on the east side, many decorated with lights, lush gardens and café style tables.  These are les Péniches de Lyon and they are a great place to stop in for a relaxing drink or enjoy an al fresco meal.

Les Peniches

They are quite popular with locals and tourists alike.  While you will find quite a few on the east side of the Rhône, there are also a few on the banks of the Saône in the Confluence neighbourhood.

FAQs

How Long Do You Need In Lyon?

Lyon is a fascinating city and has much to offer visitors. You could see many of the sights in two days but if you really want to enjoy your time, check out the museums, and relax in the squares over leisurely meals, then we recommend three to four days.

Lyon City Card

The tourist office of Lyon offers a City Card which provides excellent value. It can be purchased for differing lengths of time depending on your needs. Included is unlimited access to public transit, free entrance for many museums, a sightseeing cruise on the Soane and a complimentary city tour.

Where To Stay in Lyon

During our last time in Lyon we stayed at the Hotel Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts. This property is located in the Presqu’ile area and we found it to be a great location. The hotel has clean, comfortable rooms and all the basic amenities that you would need for your stay. And the staff onsite were very helpful.

Room at Hotel Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux Arts

For another hotel located in the Presqu’ile area with more services, consider Boscolo Lyon Hotel and Spa. This property has spacious, air-conditioned rooms with views of the Rhone River, an onsite restaurant, and a pool!

Where to Eat in Lyon

Be sure to visit a Bouchon. This is a style of restaurant famous in Lyon that serves traditional dishes. There is a special designation for authentic Bouchon restaurants that are recognized and they will also display the authorized logo seen below.

Logo for authentic Bouchon restaurants

We tried one of the Bouchon locations on the list and really enjoyed our meal. The restaurant Le Bouchon des Cordeliers had a great ambiance, very friendly serving staff and provided authentic, tasty dishes (all our favourites at a reasonable price). We would definitely eat here again.

Outside of Le Bouchon des Cordeliers
Inside Le Bouchon des Cordeliers

The Final Word…There Are Many Things To Do In Lyon!

Is Lyon worth visiting?  Well, in case you haven’t realized it by now, Lyon is our favourite city in France.  While we love Paris, there is just something special about Lyon that keeps us coming back. 

Not only is it the gastronomical capital of France, but it is also in the middle of one of France’s best-known wine regions -the Rhône valley.  It has a rich history, and fascinating Roman and Renaissance architecture and there are just so many things to see in Lyon!  On top of that, it is a great city to walk in.

Put Lyon on your bucket list.  You won’t regret it.

Our selfie in Lyon