The 3rd largest city in France, Lyon is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is also very famous for its gastronomy, with its world famous chefs. It is also a city that has kept the charm of the past and is full of history. Discover our little guide to the must-see places in Lyon!
The first part of the weekend
The first part of the weekend
The Presqu’Ile discrict
To begin the visit of Lyon, the Presqu’Ile district is one of the must-sees. It is a lively place in the center of Lyon. You will find there the mythical Place Bellecour with the famous equestrian statue of Louis XIV. Did you notice that Louis XIV rides without saddle, without stirrups and barefoot? No need to specify it, he rides Roman style.
And to see the district in panoramic view, the ideal is to take the big wheel located on the square, at a height of 60 meters. It is usually installed from the end of November to the beginning of January during the end of year festivities.
A few steps from here is the famous Fontaines des Jacobins. This square is surrounded by beautiful architectural buildings and large shopping streets.
Also nearby, the pretty old Mercière Street. This colorful and animated dead end is very pleasant to eat or have a drink. There are many typical restaurants called “les bouchons lyonnais” but also many shaded terraces.
Still in the heart of Lyon
A few minutes away from the Fontaine des Jacobins, you will find the large Place des Terreaux and the Bartholdi fountain. A very popular square, for its large sunny terraces. On the east side of the square, the City Hall, the most beautiful historical building in the city. Behind it is the Place de l’Opéra. It is a stone architecture of the 19th century with several steel vaults.
Still on the place des Terreaux, is located the museum of fine arts. A building resulting from a former royal abbey of the 17th century. This museum offers great exhibitions and cultural activities to discover more about art. During the summer season, the small park that accompanies it is one of the few places in Lyon where it is cool.
On the other side of the Saône, less than 30 minutes walk away, is the Vieux Lyon. A very cute little district, with cobblestone streets, small typical and authentic stores.
In the heart of the streets, don’t hesitate to walk through the famous “traboules” in Lyon. These are small passages between the courtyards of buildings, which allow you to move from one street to another. They were used in the Middle Ages to get water because the aqueducts were no longer working.
In Lyon, there are about 500 of them, they are mainly in the district of Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse or the Presqu’Ile.
It is possible to book a guided tour to learn more about the history and secrets of these little hidden corners.
The most famous ones in Vieux Lyon:
- 22 rue du Bœuf, with beautiful pink buildings.
- 54 rue Saint Jean, with long corridors.
- 10 rue Lainerie, with its nice atypical staircases.
In the heart of the district, beautiful monuments are located there such as the Cathedral of St Jean. And at 15 minutes on foot, if you have the courage to climb, you reach the Basilique de Fourvière. The view from the top is incredible, it’s a total panorama on Lyon. Ideally, to be done when the weather is good to be sure that the view is clear and to see the Alps and the Mont Blanc on the horizon!
Second part of the weekend
The hill of the Canuts
In the extension of the Presqu’Ile, we find the hill of the Canuts*. Located in Croix-Rousse, it is the cradle of Lyon’s silk industry. It is in this place that the canuts worked. *The canuts were the workers who worked the textile and silk. In the Musée des Canuts, you can discover the process of silk manufacturing but also the life of the canuts, who marked the city.
A district that mixes creativity and history with many orange facades and graphic elements at every corner. Croix-Rousse is also composed of different spots with a very nice view. There is notably the rise of the Grande Côte. A colorful place with small benches, small cafes and typical stores.
Still in the Croix-Rousse district, many artists come to expose their work in art galleries or in street art on the walls of the corner. The most famous realization is a trompe l’oeil of 1200 square meters which is called the “Fresque des Canuts”. A neighborhood that promises to be colorful!
The Parc de la Tête d’Or in Lyon
The Parc de la Tête d’Or in Lyon is the largest urban park in France covering 117 hectares. It is the landmark of the Lyonnais every weekend. It is composed of different spaces, a botanical garden with greenhouses of exotic plants, lake where you can go pedal boating. There is also a zoo or different spaces to walk, do sports or picnic. There are also areas for children with rides and pony rides for example. It is a very well maintained park with rules and schedules defined according to the seasons.
At the end of the Parc de la Tête d’Or is the cité internationale, a very modern district with its red buildings. It was created by a famous architect, Renzo Piano. This place is divided into several parts and has different spaces: the Lyon Convention Center, an amphitheater, a cinema, a hotel space or the Contemporary Museum and much more.
To see even more…
Go to Confluence, the former industrial district that has been renovated to create new housing, a shopping center and a museum. On the banks of the Rhone River, magnificent modern buildings have been built by renowned architects. It is also possible to take the Vaporetto, a small boat (public transport) to reach Place Bellecour or the Vieux Lyon.