It is almost impossible to describe the Rhone River without mentioning the French city of Lyon. The city is about 2 hours from Paris through the TGV (train) and is a great place to experience France for first-timers in the country. With its closeness to the Alps and a considerable distance from the Mediterranean Sea, Lyon is strategically located to inspire travelers. The city’s landscape is stunning, and everyone should see its spell-binding wonders.
The Rhone and La Sone are its two rivers in Lyon. It is France’s second-largest city, but like many big cities in the country, it is not difficult to visit on foot. That is a reason why you should add Lyon to their France itinerary.
Also Read: Lyon Travel Guide
Here Are Why Lyon is Worth Visiting:
Lyon’s Architecture is a Beautiful Mix of Old and New
Though Lyon is not the biggest of cities, it is filled with old buildings like many famous churches; Saint-Nizier, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This splendid setting is blended with an amazing post-modern style, which reinforces Lyon’s regeneration.
The convergence of the city’s two rivers, La Confluence, used to neglected before assuming one of the continent’s largest regeneration projects. Designed by Coop Himmelblau, the place is now home to the fantastic Musée des Confluences. It is also the host of striking buildings like the Euronews buildings and the Orange Cube.
An Incredible Local Produce
Normandy may be globally renowned for its cheese and Bordeaux for its wine, Lyon is the culinary capital of France. Its selection of local produce is simply brilliant. Despite the scandals of the 2000s, Beaujolais wine is back with a bang with the popular Mâcon and Côtes du Rhône wines, Condrieu and Burgundy are less than an hour from Lyon.
In the same vein, local cheese makes up the items on the supermarket shelves and market stalls. This can be said for the meat selection too. There are lots of popular Lyonnais must-taste to have.
The Cradle of Cinema
A visit to Lyon will afford you the chance to see the birthplace of cinema. The city’s heritage as the cradle of cinema is obvious in the emphasis of film across Lyon’s multiple cinemas and the remarkable Institut Lumière. The institute provides an interesting insight at the birth of film. It has its cinema which hosts the city’s October film festival.
See Roman Ruins
Formerly the seat of Gallic culture, the city’s history is a many-sided masterpiece. Above Lyon is the Roman amphitheater of Fourvière; this is an architectural marvel and a nice place to relax and savor the tastes of Lyon’s founders.
It is also a great spot for a picnic with loved ones while you observe your beautiful surroundings. After Italy, the country has the most Roman amphitheaters in the continent, but the city’s well-preserved charm is unmissable.
The Food is Excellent
Maybe a surprise to many people, the city has more restaurants per capita; than any other French city. The city is famous for its food, and its ratings are immense with popular chefs, with big names like Paul Bocuse, who is referred to as the ‘pope’ of French cooking. Lyon has been praised for the great quality of its products and the richness of its food for years.
The achievements made by highly-rated chefs remain part of the city’s culture, with traditional local restaurants especially plenty on Presqu’île. These satisfying, mostly meat-based, food used to be designed to stuff the stomachs of hungered factory workers after extended shifts. While a few restaurants in the country might gain more attention, the city’s great culinary credential makes it rank higher than other cities and towns.
Formerly serving as a left docklands at the foot of the city’s rivers, La Confluence has drastically morphed into a place worth visiting. Hosting great architecture and international businesses, the development is a blueprint for successful regeneration. Around La Confluence, the streets are crammed with cafes and bars, and dining options.
One of the city’s distinct delights is the collection of wall paintings and other ocular beauties that prettify Lyon. From the Fresque des Lyonnais on the Saône’s banks to the Fresque des Canuts in Croix-Rousse, these treats uniquely mark the city.
The Entryway to The Massive Outdoors
If you are not all about drinking, partying, and more expansive ventures to know Lyon better, the city can also afford the calm you need. About one-fifth of the country’s national parks are found in the city’s area, the Rhône-Alpes, while many regional parks are marked too. Winter and summer both offer several outdoor activities for which the city is easily situated, with mountain climbing, hiking, canoeing, rafting, skiing, biking, etc.
Fête des Lumières
In December, the Fête des Lumières shines throughout Lyon with works from top artists from different parts of the world. This annual festival dates back to 1643 to honor the Virgin Mary. Held for three to four days, Fête des Lumières draws millions of enamored crowds every year.
It is one of the biggest festivals in the city and all of Lyon is turned into a massive screen. There are incredible shows made with light, on all building facades. Residents often place small candles on their window’s edge to celebrate Mary’s statue. This period is the perfect time of the year to stroll around the city because holidaymakers will hardly know the goodness that the best street will reveal.
Nightlife in Lyon is the perfect way to revive your fun life. The city’s nocturnal proclivity is now synonymous with great summer festivals and electronic music scene. Lyon is now furnished with nice experiences for traveler’s ears to savor with Nuits de Fourvière introducing highly-rated international talent. Furthermore, the nightclubs in Lyon, including the Terminal and Le Sucre, offer the liveliest clubbing experiences in the area.
The largest renaissance old quarters are surely worth visiting Lyon for. In the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s, the city’s silk industry was booming; wealthy merchant families from across the country, Flanders, Germany, and Italy, resided in Lyon.
Today, there are about 300 magnificent homes of Italian gothic renaissance and French renaissance styles in the area of Saint-Georges, Saint-Jean, and Saint-Paules. They were all built by wealthy merchant families.
In the 1500s, it was estimated that about 180,000 looms existed in Lyon. One can see the thoughtful ways the silk industry blended with the fabric of the city in Vieux Lyon’s signature traboules.
Lyon’s fascinating cathedral is a mostly gothic construction that was completed in the 1400s. The impressive structure brilliantly joins the list of what is worth seeing in the city. Most of its original stained-glass windows that date back to the 1th-century still stand today. They were torn down and packed away during the Second World War to keep them from the impact of bombings. The most intriguing are the north, south, and west roses with the apse’s lancet. The gigantic clock inside the cathedral, which was installed in the 14th-century, is about 9 m tall.
Is Lyon Worth It? – Summary
For many travelers, the biggest reason to visit Lyon is the incredible range of delicious food that they would not find elsewhere. We would not blame them, though. The city is the culinary capital of the country. Beyond this, Lyonnais is as spectacular as you have seen on YouTube and read on our blog. It deserves multiple visits.