A weekend in Lyon – A locals guide to the hidden gems of a beautiful French city

View of Lyon - Image credit Flickr Serge Vincent

Lyon is the second largest metropolitan area in France, and is the capital city of the Rhône-Alpes region, but the most important fact about Lyon is that this city is the best place in France!

Lyon is well-known for being the capital of gastronomy in France, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to it’s remarkable historical and architectural monuments. The city centre of Lyon is quite small so it’s a great destination for a weekend, because you can visit almost everything by walking or taking the public transports.

Lyon is my hometown and I have been living there for 21 years, so if you want to spend a nice weekend in this beautiful city, follow my advices!

This is the list of the places you must go during your weekend, some of them are really famous, but I also give you my favourites local addresses:

Fourviere - Image credit: Fidber Flickr Creative Commons
Basilica of Fourviere – Image credit: Flickr Fidber

One of the main monument is Lyon is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which was built between 1872 and 1884. The architecture of this huge basilica is a mix between Romanesque and Byzantine influences and there is a lot of mosaics and stained glass. Even if the Basilica itself is a beautiful place to visit, the most important thing is just to look at the amazing view of the entire city  that the dominating position of Fourvière offers. If you go on the terrace you will be at the top of the Fourvière hill and you will be able to all the city below you.

Jardin des curiosites - Image credit : Flickr Laurent Guerry
Jardin des curiosites – Image credit : Flickr Laurent Guerry

If you want to continue your visit of Fourvière neighbourhood, I advice you to have a nice picnic in the cutest garden in Lyon: the Jardin des Curiosités, also known under the name Parc Abbé Larue. This place is quite hard to find: once you’re on the Place Abbe Larue, walk along the parking and by the end of it there is a big green portal and the entrance is right there (map here). It’s a very quiet place where you can also enjoy one of the most breathtaking view of the city. Bring some food, some drinks and a few friends and come just before sunset and I promise you that you’ll spend an unforgettable moment.

Vieux Lyon - Image credit: Flickr Marc Lecocq
Vieux Lyon – Image credit: Flickr Marc Lecocq

The old town of Lyon, known as Vieux Lyon in French, the nicest district in the city. I would just advice you to have a walk in the tiny streets, visit the Cathedral Saint Jean, and appreciate the architecture and the bright colors of the buildings. Also you should definitely have lunch or dinner in a typical Bouchon Lyonnais (lyonnaise cuisine restaurant). There is so many of them in this area so feel free to try anyone but my best address is Daniel et Denise.

Berges du Rh^one - Image credit: Guerric Flickr Creative commons
Berges du Rhone – Image credit:  Flickr Guerric

Once your stomach is full, what about doing a bit of sport? In Lyon there is bike rental stations (Velo’v) almost everywhere so just take one and ride along the quay of the Rhône river (Berges du Rhone in French) . The section between the Pont de la Guillotière and the Parc de la Tête d’Or is the best one because there is a nice bike lane along the river. The quay is also a famous place to hang out with friends during sunny days, and if you are looking for more green spaces go to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, the biggest garden in Lyon in which there is a zoo, a lake and a lot of trees and plants.

Place bellecour - Image credit : Flickr Claude Schildknecht
Place bellecour – Image credit : Flickr Claude Schildknecht

Last but not least, you definitely have to go to the Place Bellecour, one of the largest open-square in Europe (62 000 m2). In the middle of the square there is an impressive statue of the king Louis the XIVth riding a horse. During winter there is a huge Ferris wheel on the square, and if you go up there by night it is really beautiful to look at all the lights of the city. Otherwise the Place Bellecour forms the central focus of the peninsula between the Saône and the Rhône, the two rivers of the city. The peninsula (Presqu’île in French) is the very city center in Lyon, so in this neighbourhood there is many shops, cafés, restaurants, museums…

I hope that you all want to go and visit my city now!



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