Lyon can be said to be very famous but simultaneously strange to people. Lyon is France’s third largest city and it’s the capital of food. Many tourists come to France just for Paris, Nice, Provence but not Lyon. We try to tell you by this list that there is a beautiful city called Lyon that is worth coming. In Lyon, you can take a walk in the old town; look for medieval houses; take a cable car to the top of Fourvière; visit the magnificent Cathedral of Notre – Dame; overlook the beautiful old town; cross the Saône (Saône) to Bellecour Plaza, Terreaux Square, and seek traces of the textile industry from the north to the Croix Rousse. For those who like visiting the museum, the Lumière Museum, the Lyon Museum of Art, and the Gadagne Museum are all highly recommended. There is also the Golden Head Park on the east side of Rhône (Rhône), the largest urban park in France. In addition, if you cross the streets in Lyon, you will meet different surprises everywhere. Come on, set off to Lyon.
1. Old Lyon
Part of the Old Lyon (also called the Saint-Jean district) date back to the Middle Ages, while others date back to the Renaissance. It’s one of Lyon’s historic districts. The area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, with its cobbled streets, magnificent cathedrals and a variety of museums. Here you will also find Lyon’s signature restaurant ‘bouchon’. Here are a few of the tourist attractions that should not be missed in the Old Lyon district:
- The Gadagne museum : This museum is housed in a magnificent Renaissance building and has been listed as a historical monument. The museum specializes in Lyon and the Puppet Art Museum from ancient times to the present. The famous Guignol is from Lyon! After visiting the museum, please don’t hesitate to rest in the sky garden of Gadagne. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10:30 and 18:30.
- The Miniature and Cinema Museum : If you love movies, you will love this museum. You’ll see more than a hundred realistic miniature scenes and all the special effects techniques used before computer image processing. Opening hours are Monday to Friday: 10:00 – 18:30, Saturday to Sunday: 10:00 – 19:00.
- The Saint-Jean Cathedral: It is one of the oldest religious relics of the Byzantine era. It is also a must-see building in Old Lyon, especially its 14th century astronomical clock is one of the oldest clocks in Europe.
- Ancient court with 24 pillars decorating its facade.
Lyon’s Traboules (labyrinth alleys) are worth visiting because they are definitely one of Lyon’s specialties. People can visit the biggest alleys in Old Lyon District, and some in the Croix Rousse area. The alley in Lyon is a crosswalk through houses and buildings, making it easier to cross one street from another. There are hundreds of architectures which are very unique and surprising. You can explore the traboules on your own, but you risk meeting the temporary close of some alleys; you can also follow a guide so that you don’t miss out on any of the most famous alleys. The most famous and photographed are the Cour des Voraces (located at Colbert Square) and the Rose Tower (16 rue du Bœuf) in Old Lyon. If you want to cross the longest alley in Lyon, please go to 54 rue Saint-Jean! Remember to keep quiet while crossing the alley because there are still residents.
From Saint-Jean district, there is a large staircase leading to the Fourvière mountain, one of the best places to visit in Lyon. Climbing a building may take time and be tiring, you can also choose to take the funicular. The small ‘cable car’ departs from the Old Lyon Metro Station. At the top of the hill, you will admire the panoramic view of Lyon, with the backdrop of the Alps and Mont Blanc. You will also see Fourvière cathedral which is a symbol of the religious history of Lyon. The exterior of it is quite normal, but the interior is decorated in a gorgeous style. Next to the cathedral is a communication tower called the “Little Eiffel Tower”, which is really a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower. In the same area, you can also visit the ruins of the ancient Roman theatre that is a great place to enjoy the sunset and visit the Gallo-Roman Museum.
4. Ancient Roman Theater
Located on the hills of Fourvière behind the Old Lyon, the Ancient Roman Theater was built around 43 BC and is one of the oldest Roman theatres in France. In the 15th century BC, there were 11,000 seats in the theater space. In the 100th year of the AD, the music station could accommodate 3000 spectators. The archaeological scholars in Lyon have studied and reconstructed the stage structure that can enhance the sound at that time, and its scaled-down model is displayed in the museum. The music station is still well preserved, and you can visit here to enjoy the sunset and the city of Lyon. In 1975, the theater also built a museum of collection of Lyon-Gaul-Roman. So in addition to enjoy the most abundant artifacts of Gallo-Roman in France, to understand the influence of Roman culture on Gaul, you can also participate in outdoor performances such as concerts, operas and so on.
5. Bellecour Plaza
Bellecour Plaza is the best location for the reunion in Lyon. Whether you want to shop, watch a movie or want to sit in the bar, you can start from Bellecour Plaza, which is the absolute city center. This huge clay square is recognized as the largest pedestrian plaza in Europe, with a magnificent view of the Fourvière Mountain and a gateway to shopping. In the center of the square, you can also see the statue of Louis XIV on horse (built in 1713 to commemorate the Sun King), as well as the statue of the little prince and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you come to Lyon in winter, you can take the Ferris wheel in the square and explore the lights of the entire city. There is also an ice rink at Christmas. Of course, it is a bit cold in winter.
6. The Golden Head Park
Located in the 6th district of Lyon, the Golden Head Park is the largest park in the city and an ideal place for outdoor activities. It used to be a royal park. The park has an antique-grade carousel, a luxurious tropical plant, a rose garden donated by Napoleon’s wife Josephine, and a giraffe-based African zoo. Many sportive people jog or ride a bicycle in the park. If you visit Lyon with your family, then you have to go to the Golden Head Park, and your child will love it.
7. The wall painting
Lyon has a lot of wall paintings that vividly depict the scenes of life, so it is also the capital of Europe’s famous wall paintings.
- Textile workers wall painting: In Old Lyon, there are about 150 colorful, lifelike wall paintings. The huge wall painting ‘La Croix Rousse’ covers an area of 1,200 square meters. The windows, balconies, figures, flowers and plants are so real and very three-dimensional! This large-scale wall painting recreates the prosperous life scene of Lyon as the capital of silk in the same way as the textile workers who lived and worked there.
- Lyon celebrity wall painting: The Lyon celebrity wall painting on the side of the Saône River is 800 square meters, which is arguably Lyon’s most famous wall painting. Historically, 24 Lyon and 6 French celebrities have appeared on this painting, like a celebrity stage that has crossed the long river of history.
- Other wall paintings in Lyon: As a kind of street art, in fact, you can see many wall paintings or murals of various subjects. From the wall paintings of the giant kitchen god Paul Bocuse behind the food market to the open-air wall painting museum designed by young architects in the Lyon 8 district, 25 large-scale wall paintings embodying the culture of the five continents are concentrated which are of different styles! There are wall paintings involved by Chinese artists of the Shanghai Subject, which is worth a look.
Located at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône rivers, the confluence area has been completely renovated and is currently the modern district of Lyon. In the confluence area, the confluence museum couldn’t be missed. The museum has futuristic architecture, located on the banks of the Rhone. There is a permanent exhibition about the history of life, about death and about society and civilization. The museum is very lively with interesting exhibitions and clear explanations.
9. The Light Festival
If you are going to Lyon on or around December 8, don’t miss the annual festival. This festival has a long history and has been held annually since 1852 and attracts millions of visitors. Initially, this festival was to celebrate Mary’s elimination of the popular plague in Lyon. Today, whether you are a believer or not, the festival is definitely worth enjoying.
10. Barbe Island
Barbe Island is located in the Saône River which is in the northern suburbs of Lyon. The name evolved from the original Latin barbara. It is a mysterious island and is listed as a French historical and cultural heritage. There is a church called Romane Notre-Dame, and the French Michelin restaurant famous for its cuisine.
Have you been attracted by these different surprises after reading this article? Maybe you will come to Lyon in several days? Don’t hesitate to take our pocket wifi for sharing your excellant travel with your family and friends!