What to see in Lyon
What can I see in Lyon in 1 or 2 days, up to 3 days? Itineraries, attractions, ticket prices and excursions 2022. Eurotraveler.ru found out how to travel to Lyon and where to stay and what to see around it.
Lyon is the second largest city in France, according to the French themselves – the culinary capital of the country. However, in the ratings of tourist preferences it is not in the top places.
With ease it yields to Paris and Nice and Marseille. What to say, if a trip for a couple of days in Bordeaux is considered a much more promising pastime than a visit to Lyon.
But for some reason the old center of this city was included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites, right? And here is the famous “Festival of Light” – December 8, almost on the eve of Christmas!
And the panoramic view from the Fourvière hill of Lyon, from the basilica, can be called a model in the global sense – so it’s good. And… but first of all!
We try to keep cool by curbing the excitement. And act according to a detailed plan!
What to see in Lyon – 1 day
The district of Saint Jean, the old town, where even against the will of every true traveler you are used to go, is a bit far from the main railway station of Lyon. So gentlemen arriving from Paris will have to be particularly careful in planning their sightseeing itinerary.
We, for example, recommend to start sightseeing in Lyon from the fashionable island district of Presquille, territorially closest to the railway. Walking there is not an option either – the distance is about 3 km.
Exit is simple and logical – we take local subway. Take the blue line, change to green line and get out at the station Belecour. A single ticket costs 1.9 €, daily unlimited ticket – 6 €: www.tcl.fr/en/fares/.
The elegant Belecourt square with its monument to Louis XIV and beautiful 19th century buildings is impressive. Its northern side overlooks the Fourvière hill with its basilica. On the southeastern side is a huge complex which once housed what was probably the largest hospital in France, the Hôtel-Dieu.
The building was greatly expanded in the 17th century, under Cardinal Richelieu. The main facade, looking out over the Rhone, dates back to the middle of the XVIII century.
Lyon City Hall is two metro stops away on the red line. It’s a pretty building from Louis XIV era with its main facade overlooking Place de Terreau.
The monumental fountain created by Frederic Bartholdi, the creator of the famous Statue of Liberty, is a decoration of the square. At first, however, it was planned to be installed in Bordeaux.
But, as a widespread anecdote goes, the Lyonsians simply stole the fountain from a transit train. Where the train passed and why it passed through the Rhone valley at all – the legend is silent.
The old city
Then it’s time to go to Vieux-Lyon. Or – in view of late time (fast train from Paris takes not less than 2 hours, regular – all 5) – leave it for tomorrow. And just go up the Fourvière hill to admire the evening view and see the legendary local Notre Dame basilica.
We go down to the metro, change trains to Vieux Lyon station, get off, take the funicular (ticket valid for an hour, pass – a day!), go up.
Notre Dame de Fourvière is not an old building, but it is steeped in History! In the chapel on the hill, Queen Anne of Austria prayed to Our Lady for the birth of an heir. And in 1643, a prayer service held here saved the city from a plague epidemic.
In 1870 Our Lady was not deaf to the request of the inhabitants to stop the advance of the victorious Prussian army. Today’s basilica, designed by Pierre Bossant, is the embodiment of the citizens’ gratitude for the miracle.
At this point, it’s time to call it a day. On the way we praised ourselves for discretion and a booked hotel room – there’s no way to see the whole of Lyon in 1 day!
Lyon’s most atmospheric quarter, Saint-Jean, is the place for a leisurely stroll. The maze of narrow cobblestone streets and quiet little courtyards is best explored in the company of a knowledgeable guide. Otherwise you’ll be spellbound, but you probably won’t discover much!
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the main architectural dominant of the old city. Its altarpiece faces the Rhone. Its facade, which evokes the nostalgia of Notre Dame in Paris, faces the square of the same name.
In your wanderings, try not to miss the traboules. Narrow passageways, right through the buildings, connect the streets and alleys. In Lyon there are about 500 of them. And the longest one connects four buildings! It is not so easy to find the traboules – most of them are closed with doors.
After a wander around the neighborhood, it is worth getting to the local Museum of Gallo-Roman civilization, nestled on the ruins of two ancient theaters. Is it possible not to learn something about the time when Lyon, under the name Lugdunum, was the capital of the whole Roman province of Gaul? Important information about opening hours: lugdunum.grandlyon.com/en/Useful-information/Opening-hours-and-rates.
The third and (apparently?) final day in Lyon we recommend to devote to… no, not to museums. Much better to explore the surroundings.
For an example, an excursion to Pérouge. It’s so exquisitely old, in fact, that there are no buildings younger than XVI century. And it’s only a 40-minute drive from Lyon!
Benedictine Abbey d’Ambronay in the nearby village is another “tale in stone” from the Middle Ages. In autumn the village hosts the famous Ambronay Festival of early music.
The small town of Vienne is situated 30 km south of Lyon. Famous for its Roman ruins and the well-preserved Temple of Augustus and Livia built ~ 25 BC. The city’s St Maurice Cathedral is a fine example of Gothic architecture.
How to get there
To get to Lyon by train from Paris is the most correct maneuver. The trains are very frequent and the fastest (TGV) covers 400 km/hour and 56 minutes. Regional trains (TER) are noticeably slower and travel more than 5 hours.
Naturally, it is most economical to book tickets well in advance. TER tickets are sold 120 days before departure, TGV tickets are sold 90 days before departure!
The trip from Paris to Lyon by car is not for everyone. Because of high fines for speeding (150 € for an extra +6km/h to the limit), and a long distance (436 km). Toll roads are bearable at €35.40!
In fact, far from being architectural, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Lyon. People who are well-read have probably heard about the Lyon silks that were used in all the imperial and imperial residences of Europe. And those who often travel to “Europe” – about the gastronomic glory of the city and its semi-peasant restaurants, bouchons.
Where the food is tasty, nutritious and not as expensive as in institutions that are claiming a Michelin star or already have one. At the same time, it is quite original. When you return home, you will bring back from France not only souvenirs and gifts, but also an unusual culinary experience.
Occasionally there is information about a “Festival of Light”. Browsing the web we find that Lyon is recognized as the most attractive city in France in terms of accommodation. Not so little, if you add up the above!
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