Five reasons to visit the French city of Lyon

Lyon - FranceI visited France’s well-known city of Lyon for the first time last year.

I’d passed through the Part Dieu railway station and even changed trains there, but I’d never ventured outside. Once I did so, I discovered a wonderful city that I loved for five simple reasons.

1. The typically French food

Lyon is justifiably famous in France and elsewhere for its food and culinary scene. Humble local bouchons serve regional dishes in a traditional relaxed environment.

For more gastronomic experiences there are 14 Michelin starred restaurants (ranking it lower than only Paris, London and Brussels) according to Renowned chef Paul Bocuse has his flagship restaurant in Lyon.

Lyon - France - French food

For a true Lyon eating experience, try andouillette sausages (a French version of sausages made from tripe for the uninitiated), or maybe for a “safer” bet, salade Lyonnaise – with lardons and a poached egg it’s a meal in itself!

2. The Old Town (la vieille ville, en français)

Lyon is one of the largest cities in France, but its Old Town is small and delightful. Cross the Saône River and head up the quaint 1950s funicular to discover the most magnificent view back over the city.

Jo Karnaghan - 19.02.2014 - www.MyFrenchLife Found inside the lovely Old Town itself, both the Gothic Saint-Jean Cathedral and the eighteenth century Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere are very pretty (particularly the Basilica). Great if you like religious art, or even if period decoration is more your thing.

Unique to Lyon are the French traboules of the Old Town. Traboules are Renaissance passageways connecting apartment buildings to the streets on either side of the building.

While they are private thoroughfares with locked doors, a number of traboules can be opened and (respectfully) explored. Try 27 rue St Jean or 54 rue du Boeuf and admire the beautiful French Renaissance architecture inside.

3. Friendly Lyon locals

One thing that really struck me about Lyon was the friendliness of the French people I met. From the two older gentlemen who engaged me in conversation in a local café over lunch, to the saleswoman in Au Printemps who spent ages chatting when I bought a pair of tights, everyone I met in Lyon was charming and oh-so friendly.

4. A great place to practice your French

I don’t know if it is just my ear, but I found Lyon a great place to practice listening to and speaking French. I found the Lyonnais accent easy to understand, and they, in turn, found my Australian French accent easy to follow as well! Combine that with friendly locals and regardless of your fluency, Lyon is a great place to practice.

Jo Karnaghan - 19.02.2014 - www.MyFrenchLife

5. It’s a convenient transport hub in France

Lyon is a major French transport hub, particularly for trains. This makes Lyon an easy destination to get to, and to depart from. The easy to access and negotiate St Exupery airport connects you to both the rest of France and to Europe. I flew directly to Istanbul from Lyon, bypassing Paris and the complexity of Charles de Gaulle airport – easy, and a great money and time saver!

If you do need to make it to Charles de Gaulle from Lyon – no problem.  There are TGV services direct from Lyon to the Charles de Gaulle TGV station.

Have you been to Lyon?  What were your experiences? This conversation is missing your voice! Add your comments in the box below.

 All images © Jo Karnaghan

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Jo Karnaghan

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  1. Esme Wakefield Feb 28, 2014 at 9:08 AM - Reply

    Ah, Lyon. I love this city, and can vouch for at least 5 more reasons to visit it! Less claustrophobic than Paris, near the mountains, at the confluence of two rivers and boasting the delightful cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon protected by Fourvière. Pourquoi pas?

  2. Gaurav Puri Feb 28, 2014 at 11:50 PM - Reply

    Thanks Jo for posting this. I agree with your five reasons.
    I went to Lyon a few weeks ago for one day and the highlight was walking up over 800 steps to get to the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere. The view from the top is well worth. Otherwise you can take a funicular.
    Also some nearby places of interest are Vienne, Chamonix and Perouges.

  3. Julia Greenhalf Sep 3, 2014 at 8:49 PM - Reply

    Yay, thank you for this great article Jo! This time next year I’ll be in Lyon so I may need to work on my second stomach 😉

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