French city guides: top 10 reasons to visit Lyon
At MyFrenchLife™, we love nothing more than to live as locals in the city of our choosing. There’s something magical about discovering a city as more than just a tourist or visitor, and a great local guide can make a huge difference!
So, if you love travelling as a local like us, then it makes sense to consider staying in the home of locals – imagine trading lives with a famille française even for a few weeks… And that’s the reason we love house-sitting. It allows us to discover new places from an entirely different perspective.
Once you’ve sorted out one half of the equation, the only thing left to do is find that local city guide…
One of our favourite spots in south-east France is definitely the charming city of Lyon. So, here are our top ten Lyon favourites: food, drink, museums and other fun things to do, compiled by local experts in the know. The true insider guide!
Did your favourites make the list? Read on to find out…
Wander the streets of Vieux-Lyon by day or night – the cobblestone streets and old buildings are always delightful. The streets are lined by boutiques, cafes and more than a few traditional bouchons (stay tuned for number ten on this list).
2. La Basilique de Nôtre Dame de Fourvière
Take the funiculaire up to the Basilique de Nôtre Dame de Fourvière for both the church and the view. The ceilings inside the basilica are particularly magnificent, while the view overlooking the city and all the way out to the alps is similarly breathtaking.
3. Coffee at Galerie Slika and Café Mokxa
Although Café Mokxa might be the more popular spot for great coffee in Lyon, Galerie Slika might make the better coffee. Started by a local Frenchman, it’s a gallery-cum-café space – great for working, relaxing or catching up with friends. In fact, it’s such a well-kept secret that even le Petit Paumé hasn’t caught on yet…
4. Lunch at Café Marmot
The delightful Café Marmot is a few minutes walk from Slika, open from early in the morning to the early hours of the evening. So, if you don’t make it in time to grab one of their tasty formules de dejeuner or sip a coffee, you can always prendre une verre instead.
Following in the trend of pairing bicycles and coffee (who knew the two were such soulmates?), La Bicycletterie is a few steps away from the bustling Place des Terraux, and they make tasty coffee and afternoon treats. Our advice: don’t miss the salted caramel blondie with a café Americano.
Meanwhile, across the river is Le Kitchen Café – a lovely salon de thé with a few more upmarket dessert choices for afternoon tea!
8. Musée des Beaux Arts
Even if you don’t end up going inside the Musée des Beaux Arts, it’s a must-visit for the beautiful courtyard and building alone. We could while away many summer afternoons with a book in the enclosed courtyard. But, we do recommend you go inside too: the collection spans 70 rooms and countless eras, from antiquity to contemporary. And with the Place des Terraux and Bartholdi Fountain just outside, it’s well worth a stroll by…
7. Le Parc de la Tête d’Or
This beautiful park in Lyon’s north-east has green fields, a Guignol theatre, a tranquil lake and even a zoo. Take a picnic or just go for a wander – and if you feel so inclined, visit the Musée d’Art Contemporain at the edge of the park while you’re there.
8. Quirky eats at Crock ‘n’ Roll or Beijing 8
In the trend of turning a very specific cuisine into a new food craze, Crock ‘n’ roll have followed suite by giving the humble croque monsieur a complete makeover. Meanwhile, Beijing 8 is doing the same with Chinese dumplings and tea, though the chain was actually born in Sweden. They have only seven global outposts in total – one of which is in Lyon!
9. Cycling along the Rhône
Hire a bicycle from one of 340 Vélo’V bike stations around Lyon, and take it for a whirl! Our favourite spot for a ride? Definitely along the Rhône river down to the Lyon Confluence.
10. Leave room for a hearty dinner at a Bouchon Lyonnais
As MyFrenchLife™ correspondent Jess Gregory explains, the guidebooks aren’t wrong on this one: dinner at a Bouchon is a must-do when in Lyon. Her advice for navigating le bouchon like a local: remember that the translation for offal is ‘abats’ (especially if you’re not a fan).
A list of the best bouchons can be found in Lyon’s ultimate foodie guide, Le Petit Paumé, while Jess has also written more on the history of Les Bouchon Lyonnais, and what to expect in a typical restaurant on MyFrenchLife™.
We’re dying to go back to Lyon after listing all these amazing places…
So, we know what we’ll be doing: keeping our eye out for a house-sitting opportunity near the Rhône-Alpes region – or at least organising a house-sitter for our home so we can get away quick smart! Search for homes or list yours today on Nomador.Proud partner of Nomador. Image credits:
1. Lyon, via Wikipedia.
2. Lyon by Net Circlion. B, via Flickr.
3. La Bicycletterie, by Camille B. via Yelp.
4. Le Parc de la Tête d’Or, via Wikipedia.
5. Les Berges du Rhône, via Wikipedia.
This popular article was refreshed and republished in 2020.