What is beautiful about Lyon is that there are things for everyone to enjoy: art and history lovers, foodies, professional streets wanderers, bicycle-goers…no excuse not to give in to a week-end in Lyon!
But…where to start?
It’s easy…let yourself be guided along!
WARNING! This article is to be read only by those who wish to leave Lyon with a local hindsight! Superficial tourists are not welcome!
DAY 1: DISCOVERY
DAY 2: DEEPENING
DAY 3: STROLLING
If you wish to understand the Lyonnais environment you will be scoping out during your stay, it is almost impossible not to go on a guided tour of the city. For that matter, a walking tour or a bike tour are perfect activities for a good start! Tourism having developed these last few years, it won’t be difficult to find the tour that meets your needs. However, and that is a characteristic element of Lyon compared to other cities like Barcelona or Rome: no mass tourism here (at least, not yet!!), the exception being for the period of the Light Festival on December 8th every year!
I’ll have the occasion to deal with that specific topic in another article.
In Lyon, no endless lines to get into a monument, so this is a city which you can take the time to visit without having to be permanently in a rush …yes, that’s the dolce vita the Lyonnais way.
DAY 1: Discovery
Early in the morning on your first day, start with a good coffee with a good pastry in one of those Lyonnais great bakeries such as Eric Kayser (Opera House, Bellecour Square, Old town…)…or ask me and I’ll refer you to the best bakery close to you, I know them pretty well since I’m a real pastry-lover!
The Hill of Fourvière:
Then, let’s go for an uphill walk to the Hill of Fourvière, before walking downhill and having a stroll in the streets of the Old Town to discover the inner secrets of the Renaissance period…but not only! What about having a local gone* to guide you along? That sounds better! You will finish your Old Town walking tour in a district where lunch options are many. Once again, the gones are here to help you choose!
gone*: name used to refer to locals in Lyon
For the afternoon, you can take the opportunity to do a walking tour on the Peninsula through its big avenues and its great monuments, such as the Palais Saint-Pierre (today’s Fine Arts Museum), the City Hall and the magnificent Bartholdi Fountain on Terreaux Square, or the Palais de la Bourse and above all…the Hotel-Dieu recently renovated! You will see that as you cross the Saône river, you get to a completely different world and atmosphere! This is the real city center, and there are countless things to see and discover, whether you are into shopping or mere spontaneous strolling.
In order to make the most of the places filled with strange and passionating anecdotes, and find the best tour for your, do not hesitate to contact me here.
What about the evening?
As for the evening, there is in Lyon a large choice of original and surprising things to do! Jazz concerts, live music on the many barges by the Rhône river, numerous café-theatres, summer music festivals, there is no time to get bored here!
And let’s be honest, you are here in Lyon, French capital of gastronomy! (please!), so if you come here, you eat! It was not for any reason that Rabelais, a famous 16th century French writer, or Curnonsky (great food critic who declared that Lyon was the Capital of Food!) loved to come to Lyon to eat their full…and we can easily understand them! The best is to go and try a good old traditional bouchon (or a more modern one, why not after all!) to taste all types of specialties made of offal (ah, the eternal andouillette…) along with a nice glass of Beaujolais or Côte du Rhône wine.
However, bouchons are all over the place and it can get quite difficult to pick one out. So, don’t hesitate to ask your local gone for further recommendation, and he/she will be pleased to send you to Le Musée or La Mère Jean… or even come with you to drink one of two glasses while you learn different facts about these Lyonnais food curiosities!
Over here to spend an evening in a Lyonnais bouchon!
A bit of goose pimples…
That’s it, you’ve had your full of food and wine? Wait, it’s not over yet! To end your evening on a high note, you can go on another even more offbeat tour of the city, through its dark or mystical legends. Yes, Lyon is well renowned for being a city of the uncanny. Follow the guide for either dark legends or mysterious enlightened Lyonnais. After all, what’s better than a good deal of culture and thrills to finish the evening. 😉
DAY 2: Deepening
Well! You have now gotten closer to our dear Lugdunum! Now is the time to go a bit further…
The Hill of Croix-Rousse
This is an unavoidable spot in Lyon, the famous Hill of Croix-Rousse! Second most important hill of the city, the one that locals call The hill that works has been fully part of the city since 1852, and still to this day it keeps that characteristic village feeling. So, would you like to know the secrets of this unique place? Come one, follow me here!
When you have found enough courage and energy to defy the steep slopes and have made it to the plateau, well, as the Croix-Rousse inhabitants put it, it’s now time to walk down to Lyon! But wait…wait! On the plateau of Croix-Rousse hides a real gem, not that accessible and not to be overlooked: this is the Rosa Mir Garden, created by a Spaniard who fled the Francoist regime and who landed in Lyon, without forgetting to create this unique place to commemorate his brave mother. Open on Saturdays afternoon only, from early April to end of October (limited free access). Finally, walk all the way back to enjoy the view from the Gros Caillou Esplanade. If you are lucky (or not!) you will see the Mont Blanc which sticks out of the Chain of the Alps!!
Between traboules and small squares, the Croix-Rousse hill offers visitors loads of art galleries, trendy vintage shops, cafés and tea rooms, between rock bars and more underground venues. The Croix-Rousse is also the kingdom of street art, you can’t not get passionated by the many artists who regularly transform the walls and stairs of the district. Soon enough, a street tour may be offered too. During your Croix-Rousse tour, you can’t miss out on the view on the Saône and the Old-Town from the Jardin des Chartreux (oh la la, all these breathtaking views!!)
Phew, well…here you are back on the Peninsula! After so many emotions while enjoying the panorama and discovering the small hidden corners of the hill of Croix-Rousse, I’m sure you won’t say no to a little snack! Come on, don’t tell me the contrary! Don’t worry, in the district of Terreaux there is a lot to choose from! It’s up to you, between the food court Les Halles de la Martinière and its fresh regional products, the district of Opéra (Garet street, check the 203 bar), Claudia street (close to Palais de la Bourse) or around the Saint-Nizier church, there is a lot!
Are you up for a bike tour?
Once you have eaten your full, know that Lyon still has a lot of other curiosities to be discovered! Let yourself be charmed by a themed tour, by day this time. Why not get to tame the two rivers flowing lavishly on both sides of the Peninsula? And of course, for that a bike tour is a privileged way to try and enjoy this activity on a sunny day. Without the objective to do too much sport, there is above all a small drink break (yeah, we don’t change good habits!) waiting for us in the middle of the tour!
If biking is not your thing…well you still have your feet (the traveller’s best friends ever, indeed!) that could take you to discover the urban riots and other tragical episode of this rebellious Lyon!
After so many efforts you deserve a little chill, first by going and taking a little apéro in one of the many bars on the Peninsula (Quais Saint-Antoine and Quai de la Pêcherie, by the Saône river), then by socializing in the many bars in the district of Martinière, Sathonay Square and Pentes de la Croix-Rousse. There, indeed, beats the heart of the city as night is drawing on.
DAY 3: Strolling
All right, you already know quite a lot about our beautiful Capital of the Gauls. Today is, unfortunetaly, your last day (snif…). Don’t worry, you know perfectly that you will come back at some point, and that you still have one day to make the most of it! That’s the perfect occasion to go for some shopping, particularly in the magical Halles de Paul Bocuse where 60 of those food artists await to take you on a unparalleled culinary travel! To get there, take the C3 bus lines from Terreaux Square, and the bus will take you right in front of its main entrance.
District of Remparts d’Ainay and Confluence
In the afternoon, take the time to go and walk in the south of the Peninsula, beyond Bellecour Square. Do not hesitate to rent a vélo’v by going on their app to sign up on your smartphone (be careful, only the first 30 minutes are free, then you have to leave the city bikes at a station if you don’t want to pay for more). The district of Rempart d’Ainay is way less frequented by tourists, still it is full of charm. Don’t go through the Victor Hugo street, too crammed. On the contrary, prefer the Charité street or Auguste Comte street, you’ll find some very nice boutiques and antiques shops.
Don’t forget to go and visit the intimate and magnificent Basilica of Saint-Martin d’Ainay, built in a most shimmering style. This is the only Romanesque church remaining in this city, its interior columns in the choir supposedly recuperated from the ancient altar dedicated to Rome and August on the hill of Croix-Rousse. Carnot Square offers a nice occasion to sit down at one of its many terraces, before riding a bike along the riverbanks of the Saône down to the ultramodern district of Confluence. If you wish, you will find there a ship-shaped shopping mall with deployed sails, but it’s above all for its nice and quiet riverbanks that I recommend this itinerary.
If you have the time to, go and visit the Museum of Confluence before heading a bit further South to the tipping point of the Peninsula, where both waterways converge (you’ll see how the colours of both blend together, that’s stunning!).
After, ride or walk up along the Rhône river after crossing the Raymond Barre bridge (the one on the picture below) to the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
Berges du Rhône and Parc de la Tête d’Or :
If you did the bike tour, then you will already have a good knowledge of these two must-sees in Lyon!
The berges du Rhône (the term “berge” refers to the riverbanks) offer multiple facilities for you to relax, whether in the barge bars, on the wooden benches (for read-and-tan lovers!) or with outdoor game facilities for the whole family!
After, it is time to head right up to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, the biggest in town. This urban park à l’anglaise is a real beacon for a quiet stroll, the locals particularly love this green urban lung. Just lie down on the the lawns to chill out while geese and ducks come to fetch some pick-nick leftovers! Haha. It feels just so good there, are you sure you want to leave?!
Do you have any questions? I am here for you, tell me everything! 😀
See you very soon!