Lyon's districts are alive with activities at any time of day. Thanks to the sprawling Parc de la Tête d'Or, the Parc de Gerland and Parc des Hauteurs, as well as the Jardin des Chartreux, Lyon is a colourful gem of a city that radiates greenery.
Lyon's world-renowned gastronomy constitutes a real attraction for epicures. A plethora of restaurants, from simple to fine-dining establishments, offers all palates an abundance of regional and national flavours, skillfully prepared by highly renowned chefs like Paul Bocuse. The city also has its Halles (central food market), with multicoloured displays of fresh regional products. Moreover, Lyon jealously preserves its chocolate traditions, with master chocolatiers such as Bernachon and Voisin.
Standing at a little over 280 m (920 feet) in altitude, near the Saône, the 19th-century Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica dominates the city's skyline from atop the hill, which offers spectacular views of Lyon. Vestiges of the Latin period, the Roman-built theatres (the Grand Théâtre and the Odéon) stand side by side. Visiting the Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine (museum of Gallo-Roman civilization) is a must in order to learn about life in Lugdunum (Lyon), capital of Gaul.
At the foot of the Fourvière hill and along the Saône river lies old Lyon. The Renaissance district is centred around the 12th-century Saint-Jean cathedral, graced with an astronomical clock dating from the 14th century. In the Saint-Jean quarter, studded with the opulent houses of silk merchants, the Hôtel Gadagne houses the Musée de la Marionnette (puppet museum).
A joy to explore, the Presqu'île (peninsula) is nestled between the Rhône and Saône rivers. Its main street is Rue de la République, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare. In this part of town are the Musée des Beaux-Arts (museum of fine arts), Musée Historique des Tissus (museum of textiles), Musée des Arts Décoratifs et de l'Imprimerie (museum of decorative arts and printing) and the Musée de la Banque (banking museum).
Located in the northern part of town, the Croix-Rousse district was inextricably linked to the silk trade. This area's most charming attraction lies in its maze of "traboules," narrow covered passageways that sheltered the valuable silk from the elements.
Lyon favours the development of cultural activities such as the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon and the Biennale d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, as well as the Festival des Lumières (festival of lights) and Festival du Vieux Lyon. What's more, the city is home to an opera house, the Maison de la Danse and some 30 thirty theatres. Also endemic to this gastronomic city are "bouchons," bistro-like wine bars that serve traditional Lyonnais fare.
Where on earth
Strategically located at the crossroads of northern and
southern France, Lyons has wisely preserved the best of both worlds. The city lies at
the confluence of two major waterways: the Rhône and Saône rivers. The metropolitan area
encompasses more than 1,100,000 people.