A (Dream) Weekend in Lyon in 10 Stages
If you’re planning to visit the beautiful city of Lyon on a weekend other than that of the famous Lights Festival (in December), know it’s full of riches that can give you the wonder of a child. The architecture, the gastronomy, the many museums: every corner of the street offers a speciality to savour. Zoom in to 10 places that should not be missed during your stay.
Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a highly symbolic place dominating the city of Lyon, was erected at the end of the 19th century. It is mentioned for its distinctive architecture, both influenced by Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque, as a Unesco heritage. The cardinal virtues are represented by its four towers: prudence, temperance, strength and justice, and the latter two dominate the square. A place that is visited every year by more than 2.5 million people!
The cathedral of Saint-Jean (or Primatiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste-et-Saint-Etienne for its full name because it housed the Primate of the Gauls), a monumental building hosting the Archdiocese of Lyon, combines Gothic and Romanesque styles. It has impressive stained glass windows and an astronomical clock, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, showing the positions of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon, as well as those of the stars overlooking Lyon.
When you leave, take the time to walk through ancient Lyon to admire the traboules (narrow streets) and enjoy the typical corks on the programme (quenelle, andouillette and grattons).
Lyon Museum of Fine Arts
Nestled within the Palais Saint-Pierre (the common name of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-les-Nonnains), the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts presents one of Europe’s most important art collections from the Egyptian antiquity to this day. Here we go for 70 rooms to explore in an architecturally charming home, without failing to rejuvenate in the tea room-restaurant or in the garden.
The Confluence district
Originally, this industrial district took its name from its position at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône. You can now find a contemporary icon of Lyon, an eco-district full of stores, homes and offices.
Don’t skip the Musée des Confluences with its futuristic architecture, according to an original atmosphere, you’ll discover exhibits on the roots of creation.
The House of Canuts
The canuts, former silk artisans, left an indelible mark on the city of Lyon. There are many “canut style” accommodations in the Croix-Rousse district, fitted out from the old workshops. The Maison des Canuts is one that has been converted into a museum, where you can admire the operating looms.
Do not skip the “Mur des Canuts” in the same neighbourhood, a colossal street art fresco. Because trompe-l’oeil is a specialty to be admired without moderation practised throughout the city!
The Institut Lumière
If you’re crazy about cinema, go to the Lumière Institute, located in the villa that is the same name. The chance to learn more about the brothers Lumière and the origins of 7th art. A leap in time embellished with object discovery, each more striking than the next!
The Tête d’Or park
In France, one of the largest urban parks is Tête d’Or. It has rose gardens and greenhouses, restaurants, a lake and even a zoo where you can meet giraffes! It’s a perfect picnic area.
It is the largest square in Lyon with no less than 62,000 m2, and the fifth largest in France. An equestrian statue of Louis XIV stands proudly in its middle, while the outskirts will cause you to admire the stone watchman (in memory of the Resistance) and the statue of Saint Exupéry sitting in front of the Little Prince. Continue your walk on the peninsula, which is full of illuminated fountains (at night) and remarkable houses, once you have admired them.
The Amphitheater of the Three Gauls
In a sanctuary that included the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, the sixty Gallic nations once celebrated the worship of Rome and Augustus at Lugdunum. Although they no longer host circus games, since 1961, their remains have been categorised as historical monuments. A place steeped in tradition, where reflection is welcomed.
The Paul Bocuse halls
The Paul Bocuse halls, exhibits of Lyon’s gastronomic excellence, welcome no less than 50 traders with their premium goods. Before marvelling your taste buds, this covered market dedicated to healthy food will thrill you with its scents. Excellent tasting!
The city of Lyon offers many treasures to please everyone. You will find what you are searching for at the Part-Dieu shopping centre, one of the largest in Europe, if you have time left and shopping is one of your hobbies. Do not hesitate to fill your suitcases with specialties from gourmet Lyon such as brioche sausage or Saint-Marcellin. Have a good weekend!