Discover the city of Lyon

Explore France like a local: Top 10 things to do in Lyon

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Welcome to Lyon, the third largest city in France. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Lyon is a beautiful and historic city that boasts a wealth of cultural and culinary delights.

Are you planning a visit to Lyon and looking for insider tips? Look no further, as we've got you covered with some top recommendations straight from a local:

1. Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière

This stunning basilica sits atop a hill overlooking the city and offers breathtaking views of Lyon. It is a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike and is a must-see attraction in Lyon. 
It was built between 1872 and 1884, to thank the Virgin Mary for protecting the town from invasion during the 1870 war.

2. Explore Vieux Lyon

Lyon's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. Its narrow, winding cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful Renaissance-era buildings and charming cafes, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll.
The movie The Clockmaker or L'Horloger de Saint-Paul in French, was shot in the streets of old Lyon.

3. Discover the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

This art museum is one of the largest and most important art museums in France and it’s the ideal spot to spend a few hours immersing yourself in the world of art. It is home to an impressive collection of works from artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso.
It's in this museum that Henri Matisse's last painting, Katia à la chemise jaune, is located.

4. Indulge in the local cuisine

Lyon is known for its excellent food, so make sure to try some of the local specialties while you're here. Must-try dishes include coq au vin, quenelles, and tarte aux pralines. Join the locals in some of the best restaurants in the city like Le Garet or Le cochon qui boit
Lyon is considered the capital of gastronomy in France...for the Lyonnais, Lyon is definitely the Worldwide capital of gastronomy.

5. Take a river cruise

The Saône and Rhône rivers run through Lyon, and taking a cruise along them is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective. There are several companies that offer river cruises, so be sure to check them out.
Fun Fact... The “Bateau-mouche”, a famous French tour boat, very well known on the Seine, was actually invented in Lyon, in the suburb of La Mouche!

6. Enjoy a picnic at the Parc de la Tête d'Or
Lyon’s largest urban park is a favourite among locals, and offers a variety of activities such as boating, cycling, and picnicking. It's a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy some fresh air. Bring a picnic and enjoy a leisurely afternoon in this beautiful green setting.
Fun Fact... It is said that a golden head of Jesus is buried under the park. However, when the park was excavated, nothing was found...

7. Discover Lyon's silk industry
The city was once a major centre for silk production and the Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs is a great place to learn about this industry. The museum has an impressive collection of textiles and decorative arts and is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of Lyon.
Fun Fact... When they were children, Lyonnais all had silkworms in their primary school classes.

8. Attend a festival or event

Lyon hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Fête des Lumières, which is a spectacular light festival which is held in December. Be sure to check the calendar to see what events are happening while you're in town. 
The Festival of Lights was supposed to be celebrated on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, but the event was finally postponed to 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, due to a historic flood of the Saône.

9. Discover the fascinating world of cinema and miniatures

Did you know that cinema was created in Lyon by the Lumière brothers?
So what better way to get an exclusive peek into the world of cinema at the renowned Musée Cinéma et Miniature. This museum showcases exceptional collections of miniatures created by internationally acclaimed artists, offering an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. Take a close look at the intricate models and sets used in classic movies such as Alien and The Three Musketeers and explore the magic of cinema in a whole new way. 

10. Experience the rich cultural heritage of Lugdnum
Embark on a journey through time and explore the oldest theatre in Roman Gaul, Lugdunum (the old Lyon's name) – Museum and Roman Theaters. This historic venue was once the hub of comedic plays accompanied by mesmerising dances. Alongside the theatre stands the Odeon, a smaller but equally significant space, primarily reserved for musical performances and public gatherings.

With its rich history, beautiful architecture, and excellent food, Lyon is a captivating city that is well worth a visit. And what better way to fully immerse yourself in the French culture than by learning the language? At Alliance Française, we offer a range of courses and events to help you learn French and celebrate all-things French. So why not plan a visit to Lyon and start your French language journey today?


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