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1. Of course you could do all of the following or just register to our cultural scavenger hunt!
2. Take a look to this map of the city, to have a real idea on how it is built and organized.
3. Visit the old town Quartier Saint-Jean and Quartier Saint-Georges
Lyon's atmospheric Quartier Saint-Jean is the place to discover the city's Old World ambience. It's a delightful place for a leisurely stroll. This medieval quarter north of the cathedral is filled with narrow cobblestone lanes and quiet little courtyards. Begin exploring around Rue du Boeuf and the Place Neuve Saint-Jean, a picturesque square filled with traditional restaurants. Then wander around the pedestrian streets of Rue Saint-Jean and Rue des Trois Maries. There are many inviting shops and cafés along the way. Continue until reaching the Hôtel de Gadagne at the Place du Petit Collège. This magnificent 15th-century mansion houses two excellent museums. The Musée d'Histoire de Lyon (History Museum) illustrates the history of the city-from antiquity through the Middle Ages and Renaissance up to the 20th century. The Musée des Arts de La Marionnette (Puppet Museum) displays marionettes from all over the world. A short stroll away from the Gadagne museums is Le Guignol de Lyon (2 Rue Louis Carrand), where the Compagnie M.A. marionette company performs. Attending a traditional puppet show is one of the most entertaining things to do in Lyon.
Another place to watch a marionette performance is in the Quartier Saint-Georges, at the Théâtre la Maison de Guignol puppet theater (performances are in French; check the schedule in advance). The theater is found in a peaceful square a 10-minute walk away from the Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and a few steps away is the Café du Soleil (2 Rue Saint-Georges), a great place to enjoy an authentic Lyonnais meal. Get Google maps directions>
4. Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine (Museum of Archaeology)
Lyon stands on the site of the ancient Roman city called Lugdunum, founded in 43 BC, which was the capital of Gaul. This superb archaeology museum displays Gallo-Roman-era objects including vases, gravestones, mosaics, statues, coins, and ceramics. The antiquities displayed are from onsite digs (from the city of Lugdunum) as well as nearby Roman archaeological sites of Saint-Romain-en-Gal and Vienne. The collection is renowned for its breadth and variety. Highlights of the collection include a monumental Hercules sculpture, decorative marble work from ancient baths, and a magnificent 100-square-meter floor mosaic depicting images related to the God of Oceans.
The museum also extends to the archaeology site that is nearby, about 300 meters from the museum. This site boasts the oldest ancient ruins in France, including two Roman theaters. The Grand Théâtre dating back to 15 BC was where tragedies and comedies were performed. The Odéon was the theater for musical performances. There are also the foundations of a temple that was devoted to the Goddess Cybele. Get Google maps directions>
5. Eat in a Bouchon Lyonnais
While visiting Lyon, indulge in the famous regional cuisine. The hearty local cuisine features meat dishes and salads. The most unique culinary specialty is something known as "quenelles," a type of dumpling (made with fish) in a rich cream sauce. The most authentic places are the "Bouchons Lyonnais," brasseries that are found all over Lyon. Bouchons are friendly little restaurants that offer a classic French dining experience. Le Grand Café Lyonnais (4 Rue de la Barre) is one of the fancier "bouchon" brasseries, serving traditional cuisine in an elegant dining space. When it comes to more upscale gourmet cuisine, Lyon has a wide selection of offerings. The city has many restaurants with Michelin-star ratings, including the renowned three-star Paul Bocuse Restaurant (40 Quai de la Plage), widely considered the best restaurant in France. Paul Bocuse is one of France's most renowned chefs and has held onto his three Michelin stars since 1965. Paul Bocuse also created the Brasserie le Sud (11 Place Antonin Poncet, near the Place Bellecour) a more casual restaurant that focuses on Mediterranean cuisine.
Tourists will also have fun shopping for gourmet food products in Lyon. Chocoholics should make a beeline for Palomas boutique (2 Rue du Colonel Chambonnet), an acclaimed chocolatier in Lyon since 1917, and Boutique Voisin (28 Rue de la République and other locations throughput Lyon), a prestigious chocolate shop founded in 1897. A highly recommended foodstuff shop is Giraudet (2 Rue du Colonel Chambonnet and 102 Cours Lafayette), which sells high-end culinary items; the shop also offers cooking classes. The boutique A L'Olivier (33 Cours Franklin Roosevelt) is a purveyor of the finest olive oils made in France.
Also be sure to visit Les Halles de Lyon - Paul Bocuse (102 Cours Lafayette). This famous covered marketplace has 48 different shops and restaurants that offer regional products, including charcuteries, local cheeses, fresh bread, quenelles, truffles, fruits, vegetables, and pâtisserie and chocolate. Get Google maps directions>
6. Colline de la Croix-Rousse
Built on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse hillside, this historic neighborhood was an important center of weaving in the early 19th-century. Because of the high gradient of the streets, there are many charming curves and staircases. The most unique aspect of the neighborhood is its collection of "traboules," covered passageways that function as public hallways through the quarters of private houses. These special alleyways were used by silk workers to transport their fabrics. Wander around the neighborhood to discover the architectural curiosities of the winding streets and hidden traboules.
There are passageways starting at 9 Place Colbert and continuing to 14 Bis Montée Saint Sébastien; from 20 Rue Imbert Colomès to 55 Rue des Tables Claudiennes; and from 30 Rue Burdeau to 19 Rue René Leynaud (Passage Thiaffait). The traboules are open to the public, but visitors should be quiet, out of respect to the residents. Another tourist attraction in this area is the Maison des Canuts (House of Silk Workers) at 10/12 Rue d'Ivry. This small museum is dedicated to the art of creating silk. During a visit, tourists can discover the invention of the Jacquard loom and watch hand-weaving demonstrations on traditional looms. Get Google maps directions>
7. Presqu'ile District
Lyon's Presqu'ile District is a piece of land, sort of like an island, within the river. This neighborhood is distinguished by its beautiful architecture and monumental town squares. The Place des Terreaux is worth visiting just to see the fountain by F.A. Bartholdi. This grandiose work of art depicts the triumphal chariot of the Garonne River. Notice the four marvelously sculpted horses that look very hardworking, they represent the four different rivers that flow into the ocean. Lyon's Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) is found on the east side of the square. Originally built between 1646 and 1672, the Hôtel de Ville was rebuilt (after a fire) by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in his signature Baroque style. Another monumental edifice in this area is the Palais de la Bourse et du Commerce, on Rue de la République. Although the building has a Renaissance architectural style, it was constructed in the 19th century. Continuing south of the Palais de la Bourse, tourists will come across the Eglise Saint-Bonaventure, a former Franciscan church built in the 14th-15th centuries.
Lyons's finest square in the Presqu'ile district is Place Bellecour, between the Rhône and Saône Rivers. The square's centerpiece is an equestrian statue of Louis XIV created by the Lyons sculptor F. Lemot. Elegant 19th-century buildings line the east and west sides of the square. From the north side of the square, there is a view of the Fourvière hill. A few steps away from the Place Bellecour is the Hôtel-Dieu de Lyon, a splendid 17th-century building that once served as a hospital. Another lovely square, the Place Carnot, is found by way of Rue Victor-Hugo. This square features an immense monument to the Republic created in 1890. Get Google maps directions>
8. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere
In a majestic location on the Fourviere Hill, the Basilique Notre-Dame rises to a height of 130 meters above the Saone River. The Basilica is accessible by funiculars running up the hill. This stunning church was built after the Franco-Prussian War when the people of Lyon had vowed to create a Marian sanctuary if their city was spared. The construction took place from 1872 to 1884. The Basilica is a blend of Gothic and Byzantine styles with a richly decorated interior. Spend time in the sanctuary to admire the sumptuous mosaics and paintings. After touring the interior, climb the northeast tower to take in the sensational views of Lyon's cityscape and surrounding areas. Also, the Esplanade de Fourvière, on the left side of the Basilica, provides a sensational panoramic outlook onto the city of Lyon. The views extend to the Croix-Rousse and the Terreaux districts, the Quartier Saint-Jean further down the hill, and the Place Bellecour on the right. Get Google maps directions>
9. Primatiale Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste
Built in the 12th-century, the magnificent Cathedral of Saint-John is renowned for its 13th- to 14th-century stained-glass windows. The large rose window dating from 1392 allows in a kaleidoscope of colorful light. The cathedral is mainly Romanesque with a Late Gothic facade. One of the most interesting features is the astronomical clock created by Nicolas Lippius in 1598. The cathedral also has a remarkable bell (cast in 1622) named "Anne-Marie de la Primatiale" that is one of the largest ever made and is only rung on Catholic feast days. For a good view of the cathedral from a distance, go to the embankment near the Pont Bonaparte. Get Google maps directions>
10. Abbaye Saint-Martin d'Ainay
The oldest church in Lyon, the Abbaye Saint-Martin d'Ainay was built in the 11th century on the site of a 4th-century Roman temple. The Abbey church originally belonged to a Benedictine abbey founded in the 6th century. A wonderful example of Romanesque architecture, the church contains four classical columns, a 12th-century mosaic pavement in the choir, and 19th-century gilded paintings by the Lyon artist Hippolyte Flandrin. Get Google maps directions>
11. Parc de la Tête d'Or
Named for a golden statue of Christ that, according to legend, was buried here by Crusaders, the Parc de la Tête d'Or is in the center of Lyon on the left bank of the Rhône River. This lush and verdant park has a zoo, botanical garden, and rose garden, as well as a lake where families can rent boats to sail around the tranquil waters. Other highlights for children are the Grand Carrousel, pony rides, paddle-boating at the "Petit Lac" ("Little Lake"), and an old-fashioned choo-choo train.
Get Google maps directions>
12. Mur des canuts
At the Quai Saint Vincent, this 800-square-meter mural features 31 famous people from Lyon, with 25 historical figures and six contemporary figures. The mural was created by the Cité de la Création organization in 1994-1995. Look for Paul Bocuse in front of "Le Pot Beaujolais" restaurant.
Get Google maps directions>
Here is what she suggests. Don't hesitate to contact Magali on Twitter @bigcitychase #Lyon #questionforMagali if you have questions for her, we may publish your conversation in this blog if she thinks it might be useful to other Lyon visitors.
Magali from Lyon for Big City Chase Lyon :
"Hello everyone, my name is Magali, I grew up in a small village East of Lyon and went to school from junior high to high school and college in Lyon. Today I work there. To let you know I know this town very well and what’s great doing for young or older people, here is the ideal leisure day I will suggest for anyone willing to get the real feel of Lyon.
In the morning I would suggest you get a coffee or typical French breakfast (croissants and coffee) in a coffee shop in La Part-Dieu shopping mall this way you will experience the atmosphere of locals getting to work in the most frequented metro station at that hour because this big mall is also just right next to the train station from the same name.
Do not hesitate after breakfast to take a quick walk into that huge mall, after that I’d suggest you to head to the parc de la tête d’or, the biggest green area in the city with a samll exotic zoo inside and to fully experience Lyon, go there from la Part-Dieu with public transportation. To do so, get out from Part-Dieu and walk a few minutes towards Gare Part-Dieu Vivier Merle, there take tram C and get off at Parc Tete d'Or-Churchill. Walk through the beautiful park and do not hesitate to lunch there if the weather is with you.
right after lunch, head to fourviere, this hill used to be in the heart of Lugdunum, the latin name of Lyon during the roman empire. From the top of the hill, you will be, of course able to admire a wonderful view on Lyon and the Rhone river but you also have to visti Notre Dame de Fourvière, this great neo-byznatine style basilique church built at the end of 19th century. This church is a real tribute to the Virgin Mary.
After Fourvière, slow down a bit (you’ll just have been up and down hill!!) get a drink on a terrasse along the Rhone river or even on the Rhone river on a péniche-bar.
For dinner head to a bouchon (bouchon is the name given to typical brasserie restaurants in Lyon) in the vieux-lyon, this way you’ll enjoy a great dinner in France’s gastronomy’s capital and you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of the old town.
For those of you never tired, Lyon can have a great nightlife vibe in the neighborhood of Saint Jean in the 5th arrondissement. from Irish pubs to jazz clubs, wine bars, dance clubs or other music venues, you’ll fins what you are looking for. Enjoy a great leisure day in Lyon. "