Capital of French gastronomy (according to many), Lyon is a city that knows how to give a lot of satisfaction to those who want to spend their vacation.
A place rich in history and evidence of the ancient past.
A city deeply tied to its roots and traditions (Fete des Lumieres).
With a great religious sense (the presence of the Cathedral and the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fournière).
Here’s what to see when you visit Lyon. The main places not to be missed
VISIT LYON: WHAT TO
The ideal place to start to visit Lyon. The historic district is located at the foot of the charming Fourvière hill. It will be wonderful to get lost in the maze of alleys and streets, surrounded by historic buildings.
At Place Saint Jean there is the beautiful Cathedral, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, a perfect blend of Gothic and Romanic. It is among the most beautiful in all of France. Inside, between the central nave and the apse, there is an ancient astronomical clock.
Attached is a Treasury museum (for a fee) which houses ancient artifacts.
The Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste is open every day at the following times:
– Monday to Friday, from 08:15 to 19:45.
– Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 08:15 to 19:00.
Free entry. Visits are not permitted during religious services.
THE LONGUE TRABOULE
Some of the most interesting Traboules are concentrated in the Saint Jean area. These are historic walkways hidden between buildings. They are characteristic of Lyon, truly fascinating and evocative. Among these, not far from the Cathedral, you can admire La Longue Traboule. It connects Rue Saint Jean 54 with Rue du Boeuf 27, within 4 buildings. Thanks to a special agreement, the owners of the buildings leave the Traboule open to visitors. Only maximum silence and respect for the privacy of others is required: do not forget that you are a guest!
The spiritual and religious hub of Lyon, due to the presence of churches and the fascinating Notre-Dame Basilica.
The first Roman settlement of antiquity (do not miss the ancient theater). Absolutely unmissable stop on what to see in Lyon, an extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Site. Near the Cathedral starts the historic F2 line of the funicular that leads in front of the Basilica.
BASILICA OF NOTRE-DAME DE FOURVIÈRE
It was built between 1872 and 1884 inspired by the Sacred Heart of Paris, designed with elements of Roman and Byzantine architecture. Of the latter, it resumes the dominant position towards the city, a symbol of the primacy of Christian values.
The glimpse of the white of the building is really beautiful. Splendid view of the city.
The Basilica of Fourvière contends with the Cathedral for being the most important place of worship in the city.
Since 1997 it has been awarded the title of Historic Monument of France.
The 4 external octagonal towers give it the appearance of a real fortress. The interior is richly decorated, with mosaics and much more.
Do not miss the crypt and the depictions of the Blessed Virgins. The guided tour (for a fee with reservations required) takes you to know the whole history of the place. You can get to the top of the bell tower, the highest point in Basilicata, for a view that is nothing short of magnificent!
Open every day, from Monday to Sunday, from 07:00 to 20:00.
Not far away, the Tour Métallique de Fourvière is a sort of replica (in decidedly unsuccessful tones) of the Eiffel Tower. It was built at the end of the 19th century on the occasion of the Expo.
Photo ©, Joan
From the Basilica, along Rue Roger Radisson, the Théâtre Gallo-Romain can be reached in less than 10 minutes on foot.
It is the oldest place in Lyon, testimony of the Roman domination. The amphitheater dates back as far as 43 BC. reaching a total capacity of over 12,000 spectators. Here, once upon a time, there were shows, theaters and concerts.
A place not to be missed on a holiday in Lyon, especially in summer during the Fourvière Nights, an eclectic open-air festival. More info from here.
The theater can be visited every day, including Sundays and holidays, from 07:00 to 19:00. Admission is free.
Attached to the ancient theater is the LUGDUNUM Museum, a really interesting archaeological complex that will take you back to the heart of the life of the Romans. You can admire the magnificent mosaics,
sculptures, jewels, ceramics, the enigmatic Celtic calendar and the monumental bronze table of the emperor.
The museum is open every day, from Tuesday to Friday, from 11:00 to 18:00. Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 to 18:00.
The standard fare ticket costs €4 (€7 in the case of a traveling exhibition). Reduced ticket at €2.50.
THE GREAT SQUARES OF LYON
Just over a kilometer away from each other, Place Bellecourt and Place des Terraux are absolutely must-see places in Lyon.
Symbol and real heart of the city, it is one of the largest squares in all of France.
Surrounded by trees, bars and shops, with the equestrian statue of Louis XIV, it is the meeting place for young people, as well as the main hub for visiting the city. From here we move towards Presque-Ile, Viuex-Lyon and the main arteries of the city.
Beyond the square, almost hidden, is the Statue of Saint-Exupery with his “Little Prince”. You can reach beyond the small play area for children.
At Place Bellecourt there is the homonymous Metro stop. From here you can rent your Velo’s bike.
PLACE DES TERRAUX
The center of Presque-Ile, particularly romantic and evocative in the evening, all lit up. Here are concentrated some of the symbolic places of the city such as the Town Hall (Hotel-de-Ville), the Opera House, the splendid Auguste Bartholdi Fountain and the Musèe des Beau Arts, one of the most important in the city.
The two rivers of Lyon converge in Presque-Ile: it is one of the areas not to be missed.
At Rue de la Martinière 2, Fresque de Lyonnais is a particular building with the facade completely painted with 30 depictions of the most important characters of Lyon.
This is the working-class district of the city, a sort of neighborhood in its own right for centuries. Not to be missed when you visit Lyon. Suffice it to say that in 1818 the district obtained the rank of city!!! Today it can be considered a kind of bohemian neighborhood
The protagonists of the neighborhood are the “canuts”, workers of the silk industry who have always fought for better conditions.
If Fourvière has been considered the “Hill that prays”, Croix Rousse is instead the “Hill that works”.
The district develops along the slope (les pentes) on the 1st arrondissement, and the plateau (le plateau) on the 4th arrondissement.
Churches, monuments, archaeological remains and many Traboules characterize Croix Rousse.
The presence of the Traboules is really a constant. There are really a lot of them. Among these, Cour de Voraces, an ancient 14th century Traboule, located at Place Colbert 9. It has elements of street art and a particular flight of stairs, particularly striking in the evening, when it is lit up here.
The Amphitéâtre des Trois Gaules is a splendid archaeological area in the center. A 19th century AD amphitheater that the Romans in ancient times also used for executions.
From Tuesday to Sunday, from 06:30 to 13:00, Boulevard de Croix Rousse hosts an interesting farmer’s market. Quality products at very affordable prices.
MAISON AND MUR DES CANUTS
Maison des Canuts is an interesting museum at Rue d’Ivry 10 which hosts exhibitions that trace 500 years of Lyon’s history in silk production. You can admire the looms and tools from the past to the present day.
Open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
Mur de Canuts, on Boulevard des Canuts, is the real symbol of the neighborhood, as well as one of the largest murals in all of France.
The painting depicts the neighborhood with its buildings, streets and, above all, the canuts. A truly huge work of over 1000 square meters, which over the years has undergone several tweaks to keep it up to date with the changes in the neighborhood.