As soon as I had found a last minute deal from Paris to Lyon for only €32, I booked it instantly. Not really knowing anything about Lyon at all (only always seeing it pointed out on a Europe Google searched map) and having searched photos of it through Pinterest, I decided I had made the right choice. Spending one night in Lyon would be enough, surely (I was wrong).
However, I was completely shocked when I had arrived at the Lyon train station and saw that everything around me was modern (Pinterest, you forgot to show this to me). Literally, modern buildings everywhere. And don’t get me wrong, they’re nice…but where was the pretty old town I had seen on Pinterest…
I quickly got discouraged a bit, but was then reminded by my friend about another blog post I had written about when things don’t go as you had planned (you can read that here). That instantly boosted me up, and I was ready to explore Lyon!
Lyon is a beautiful city located down south of France near the Eastern border. In other words- below Paris. It boasts an amazing old town with beautiful architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, too. It’s also the third largest city in the whole of France, so you can imagine one night was definitely not enough time to adventure.
But without further ado, here are 7 reasons to motivate you to book a trip to Lyon, France!
1. Vieux Lyon
The old town of Lyon is absolutely charming! It’s literally filled with narrow cobblestoned streets, antique shops and cafes, colorful buildings, steep stairways, and the view of the Basilica of Notre Dame of Fourviere up on top of the hill. You’ll find so much things to do in this side of town. Simply wandering street by street, checking out shops, eating gelato… this is the old town you have to pay a visit to.
2. Rivers Rhône & Saône
In Lyon, there are two rivers that cross right through it, the Rhone river and the Saone river. They’re honestly just ordinary rivers, but it’s nice to just hang out by one and let time pass by. Coming into the old town, you’ll cross the Rhone river first (the one pictured above) and then a few blocks down, you’ll be crossing the Saone river.
3. The food
I’m sure you have heard of the traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, right!? But if you haven’t, then we’re actually on the same page. I did not know until I had arrived that the Lyonnaise cuisine is one of the best in the world! I mean who doesn’t want to try Andouillette (sausage made with pork’s intestines), Rosette (dry pork sausage), or Gras Double (tripe cooked with onions). But since I’m a picky eater, I was happier trying out the Salade Lyonnaise (salad with bacon, eggs, and croutons). Just be sure to go to a restaurant where it says Bouchon… they’re everywhere in Vieux Lyon.
4. Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourvière
My favorite place to have visited was this basilica because as always, I looove magnificent city views! And this place definitely had a picturesque view of Lyon. Just warning you though, be prepared for a work out to get to the top of the hill via the stairs, like I had gone through! Or if you wish not to get all sweaty and tired out within the first 5 minutes, lucky you, there is a short tram ride you can take up the hill. It also has a nice museum inside you can check out!
5. Parc de la Tête d’Or
Okay, this is the park to be at in Lyon. Like seriously, forget about all the other parks mentioned in this city and come straight here! Like now. This park is huuuge! Lots of greenery to admire. You can take a nap on the grass or go boating on its lake (during summer months). You can also admire its rose gardens and greenhouses, and even go for a short tourist train ride if you wish to. And if you enjoy visiting zoos, well, there is a wonderful zoo waiting for you to come and visit. And best of all… free admission!
6. The museums
If you’re a museum lover then you’ll be pretty happy to know that Lyon has quite a few impressive museums to check out. I recommend spending a couple of hours in the Museum of Fine Arts and Le Musée des Confluences. There are much more museums you could visit if you wish.
7. It’s a calm city
Overall, Lyon is a very nice city that won’t give you that busy, touristy adrenaline rush like major cities do. Take it slow over here and just enjoy this small town’s charm. Imagine yourself living here thousands of years ago while you try to get lost in its narrow streets. Or buy yourself a gelato and people watch from the steps of the Cathedral. Whatever you end up doing, you”ll enjoy it in Lyon.
Have you ever visited Lyon?