Ah, Lyon. Often called the gastronomic capital of France, Lyonnais specialties are regarded of the highest quality across the globe. Not only does it have a strong foodie culture, Lyon is also filled with a charming Old Town, vibrant creative community, spectacular sights and a fascinating history. With so much to see and do, we’ve picked out the highlights for a weekend in Lyon, France.
1. Explore the Presqu’île district
What better way to get a feel for Lyon than by exploring its very heart? The Presqu’île district a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is well-known for its beautiful buildings, often in shades of pastel colours. A highlight is the area found between Place Bellacour and Place des Terreaux, a hub for shopping, dining and some great museums, like the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon (Museum of Fine Arts).
2. Take a funicular up Fourvière Hill
If you’re an avid photographer or a fan of spectacular views, you must head to the hills. Fourvière Hill, to be exact! There are two funiculars that can take you uphill, followed by a walk across a footbridge to Fourvière Basilica. Take in the panorama across Lyon, a breath-taking view across the city.
3. Dine at a traditional bouchon
Encompassing a large part of Lyon’s history, you must have at least one meal in a bouchon. Bouchons have existed for centuries, first opened in the Croix-Rousse district where the silk workers were based. Nowadays, the same concept still exists – a restaurant where you can discover Lyon specialties in a cosy family-owned atmosphere. Picture crusty bread with fresh herbs and cheese and pike dumplings, just to name a few – miam!
4. Take a tour of the city’s murals
The early 1970’s saw the beginning of an idea by local students to bring art to the people, and out of galleries and museums. In 1978, CitéCréation was born, and the student cooperative movement has been creating incredible murals on the walls of buildings in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. Famous murals include Mur des Canuts (Wall of the Canuts) that involves a far-reaching staircase up its centre, and La Fresque des Lyonnais that depicts 30 of Lyon’s famous people.
5. Peruse a local market
Lyon’s famous Halles de Lyon Paul-Bocuse market has been serving people since 1859. After a series of renovations and different locations, you can find the market in the La Part-Dieu neighbourhood. With 48 vendors selling a wide range of local produce, this indoor market is a great way to learn about Lyonnais specialties. Coupled with restaurants and bars, a market excursion is perfect for all foodies.
6. Discover the hidden alleyways in Old Lyon
Vieux Lyon is filled with beautiful Renaissance-era buildings, charming shops and cafes, and of course, a maze of traboules. We would recommend taking a tour of these historic passageways and connecting courtyards. Initially built to allow an easier route for merchants transporting goods from the top of the city down to the centre, and also used by the French Resistance in WWII for secret meetings!
As you can see, Lyon has so much appeal to it. It’s no wonder people come to visit from far and wide! Check out Avalon Waterways’ France river cruises today.