Lyon was recently branded as Europe’s top weekend destination city beating out the likes of London, Milan, and Paris for this coveted spot. While Lyon may not be at the top of your list when choosing a city to visit in France, it should. This lovely town boasts wonderful museums, an amazing foodie culture, and incredible sights – both old and new. Still not convinced? Check out these 5 amazing things you must absolutely check out in France’s magnificent Lyon!
It’s hard to describe Musée des Confluences in a single word. Majestic, fantastic, and magical are a few that come to mind. This modern structure is nestled right at the point where Lyon’s two rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, merge. The Musée has several permanent exhibits and rotates temporary exhibits as well. Both are absolutely amazing. You can see that an incredible amount of thought has gone into creating each exhibit so that the viewer is completely immersed in the world and mindset the displays are hoping to convey. From pottery making in Africa, to the wilds of Antarctica, you can travel the globe without ever leaving Lyon! Be sure to set aside a couple hourse (at least) just for the Musée – it’s totally worth the time!
Vieux Lyon, or Old Lyon, is the Renaissance district of Lyon and one of the best places to hang out in the city. Here you can browse cute little shops, take romantic walks along the cobblestone streets, or soak in the old architecture and beautiful buildings for which the area is famous. The prime time for hanging out in Vieux Lyon is in the evenings when the restaurants have tables set up on the streets and you can watch twilight fall over the city while sipping on excellent Rhône wine. Of course there are a few must-see museums in the area so you might consider dropping by in the early afternoon and hanging around through dinner!
The Fourvière Basilica is one of Lyon’s most iconic buildings and you can’t go wrong by taking the funicular up the mountain to see it. There are several tours of the Basilica offered on a daily basis and for the price of just 7 Euros a tour guide will take you all the way to the top of the building, while explaining its history along the way. This is easily one of the best tours I’ve taken to date as we were allowed to walk all around the roof section and climb the Basilica’s towers. For a killer view of Lyon, you can’t do better than this! Just be aware that the majority of tours are carried out in French, so you may want to brush up on your language studies beforehand.
I know what you’re thinking: how could a puppet show possibly be one of Lyon’s must-see things? Well, locals are quite proud of the history of the Guignol puppet theatre which was created back in the 18th century by a dentist (a.k.a. someone who pulls people’s teeth out). The show features slapstick comedy that both children and witty adults are supposed to be able to understand. As you can imagine, it’s carried out completely in French, but this shouldn’t deter you from going if you don’t know anything of the language. Even if you can’t understand what the puppets are saying, laughter is contagious and it’s worth it just to see how French children interact with the puppets. The highlight of the show is that at the end you’re allowed to go backstage and meet the puppet masters and see how the show is done!
Lyon is one of the cities in the world with the most mural paintings – many of which are truly incredible works of art. Many of Lyon’s most popular murals can be found in the Croix-Rousse area and you can easily spend half a day wandering its winding streets in search of the next artistic surprise. Of course none are as detailed and impressive as the famous Le Mur des Canuts which is a massive fresco dedicated to the silk workers for which the city is known. Le Mur des Canuts is considered a living mural because it changes every ten years or so to reflect life in modern Lyon. It really is a gorgeous work of art and as Europe’s largest mural is something you definitely can’t miss out on!
What are some of your favorite sites to hang out at in Lyon? Share your best suggestions with us!