Visit Lyon and give your taste buds a treat!
The unique bouchons (traditional restaurants) of Lyon help make it the capital of French gastronomy. But Lyon is also becoming known for its innovation. From graffiti artists in the Croix Rousse district, a museum dedicated to the story of mankind, an urban art gallery in the middle of a stadium, and the famous Festival of Lights - when you visit Lyon you’ll find a feast of cultural highlights. And in the spotlight, the International City of Gastronomy brings a whole new flavour to your trip.
Must-sees in Lyon
Lyon sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers: a rendezvous which is mirrored by its UNESCO classified centre which joins the modern Confluence district on Presqu'île peninsula. Don’t miss these top attractions:
The commercial heart of Lyon, and its main shopping area, beats around Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrianised square in Europe. But, there’s a fabulous new forum dedicated to the art de vivre of Lyon. Located on the banks of the Rhone, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu with its long 18th century façade is one of the buildings showcased in the Festival of Lights. It’s being transformed into a breath-taking temple of fashion, design, taste and well-being with 8000 square metres (9,567 square yards) of courtyards, gardens and galleries. And the jewel of this new venue is The International City of Gastronomy in the Courtyard of the Cloisters. Take a tempting tour with exhibitions, demonstrations and tasting workshops, a true homage to French gastronomy.
In the Part-Dieu neighbourhood, don’t miss the wall mural which depicts Paul Bocuse, the chef who was a figurehead for the gastronomy of Lyon. Though this renowned son of Lyon died in 2018, his image watches over Les Halles-Paul Bocuse, the legendary indoor market, famous for its stalls packed high with local products. This is an essential stop for anyone who wants to really know Lyon. Head to the Tête d'Or Park, the 105 hectare green lung of Lyon and the largest urban park in France which is great for all ages. There’s a botanical garden which has one of the richest collections in France, with more than 20,000 species. And there’s a zoo, reminiscent of an African plain where zebra and giraffe frolic, plus a 17 hectare lake, perfect for a spot of boating.
On the other side of the Rhône, another must-see is the Croix Rousse district, which was at the heart of the 19th century silk trade. The courtyards and traboules that pass through it were meeting places for the local “Canut” silk weavers. With its designer shops and street art, this is now a very trendy part of Lyon.
Discover modern Lyon in the Confluence district. The Musée des Confluences, a marvel of futuristic architecture, built upon former wasteland, is dedicated to understanding the complex world of human knowledge. With more than 3,000 square metres (3,587 square yards) divided into four major sections, the stars of this rich collection are two almost complete dinosaur skeletons. In Lyon, art is everywhere, including sports venues. The Offside Gallery at Groupama Stadium is home to an urban art gallery with works by emerging artists from around the world.
Lyon, city of gastronomy
You can’t visit Lyon and not make a stop at an authentic Bouchon de Lyon. These traditional restaurants started with the Mères Lyonnaises (mothers of Lyon), a trend which saw talented female cooks set up family style food kitchens. This 17th century innovation was when the art of the good life was born in Lyon.
The tradition took time to be accepted, but Paul Bocuse, the multi-starred chef who was a key influence in establishing the gastronomic reputation of Lyon, was apprenticed to La Mère Brazier, the first woman chef in France to achieve 3 Michelin Stars.
How do you recognize a Bouchon? Look out for the "Bouchon Lyonnais" quality label and discover a friendly ambiance and menu of traditional dishes. Washed down with a "pot" of Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône from the vineyards of the region: a recipe for good taste.
Culinary specialties of Lyon
With some 4000 restaurants in Lyon, including twenty or so starred restaurants, there are plenty of Lyonnaise specialities to enjoy. In a Bouchon, snack on grattons (like pork scratchings), or cured sausages – rosette de Lyon and Jésus de Lyon.
Then move on to:
Cervelas de Lyon, a braised sausage with truffles or pistachios
quenelle (sausage made from minced chicken or fish) or tablier de sapeur, a pork based speciality.
Enjoy with a Beaujolais wine and finish with a tart of pink praline, a legendary Lyon speciality. Perfect.