Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Lyon is characterised by 3 main pillars: silk, religion and gastronomy.
Lyon is a city that will surprise you.
You may not know that we're are talking about the third biggest city in France (after Paris and Marseille) that operated an incredible DEVELOPMENT in terms of urbanism and tourism attraction in the past few years. In fact, for a long time Lyon's imaginary has been associated to a dark, dirty industrial city, at least until the XIX century.
I had the chance to visit it during several periods of the year to catch the different atmospheres. My last trip was organised by my university, and this is why we had the chance to talk to some professionals in the tourism and leisure sectors that are involved in important events taking place in Lyon such as La Fete des Lumières, Les nuits Sonores et Lyon Biennale of Modern Art.
If you happen to visit the city in December, you can't miss la Fete des Lumières, 4 days of animation and light shows in the main streets.
Scenographic videos are projected on the most important monuments of the city center with the aim of valorising the cultural and historical heritage.
The fier is actually explained by a popular legend: in 1643 a devastating PLAGUE hitted the South of France, but Lyon was miraculously left untouched by the terrible disease. This, thanks to the Virgin Mary's protection. To express their gratitude, the inhabitants built a statue of her and celebrated its installation in 1854, despite a strong storm: they all decided to put CANDLES on their windows and to gather in the streets for a joyful moment. Since then, lights have a symbolic role in the city and the modern festival, launched in 2015, attracts now more than 1,8 million visitors.
Ostrich, cheese, cold meat, macarons, pralines... So delicious !
We had a great Food Tour in Les Halles Paul Bocuse with a local guide that made us discover the important culinary tradition of the city, considered the French capital of gastronomy. Lyon's strategic position and the presence of the two rivers, the Rhone and the Saone, can be considered a main advantage for the city that developed powerful TRADES and commercial relationships with the surrounding countries. Fresh high quality ingredients arrived directly to Les Halles for the wealthiest inhabitants and the most raffinates restaurants.
We can't talk about Lyon and gastronomy without mentioning Paul Bocuse, one of the best chefs of the XX century with 3 Michelin stars and the prestigious titles of Meilleur Ouvrier de France and La Legion d'Honneur.
Paul had an important role in Lyon and this is why the city likes to commemorate him and his unique culinary art through local events, expos and dedicated tours.
Les Halles celebrates Les Mères as well, women that had an important role in the gastronomy of the city such as La Mère Brazier, fist woman to obtain 3 Michelin stars.
Here a few highlights to Discover Lyon !
Old Lyon: one of the largest Renaissance neighbour in Europe
Traboules: Renaissance passageways running beneath buildings. They allowed silk workers to reach the riverbank directly.
Notre Dame la Fourvière: it can be reached through a hike (about 1h) or with the cablecar for a spectacular view of the city
La Tete d'Or park: the huge park has a lake, greenhouses and a great free zoo
Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon : admire its architecture and the inside peaceful gardens
Lyon Cathedral: a gothic construction that dominates the main square
Les Halles de Paul Bocuse: to discover and enjoy local ingredients
Lyon's Murals: Lyon's buildings hide colourful and realistic murals such as the Fresque de la Bibliothèque de la Cité
Groupama Stadium: a football temple dedicated to the Olympique Lyonnais, the local team. It proposed guided tours, an interactive museum and a street art gallery as well. It can host big music events and ice hokey matches
Lyon Biennale of Modern Art
Hotel de Ville
Enjoy a drink on a boat along the rivers
Try a local Bouchon: a typical restaurant with specialities as fried tripe, andouillettes (tripe sausage), Lyonnaise salad, Coq au vin, chicken liver salad, onion soupe and sausage brioche.
Discover the Fête des Lumières normally around the first week of December. Let this mixture of light shows, graphic and cultural heritage enchant you!
Les Nuits Sonores is a festival entirely dedicated to techno music. It takes place in May with the aim of redefining the imaginary associated to this kind of music and to valorise the urban areas of the city.
Do not hesitate to ask me to know more about Lyon and enjoy your visit :)