Lyon, France’s second biggest city and capital of the Rhône-Alpes region, is situated at the crossroads of Europe’s major lines of transport, at the heart of France between Paris and the French Riviera. This city is constantly on themove and today has the most beautiful and attractive urban destinations inEurope. Combining an exceptional historic heritage with a natural liking for good food, Lyon is the ideal city for discovering all the charm ofthe French way of life.
Lyon has been the ultimate gastronomic city for centuries, reputed around the world thanks to Chef Paul Bocuse. It now boasts more than 2 000 restaurants, including the famous bouchons (typical local eateries) to Michelin star-awarded establishments. From traditional Mères Lyonnaises (19 thcentury cooks for thebourgeoisie) to inspired and innovative young chefs, Lyon is a place for culinary experimentation with new tastes and concepts to be savoured
A stage for more than 2000 years of history, the city has a remarkable architectural heritage. Expanding towards the east throughout the centuries, without destroying the existing areas, 500 hectares of its city centre became a Unesco World Heritage Sitein 1998. Wandering around Lyon is like embarking on a fascinating journey through time. In each district Lyon displays an astonishing variety of architecture, from the ancient Fourvière cathedral tothe traboules(passageways from the Renaissance in Old Lyon), via the elegant peninsula situated between the Rhône and the Saône, to the contemporary and original creations by Renzo Piano, Jean Nouvel and Santiago Calatrava.
As for culture, the National Opera, one of the twenty most prestigious ballets in the world, and the Célestins Theatre offer an ambitious programme all year round. Furthermore, the city has museums that exist nowhere else in the world, such as the Lumière Institute – in Lyon – on the invention of cinematography and the Fabric Museum tracing two thousand years of the history of textile and silk weaving. Within this wonderful Renaissance building, the Lyon History Museum and the Puppets of the World Museum have formed the Gadagne Museums in the Old Lyon since 2009. As for the Fine Arts Museum, one of the biggest museums in France and Europe, its collections spread out over 70 rooms giving visitors an exceptional journey from Antiquity to Modern Art.
It’s good to stroll around Lyon… to admire its heritage of course, but also to discover its many boutiques. In addition to French and international luxury brands, the Presqu’île (peninsula) is full of trendy boutiques that have seen the rise of a number of fashiondesigners who havegone on to become famous. Asfor the hilly district of the Croix-Rousse it groups together a number of young designers, passionateheirs of a glorious past at a time when Lyon was on the Silk Road. Museums as well as weaving and silk printing workshops today bear witness to this quite unique know-how. All year round at nightfall the city is lit up thanks to its “Lighting Plan” that shows off some 325 monuments. For night owls, the city is teeming with festive, friendly places, with trendy bars from the Old Lyon to barge-restaurants situated on the banks of the Rhône, not forgetting wine bars on the peninsula.
Lyon is vibrant all year round thanks to a number of events it hosts. Among the most appealing are the Festival of Lights, the contemporary art biennial event, the dance biennial event, the Nuits Sonores (music and sound festival), the Nuits de Fourvière (cultural festival), Quais duPolar (Thriller festival) and the latest addition, the Grand Lyon Film Festival, all attracting millions of visitors every year. Bolstered by its past but resolutely focused on the future, the city abounds with a number of ambitious projects, among which the Confluence district, one of the biggest town planning development projects in Europe, which is gradually coming into being.
The banks of the Rhône
Ever since they were redeveloped, the shores of the left bank of the Rhône have been taken by storm all year round. In the evening, locals and visitors alike gather on the terraces of the many moored barges. As night falls, these floating bars morph into nightclubs.
The slopes in the Croix-Rousse district
The inhabitants of Lyon gather to relax in the “pentes” and share a relaxing moment together. In this bohemian quarter, the bars offer eclectic programmes. The lower part of the pentes are the haunt of younger night revellers.
The Vieux-Lyon district
Vieux-Lyon is a historic district popular among tourists and the favourite haunt of sport and beer fans, owing to its many pubs. In the evening, it is invested by students.
The Brotteaux and Confluence districts
Built in the early 19th century around the former train station, the Brotteaux area is now an essential stop among the trendier inhabitants of Lyon. It has all the ingredients for a successful night out: bars, restaurants and nightclubs. To the south of the Presqu’île, the Confluence district, with its trendy establishments, is a must for all chic clubbers.
The Confluence district
As the Mecca of the electro scene in Lyon, the Confluence district attracts lovers of electronic music to its rooftops clubs, with the very latest programmes. In May, it becomes the centre of the electro scene in France and Europe within the scope of the electronic music festival Les Nuits Sonores.
Whether you are highatop Fourvière, meandering in ‘Vieux-Lyon’, the city’s most historic district, or climbing the slopes of the Croix-Rousse, you are in an area of nearly 500 hectares where Lyon has played out its historyover the last 2,000 years. This site has been on UNESCO’s WorldHeritage List since 1998. According to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, ‘Lyon, an eminent example of human habitation, bears exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia.’
The ‘Presqu’île’, literally the ‘peninsula’, extending from the foot of the Croix Rousse hill to the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers, is Lyon’s modern city centre, with its cafés, restaurants, luxury shops, department stores, banks and cultural institutions. The spires of the Saint Nizier church, reconstructed starting in the 14 th century, are a neighbourhood landmark, at the foot of the former Saône river bridge
The Croix Rousse, ‘the workers’ hill’, as French historian Jules Michelet called it in 1853, actually incorporates two neighbourhoods: the Croix Rousse ‘plateau’ and its slopes. The Croix Rousse is the extension of the city-centre peninsula and is part of the area inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The architect Tony Garnier has marked the East of Lyon with his touch: amongst many other creations, he was responsible for designing the Halle Tony Garnier (the old city slaughterhouses and now an auditorium for shows and exhibitions), the Gerland stadium, the Edouard Herriot Hospital at Grange Blanche (Lyon 3e), etc. The Tony Garnier Urban Museum pays honour to him in the form of 28 mural paintings.
Succumb to the charm of our city’s atmosphere, where everything is gourmandise, sometimes for the eyes and at other times for the taste buds. For amongst all the arts, the art of fine living is the pride of Lyon and thereason for its renown throughout the world. You will find 2000 restaurants in Lyon! The gastronomic delights of Lyon have been known for centuries and owe much of their fame to a group of women known as the ‘Mères Lyonnaises’
Lyon Metropole boasts many excellent institutions and museums that are unique in France. Among them, the Confluences museum, famous for its contemporary architecture, questions the origins of Earth and humanity both historically and geographically. As for the Opéra National, one of the twenty most prestigious ballets companies in the world, and the Théâtre des Célestins, they follow an ambitious programme. The illustrious Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the major museums in France and Europe, exhibits rare collections that encompass Antiquity and Modern Art. And finally La Maison de la Danse, a unique location in Europe, welcomes the most skilled modern dance companies in the world.
Lyon, whose reputation is based on five centuries of commercial and cultural activity and exchange, possesses a number of remarkable museums. From the Gallo-Roman civilisation to the adventures of textile and silk, from the invention of cinematography to the history of the French Resistance, the city’s places of memory always find refuge in the most splendid buildings.
Entirely refurbished, “Les Celestins”, Lyon’s city-centre theatre, mixes tradition and modernity. The building, included in the “extra list” of historic monuments in March 1997, has kept all the majesty of its original architecture, whilst offering today’s comfort and technical qualities at the same time; it is a magnificent example of the Italian or proscenium style theatre.
The Festival of Lights is the major annual event in the city of Lyon, and every year, tourists and Lyon residents alike look forward to it. The event attracts several million visitors to Lyon’s illuminated streets. In 2008, projection equipment was set up in 70 different locations, using all sorts of new technology and new processes to give the city’s historic buildings, streets and even hills a new dimension. It is a moment of pure joy for young and old, and anunparalleled spectacle on a citywide scale.
At Lyon, a city renowned for its traditions, you’ll find not one but two Christmas markets! The first is the Croix Rousse market, Lyon’s only covered market where a living Christmas farm will delight parents and children. And then there’s the market at Place Carnot whose highly original Christmas huts and lighting create a fairy-tale setting.
In the Carré d’Or – the Square of Gold -, you can find over 70 luxury brand names,in an area, ideal for a stroll, between the Place Bellecour and the Place des Cordeliers. Built in the 19th century, the Passage de l’Argue (between the Rue de la République and the Rue Edouard Herriot), is a shopping area covered by a glass canopy, where todayyou can still find shops full of old-fashioned charm: hatters, cutlers, etc. One of the most extensive pedestrian thoroughfares in Europe,crossing the whole Presqu’île from South to North
Nature in Lyon.Tête d’Or Park, with its 150 ha, is the favourite haunt of locals and one of the largest parks in Europe. For over 150 years, it has been Lyon’s green lung, with its vast meadows, lake and groves of century-old trees. Its recreation of African plains is home to animals from the savannah that live there in semi-captivity. Its botanical garden and tropical greenhouses are home to some 16,000 species
The Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon is a Roman Catholic church located on Place Saint-Jean in Lyon. The cathedral was founded by Saint Pothinus and Saint Irenaeus, the first two bishops of Lyon. Work began in 1180 on the ruins of a 6th-century church, it was completed in 1476.
Noteworthy are the two crosses to right and left of the altar, preserved since the Second Council of Lyon of 1274 as a symbol of the union of the churches, and the Bourbon chapel, built by the Cardinal de Bourbon and his brother Pierre de Bourbon, son-in-law of Louis XI, a masterpiece of 15th century sculpture. The cathedral also has the Lyon Astronomical Clock from the 14th century.
It is located in the heart of the old town (Vieux Lyon), less than five minutes away from the banks of the Saône river, with a large plaza in front of it and a metro stop nearby providing easy access to and from the city center.
Each December, Lyon holds an annual Festival of Lights. The tradition dates to 1643, when on December 8, the people of Lyon would place a lit candle in the window, a custom still maintained by many residents to this day. During the Festival, a choreographed lighting display appears on the façade of the cathedral.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1884 in a dominant position overlooking the city. The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan.
Perched on top of the Fourvière hill, the basilica looms impressively over the city of Lyon, from where it can be seen from many vantage points; not unintentionally, the Basilica of Fourvière has become a symbol of the city. The Basilica, which offers guided tours and contains a Museum of Sacred Art, receives 2 million visitors annually. At certain times, members of the public may access the basilica’s north tower for a spectacular 180-degree view of Lyon and its suburbs. On a clear day, Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe, can be seen in the distance.
Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to whom is attributed the salvation of the city of Lyon from the bubonic plague, the Black Death, that swept Europe in 1643. Each year in early December (December 8, day of the Immaculate Conception), Lyon thanks the Virgin for saving the city by lighting candles throughout the city, in what is called the Fête des Lumières or the Festival of Lights. The Virgin is also credited with saving the city a number of other times, such as from a Cholera epidemic in 1832, and from Prussian invasion in 1870.
Fourvière has always been a popular place of pilgrimage. There has been a shrine at Fourvière dedicated to Our Lady since 1170.
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