Situated at the crossroads of Europe, two hours from the ski resorts of the Alps and just a little further to the Mediterranean, Lyon’s history, architecture, and cultural and culinary delights are more than worthy of a detour on the way to the sun or the slopes.
In fact, the city itself is now a major attraction, whether you like hedonistic music festivals (see the annual Nuits Sonores), fine dining (this is the home of French gastronomy) or lashings of history and architecture.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Lyon’s major selling point for many visitors are its distinctive architectural hallmarks and the contrasts in its setting, between two hills (Fourvière and Croix-Rousse) and two rivers (the Rhône and the Saône). Its centre is beautiful, and it’s enough to have you snapping selfies all over the place.
The riverfront is being transformed under an ambitious, six year plan to develop 48km (30 miles) of former docks. The co-called Confluence project is now Europe’s largest single urban regeneration mission, and it include open-air cafes, promenades, viewing points, art installations and galleries as well as nature trails, museums, a huge shopping mall, tram lines and eccentric apartment blocks built like Lego houses in primary colours and blocky shapes.
Lyon itself has a mixed heritage, displaying traits of a typical northern French town in some areas, while other features bear witness to its Latin origins. It’s where north meets south. Lyon’s history of resistance during WWII, of being the cradle of the invention of film and cinema, of its artists, architects and musicians – these all give it a highly cultured and intriguing feel. With outstanding art museums, fantastic shopping and a thriving nightlife, Lyon has become a cultural and dynamic city with plenty to offer.
Thanks to its thrilling dining scene, France’s second biggest city is also a gourmet’s paradise. With the exception of Paris, Lyon boasts the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants and famous chefs in the whole of France, so the time to tuck into Lyon has never been better.