Lyon is a gastronomic capital. It’s the home of Paul Bocuse, often listed among the world’s greatest chefs, and there’s a high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants. You may also want to visit a traditional bouchon. These old-style taverns, often with wood panelling and checked tablecloths, serve local Lyonnaise cuisine.
The area around Place Bellecour and Hôtel de Ville, at the north end of the Presqu’île peninsula, has long been at the heart of Lyon’s dining scene. There are also plenty of trendy places to try in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood.
The 6th arrondissement has plenty of restaurants for you to explore, both French and international. The southern half of this neighbourhood, Les Brotteaux, is one of the city’s highest-regarded restaurant and bar areas.
The 7th arrondissement is booming culturally, and has dozens of informal bistro-style restaurants. In particular, Guillotière, near the river, is a multicultural district serving cuisine from around the world.
The chef recommends...
- Andouillette: A coarse-grained sausage made with chunks of meat (usually pork), sometimes also tripe, plus pepper, wine and onions.
- Quenelles de Brochet: Shaped balls of ground pike, bound together with breadcrumbs and egg. Often grilled and served with a creamy sauce (“sauce mousseline”).
- Lyonnaise potatoes: Thinly sliced potatoes and onions, sautéed in butter and served with parsley.
- Coussins de Lyon: Popular sweets made from pale green marzipan, filled with a chocolate ganache and flavoured with curacao liqueur.
Shopping in Lyon
Central Lyon is packed with upmarket boutiques and eclectic shops. You’ll also find department stores and shopping centres, and around 40 markets sell fresh produce, often direct from the farms. One favourite souvenir to take home is the local sweet treat, coussins de Lyon.
For luxury goods and designer fashion, you’ll be spoiled for choice in central Presqu’île, which is filled with galleries and arcades. The Carré d’or (Golden Square) area, between Place Bellecour and Place des Cordeliers, has a wide range of high-quality boutiques.
North of Presqu’île, Croix-Rousse is a happy hunting ground for bargains. Many young artisans have moved here, and you’ll find second-hand clothes stores, designer boutiques and specialist book shops.
The more modern business district of Part-Dieu, east of the Rhône in the 3rd arrondissement, is home to the Centre Commercial Part Dieu, a shopping centre with over 260 retail outlets on four floors, including a branch of the Galeries Lafayette department store.
Top markets in Lyon
- Held every Sunday in the suburb of Villeurbanne, Puces du Canal is the only flea market in the region, and a gathering place for fans of art and antiques.
- Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse, a covered market named after the city’s superstar chef, sells a wide variety of excellent-quality food.
- Marché Saint-Antoine, on Quai Saint-Antoine, and Marché de la Croix Rousse, on Boulevard de la Croix Rousse, are the two main farmers markets, both open daily except Monday.
- For second-hand books, postcards or comic books, try the market on Quai de la Pêcherie.
Culture & Nightlife in Lyon
In recent decades, Lyon has become a cultural hub, with a wide range of arts venues and popular annual events. Art buffs can explore galleries across the city, music lovers have no shortage of performances to choose from and ravers can dance into the early hours.
You’ll find numerous art galleries and studios in the former silk manufacturing district of Croix-Rousse. South of here, the 7th arrondissement is a trendy multicultural area with a thriving nightlife scene, thanks largely to clubs such as Live Station DIY.
Presqu’île, and particularly the area to the south of Place Bellecour, is another place that’s now full of galleries and late-night bars.
Some Lyon suburbs also have great nightlife , including Villeurbanne and Vaulx-en-Velin. The latter is mainly popular for Grrrnd Zero, a cultural centre in a former factory that has a buzzing underground arts and music scene.
Music clubs and live venues in Lyon
- Le Sucre in La Confluence is an electro-dance club hosting big-name international acts in a former sugar factory.
- Also a former factory, Transbordeur is one of Lyon’s largest venues, hosting an eclectic choice of acts.
- Le Sonic is a rock music club, on a barge moored by the Gare de Perrache. It often hosts internationally known bands.
- L’Epicerie Moderne, in a southern suburb, has a reputation as the region’s most important indie music venue.
Visiting Lyon with a Family
From museums to adventure parks and zoos, Lyon has a wealth of offerings to keep kids of all ages amused. Older children will enjoy the huge range of exhibits in the city’s museums, while toddlers can let off steam in one of the many parks and playgrounds.
A highlight for many smaller children is Parc de la Tete d'Or, the largest urban park in France. You’ll find a boating lake here, as well as a traditional carousel for children to ride on. It’s also home to Lyon Zoo, which is free to enter.
Other notable central parks you may want to check out include Parc Blandan and Parc Chambovet. Several city squares have playground areas, including Place Bellecour, in the heart of Presqu’île.
Family attractions in and around Lyon
- At the top of Fourvière hill, France Aventures Fourvière is an aerial adventure park with climbing ropes, rope bridges and ziplines.
- Unusual but fascinating, Lyon’s Automatons Museum has a collection of 250 animated dolls spread out over 20 scenes.
- In Villars-les-Dombes, 25 km from Lyon, you can visit Parc Oiseaux, a bird park that’s home to around 400 species from around the world.
- Around 40 km north of Lyon, Touro Parc is a zoo and amusement park, with over 700 animal species. It also has a waterpark with giant waterslides.