Arriving -- If you’re arriving from the north by train, don’t get off at Lyon’s first station, Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu; continue to Gare de Perrache, where you can begin sightseeing. The high-speed TGV takes only 2 hours from Paris; the one-way fare is 73€ to 130€. Lyon makes a good stopover en route to the Alps or the Riviera. For information, visit www.voyages-sncf.com or call [tel] 08-92-33-53-35.
By plane, it’s a 1-hour flight from Paris to Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport (www.lyonaeroports.com; [tel] 08-26-80-08-26), 25km (16 miles) east of the city. The 30-minute RhônExpress tram link from the airport runs every quarter of an hour to central Lyon (100m/328 ft. from TGV train station Lyon Part-Dieu) for 14.50€. Taxis cost 40€-45€ by day and 55€–60€ by night and take the same amount of time.
If you’re driving from Paris, head southeast on A6/E15 into Lyon. From Nice, head west on A8 toward Aix-en-Provence, continuing northwest toward Avignon on A7. Bypass the city and continue north along the same route into Lyon. From Grenoble or the French Alps, head northwest on A48 to A43, which will take you northwest into Lyon.
Visitor Information -- The Office de Tourisme is on place Bellecour (www.lyon-france.com; [tel] 04-72-77-69-69).
City Layout -- Like Paris, Lyon is divided into arrondissements (districts). There are 9 in total—the main tourist areas are listed below.
Vieux Lyon, 5th district -- The cheek-by-jowl cobbled lanes of the medieval town with its Renaissance traboules were awarded UNESCO status in 1998, helping this former slum area transform into a fashionable area for artisans and antiques dealers. Above the old town lies Fourvière Hill—home to Roman ruins and panoramic views towards the snowcapped Alps.
Place Bellecour, 2nd district -- With its 18th-century buildings and enormous Ferris wheel, place Bellecour is Lyon’s finest square. Further north, you’ll find designer shops and one of France’s oldest shopping arcades, Passage de l’Argue. Spend an afternoon wandering around museums devoted to decorative arts and printing, as well checking out the new ethnology museum, Musée de la Confluence.
Place des Terreaux, 1st district -- Locals hang out in bouchons—restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. You can glimpse Lyon’s illustrious silken past at L’Atelier de Soierie, admire Matisse at the Musée des Beaux Arts and marvel at the ancient amphitheater in Lyon’s oldest park, the Jardin des Plantes.
Getting Around -- A network of Métro lines, trams, and buses branches out to serve the city. A plan de poche (pocket map) is available at any office of TCL (www.tcl.fr; [tel] 04-26-10-12-12), which handles all forms of mass transport. Tickets are valid on all forms of public transport, costing 1.70€ for the average ride or else 15.10€ for a carnet of 10 tickets. Most short-time visitors may want to purchase a Ticket Liberté day pass for 5.20€. Renting and then parking a car is an expensive waste of time as Lyon has one of the most efficient city taxi services we’ve ever discovered: call Taxi Radio de Lyon (www.taxilyon.com)on [tel] 04-72-10-86-86 and you’ll be surprised at the speed with which a taxi is winging its way to your door. That said, it’s worth renting a car if you’re planning on visiting the wine countries North and South of the city. You can rent cars at the train station Lyon Part Dieu including Avis ([tel] 08-20-61-16-58); Hertz ([tel] 08-25-80-01-14); Europcar [tel] 04-72-34-32-66); Sixt [tel] 04-78-18-92-05) and Budget [tel] 08-21-23-05-92).The best way to get around the narrow streets of the old town is by foot, while the easiest way to reach Fourvière Hill is by Funicular Railway (see p. ###).
Special Events -- Festivals take place practically every day, especially in summer. Music festivals reign supreme, with the most popular occurring on France’s Fête de la Musique, which turns the streets of Lyon into performance spaces for local bands around June 21. For 4 days around December 8, the spectacular Fête des Lumières lights up Lyon’s churches, monuments, and neighborhoods. In June and July, Les Nuits de Fourvière festival combines music, theater, dance, and cinema in the Gallo-Roman theaters on Fourvière hill and in Parc de Parilly in the suburb of Bron. Prices depend on the act and can be purchased by phone at [tel] 04-72-32-00-00 (info at www.nuitsdefourviere.com).
Fast Facts: Lyon
ATMs/Banks -- ATMs are widespread. There is also a branch of international bank HSBC, 1 place de la Bourse ([tel] 04-78-52-25-48).
Dentists -- Dr. Joseph Benamran, 25 rue Bugeaud, ([tel] 04-78-52-25-48) or Dr. Alexandre Baroud, 74 rue Pierre Corneille ([tel] 04-78-60-36-68).
Doctors & Hospitals -- For non-urgent medical attention, adults should try Dr. Dominique Faysse, 25 rue Garibaldi ([tel] 04-78-93-13-25), while families should contact Dr. François Payot, 143 rue de Sèze ([tel] 04-78-24-85-09). There is a central number for most hospitals in Greater Lyon: [tel] 08-20-08-20-69 including Hôpital Edouard Herriot, 5 place d’Arsonval and Hôpital de la Croix-Rousse, Centre Livet, 103 grande rue de la Croix-Rousse. For more information, go to www.chu-lyon.fr.
Embassies & Consulates -- Lyon has an American Presence Post at 1 quai Jules Courmont ([tel] 04-78-38-36-88), Mon to Fri 10am to noon and 2 to 5pm.
Emergencies -- For emergency medical assistance, your first call should be to SOS Doctors, 10 place Dumas de Loire ([tel] 04-78-83-51-51).
Internet Access -- Cyber Café BD en Bulles has an English-keyboard computer at 14 rue Confort ([tel] 04-78-37-41-46).
Mail -- There is a branch of La Poste near place Bellecour at 10 place Antonin Poncet ([tel] 08-00-00-90-42).
Pharmacies -- Open 24/7, the Grande Pharmacie Lyonnais is on 22 rue de la République ([tel] 04-72-56-44-00).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.