Arriving -- One of the easiest ways to reach Lyon is by train. From central London, you can take the Eurostar via Lille or Paris in under 6 hr. It’s a good stopover en route to the Alps or the Riviera with the high-speed TGV from Paris takes only 2 hr. from Paris. One-way fares from Paris start around 55€, although cheaper deals can be found online at the SNCF website: www.oui.sncf. Alternatively, you can call tel. 36-35 (.40€/min.). 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. Lyon makes a good stopover en route to the Alps or the Riviera.
By plane, it’s a 1-hr. flight from Paris to Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport (www.lyonaeroports.com; tel. 0426-007-007), 25km (16 miles) east of the city. The 30-min. Rhônexpress tram link (www.rhonexpress.fr) from the airport runs every quarter of an hour to central Lyon (100m/328 ft. from TGV train station Lyon Part-Dieu) for 14.70€. Taxis cost 40€ to 45€ by day and 55€ to 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 only Lyon tourist office 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 1.80€ for the average ride or else 16.60€ for a carnet of 10 tickets. You can buy tickets from tram drivers or at machines at metro stations (although the machines don’t accept notes or some international credit cards, so it’s best to use coins). Most short-time visitors may want to purchase a Ticket Liberté day pass for 5.60€, 11€ for a 48-hr. pass or 15€ for a 72-hr. pass. Trams run from 5am (from 6am on Sun) to 11:45pm with trams every 5 to 15 min. depending upon the line.
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. 0825-00-25-22); Sixt (tel. 04-78-18-92-01); 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.
Recalling the Croix-Rousse funicular that ran from 1862 to 1967, a new tram has opened that takes tourists on a 1-hr.-long tour through La Croix Rousse district (9€ adults, 5€ children ages 4–11). Winding uphill through the narrow streets, tram-riders can enjoy views over the Gallo-Roman amphitheater and make stops at the silk workshop and traboules. For more information, visit www.lyoncitytour.fr.
Special Events — Music lovers should time a trip to Lyon in June. France’s Fête de la Musique turns the streets of Lyon into performance spaces for local bands around June 21. 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] 04-72-57-15-40 (www.nuitsdefourviere.com). For 4 days around December 8, the spectacular Fête des Lumières lights up Lyon’s churches, monuments, and neighborhoods.
Fast Facts: Lyon
ATMs/Banks — ATMs are widespread. Lyon also has several branches of international bank HSBC including at 1 pl. de la Bourse (tel. 04-78-52-25-48) and 18 pl. Bellecour (tel. 04-78-42-78-15).
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, 51, rue Waldeck Rousseau (tel. 04-78-24-85-09). The central number for most hospitals in Greater Lyon is: tel. 08-25-08-25-69 including Hôpital Edouard Herriot, 5 pl. 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 Embassy of the United States of America at 1 quai Jules Courmont (tel. 01-43-12-48-60), Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm.
Internet Access — Allo Phone, 12 pl. Gabriel Péri (tel. 04-72-71-31-39).
Mail — A branch of La Poste is near place Bellecour at 10 pl. Antonin Poncet.
Pharmacies — Grande Pharmacie Lyonnaise is on 22 rue de la République (tel. 04-72-56-44-00). It’s open Monday to Saturday 8am to 11pm; Sunday 7am to 11pm.