Transportation and Accommodation
I flew to Lyon on October 6 at 8:15 am with a direct flight from Turkish Airlines. I took the metro from the airport to my Airbnb apartment in the 3rd Arrondissement by changing line only once. I think that area is fine to stay because it is very central and yet quiet. By the way when going around later in Vieux Lyon, I discovered a very nice. I will put it here as an alternative to stay when in Lyon: Collège Hôtel, 5 place Saint Paul. After dropping my luggage at the apartment, I shopped for breakfast; “Casino supermarché” is a good supermarket option with many branches and plenty of variety.
When should you go?
My visit was in October. The ideal time to visit Lyon, which has a harsher climate compared to the whole of France, is between April and October. In addition, if you want to see the Lyon Festival of Lights, which is held every year in December, you should plan ahead because this is one of the most crowded times of the city.
Places to visit
“Hop on hop off” tour
As I did in many of the cities I visited for the first time, I visited the city with the “Hop on hop off” tour. Doing this gives me a general idea of the city and I can determine what I want see more detailed. There are bus and tram options in Lyon; I have completed both lines. Especially the tram route is very original and fun to make.
I also recommend you to visit the tourist office at Place Bellecour. They work very well and give useful information. As you will see in the postcard, Lyon was chosen as the European “Smart Tourism” capital in 2019. This has various criteria such as making the city transportation very accessible and preserving and enriching the natural structure. When in the tourism office, I didn’t miss the chance to take a photograph with the statue of the famous Lyonnaise (the people from Lyon call themselves Lyonnaise) Paul Bocuse.
Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon)
This historic part of the city, which is under the protection of UNESCO world heritage, consists of narrow streets and old buildings which can be enjoyed on foot. In addition to the walk, the funicular ride from Vieux Lyon to the top of Fourviere is also enjoyable.
The interior of the Cathédrale de Lyon is magnificent. The monks coming out of the cathedral got my attention.
Notre Dame de Fourvière
This very majestic basilica in Old Lyon is located on the hill and has a magnificent view.
The “La Tour Métallique” near the basilica is an important part of the city’s skyline. The tower also called the Little Eiffel Tower is nowadays used as a television tower and is closed to visitors.
Wall Paintings of La Croix-Rousse
La Croix-Rousse, which developed in the Middle Ages as an independent settlement from Lyon, is 254 meters from the sea level. With the development of silk trade in Lyon, silk production became located in this region. The French houses of silk workers called “Les canuts” have high ceilings and large windows to accommodate the weaving work.
In La Croix-Rousse, I adored the “La Fresque des Canuts”. This wall painting, the largest in Europe, depicts the life of the neighborhood. It has been painted three times since it was first built, reflecting the changes in the lives of the residents. For example, one couple not married when the wall first had been painted, is depicted as a family with their children in the latest version.
One of the most interesting things to see in Lyon according to me are the secret passageways called “Traboules”. Located in Vieux Lyon and La Croix-Rousse, these small alleyways once allowed the silk trade to be carried out in a secluded and easy way. Since the entrances have the same appearance as ordinary house doors, you need to look for the arrow and blue lion sign, which are the indication of a traboule and ask the locals.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
After the Louvre Museum in Paris, France’s largest fine art museum has a wonderful building and garden. Don’t go on Tuesday, like I did, and you can visit the museum. Unfortunately, I could only walk around the garden, but it was worth it.
When in Lyon, it is an option to make the nearby wine route. I found it more modest compared to the wine routes I’ve done in Turkey and abroad. But still it was very nice to visit the welcoming producers and be in the nature.
I visited two producers in this area. One is Beaujolais Dupeuble, Château des Pertonnières. They are a sister and a brother at work, which I had the chance to meet them both. Ghislaine took me around and told me all about it.
The second producer is artisan and very small: Charpin Vigneron. Here, Cédric let us taste his wines.
Confluence is the southern part of Lyon, where the rivers La Rhône and La Saône merge. Since it is where the rivers meet, it has taken this name in French which means flowing together and intersection point. The region, which was once the center of the industry, has been rediscovered and popular today with the closing of factories. Examples of modern architecture have given life to old factories and harbor buildings. This region was interesting for me to see the Lyonnais lifestyle.
Pleasant to walk by the river. I also got on the interesting and sympathetic vehicle “Navly”, which went unmanned along the river and stopped at the stations. You can visit the Musée des Confluences, which stands out with its modern building. There is also the Confluence shopping center. Thanks to the glass ceiling, you can enjoy the daylight coming in. However the shops didn’t impress me much since they were usually branches of chain stores. For lunch I chose Woko, a Vietnamese fast food restaurant. I was very positively surprised by its high quality & freshness of food.
Le Bouchon Sully
“Bouchon” is the name given to traditional Lyon restaurants. Therefore, this word always appears in restaurants serving old, traditional and local Lyon dishes. When planning my Lyon visit, I searched for a good “Bouchon” from various sources and decided to book my table at Le Bouchon Sully. I definitely made the right choice. The food was the best I’ve had in Lyon. Professional and attentive service.
I am happy to have visited this very special restaurant which I discovered thanks to the recommendation of a Chef friend. “L’etage” means upstairs because this restaurant is located on the first floor. This is the only restaurant left in Lyon that is not on the ground floor. You climb up the narrow staircase and reach this characteristic place with only eight tables. Chef Guillaume Mallet is in charge of the kitchen, while his father assists the tables with his deep knowledge and manages the service alone. There is also a wonderful view of the whole square from the window of the restaurant.
Les Halles des Lyon Paul Bocuse
The food market of the city, named after the famous Lyonnais Chef Paul Bocuse, disappointed me. Comparing it to the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, which I visited on my previous trip, I found it timeworn, neglected and dark. Also there was the repetition of the same varieties. I still enjoyed oysters and clams and bought some cheese to go to enjoy at the apartment.
La Table du Donjon
This restaurant I discovered asking the locals for lunch, during the Destination Beaujolais wine route, turned out to be a great place! It was a very impressive experience concerning the food, the ambience and the service.
Restaurant Le Tibouren
This restaurant I discovered after finding out the place I originally planned to go is actually closed. Unfortunately, eating and drinking applications may not always show the up-to-date data; so it is a good idea to call before you go.
In Restaurant Le Tibouren, I had the chance to have a simple, delicious and affordable dinner in a friendly and warm atmosphere with only six tables. Chef Alexander comes to the table and explains the menu in detail with a choice of two starters and two main courses. One can feel he enjoys what he is doing and he is doing it very well.
I believe I succeeded in discovering the majority of Lyon in my four full days. Since it is an industrial city, I must say that I was a bit disappointed with my expectation of Lyon being aesthetic like Paris. My expectation about eating & drinking was extremely high because of the fact hat Lyon is called “the gastronomic capital of France”. I must warn that if you don’t like offal, you’ll have a difficult time with Lyonnaise kitchen. Luckily I enjoyed it because I am open to trying different delicacies. I leave Lyon as a happy traveler with new knowledge and experiences.