Lyon, France: World Heritage City
The capital city of the Rhone-Alps region, Lyon was classed as a World Heritage City by UNESCO in December 1998. Founded more than 2000 years ago.
the city was initially named Lugdunum by the Romans, who saw it as an important crossroads between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Alps.
Today, France’s second city is a fascinating mix of architecture, cultures and people. One of the most charming districts in town is the Vieux Lyon area lying between the west bank of the Saone and the Hill of Fourviere.
Broken into three villages, Saint-Jean, Saint Paul and Saint George, Vieux Lyon is home to the largest collection of Renaissance buildings in Europe.
Its narrow winding streets are filled with Bouchons – small Lyonnais Restaurants for which the city is famous – as well as street performers, cafes, pubs and the workshops of local artists, craftsmen and sculptors.
Take a saunter up to one of the quaint Montées that meander up Fourviere and you will eventually arrive at the colossal Notre Dame de Fourviere, the Basilica that towers over the city.
Climb to the top and take in the spectacular view of the city and its rivers. Just beyond the Basilica is the fascinating Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation which features Roman artefacts found in the Rhone Valley.
The larger of the two Roman amphitheatres next door to the museum is used for various cultural events including music concerts, both classical and modern.
The Presqu’ile (peninsula) which lies between the city’s two great rivers is home to fashionable shopping streets such as Rue Victor Hugo.
The beautifully elegant Place des Terreaux is at the heart of Lyon civic life and plays host to numerous restaurants, cafes and bars in the most idyllic of settings.
Just behind Terreaux on Place de la Comedie is the National Opera House, an amazing architectural example of old meeting new.
The trendy Croix-Rousse area is home to the Traboules Lyonnaises – secret passageways that wind for hundreds of metres through and under buildings and streets.
Initially used by the Silk traders as short cuts, they were to be used centuries later by the Resistance during the Second World War.
Don’t miss the Trompe l’Oeils while in Croix-Rousse. These are huge mural frescoes that cover entire sides of buildings. The commercial part of the city lies east of the Rhone.
Here you’ll find the Lumiere Institute which celebrates the Lumiere brothers’ contribution to cinema, and the Tony Garnier Urban Museum, an unusual outdoor museum showcasing the work of this Lyon born architect. Let the spirit of this grand city cast its spell on you.