Visit time : 3 days.
Lyon is a city of history and culture whose strategic position has shaped its destiny for more than 2,000 years. From the Fourvière district, birthplace of the Roman Lugdunum, to the slopes of the silk district Croix Rousse, from Vieux Lyon in medieval and Renaissance architecture to the Presqu'Île (the peninsula) that developed in the 19th century, Lyon offers a unique architectural, social, cultural and historical diversity. The city has frequently played a major role in the political, cultural and economic development of Europe. To walk through these neighborhoods is to relive a rich history.

As Lugdunum was once the capital of Gaul, Lyon is now the capital of painted walls, puppet theater, silk and gastronomy.

World Heritage

Many reasons led UNESCO to select the historical center of the city as a heritage site: its geographical location between two hills at the confluence of two rivers, a continuous human occupation and a coherent urban development, the characteristic mode of life of its commercial and bourgeois population from many European regions, and an important and remarkably preserved architecture, witness to the evolution of the city over time.

There are 500 classified hectares, and in particular four districts, that perfectly represent the history of Lyon. Fourvière, the first historic area, gives a very clear idea of what antiquity looked like in Lyon thanks to the Gallo-Roman site. Vieux Lyon is a beautiful medieval and Renaissance district. The Croix-Rousse district was listed for its industrial heritage around silk manufacturing. And finally, the Presqu’Ile (the peninsula), is a prime example of typical 19th century architecture.

The city has retained permanent and continuous traces of the periods that marked its history. Walking through the historic sites of Lyon is like strolling through time, from its establishment in 43 BC to today.

Criteria for selection

Criterion (ii): Lyon bears exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance, where cultural traditions from many parts of Europe have come together to create a coherent and vigorous continuing community.

Criterion (iv): By virtue of the special way in which it has developed spatially, Lyon illustrates in an exceptional way the progress and evolution of architectural design and city planning over many centuries.

Source : Unesco / ICOMOS


The first traces of occupation of the site date back to the 4th century BC. At that time it was occupied by a Gallic community whose commercial importance was already renown.

The city of Lugdunum was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, governor of Gallic Lyon. It was on the Fourvière hill that he decided to establish the city. A network of roads was built to expand trade towards the Rhine, Aquitaine and Narbonne Rivers, and the English Channel, which quickly earned the region a period of economic and political prosperity. Its population was then estimated at 50,000.

Political and administrative capital of the Gauls, the city hosted an annual council of Gaul, composed of representatives from cities of the three Gallic provinces. The Council met in the sanctuary dedicated to Rome and Augustus located on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse (Amphitheater of the 3 Gauls).

At the end of the Roman Empire, Lyon was already an important city composed of many religious communities.

From the 12th century onward, Lyon was part of the county of the same name, of which it was the capital. At this time the city’s relationship with the successive popes, especially Gregory VII, confirmed its special status. Several popes were crowned here.

In 1312, Philippe le Bel annexed the city to the kingdom of France, which would not prevent the city from continuing to thrive, thanks to its commercial importance. Over the centuries the city developed its political influence while maintaining its economic and commercial dominance through four annual fairs, whose participants came from all over Europe, especially from Italy and Florence. The city became an important trading center for spices and especially silk. Indeed at that time, François I gave Lyon exclusive rights to furnish silk not just to the royal court, but to the entire kingdom.

Lyon had become a veritable economic, political and financial capital. At the same time, the printing industry was growing and Lyon quickly became one of the most important centers for printing and publishing in Europe, just behind Paris and Venice.

The most painful period in the history of Lyon was linked to the religious wars of the 16th century. It would also be attacked and overtaken by the Protestant Huguenots. But the development of the silk industry in the 17th and 18th century would quickly allow the city to revive its economic prosperity.

The influence of Italian architecture really took off during this period. Located on the road between Paris and Italy, many Italian architects and artists passed through Lyon leaving behind their expertise, thus rapidly developing the typical Renaissance architecture of Vieux Lyon. The important development of the city at this time revolved around urban planning that would be beautifully executed by the grand urban architects of the time – Cotte, Soufflot and Perrache – allowing the city to grow while maintaining its historic structure.

In the early 19th century, Napoleon imposed the use of Lyonnais silk all over Europe, and the industry would grow significantly throughout this century. Silk artisans (called “canuts”) built homes capable of integrating their looms. This is what characterizes the urban and architectural structure of the Croix-Rousse district where they were installed.

The mid-19th century the number of looms was estimated at 60,000, and the number of weavers at 90,000. But it was also a time during which the relationship between the silk workers and merchants was difficult. Unable to agree on a sale price, the city experienced several labor protests in the 1830s that were severely repressed by the authorities.

In the 20th century the decline of the silk industry encouraged the authorities of the city to turn to other, more innovative sectors (automobile, textile chemicals, pharmaceuticals). This diversification allowed and still allows the city to thrive, just as it has done over the past 2,000 years.


The Rhône and the Saône cross the city of Lyon. Without these two rivers, the city would not have known such a rich history. Their role was crucial to the development of the city over the centuries: as a line of communication and trade, as a source of energy ...

The Saône already had an ancient port at Saint-Georges, in the district of Vieux Lyon. The Amphorae found on the site reveal the existence of a pier dating from the Gallo-Roman period.

The Rhône is the only river that connects the Mediterranean Sea to northern Europe. This line of communication and trade has existed since Antiquity, used by the Phoenicians to transport men and goods.

Today, the banks of the Saône and the Rhône have been largely redeveloped for the delight of locals and tourists. These new leisure areas reconcile the city and its waterways. The docks have been transformed into a pleasant walkway featuring stunning views, especially at sunset.

Gastronomy in Lyon

The reputation of cuisine in Lyon is second to none, and has been built up over the centuries. The city’s culinary traditions were passed down through a series of female chefs, called the “Mères Lyonnaises” (Lyonnais Mothers). These exceptional cooks helped make cuisine from Lyon an institution. It was simple food, but of excellent quality. The most famous of them, Mère Brazier, became legendary in 1933 after twice receiving 3 stars in the Michelin guide, the foremost reference guide for cuisine. Throughout the years, chefs have made their contributions to the development of the local cuisine. The world-famous Paul Bocuse is one of them. Today, the cuisine and local specialties can be enjoyed in the many local specialty restaurants, called “bouchons”. These traditional dishes are also open to other cooking trends, and are enriched by a culinary creativity.

The Traboules

Trabouler, from the Latin "trans ambulare" meaning "to pass through".
The traboules are internal passages that connect one street to another through one or more buildings and courtyards. They often contain architectural gems: spiral staircases, facades and galleries.
In Vieux Lyon during the Middle Ages, these shortcuts made it possible to quickly reach boats on the Saône. In the district of Croix-Rousse, people could travel faster than taking the winding streets down to the river.
During the Second World War, they were witness to the comings and goings of the clandestine Resistance of Lyon.

The Painted walls

The “Mur Peint” (Painted Wall) has become a specialty of Lyon’s artistic expertise. These outdoor expositions is available to all, decorating the walls and displaying works often associated with the city’s culture. This urbanist element has become a “tradition” in Lyon over the past 30 years. The artists of the Cité de la Création have drawn more than 400 painted walls in the world, exporting their expertise.
Some examples: the Mur des Canuts (boulevard des Canuts – 4th district), the Fresque des Lyonnais (on the corner of quai Saint-Antoine and rue de la Martinière – 1st district), the Bibliothèque de la Cité (on the corner of quai de la pêcherie rue de la Platière – 1st district), the Porte de la Soie (4 rue Carquillat – 1st district).

Lyon and Silk

Lyon and silk
Lyon owes its recognition as the city of silk to the many artisans who have worked since the Middle Ages in the area of ​​Croix-Rousse: the weavers.

It was under the leadership of François I that the first workshops were created in the 16th century. At this time, silk was used like money, just like gold or silver. Up until that point, silk was imported from Italy (Genoa).

In the 19th century, Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the first automated loom, revolutionizing the weaving process and giving it an industrial dimension. These huge machines required the construction of suitable buildings with high ceilings and tall windows to install them. The architecture of the area of ​​Croix-Rousse is a prime example of this. During this century, the sector experienced serious conflicts between the weavers and dealers on the issue of pricing. In the 1830s, general strikes and protests were severely repressed by the authorities, causing many casualties.
At the end of the 19th century, silk accounted for three quarters of the local industry.

The 20th century was the era of transformations with the supremacy of power looms (47,000 in 1933) and the development of large companies, which resulted in a restructuring and openness to new threads (including nylon) and new techniques.

Learn about silk in Lyon

Musées Gadagne
1 place du Petit Collège, 69005 Lyon
The Gadagne collection houses two major museums: the Musée d’histoire de Lyon and the Musée des marionnettes du monde that showcase in particular silk (the industry and its weavers) and Guignol puppetry.

Musée des Tissus
34 rue de la Charité, 69002 Lyon
This museum presents 4,500 years of textile history, and more than one million references with a restoration workshop and a specialized bookshop.

Maison des Canuts
10 rue d'Ivry, 69004 Lyon
Allows visitors to discover the history of silk, weaving and Jacquard (demonstrations), fabric shop. 


It was a weaver, Laurent Mourguet, who created the puppet Guignol in 1808. This character served as a voice for social protest for workers and ordinary people. The shows were intended for an adult audience, and took place in a small theater, accompanied by his associate Gnafron and his wife Madelon. It quickly became a huge success and became the emblem of the city of Lyon.

La Maison de Guignol
2 Montée du Gourguillon, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 40 26 61.

Le Petit Musée Fantastique de Guignol
6 Rue Saint Jean, 69005 Lyon

Website - Tel : 04 78 37 01 67.
This museum presents different original pieces including animatronic versions of Laurent Mourguet entertaining clients, and Gnafron busy making puppets.

Tourist Office

Tourist Office
Place Bellecour, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 77 69 69.
Open daily: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tourist Office Branch
Airport Lyon - Saint Exupery
Website - tel : 04 72 77 69 69.
Open daily: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Guided Tours
Full price / reduced price: €12 / €7. Free for children under 8 years old.
The Bureau des Guides of the Tourist Office offers more than 60 themed tours of the city, or even more strange and fun tours for families. Information available at the Tourist Office or directly from the Bureau des guides: tel 04 72 77 72 33.
For example, guided tours in English: The Old Lyon Renaissance or Traboules of the Croix-Rousse and silk printing workshop...

Other Tours

Guided tour of Lyon by electric bike.
Duration 1hour 30 minutes, price €30.
Information and booking at the Tourist Office.

Lyon Segway Tour
Several routes possible from 1 hour to 2 hours.
Information and booking at the Tourist Office.

Lyon by bus
Bus Pass 1 day: €19/ €8 for children from 4 to 11 years old.
Information and booking at the Tourist Office.

Visit of La Croix-Rousse in mini-tramway
Full / reduced price: €9/ €5.
Information and booking at the Tourist Office.

Visit the Lyon on the River

Cruises  (1 hour, 30 minutes)
The Bureau des guides of the Tourist Office offers cruises on the Saône and the Rhône. These guided tours allow visitors to take a different look at the city and relax.
Information available from the Bureau des guides: tel : 04 72 77 72 33.

Lyon City Boat
13 bis Quai Rambaud, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 42 96 81.
This company offers many guided boat tours.

Good Deals for Visitors

Lyon City Card
Pass 1/2/3 days: €24 / €33 / €42. Discounted rates for youth and students.
Lyon City Card offers many benefits for visitors: entrance to all museums and their temporary exhibitions, unlimited access to the city transit networks, a cruise on the Saône, a Guignol show, and a visit of a workshop.

Visit the city with a Greeter
Greeters are volunteer residents who are passionate about their city. They accompany visitors, helping them discover the city in an ambiance of friendly exchange (for free). Simply register on Information available at the Tourist Office.


Gamay International Competition (early February)
The competition, organized by Inter Beaujolais, promotes the Gamay grape variety. Tastings, entertainment...

The Fourvière Nights (June to August)
Festival of theater, dance, and cinema in the heart of the Gallo-Roman heritage of the city.

Everyone Outside (June to August)
More than 250 artistic outdoor events in the streets and squares of the city.

Gastronomy Festival (September)
Popular festival centered around the values and discovery of the art of cuisine.

Biennial of Lyon - Contemporary Art (September to December 2017)
Website - tel : 04 27 46 65 65.
Around 5 places in the city, artists exhibit works in all media (sculpture, painting, drawing, sound, video, image, objects and installations, performances) according to the selected theme.
Guided tours for the whole family.

The Beaujol'ympiades (3rd Thursday in November)
Organized by the Young Winemakers. Animations. Discovery of the local Beaujolais wine. Tasting and wine for purchase. Sale of local products, including tastings.

Silk market (end of November)
Palais du Commerce and place de la Bourse, 69002 Lyon
Large market featuring silk products (ties, fabrics ...)

Festival of Lights (December)
This great festival has an international reputation. For four nights, the city glows under the light of the illuminations, highlighting monuments, and featuring spectacular artistic projections. Not to miss!


Food and flower market of Croix-Rousse
Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69001 Lyon
Tuesday to Sunday mornings.
Fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, roast chicken, sausages, offal (organs), fish, breads, pastries, wines and flowers.

Organic market in Croix-Rousse
Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69001 Lyon
Every Saturday morning.
Fruits and vegetables, cheeses, poultry, meats, breads.

Book market
Quai de la Pêcherie, 69001 Lyon
Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  
Old and modern books, postcards, comics, prints, etc.


Getting to Lyon

By Car
From the north (Paris): Highway A6 or N7, exit Lyon-centre.
From the south (Marseille): Highway A7 or N7, exit Lyon-centre.
From the east: Highway A42 (Geneva) or A43 (Annecy), then Lyon-centre.
From the west: Take Highway A89 and then A6, exit Lyon-centre.
Nearby classified sites
Orange: 200 km (124 mi), time: 2 hours
Pont du Gard: 235 km (146 mi), time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Salins-les-Bains (Royal Saltworks): 195 km (121 mi), time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Vezelay: 270 km (168 mi), time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Mende (Causses and Cévennes): 222 km (138 mi), duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes

By Plane
Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport
Website - tel : 08 26 80 08 26
Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is located 25 km east of Lyon.
Get to downtown Lyon

Website - tel : 08 26 00 17 18
Full price / reduced price for a one way trip: €15.90 / €13.20
Full price / reduced price for a round trip: €27.50/ €23.30
From the Part-Dieu train station in Lyon to the airport in 30 minutes. Runs daily from 5 a.m. to midnight. Trams arrive every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes starting from 9 p.m.
Tel : 04 72 22 70 90.
Taxi stations are located in front of Terminals 1 and 2 at the airport and at the Saint-Exupéry train station. The trip to the city center costs around €55.

By Train
Gare SNCF de la Part Dieu
Boulevard Vivier Merle, 69003 Lyon
Website – tel : 36 35.
Main train station of Lyon. Connections to the north, south and southeast of France, including via TGV.
Gare SNCF de Perrache
Cours de Verdun, 69002 Lyon
Website – tel : 36 35.
Serves destinations in the south and west of France, including via TGV.
Gare TGV Lyon-Saint Exupéry
Next to the Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport.
Website – tel : 36 35.

By Bus
Perrache Bus Station
Cours de Verdun (near the train station), 69002 Lyon
Tel : 08 92 35 35 35.
Departures for neighboring departments and the entire region.

Getting around in Lyon
Driving is very difficult in the city, and it is therefore strongly recommended to use public transport or other means of transportation (walking, cycling, boat).

There are plenty of well-marked parking lots around the city center

Public Transport
TCL (Transports en Commun Lyonnais)
Website - tel : 04 26 10 12 12.
Price for a one-way ticket: €1.80. Other options are possible. Free with the Lyon City Card.
Transport by bus, tram, metro and funiculars.

By Bicylce
Orientation Vélo
Website - tel : 06 50 53 88 37.
Orientation Vélo offers city bike tours in groups.

The Cyclopolitain
2 Rue Sainte Marie des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 30 35 90.
Price for one or two people: 1 hour: €40. €10 discount with the Lyon City Card.
Tourist rides on an electric tricycle, driven by a cyclist-guide.

Website – tel : 01 30 79 33 40.
The first 30 minutes of each trip are free (the first 60 minutes with the Lyon City Card).
4,000 bicycles are available for self service at 343 stations across Lyon. Available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sleeping / Eating


The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. These addresses are inside or nearby the classified area. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people.

On a Houseboat

Péniche Barnum
3 Quai Général Sarrail, 69006 Lyon
Website - tel : 06 63 64 37 39.
Price from €120.

Fourvière District

B&B « La Grange de Fourvière »
89 Quai Pierre Scize, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 33 74 45 or 06 63 13 46 08.
Price from €90.

Vieux Lyon District

Villa Florentine *****
25 Montée Saint-Barthélémy, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 56 56 56.
Price from €240.

Presqu’Ile District

Grand Hôtel des Terreaux ****
16 Rue Lanterne, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 27 04 10.
Price from €145.


The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are inside the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert," for lunch or dinner.

Vieux Lyon District

Restaurant Christian Têtedoie – gourmet cuisine
4 Rue du Professeur Piere Marion, 69005 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 29 40 10
Lunch "menu" €45. Dinner "menu" from €68.

Restaurant de la Villa Florentine – gourmet cuisine
25 Montée Saint-Barthélémy, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 56 56 56.
Lunch "menu" from €39. Dinner "menu" from €76.

Les Adrets – traditional cuisine
30 Rue du Bœuf, 69005 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 38 24 30.
"Lunch menu" : €15.50. "Dinner menu" from €26.

Café du Soleil – local specialties
2 Rue Saint-Georges, 69005 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 37 60 02.
"Menu" from €21.

Daniel et Denise - Bouchon
36 Rue Tramassac, 69005 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 42 24 62.
Kunch formule during the week €21. "Menu" form €33.

Les Lyonnais - Bouchon
19 Rue de la Bombarde, 69005 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 37 64 82.
"Menu" from €24.70.

Café Epicerie – La Cour des Loges – inventive cuisine
6 Rue du Bœuf, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 77 44 44.
"Menu" €39.

Jérémy Galvan – fine cuisine
 29 Rue du Bœuf, 69005 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 72 40 91 47.
Lunch "menu" €33. Dinner "menu" from €49.

Au 14 Février – cuisine from the market with japanese fragrances
6 Rue Mourguet, 69005 Lyon
website - Tel : 04 78 92 91 39.
"Menu" €87. Open for dinner only.

Presqu’Ile District

Au Petit Bouchon - Chez Georges – Bouchon
8 Rue du garet, 69001 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 28 30 46.
"Menu" from €19.

Le Poëlon d'Or – Bouchon
29 Rue des remparts d'Ainay - 69002 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 37 65 60.
"Menu" from €20.

Léon de Lyon – regional cuisine
1 Rue Plenay, 69001 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 72 10 11 12.
"Menu" €28.50.

La Brasserie Georges - classic french cuisine
30 Cours de Verdun Perrache, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 56 54 54.
"Menu" from €22.50.

Le Potager des Halles – cuisine with seasonal produce
3 Rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon
 Website - tel : 04 72 00 24 84.
Lunch "menu" (Monday-Friday) : €19. "Dinner menu" : €39.

Café Comptoir Abel – local cuisine
25 Rue Guynemer, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 37 46 18.
"Menu" from €25.

Le Bouchon des Filles – local cuisine
20 Rue Sergent Blandan, 69001 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 30 40 44
"Menu" from €25.

Le Sud – mediterranean cuisine
11 Place Antonin Poncet, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 77 80 00.
"Formule" from €23.10. "Menu" from €26.90.

Le Nord – local cuisine
18 Rue Neuve, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 10 69 69.
"Formule" from €23.10. "Menu" from €26.90.

La Table de Suzanne – creative cuisine
22 Rue des Remparts d'Ainay, 69002 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 37 49 83.
"Menu" from €23.

Le Garet – Bouchon
7 Rue du Garet, 69001 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 28 16 94.
"Menu" from €24.

Chez Hugon – Bouchon
12 Rue Pizay, 69001 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 28 10 94.
"Menu" €28.

Thomas – gourmet cuisine
6 Rue Laurencin, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 56 04 76
"Lunch formule" from €18. "Dinner menu " : €47.

Croix Rousse District

L'Ourson qui Boit– modern cuisine with asian influences
23 Rue Royale, 69001 Lyon
Website - Tel : 04 78 27 23 37.
"Lunch menu" from €18 €. "Dinner menu" from €28.

Le Canut et les Gones – local cuisine
29 Rue Belfort, 69004 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 29 17 23
"Lunch formule" (Monday to Friday) from €17. "Dinner menu" from €29.

Balthaz’Art – inspired cuisine
7 Rue des Pierres Plantées, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 07 08 88.
"Menu" from €29.

Maison Villemanzy – local cuisine
25 Montée Saint-Sébastien, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 98 21 21.
"Menu" from €28.50.

La Bonâme de Bruno – creative seasonal cuisine
5 Grande Rue des Feuillants, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 30 83 93
"Lunch formule" : €15. "Dinner menu" from €28.

La Mère Brazier – local gourmet cuisine
12 Rue Royale, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 23 17 20
"Lunch formule" : 57. "Menu" from €100.


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