Straddling the mighty Rhône and Saône rivers between Burgundy and Provence, Lyon has been among France's leading cities since Roman times. In spite of its workaday, business-first facade, Lyon is France's most historic and culturally important city after Paris. You'll experience two different-as-night-and-day cities: the Old World cobbled alleys, pastel Renaissance mansions, and colorful shops of Vieux Lyon; and the more staid but classy, Parisian-feeling shopping streets of the Presqu'île. Once you're settled, this big city feels relaxed, welcoming, and surprisingly untouristy. It seems everyone's enjoying the place — and they're all French.
At a Glance
▲▲ Roman Theaters and Gallo-Roman Museum Fine museum covering Roman Lyon.
▲▲ Vieux Lyon The city's fascinating, traffic-free historic core, with intriguing covered passageways.
▲ Notre-Dame Basilica Lyon's ornate version of Paris' Sacré-Cœur.
▲ Museum of Fine Arts France's second-most-important fine-arts museum (after the Louvre).
▲ Resistance and Deportation History Center Displays and videos telling the inspirational story of the French Resistance.
▲ Lumière Museum Museum of film, dedicated to the Lumière brothers' pivotal contribution.
St. Jean Cathedral Gothic church with 700-year-old astronomical clock and lovely stained-glass windows.
Gadagne Museums Two museums bringing to life Lyon's glory days and the tradition of Guignol puppets, housed in gorgeous Renaissance building.
Atelier de la Soierie Workshop demonstrating handmade silk printing and screen painting.
La Croix-Rousse Fun, avant-garde, historic neighborhood with great morning produce market and vertical pedestrian lanes.
Museums of Textiles and Decorative Arts Pair of museums, one tracing the development of textile weaving over 2,000 years, the other featuring 18th-century decor in a mansion.