What to See and Do in the Most French of French Cities

Rhone River, Lyon, France // Photo by Davizro/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by Davizro/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Anthony Peregrine, The Telegraph, December 17, 2018

Fine food and culture abound in this most French of French cities. 

Go now

Lyon has been a significant city for 2,000 years. It has two great rivers, world-class records in commerce and industry, a Renaissance centre to rival any in Italy and a dedication to cuisine remarkable even by French standards. Go see for yourself, right now while the monumental grandeur stands stark against winter. If it’s wet, first-rate shops, museums, restaurants, theatres and the Paul Bocuse market beckon. Eurostar’s (eurostar.com) fastest trains take five hours from London, changing in Paris.

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City central: Lyon 

Stay here

Hotel Carlton Lyon (1 on the map above) is four-star plush, dignified and central. Room-only doubles from £118. The Lyon outpost of design mini-chain Mama Shelter (2) is groovy enough without casting aside the middle-aged. Doubles from £62.

Walk here

Start from the Place Bellecour (3) – a square vast enough to host a small war – and plunge into the Vieux Lyon, where France’s finest Renaissance centre crams in around the Gothic St Jean Cathedral (4). Take the funicular up Fourvière Hill for the all-seeing Notre-Dame Byzantine basilica, then the great classical amphitheatre and archeo-museum where Lyon began as “Lugdunum” (lugdunum.grandlyon.com). Walk back down the hill, stopping halfway at the Phosphore wine bar for lunch (tetedoie.com; two courses £17).

See this

Lyon’s shiniest museum looks contemporary but the Musée des Confluences (5) is traditional, romping through evolution, the animal kingdom, death, life and the universe, (museedesconfluences.fr; £8).

Try this

Join a small group tour eating its way round Vieux Lyon via tastings at key outlets. It’s four hours and £62pp (lyonfoodtour.com).

Shop here

Hôtel Dieu in Lyon France, to be the new InterContinental hotel

Photo by ventdusud/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images    

Poshest shopping (YSL, Rykiel) is around Place des Jacobins (6), though certain hip outfits (Marie Sixtine, Bobbies) are moving to the Hotel Dieu redevelopment (grand-hotel-dieu.com).

Drink here

Lyon centre throbs with bars, but my daytime and aperitif favourite is the discreet Bourbon’s House (7), a mix of French panache and London cocktail bar (bourbonshouse.com; cocktails £10.50). Move on to the Maison Mère (8) on Place Gabriel Rambaud for all-night revelry (mmlyon.com).

Europe's best dishes | A country-by-country guide 

Eat here

Lyon has more great restaurants per head than anywhere in France, but real Lyonnais eating is in neighbourhood bouchons, tie-loosening spots for trad dishes such as chicken with crayfish or pike dumplings. The most venerable is Comptoir Abel on Rue Guynemer (9) – three courses from £24; cafecomptoirabel.com).

Off the map

Take a city bike (velov.grandlyon.com) out to the Musée Lumière in the family mansion of movie pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière. A riveting stroll through the earliest cinema days (institut-lumiere.org; £6).

 

This article was written by Anthony Peregrine from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

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