Beautiful Lyon, Underappreciated Gem of France

December 9, 2013 | By More
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For most travelers, holidaying in France is usually about going to Paris, the Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the many museums available in the capital. But if you’re looking for an excellent destination that is off the beaten track, you may want to check out these travel tips for the often underrated Lyon in France.

Designated as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Lyon’s cobblestone streets are at least 2000 years old. Walking along these streets gives an eerie feeling of being transported back in time. But it’s not the history that really makes Lyon such a delight. The city boasts an intangible je ne sais quoi that spreads traditional French culture with more modern delights. There are the atypical French cafes, the family run little bistros, the winding streets and the effervescent people to watch as you queue for your morning baguette (you’d be mad to eat in a hotel!). There’s strolling in the late evening sun along the banks of the Rhone or sitting out in a street cafes on one of the cities many plazas –trying as you must to at least ask for a beer in French “Une bière, s’il vous plait”.

If you love the arts you will thoroughly enjoy Lyon. There are a plethora of operas, recitals and plays to choose from. You can enjoy a sumptuous evening at the 200 year old Célestin Theatre  situated right in the middle of Presqu’île watching a moving opera group perform or the Lyon National Orchestra perform their award winning pieces at the Lyon Auditorium. If classical music isn’t your thing, don’t worry.

Theatres des Celestins Lyon

Theatres des Celestins Lyon – Photo Source

The Auditorium hosts over 100 concerts a year with different music genres –everything from jazz to indie rock- performed. Fans of the theatre can enjoy re-enactments and plays at the Croix-Rousse Theatre. The language barriers in no way detract from the elegance and majesty of performances. And even if you don’t really like operas, the Opera Nouvel merits a visit. The truly stunning and magnificent edifice is a must-see.

Museum lovers and enthusiasts should pay a visit to the Musée d’Art Contemporain which has many modern visual art creations created by on-site artists, the Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine which is officially France’s second biggest museum, and the Musée des Beaux Arts. Think the Tate Modern in London – but with less rubbish!

Musee d'Art Contemporain

Musée d’Art Contemporain Lyon – Photo Source

Getting around Lyon is easy, thanks to the many buses and trams. But for the more adventurous, you may want to try a bike ride or take the Cyclopolitain in the city. These are excellent ways to get around and take in the sights like a true local. If you’re taking a bike to explore Lyon, ride your bike across the University Bridge where you’ll witness the beautiful confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers and take pictures of the Musee du Confluence.

Cyclopolitain in Lyon

A Cyclopolitain in Lyon – Photo Source

And if you’re travelling with the family, Lyon offers some great entertainment for kids and parents. For fun, take the kids to the Tete d’Or Park zoo, Fourviere and City Adventure Parks, and intriguing Barbe Island in the ninth arrondisement. If they like puppet shows, then the International Puppet Museum is a definite must-see.

If you’re less family oriented, drinkers and partygoers will find this city welcoming. Lyon’s nightlife is  active and alive from jazz to clubbing. You can go clubbing in one of the many clubs around the Croix Rousse. And if you prefer something a little “different” from the standard club buildings, try the Quai Augagneur along the Rhone. These chic and wildly popular clubs are different in the sense that they are former riverboats refurbished and now used as clubs. Look out for the Marquise and Fish which are two of the more popular clubs there.

To see what’s going on throughout your stay in Lyon, be sure to pick up the Lyon-Poche or Le Petit Bulletin from any newspaper stand. You’ll find listings of weekly and monthly activities around the hot spots in these two publications. Enjoy your trip to Lyon and let us know how good it was!

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About The Author: Sam Jones is travel writer for Owners Direct
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Category: Featured, France, Unique Vacations

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