We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Lyon trip report

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
250 posts
6 reviews
Save Topic
Lyon trip report

We visited a week ago at the end of our Spring/Summer European trip and fell in love with Lyon. I’ve wanted to visit for some time, but to be honest, we still looked at many other options, thinking there might be more interesting places to go. I couldn’t be happier with the ultimate choice to come.

Lyon is beautiful, young in spirit, chic, smart, alive, and full of personality and understated sophistication. I was surprised to find one similarity to Paris: There may be something around any corner you come to that makes you say “Wow.”

We stayed in the Presqu’ile at Hotel des Celestins – an excellent, affordable accommodation that I briefly reviewed separately and which affords an exquisite view of Theatre des Celestins to the left when you exit the hotel. The streets around it are filled with tony shopping outlets and interesting architecture. Beautiful churches and great food abound.

We strolled up and down countless pedestrian lanes, some of which are still coming together and will presumably be even more fun before too long.

Lyon has the two mighty rivers running through it, the Saone and the Rhone, which meet at La Confluence (approachable by foot or by vaporetto). The Saone is the prettier and more scenic of the two, though both are very nice.

The streets of Lyon are largely uncrowded but alive with people -- some tourists but mostly, it seems, it’s the French who are out enjoying life and their lovely city.

We went outside to the Theatre des Celestins on our first full morning – the weather made-to-order, the sky a rich azure blue, just a few joggers and dog-walkers in the little square with the Theatre. We sat there with our coffee and marveled at how much we enjoyed this quiet moment.

It was Saturday, so on to the Saturday food markets along the Saone. I’ve been to a lot of food markets on my travels by now, enjoying them all, but something about this was especially entertaining. These markets are for the locals, and the people of Lyon were out in droves doing their shopping. And why not? I wanted to do my own household grocery shopping here (not practical for a Manhattanite)! I can’t remember when I’ve seen such gorgeous, fresh produce in my life. Huge, bright green heads of lettuce, perfect eggplant, tomatoes to die for, olives olives olives whose divine aroma calls your name, and nuts, berries, meats and poultry and fish, cheeses – and plenty of things I had no idea what they were, but most that I’d want to try if I could eat more. We picked our way along, eyeballing, buying little samples, making a breakfast of it and having a wonderful time. Many of the vendors don’t speak English or much of it (hmm, we were in France, after all), but the universal languages of Smile, Point, Sil Vous Plait, and Merci bridged any communication gaps agreeably and enjoyably.

Across the Saone, we took a great walk to Église Saint-Georges, a beautiful old church where it turned out a wedding would take place later in the day, and some of the young wedding party had arrived. We roamed the quiet streets nearby, greeting dog walkers and others enjoying the beautiful day.

Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste had a festival of sorts taking place in the square, and the area was teeming with young people and their families. We liked the cathedral – and the Roman ruins just around the corner from it.

Our ascent to Notre-Dame up Fourvière Hill was a minor adventure and source of humor. We mastered the ticket machine for the funicular, went through the turnstile – and only then were there signs announcing that funicular service to Notre-Dame wasn’t happening. Um, they tell you this AFTER you buy your ticket? LOL It turns out you can take the other funicular, get off halfway up, and walk the rest of the way to Notre-Dame. We were proud of and amused with ourselves for mastering that, too. This was convenient in the end, as this allowed for an easy diversion to the Gallo-Roman amphitheater, which we wanted to visit anyway – and the walk up hill is actually easier diverting through the amphitheater.

We liked Notre-Dame and the incredible views of Lyon from the terraces behind it – I’d have been very disappointed to not be able to get up there to do that.

Back down the funicular, we enjoyed Vieux Lyon very much as Rue St. Jean winds through the old buildings, bursting with appealing and mostly reasonably-priced cafes, bistros, and sandwich or gelato shops. Great eating in Vieux Lyon, and we had several meals there during our stay. We enjoyed the secret passageways, as well.

The vaporetto down the river is only 30 minutes or so, but a nice way to see things from a different perspective, and a fair 4€ to do it.

The Museum of the Resistance and Deportation was a worthy hike. The displays are in French, but there is English information available at the entrance. We also found a helpful write-up on it in Rick Steves France and listened to his free audio guide in the museum. Lyon was a center of the French resistance during WWII, but it also drew infamous Nazis such as the “Butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie (who would get his just reward in Lyon many years after the war).

We thought Lyon filled with pleasant, charming, welcoming people who seemed to genuinely want to know how we liked their beautiful city. I felt very much at home here, a place I could envision living happily. Thank you, people of Lyon, for experiences I’ll always treasure.

Mentioned in this post
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
The Presqu'ile
The Presqu'ile
650 Reviews
Lyon, France
Hotel des Celestins
Hotel des Celestins
1,100 Reviews
Lyon, France
Theatre des Celestins
Theatre des Celestins
54 Reviews
Lyon, France
Confluence
Confluence
408 Reviews
Lyon, France
France
France
Europe
Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste
Cathedral Saint Jean...
1,395 Reviews
Lyon, France
Vieux Lyon
Vieux Lyon
5,185 Reviews
Lyon, France
Museum of the Resistance
Museum of the Resistance
432 Reviews
Lyon, France
13 replies to this topic
California
Level Contributor
13 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Lyon trip report

Wonderful trip report! By the way, how did you get up to the terraces of the Notre-Dame Basilica? Do you have to join a tour to do that?

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
250 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Lyon trip report

Hi Carmila. You only need to buy a funicular ticket to Fourviere. (They were doing maintenance on the line the day we went, so we took the other funicular, but it will likely be open when you go.) The funicular to Fourviere emerges right by the cathedral. Then you can just walk around behind the cathedral to the terraces for the commanding views of Lyon.

Mentioned in this post
Fourviere Hotel
Fourviere Hotel
611 Reviews
Lyon, France
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
WDC
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
Level Contributor
4,706 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Lyon trip report

Fabulous Trip Report, Carolyn. So well written I almost feel I was there exploring with you. Merci.

Lyon, France
Destination Expert
for Lyon
Level Contributor
3,860 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Lyon trip report

Thank you soooo much for this enthusiastic trip report! As you might notice very few visitors actually take the time to come back to the forum and share their experiences.

Glad you liked our neighborhood (I live very close to your hotel), the whole city and its inhabitants :-)

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
7,392 posts
500 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Lyon trip report

Great report. I absolutely love Lyon.

Mentioned in this post
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
Lyon, France
Destination Expert
for Lyon
Level Contributor
1,165 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Lyon trip report

Indeed not very often we get on this forum such a detailed report of a visit, great job! I'm also glad you liked Lyon, in 16 years I have been living here the face of the city had changed dramatically for the better (imagine Lyon without Rhone and Saone river banks, Confluence area etc). As a result more visitors are eager to come and more who leave with a positive experience.

Mentioned in this post
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
Confluence
Confluence
408 Reviews
Lyon, France
Chateaurenard...
Level Contributor
8,817 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Lyon trip report

Although I've lived in France for 32 years I've never made it to Lyon. Your report makes me feel like going there.

Mentioned in this post
France
France
Europe
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
East Brunswick, New...
Level Contributor
451 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Lyon trip report

Thank you Carolyn for your very nice trip report. I can feel your love and fondness for Lyon and it’s people.I am hoping to fall in love with Lyon too. I gradually travel to France, couple of regions at a time, and falling in love with this fabulous country. Now it is Lyons turn for me. Besides of course all the cultural and gastronomical points I also am interested in historical part,especially because my great uncle had taken part in the resistance during WW2.

Mentioned in this post
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
France
France
Europe
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
250 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Lyon trip report

Thank you for the feedback and thoughts, everyone. I'm glad my report has been helpful or of interest. It was fun for me to write, as it helped me assemble my experiences into something more cohesive in my memory. And of course there's much more to Lyon (as with any destination) than just the things noted. I hope others visit and enjoy it as much as we did.

Mentioned in this post
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
B C
San Diego...
Level Contributor
88 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Lyon trip report

Thank you, Carolynsbd, for taking the time to write/post such a comprehensive and informative report. I was "on the fence" about squeezing 3 days into my itinerary (Paris and Provence) to visit Lyon; and now, after reading your report, I'll go with great anticipation!!! Many thanks!!

Mentioned in this post
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Lyon
Lyon
Rhone, France
Reply to: Lyon trip report
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted