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Lyon, also written Lyons in English, is the third largest city in France and centre of the second largest metropolitan area in the country. It is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region and the Rhône département. It is known as a gastronomic and historical city with a vibrant cultural scene. It is also the birthplace of cinema.
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All periods of Lyon's 2000-year history have left visible traces in the city's architectural and cultural heritage, from Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces to contemporary skyscrapers. It never went through a major disaster (earthquake, fire, extensive bombing...) or a complete redesign by urban planners. Very few cities in the world boast such diversity in their urban structure and architecture.
Early traces of settlement date back to 12,000 BC but there is no evidence of continuous occupation prior to the Roman era. Lugdunum, the Roman name of the city, was officially founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, then Governor of Gaul. The first Roman settlements were on Fourvière hill, and the first inhabitants were probably veterans of Caesar's war campaigns. The development of the city was boosted by its strategic location and it was promoted Capital of Gauls in 27 BC by General Agrippa, emperor Augustus's son-in-law and minister. Large carriageways were then built, providing easy access from all parts of Gaul. Lugdunum became one of the most prominent administrative, economic and financial centres in Gaul, along with Narbonne. The main period of peace and prosperity of the Roman city was between 69 and 192 AD. The population at that time is estimated between 50,000 and 80,000. Lugdunum consisted of four populated areas: the top of Fourvière hill, the slopes of Croix-Rousse around the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, the Canabae (around where Place Bellecour is today) and the right bank of the Saône river, mainly in what is today St Georges neighbourhood.
Lugdunum was the place where the first Christian communities of Gaul appeared. It was also where the first martyrdoms took place, most notably in 177 AD when the young slave Blandine was killed in the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, along with 47 other martyrs.
The city lost its status of Capital of Gauls in 297 AD. Then, in the early years of the 4th century, the aqueducts which brought water to the top of Fourvière suddenly stopped functioning. This was due to a lack of funds for their maintenance and security; the lead pipes which carried the water were stolen and could not be replaced. The city was completely deprived of water overnight. This triggered the end of the Roman Lugdunum, which lost a large part of its population and was reorganised around the Saône.
In the Middle Ages, the city developed on both banks of the Saône. The name "Lion" or "Lyon" appeared in the 13th century. The early Middle Ages were very troubled politically. Since the political geography of France kept changing, the city belonged successively to multiple provinces. It then belonged to the Holy Roman Empire from 1018 to 1312, when it was given to France at the Vienna Council. At that time, the city was still of limited size but had a large religious influence; in 1078, Pope Gregory VII made the Archbishop of Lyon the highest Catholic dignitary in the former Gaul (Primat des Gaules).
In the Renaissance, fiscal advantages and the organisation of numerous trade fairs attracted bankers from Florence and merchants from all over Europe; the city became more and more prosperous and experienced a second golden age. The main industries were silk weaving, introduced in 1536, and printing. Lyon became one of Europe's largest cities and its first financial place, helped by the advantages given by King François I who even considered, at one time, making Lyon the capital of France. Around 1530, the population of Lyon reached 50,000.
In the following centuries, Lyon was hurt by the religious wars but remained a major industrial and intellectual centre, while the financial activity moved to Geneva and Switzerland. In the 18th century, half of the inhabitants were silk workers (canuts).
The eastern bank of the Rhône was not urbanised before the 18th century, when the swamps (called Brotteaux) were dried out to allow construction. Those massive works were led by engineer Morand. In the meantime, works conducted by Perrache doubled the area of the Presqu'île. The extension works were halted by the French revolution but started again in the early 19th century.
During the Revolution, in 1793, Lyon took sides against the central power of the Convention (Parliament), which caused a severe repression from the army. Over 2,000 people were executed.
In the early 19th century, the silk industry was still developing, notably thanks to Jacquard's loom which made the weaving work more efficient. Social crises, however, occurred: in 1831, the first revolt of the canuts was harshly repressed. The workers were protesting against the introduction of new technology, which was likely to cause unemployment. Other riots took place in 1834, 1848 and 1849, especially in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. From 1848, the Presqu'île area was redesigned in a way similar to Haussmann's works in Paris. In 1852, the neighbouring towns of Vaise, Croix-Rousse and Guillotière were made districts of Lyon. The traditional silk industry disappeared at the end of the century because of diseases affecting the French silk worms and the opening of the Suez Canal which reduced the price of imported silk from Asia. Various other industries developed at that time; the most famous entrepreneurs of the late 19th century were the Lumière brothers, who invented cinema in Lyon in 1895.
Edouard Herriot was elected mayor in 1905 and governed the city until his death in 1957. He initiated a number of important urban projects, most notably in partnership with his favourite architect Tony Garnier: Grange Blanche hospital (today named after Herriot), Gerland slaughterhouses (now Halle Tony Garnier) and stadium, the États-Unis neighbourhood, etc.
During World War II, Lyon was close to the border between the "free zone" and the occupied zone and was therefore a key strategic place for the Germans and the French Resistance alike. Jean Moulin, head of the Resistance, was arrested in Caluire (North suburb of Lyon). On 26 May 1944, Lyon was bombed by the Allied aviation. The Liberation of Lyon occurred on 3 September.
In the 1960s, the construction of the business district of Part-Dieu began; its symbol is the "pencil" tower, the tallest building in Lyon. Meanwhile, the association "Renaissance du Vieux Lyon" (Rebirth of the Old Lyon) managed to have this Renaissance area classified by the government as the first preserved landmark in France, while it was threatened by a highway project defended by mayor Louis Pradel. Pradel was a convinced "modernist" and supporter of the automobile. He also backed the construction of the Fourvière tunnel, opened in 1971 and of the A6/A7 freeway through Presqu'île, near Perrache station, a decision later described as "the screw-up of the century" by mayor Michel Noir, in the 1990s. In 1974, the first line of the metro was opened. In 1981, Lyon was linked to Paris by the first TGV (high speed train) line. In the 1980s and 1990s, a huge number of buildings in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse were renovated. The landscape of Lyon is still evolving, notably with the new Rhône banks promenade or the construction of new skyscrapers in Part-Dieu.
In the future, the banks of the Saône should also be given a second youth. The completion of the Lyon beltway on the western side should relieve the central areas from some of the traffic. A high-performance train network serving exurban areas (like the RER around Paris) is also planned.
Lyon has a "semi-continental" climate. Winters are cold but temperatures under -5°C (23°F) remain rare. You can, however, experience an awful freezing sensation when northerly winds blow. Snowfalls happen but snow-covered streets are generally not seen for more than a few days every winter. Summers can be hot; temperatures around 35°C (95°F) are not exceptional in July and August. Precipitations are moderate and happen throughout the year; the mountains to the west (Massif central) protect the area against perturbations from the Atlantic. During the summer, especially in August, precipitations often take the form of thunderstorms whereas in winter, lighter but more continuous rain is more common. Spring and early autumn are usually enjoyable.
Cultural events are listed by two weekly magazines: Le Petit Bulletin (free, available in cinemas, theatres, some bars, etc. and online ) and Lyon Poche (from newsagents or online ).
Early booking is often necessary for the major institutions (Auditorium, opera house, Célestins and Croix-Rousse theatres). The big names sell out months in advance. Unlike London or New York, there is no place in Lyon where you can buy reduced-price tickets for same day shows. (There used to be one but it was very short-lived, possibly because it had too few seats to sell.)
Music, dancing and opera
- Auditorium, 84 rue de Bonnel (M: Part-Dieu), ☎ +33 4 78 95 95 95. The Lyon National Orchestra plays in this impressive, modern concert hall which also hosts some jazz and world music concerts.
- Opera house, 1 place de la Comédie (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 72 00 45 00. The old opera house was completely redesigned by Jean Nouvel in the 1990s and hosts opera and dancing shows, along with a few other concerts (especially jazz) in the smaller "Amphithéâtre" room.
- Transbordeur, boulevard Stalingrad, Villeurbanne (B: C1-Palais des Congrès), ☎ +33 4 78 93 08 33. The medium-sized hall (capacity 1,500) for rock or popular music concerts.
- Ninkasi, 267 rue Marcel Mérieux (M: Stade de Gerland), ☎ +33 4 72 76 89 00. This is a modern-day institution in Lyon. Ninkasi has two places for live music: Kafé (free shows, essentially electronic music) and Kao (a concert hall dedicated to rock and electronic music). It is also a beer brewery and has bars all over the Presqu'île, and also in Villeurbanne.
- Maison de la Danse, 8 avenue Jean Mermoz (T: Bachut), ☎ +33 4 72 78 18 18. A theatre dedicated to modern dancing. Also a fine example of architecture of the 1960s.
Lyon has a large number of theatres ranging from tiny "cafés-théâtres" to big municipal institutions. You can enjoy any type of show from comedy to classical drama to avant-garde productions.
- Théâtre des Célestins, Place des Célestins (M: Bellecour), ☎ +33 4 72 77 40 00. The historical theatre, in a beautiful 19th century building by Gaspard André, recently refurbished. Serious programme.
- Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, place Joannès Ambre (M: Hénon), ☎ +33 4 78 27 90 42. 'The other' theatre, with a more avant-garde programme.
- TNP, 8 place Lazare Goujon, Villeurbanne (M: Gratte-Ciel), ☎ +33 4 78 03 30 00. Jean Vilar's spirit of 'popular theatre' lives on in the historically left-wing Villeurbanne..
- Théâtre Tête d'Or, 60 avenue du Maréchal de Saxe (B: C3-Saxe-Lafayette / T: Saxe-Préfecture / M: Place Guichard), ☎ +33 4 78 62 96 73. This is the only theatre in Lyon showing popular comedies in the Parisian "boulevard" style.
There are also a number of small independent theatres. Check out Les Ateliers, Espace 44, Théâtre des Clochards Célestes.
"Café-théâtre" is a very nice way to spend an evening with a show (usually comedy), drinks and food. Here is a small selection:
- Complexe du Rire, 7 rue des Capucins (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 27 23 59. Two rooms and talented young comedians.
- Espace Gerson, 1 place Gerson (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 78 27 96 99.
The 200-year-old Guignol is a very famous character of puppet theatre. This irreverent canut who frequently challenges the law in his adventures was created by Laurent Mourguet, a canut himself, in 1808. The main side characters in Guignol shows are his wife Madelon, his Beaujolais-drinking friend Gnafron and the policeman, who always ends up being ridiculous. It was only in the 1950s that Guignol became a children's favourite. Nowadays, a few theatres perpetuate the tradition for children and adults.
- Théâtre le Guignol de Lyon (Compagnie des Zonzons), 2 rue Louis Carrand (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 78 28 92 57. The largest Guignol theatre, showing original creations for children and adults. €9, child under 15 €7.
- Véritable Guignol du Vieux Lyon et du Parc, place de Guignol, Parc de la Tête d'Or (M: Masséna / B: C1-several stops around the park), ☎ +33 4 78 28 60 41. W, Sa Sun, bank and school holidays 3PM, 4PM, 5PM, 6PM. Especially intended for children, this outdoor theatre is conveniently located within the park, near the lake and the zoo.
- Institut Lumière, Rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon (M: Monplaisir-Lumière), ☎ +33 4 78 78 18 95. The museum also has a theatre showing thematic series of cinema masterpieces (in original version). The theatre is in the former Lumière factory, which was the scenery of the first movie in history (La sortie des usines Lumière).
- Comoedia, 13 avenue Berthelot, 69007 Lyon (T: Centre Berthelot), ☎ +33 4 26 99 45 00. After a few years of closure followed by refurbishment works, this independent cinema is now very comfortable and has a relatively avant-garde programme. All foreign movies are shown in original version.
- CNP, Bellecour: 12 rue de la Barre, 69002 Lyon; Terreaux: 40 rue du Président Edouard Herriot, 69001 Lyon (M: Bellecour,Hôtel de Ville). Two independent cinemas; the Bellecour branch has the most avant-garde programme. All foreign movies in original version.
- Pathé. This major national firm has four theatres in Lyon (Cordeliers, Bellecour, Vaise, Carré de Soie) offering essentially American blockbusters and mainstream French movies. The Bellecour branch has foreign films in original version.
- UGC. The other major cinema firm, has four theatres in Lyon (Part-Dieu, Cité Internationale, Astoria, Confluence). The Astoria (M: Masséna) has foreign movies in original version.
- Olympique Lyonnais, Stade de Gerland, 69007 Lyon (M: Stade de Gerland). The local football (soccer) team have been national champions from 2002 through 2008. Their ladies' team also dominates the championship. They play at Gerland stadium, built by Tony Garnier in the 1930s and renovated for the 1998 World Cup. Tickets are not too difficult to get, except for major European matches.
- ASVEL, Astroballe, 69100 Villeurbanne (M: Laurent Bonnevay). The Villeurbanne basketball team has a long history as one of the major clubs in the country.
- LOU Rugby, Stade Vuillermet, av. Paul Santy, 69008 Lyon (M: Mermoz-Pinel). The rugby team of Lyon plays in the top flight for the first time this season (2011-2012).
- Jogg'in City, Downtown Lyon=, ☎ + 336 77 79 35 14, e-mail: email@example.com. 7/7d to 6:30am to 9pm. Sightjogging Lyon, run and visit Lyon. Jogg'in City a fun way to discover the city.  15€/pers for a group of 4 or +, 50€ for individuals.
Restaurants have their menus with prices displayed outside. As everywhere in France, the prices always include service, bread and tap water (ask for a carafe of water). Tipping is rare and only expected if you are particularly satisfied with the service. This is especially true in budget or mid-range restaurants, maybe less so in expensive places where it may be considered more appropriate; nothing is compulsory, though. Typical tips depend, of course, on the price of the menu and your level of satisfaction but they are generally not as high as in the US, for example. If you pay by credit card and wish to add a tip, you can tell the person in charge how much he/she should charge your card.
Meal times are generally 12PM-2PM for lunch and 7:30PM-10PM for dinner. Visitors from areas such as North America and Northern Europe might be surprised to find many places still closed at their usual dinner times. Places offering all-day service are located in tourist areas, and are unlikely to serve quality fresh food. Late-night service is quite rare in quality restaurants, but you can always get the usual fast-food or kebab.
The traditional restaurants in Lyon are called bouchons; the origin of the word is unclear (it literally means "cork"). They appeared at the end of the 19th century and flourished in the 1930s, when the economic crisis forced wealthy families to fire their cooks, who opened their own restaurants for a working-class clientele. These women are referred to as mères (mothers); the most famous of them, Eugénie Brazier, became one of the first chefs to be awarded three stars (the highest ranking) by the famous Michelin gastronomic guide. She also had a young apprentice called Paul Bocuse. Eating in a good bouchon is certainly a must-do. They serve the typical local dishes:
- salade lyonnaise (Lyon salad): green salad with bacon cubes, croutons and a poached egg;
- saucisson chaud: a hot, boiled sausage; can be cooked with red wine (saucisson beaujolais) or in a bun (saucisson brioché);
- quenelle de brochet: dumpling made of flour and egg with pike fish and a crayfish sauce (Nantua sauce);
- tablier de sapeur: marinated tripes coated with breadcrumbs then fried, even locals often hesitate before trying it;
- andouillette: sausage made with chopped tripes, usually served with a mustard sauce;
- gratin dauphinois: the traditional side dish, oven-cooked sliced potatoes with cream;
- cervelle de canut (cervelle' = ' brain): fresh cheese with garlic and herbs.
- rognons de veau à la moutarde: veal kidneys in a mustard sauce. Delicious and textural experience.
These dishes are very tasty. They were originally workers' food, so they are generally fat and the portions are usually quite big. The quality is very variable since the bouchons are one of the main tourist attractions of the city. A good tip: never trust big signs reading "Véritable bouchon lyonnais" (genuine bouchon) or with a list of typical dishes on the front window. Those who need to write this are most often tourist traps. In tourist areas, most notably Rue St Jean, pay extra care and stick to trustworthy recommendations if possible. And if someone on the street tries to get you into a restaurant, run. A good bouchon, however, offers very good value for money.
In bouchons and other lower- to mid-range restaurants, basic wines can be served by the pot, a typical bottle containing 46 cl and filled from a cask or wine box. The smaller fillette (little girl) contains 28 cl. This is definitely cheaper than a 75 cl bottle, but the quality is not always guaranteed...
Lyon was named "capital of gastronomy" by the great gastronomic writer Curnonsky in 1935; at that time there were no exotic restaurants, no diets and nobody was talking about fusion cuisine or bistronomy. Fortunately, the local gastronomy has considerably evolved since then and there is now far more to dining in Lyon than the bouchons. Kebab shops, Asian food, bistros, three-star restaurants: Lyon has them all.
The locals are generally fond of eating out and the best places get known quickly by word of mouth. Moreover, the restaurants are quite small on average. It is strongly advised to book a table, especially for dinner, otherwise you may end up in one of the multiple tourist traps. Since many good local chefs seem to enjoy a good family weekend, there are a lot more interesting options on weekdays.
- Chez Mounier — A traditional bouchon (restaurant) with good food for a very reasonable price (a complete menu for €10). Located on the south-east street of the Place Bellecour.
- Le Ferrari — A place to visit for all tifosi with good food in a special place. Pay 1 piza, get 1 for free to take away for about 9 €. Located at 162, cours du Docteur Long, in the Montchat area, Lyon3.
- La Vieille Canaille - A typical French restaurant where the atmosphere is friendly. You will enjoy the large range of wine, the menu explanation and wine suggestions of the waiter. English speaking/menu in English - Terrace in summer - First course + Main course + Dessert = 23€ - Open from Tuesday to Saturday. /+33(0)4 04 72 71 47 12/ 14 rue Saint Jérôme - 69007 LYON
- Otherwise, kebab shops abound, most with the same price: €4.50 for a kebab, €5 for a kebab with frites. Look especially near Place des Terreaux (M: Hôtel de Ville).
- El Loco Latino, 15 min across the Rhone from Hotel de Ville. Latino bar with low budget food. The day menu is €7.50 and the empanada is €4.
- Wallace Bar, 2 rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 72 00 23 91. Food served Mon-Sat 12PM-3PM/7PM-10PM, Sun 11AM-9PM. This nice pub is a good spot for drinks and live sports, but also serves good British and French food in large portions. From €8.
- Many bakeries offer good quality sandwiches, made with fresh baguette of course. Try, for example, Chez Jules, 7 rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), or Kayser, Place Louis Pradel, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville).
- Le Resto d'Alice, 34, Rue Sergent Blandan (Rue de Capucins begins just south of Croix Paquet metro station, take it 300m west; note street name changes), ☎ +33 4 78 28 09 33. Small bouchon with cute rustic interior and patio located on nice green plaza. The Andouillette and gratin dauphinois are particularly good. Service is very friendly. Also surrounded by other interesting looking eating options and convenient velo'v station on plaza. Full dinner w/dessert and wine €30.
- Bouchon Chez Paul, 11 rue du Major Martin, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 28 35 83, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Closed Sun, Mon (lunch). A very good bouchon serving huge portions. Noisy and friendly. Full menu €25.
- La Mâchonnerie, 36 rue Tramassac, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 42 24 62. Dinner only except Sat, closed Sun. Traditional local cuisine, but the place is more comfortable than a bouchon. Delicious, genuine, home-made dishes served in very large quantities, and a very good wine list favouring the locals - a very good place to taste the real Beaujolais. Upon reservation, the restaurant can accommodate quite large groups. Full menu €28-45.
- Le Resto, 20, rue Mulet (Just off rue de la Republique). Very nice little restaurant with great Lyon food and very lovely decor. Very Reasonable wine prices as well.
- Chez Martial, 34 rue Saint Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 38 31 75. Tiny bouchon, maybe the only acceptable one in a street full of tourist traps. Menu €19.
- Le Layon, 52 rue Mercière (M: Cordeliers), ☎ +33 4 78 42 94 08. Mon-Sun, lunch and dinner. Serves all day (12PM-12AM) on Sat and Sun. In another street full of tourist traps, this restaurant offers very good, classical local and French cuisine. Try the grenouilles (frogs). Very nice terrace. Good wine list at interesting prices. Full menu €23.50/27.50.
- Les Adrets, 30 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 38 24 30. Very good classic French cuisine, made from quality products, in a nice decor. One of the best places in the area. Lunch from €13, dinner €23 to €38.
- Le Potager des Halles, 3 rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 72 00 24 84. Closed Sun, Mon. This restaurant serves traditional French cuisine made from very good and very fresh products, with a Mediterranean influence. The chocolate fondant dessert is amazing. Very good wine list too. The lunch menu is an absolute steal. Lunch €16.50, dinner €34/38. If you want cheaper but just as good, try Le Bistrot du Potager next door, where the same owners serve Spanish-style tapas which are a great value for money (no reservations).
- Balthaz'Art, 19 rue des Pierres Plantées (M: Croix-Rousse), ☎ +33 4 72 07 08 88. Lunch Thu-Sat, dinner Tue-Sat. Croix-Rousse has more and more interesting restaurants, and this one is a fine example. In a "flea-market-meets-art-gallery" decor, you will enjoy a fresh and creative cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Nice wine list, and it is still possible to get a table at a relatively short notice. Full menu €25/28.
- L'Art et la Manière, 102 Grande rue de la Guillotière, 69007 Lyon (M: Saxe-Gambetta), ☎ +33 4 37 27 05 83. Closed Sat, Sun, Mon dinner. Small no-tourist restaurant in a no-tourist area. Friendly yet professional service, short menu but very creative, high-quality cooking. Good (although short) wine list. The best bottles are at amazingly low prices given their "constant mark-up" policy. Lunch from €16, dinner €26/33.
- Brasserie Georges, 30, cours de Verdun (Located behind Perrache Station), ☎ +33 4 72565456. An exceptional traditional Brasserie, serving traditional food with an Alsatian leaning in a fine interior. A real Art Deco treat. Founded in 1836, with a tradition of high quality service. It also contains a brewery and bar and the interior is worth a look even if you don't want to eat. from €25 to 35.
- L'Ouest, 1 quai du Commerce, 69009 Lyon (M: Gare de Vaise), ☎ +33 4 37 64 64 64. A brasserie owned by Paul Bocuse, near the river Saône. The specialities are fish and cuisine of the Caribbean. Full menu from €24.
- Le Bistrot de St-Paul, 2 quai de Bondy, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 78 28 63 19. This restaurant serves mostly specialities from southwestern France (duck, foie gras, cassoulet...). Lunch €14.50, dinner €21.50/29.50/33.
- Espace Le Bec, Le Centre, upper level, St Exupéry airport, ☎ +33 4 72 22 71 86. Before boarding your return flight, you can treat yourself with a last fine meal in Lyon. This place was opened by Nicolas Le Bec, who once ran the most trendy gastronomic restaurant in the city and offers quality bistronomic cuisine. 2-course menu from €20, 3-course menu from €25.
- Paul Bocuse (Auberge du Pont de Collonges), 40 rue de la Plage, 69660 Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, ☎ +33 4 72 42 90 90. The master of all chefs. Taste the legend of "Monsieur Paul", who is over 80 years old and still runs this palace restaurant... and many others. From €100.
- Au 14 Février, 6 rue Mourguet (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 92 91 39. Tue-Sat dinner only. If you can book at least two months in advance and are ready for a "surprise" menu, this tiny place (16 seats!) run by Japanese chef Tsuyoshi Arai is a rather unique experience. Just tell your waiter what you don't like or can't eat, and you will be served a five- or nine-course menu that changes every day. The cuisine is French with Japanese hints, amazingly creative, and most importantly delicious. Menu €52/€75.
- La Mère Brazier — Mathieu Viannay, 12 rue Royale, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 23 17 20. The restaurant opened in 1921 by the legendary Eugénie Brazier was recently taken over by the talented young chef Mathieu Viannay and awarded 2 stars by the Michelin guide only a few months after its opening. Revisited all-time classics (Bresse poultry with truffles, artichokes with foie gras). Lunch menu €35, dinner menus €55/75/95.
- L'Auberge de l'Ile, Place Notre-Dame, île Barbe, 69009 Lyon (B: 40/43/31-Ile Barbe). One of the best places in Lyon, in a 17th-century building on a lovely island on the Saône. Menus €95/125.
- Têtedoie, Montée du Chemin Neuf, 69005 Lyon (F: Minimes), ☎ +33 4 78 29 40 10, e-mail: email@example.com. A new address for a well-recognized chef. The previous restaurant had a classic dining room on the banks of the Saône. Têtedoie is now taking his restaurant to the next level with a prestigious location offering one of the best views in town and a very contemporary decor, with the same culinary spirit and prices. The wine list is so big they have to carry it around on a trolley. The place also features a wine bar, a "bistro-style" terrace (€40/50) and an Italian restaurant. Lunch €40, dinner €56/68/76/96.
Ice cream, pastries, brunch
- Chez Jules, Place Saint Paul, Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon). A fantastically authentic bakery. Try the tarte aux fraises and the mini quiches. Perfect for breakfast, a snack or an early lunch.
- Nardone, 3 place Ennemond Fousseret/26 quai de Bondy, (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 28 29 09. Summer: Mon-Sun 9AM-1AM, winter: Wed-Sun 10AM-7PM, closed Dec 31-Mar 10. Delicious ice cream with very original flavours, served on a very pleasant terrace. Completely overcrowded on sunny weekends, be prepared to queue... but it is worth the wait if you are a real ice cream fan. From €7.
- Boulangerie du Palais, 8 rue du Palais de Justice (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 37 09 43. In this small bakery, you will find good praline tarts, a popular local dessert.
- Les Enfants Gâtés, 3 place Sathonay (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 30 76 24. Summer: Mon-Sun 12PM-12AM, winter: Tue-Sun 10AM-7PM. Very good ice cream, on a lovely neighbourhood square. Also a good Sunday brunch.
- Pain et Cie, 13 rue des Quatre Chapeaux (M: Cordeliers), ☎ +33 4 78 38 29 84. Mon-Sat 7AM-10:30PM. This place is quite popular for its Sunday brunch. Brunch €18.
- Quai des Arts, 8 bis quai Saint-Vincent (B: 19/31/44 - Subsistances or Homme de la Roche), ☎ +33 4 72 00 97 36. Brunch Sun 11AM-3PM. The restaurant of the Subsistances cultural centre has Sunday brunch, the food is varied and tasty and the place is very pleasant, overlooking the Saône. Book in advance and ask for a table upstairs. Brunch €22.
- Boulangerie Paul, 1 Rue de Brest. Pastries and baguettes make it good for breakfast or lunch, and a great setting to eat it in if you can grab one of the little tables.
Lyon offers some nice nightlife. A good starting point is Place des Terreaux and then upwards towards the Croix Rousse. In the streets that climb the hill there are many nice places.
Foreign students often gather in English or Irish pubs, which are more particularly concentrated in the Vieux Lyon area. English-speaking staff everywhere of course...
- Kelly's Irish Pub, 12 quai Romain Rolland (M : Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 85 53 31, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 3PM-3AM daily. Irish pub, live music on saturday, irish music sessions on thursday, quiz every monday, pool, darts, irish and english pub food, air conditioning
- Albion, 12 rue Sainte Catherine (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 28 33 00. Beer, whiskey and rock. "The best pub quiz in Lyon" - Special Music Quiz once a month.
- Paddy's Corner, 4 Rue de la Terrasse (M: Croix-Rousse), ☎ +33 9 52 11 21 76. 9am-2am. Perfect little pub in the Croix-Rousse area, off the beaten track. Live music sessions every Thursday, Pub Quiz on Tuesdays.
- Johnny Walsh's, 56 rue St Georges (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 42 98 76. Tue-Thu 7PM-2AM, Fri-Sun 7PM-3AM. Nice, authentic Irish pub with good music and some live performances.
- Wallace, 2 rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 72 00 23 91. Mon-Sun 11AM-3AM. Comfortable beer and whisky bar with a nice terrace, live sports, pub quiz on Thursdays.
- St James's Pub, 19 rue St Jean (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 37 36 70. Irish pub.
- The Smoking Dog, 16 rue Lainerie (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 9 64 06 68 90. English pub. Pub quiz on Tuesdays. Air conditioning.
- Hot Club de Lyon, 26 rue Lanterne, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 3 78 39 54 74 (at night). Tue-Thu 9:30PM Fri-Sat 10PM. Jazz club (since 1948), in an old typical cellar, with good live jazz 5 nights/week.
- Le Bec de Jazz, 19 rue Burdeau, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville / Croix Paquet), ☎ +33 6 81 24 37 83. Wed-Sat 10PM-5AM. Nice jazz club, with live jazz and a great atmosphere.
- Le Phoebus, 22 rue Pouteau, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville / Croix Paquet), ☎ +33 6 84 62 52 69. Tue-Wed 6PM-2AM, Thu 6PM-3AM, Fri-Sat 12PM-3AM. Pub with nice live music (African, reggae).
- The Beers, 3 place St Paul, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul), ☎ +33 4 72 00 23 60. Nice little bar with a large selection of beers. Very pleasant terrace.
- L'Abreuvoir, 18 rue Ste Catherine, 69001 Lyon (M: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 4 78 30 17 90. Mon-Sun 5PM-1AM. There you can join some crazy French listening to crazy French music. Definitely an experience, though not everyone's cup of tea.
- El Loco Latino, 32, rue Pasteur, next to the Guillotière metro station. A small, but lively Latin bar, open daily until 1AM.
- L'Amsterdam, 21 Quai Romain Rolland, nice Dutch pub.
- Le Perroquet Bourré (The Drunk Parrot), 18 Rue Saint Catherine. Cheap rum, the inside is decorated as a pirate ship.
- Le Fruit Defendu, Rue Chavanne. A great little hole-in-the-wall bar, good for beers and cocktails, and a great place to start the night! Try the Stella with a shot of orange liquor!
At the quai Albert Augagneur is another centre of Lyon nightlife. Along the Rhone river are several out of duty riverboats (péniches) that serve as nightclubs or bars.
- Sirius, 21 quai Augagneur. Live events almost every day of the week. On weekends, there are two dancefloors with all kinds of music. No dress code! Nice.
- Q-Boat, 21 Quai Augagneur. Another boat, here the hype crowd will feel at home.
- Marquise. Quai Augagneur. Here you get nice alternative hip-hop, retro soul, etc. Sometimes theatre performances.
Lyon is certainly a great starting point to explore the French vineyards: Beaujolais, Burgundy, Rhône Valley and the less known Jura, Savoie and Bugey are all within two hours drive. It is therefore unsurprising to see an increasing number of wine bars in Lyon. Here are a few addresses.
- La Cave des Voyageurs, 7 place St Paul, 69005 Lyon (B: C3-Gare St Paul / M: Hôtel de Ville/Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 28 92 28, e-mail: email@example.com. Tue-Sat 6PM-1AM. Opened over 20 years ago by "Jeannot", the picturesque and loud-mouthed owner of the other bar next door, this small and friendly wine bar has built a wide and interesting selection of several hundred wines over the years. Of course the locals are well represented (Beaujolais, Burgundy, Rhône valley) but the list also keeps expanding geographically. Also serves some quality food: ham, sausages, cheese. Wine by the glass from €3.
- Goudyvins, 20 rue du Bellecordière (M: Bellecour). A few steps away from the busy Place Bellecour, a new friendly place where you can enjoy both local and foreign wines with prices starting at €5-7 for a glass of either "blanc", "rosé", or "rouge". The selection is actually quite wide so ask for recommendations, the owner is always helpful and will help you choose your little treat following your tastes. In summer, you definitely need to be lucky to find a spot on the terrace.
- Georges Five, 32 rue du Boeuf (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 72 40 23 30. Tue-Sat 7PM-1AM. This place was opened by the owner of the wine shop Antic Wine. It has therefore a very wide selection of wines (2,800 references), ranging from small local producers to the most famous and sought-after names. Also top-quality food: ham, cheese, etc. Be careful: the place is small, always packed and hosts numerous private events, so if you haven't made your reservation a couple of weeks in advance, save yourself the pain of trying your luck. Wine by the glass from €3, bottles €18-€3,000.
- Vercoquin. See "Buy".
The usual hours for downtown shopping are 10AM-7PM, Monday to Saturday. Some larger places close a bit later (7:30PM). Shops are closed on Sundays, except in December and in Vieux Lyon where Sunday is the busiest day of the week!
- La Part-Dieu, Boulevard Vivier-Merle, 69003 Lyon (M: Part-Dieu). Mon-Sat 10AM-8PM. A huge shopping mall (the largest downtown mall in Europe) on four levels, with most major fashion brands. Avoid Saturday afternoons, the place is awfully crowded.
- Rue de la République, 69002 Lyon (M: Cordeliers/Bellecour). This pedestrian street is the main downtown shopping spot. Also check out Rue du Président Edouard Herriot (more expensive in general) and Rue de Brest; these three streets run parallel to each other along Presqu'île.
- Rue du Président Edouard Herriot, rue Gasparin, rue Émile Zola, rue des Archers, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour). In the "golden square" between Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins, you will find a number of famous luxury brands.
- Rue Victor Hugo, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo/Perrache). Brand names and tourist traps south of Bellecour.
- Rue Auguste Comte, 69002 Lyon (M: Bellecour/Ampère Victor Hugo). Parallel to rue Victor Hugo, this is where you will find most antique shops in Lyon.
- Carré de Soie, Avenue de Böhlen, 69120 Vaulx-en-Velin (M/T: Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie). Mon-Sat 10AM-7:30PM, some stores open Sun. New shopping mall (opened April 2009) with fashion stores, restaurants and a cinema multiplex, in a developing suburban area.
- Confluence, 7 rue Paul Montrochet, 69002 Lyon (T: Hôtel de Région-Montrochet). Mon-Sat 10AM-8PM, some stores open Sun. New shopping mall (opened April 2012) with fashion stores, restaurants and a cinema multiplex, in a new area.
- Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, 102 cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon (B: C3-Halles Paul Bocuse, M/T: Part-Dieu). Tue-Sat 7AM-12PM and 3PM-7PM, Sun 7AM-12PM. Formerly located on Place des Cordeliers, the Halles moved to the Part-Dieu area in 1971. If you want the very best food, this is the place to go. It has a price however.
- Croix-Rousse market, Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69001 Lyon (M: Croix-Rousse). Tue-Sun 7AM-1PM. Very popular and typical market mith many local producers. On Tuesdays, also sells non-food items. Very crowded on sunny Sundays, but this is the right time to enjoy the particular mood of the neighbourhood.
- St Antoine market, Quai St Antoine and Quai des Célestins, 69002 Lyon (M: Cordeliers). Tue-Sun 7AM-1PM. The other major market, in a wealthier part of town. Also some local fruit and vegetable producers. Eating oysters by the Saône is a very pleasant occupation before Sunday lunch.
- Bahadourian, 20 rue Villeroy, 69003 Lyon (M: Guillotière), ☎ +33 4 78 60 32 10. Mon-Fri 8:30AM-12:30PM / 2:30PM-7:30PM, Sat 8:30AM-7:30PM. A large Oriental shop, with all kinds of exotic foods, especially North African. In the heart of the picturesque Guillotière neighbourhood.
- Antic Wine, 18 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon (M: Vieux Lyon), ☎ +33 4 78 37 08 96, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tue-Sun 11AM-8PM. This tiny shop has an exceptional selection of wines from all over the world. Very interesting selection of Rhône valley wines, amazing collection of old Burgundies. Very reasonable prices. Also a must-see for port amateurs, with the largest selection in France and prices ranging from €12 to €3,000.
- Vercoquin, 33 rue de la Thibaudière, 69007 Lyon (M: Saxe-Gambetta), ☎ +33 4 78 69 43 87, e-mail: email@example.com. Tue-Sat 10AM-8PM, Sun 10AM-1PM. This wine store is specialised in organic and "natural" wines. It is also a wine bar, all bottles of the shop can be drunk there with a price supplement of €6.
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