Ten reasons why Lyon is better than Paris - according to one passionate local

The Local France
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Ten reasons why Lyon is better than Paris - according to one passionate local
A general view shows the city of Lyon, central-eastern France (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

Lyon is a popular destination for travellers visiting France. For blogger and adopted Lyonnaise Aga Marchewka this comes as no surprise.


When I first came to Lyon, I fell in love with this beautiful city at first sight.

Before visiting Lyon, I associated France with Paris mostly. I won't say l didn't like Paris. Yes, it is a really beautiful, charming city and has all the monuments we have read about and all the sites we see in romantic movies.

But, after couple of days spent there, you may feel fed up with the commercial aspects, pollution, crowds and very high prices. In contrast, in Lyon it just gets better and better!

Here are my top 10 reasons why Lyon beats Paris every time:

1. Fine dining - Even if Lyon is not the capital of France, it is a real capital of the French cuisine. Did you know that the 'Pope' of French cuisine Paul Bocuse was living in Lyon when he established new modern food trends and set up his famous restaurant and brasseries? The food experience is incredible.


2. Affordable dining - Lyon also has its own type of traditional bistros serving homemade food for a good price and in a great quantity. They are called bouchons. This type of family businesses is carried on from generation to generation. Thanks to the rich history of Lyon, the bouchons have become very established in the city and are part of its culinary history. You won't find a real bouchon in Paris.

3. The people - Well, maybe l am lucky, but l can tell you that I have met and continue to meet some great Lyonnais who are generous, helpful, and authentic. They also love speaking French. But don't worry, they will make efforts to speak with you in English, though, if your French is faltering. And it is a good place to improve your French too, as you are surrounded by plenty of French people, rather than mostly English-speaking Parisians.

4. Transport - OK, I will admit there are pollution and parking issues in Lyon, but in Paris, the pollution feels worse and it's virtually impossible to get to the centre of Paris by car. In Lyon,  walking also very doable. You can easily visit the centre of the city on foot, and if you get tired, you can always hire a bike.

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5. Cost - France is very expensive in general, however, Lyon is much cheaper than Paris. 


6. Historic centre  - Lyon has a beautiful historic Medieval city centre. The Vieux-Lyon district is a Unesco Site and it provides very strong competition to Paris monuments.

7. Things to do - Lyon has a modern sector called the Confluence, which is utterly original. In Lyon, the former industrial area is currently being transformed into one of the most sustainable and exemplary districts in Europe. In this area, you will find the latest, coolest museum: Musée de Confluence, the shopping centre and the most creative and modern buildings you can think of.

8. Rivers - Lyon has two rivers and Paris only one! Lyon has both the Rhône and Saone. However, the best thing about them is that, when the weather is nice, you can see where the two rivers meet at the Confluence district.

9. Regional tourism - Paris is poor in this aspect and Lyon is very rich. Lyon is the gateway to the Beaujolais viticultural region and it also has the Alps nearby. It will take you about one hour to get to the Alps to do your skiing or/and enjoy the landscapes. Closer, cheaper and easier than a trip from Paris!

10. And finally, a few things that only Lyon has: The amazing Parc Tete d'Or covers 105 hectares with the 16-hectare lake, has a free zoo and botanical garden and became the “green lungs” of the city.

Also, Lyon has more than sixty Cité Création murals, often giant scale designs that dazzle the skyline. My favourite one is Le Mur Des Canuts. Lastly, I will mention the fact that Lyon has about 230 Traboules (Medieval cobbled passageways) and Paris doesn’t have a single one! Check here and plan a walk to discover many hidden ones, especially in Vieux Lyon and Cross Roux.

This article was first published in 2019. Check out Aga's blog about Lyon


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Anonymous 2019/06/20 04:51
Agree wholeheartedly, would take Lyon over Paris every time. It is a beautiful city with a multitude of things to see and do, with the added bonus of being much more relaxed than Paris.
Anonymous 2019/04/03 16:39
All good points! We chose Lyon to live for many of the same reasons - plus, the cultural scene (music, dance, theater) is excellent for both professionals and amateurs.

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