I first came to Lyon four years ago, I fell in love with this beautiful city from the 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 part of the tourist place, the pollution, the crowds and very high prices.
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Lyon has not just one, but two rivers. Photo: Aga Marchewka
While Lyon…it just gets better and better!
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, he established new modern food trends, set up the very famous restaurant and brasseries? And l tell you this, the food experience there is incredible!
2. Affordable dining – Lyon also has the typical bistros serving homemade food, for a good price in a great quantity called bouchons. This type of family businesses is carried on from generation to generation and, thanks to the rich history of Lyon, the bouchons have become very established in Lyon and are part of its culinary history. You won't see the real bouchon in Paris and l tell you this, it is worth a meal or two to experience its authentic character… However, you might find it difficult to stop after just eating once or twice there!
3. 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, so French and authentic, who love speaking French. 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 surrendered by the real French rather than international communities and mostly English speaking Parisians.
4. Transport – OK, I will admit there are pollution and parking issues in Lyon. However, Paris is much more polluted and it's virtually impossible to get to the centre of Paris by car. In Lyon, however, I can recommend walking. This is very doable! You can visit the centre of the city by walking, with no traffic, no charges and so many things to see and admire. If you get tired, you can always hire a bike.
5. Cost – France is very expensive in general, however, Lyon is much cheaper than Paris! That’s a fact!
Aga Marchewka in one of Lyon's many historic buildings. Photo: Aga Marchewka
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. This is utterly original and Paris especially does not have anything to match it. 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. Connections – 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.
Aga has been blogging about Lyon since she first discovered and fell in love with the city four years ago. Check out her blog jadorelyon.com.
Lyon came eighth in the world top trending holiday searches for American travellers this summer, the only French city to make the list.