France’s third-largest city—easily reachable from Paris via a scenic, two-hour train ride—is famous for its gastronomy, but beyond that you’ll find postcard-perfect streets, incredible public spaces and 2,000 years of history. Spend your days wandering the passageways of Lyon’s old town, exploring the immense Parc de la Tête d’Or and eating some of the world’s greatest food.

Day 1

Place Bellecour. Photograph by AGF SRL/Alamy.

Morning: Start your day by admiring the statues and buildings at the vast Place Bellecour, one of Europe’s largest public squares. Then, cross the Saône River and head into the historic Vieux Lyon district to discover its hidden passageways, quirky shops and the Saint Jean Cathedral.

Afternoon: Ride the funicular railway up to the summit of Fourvière hill for sweeping views of the city. On a clear day, the Alps are visible in the far distance. Explore the iconic Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica before making the short walk to the well-preserved ruins of the ancient Roman Theatres of Lyon.

Bar Le Florian. Photograph by @carol_ananas on Instagram.

Evening: Bars and restaurants spill out on to the busy, cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon at night. Settle into a table on the outdoor terrace of the Venetian-inspired Bar Le Florian, order a Negroni and watch the world go by as you sip.

Day 2

Parc de la Tête. Photograph by Hemis/Alamy.

Morning: Explore the winding streets and colourful public art of the hillside neighbourhood of Croix- Rousse. Stop by Café Mokxa for a caffeine boost and one of its generously sized pastries before heading west across the Rhône River to the Parc de la Tête d’Or.

Afternoon: Spanning almost 300 acres, France’s largest urban park is an oasis of calm in the heart of bustling Lyon. It features a boating lake, botanical gardens and a zoo containing almost 400 different animals divided into 80 different species.

Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse. Photograph by Hemis/Alamy.

Evening: Walk 20 minutes south to Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse, a renowned indoor food market. There are about 50 vendors packed in here selling everything from produce and meat to cheese and pastries. Sample as much as possible, especially classic Lyonnais fare such as quenelle de brochet and tarte aux pralines.

Day 3

Lumiere Museum. Photograph by Jacques Leone/ courtesy of Lyon Tourisme et Congrès.

Afternoon: No trip to France would be complete without visiting an outdoor market. The bustling Marché Saint-Antoine runs along the banks of the Saône and is the perfect place to spend a morning getting lost among the assortment of meats, vegetables and cheeses.

Afternoon: Head 10 minutes east on Metro Line D to see where modern cinema began. The elegant Musée Lumière pays homage to brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière, celebrated motion picture pioneers. Learn about their story and their inventions, including the famous cinematograph.

Daniel & Denise. Photograph by Julien Bouvier/Lyon Tourisme et Congrès.

Evening: Dine at a traditional Lyonnais bouchon. With their checked tablecloths, wood panelling and traditional fare, these unpretentious restaurants are all about great food. At Daniel & Denise in the Part-Dieu neighbourhood try chef Joseph Viola’s award- winning pâté en croûte.

[This article appears in the April 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.]

 

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