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Overview to Lyon: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Lyon from the River

It may only be France’s third city, but Lyon still has more to offer than many other European travel destinations. The southern city crams in an impressive array of architectural and gastronomic delights to make it a wonderfully charming, well-heeled place.

This hilly city grew around the banks of two rivers, thanks largely to the success of its silk industry. While few of the weavers now remain, the area of La Croix Rousse provides a lasting reminder of its glory days, with traditional looms still in action at the Maison des Canuts.

South of La Croix Rousse, the bars, restaurants and boutiques of Presq’ile squeeze themselves between the banks of the two rivers. Here, beautiful streets connect the two squares of Carnot and Bellecour, the second of which is the largest open town square in Europe.

A few sites are dotted around, although the area provides more gentle shopping and socializing than sightseeing. The city’s main attractions lie across town to the west in Vieux Lyon, a fascinating assortment of cobbled streets, museums and well-preserved Roman ruins.

This is the heart of the UNESCO Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why: gorgeous Renaissance façades line the streets everywhere, while the 13th century Cathedral St-Jean rubs shoulders with two Roman amphitheaters (accessible by funicular).

The city was also the home of the Lumiere brothers, who invented cinema here. And this, ultimately, is Lyon through and through: whether ancient or modern, throughout its centuries of progress and innovation, right through to the present day, it’s never knowingly been idle.

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