One of the things that makes Lyon so exciting is seeing the personality of each neighborhood transform in an instant. On weekdays I love going to work in chic Lyon 6 and then taking a lunchtime walk over to the funky hills and passageways of Lyon 1. Suddenly I’m in a different world. In this stretch of the city you can shop (or window shop) to your heart’s content, enjoy plenty of delicious afternoon goûters, and get inspired by the creativity in the air. It’s one of the most beautiful areas thanks to its proximity to the Rhône river so grab your shoes and get exploring!
Things to See
1. Parc de la Tête d’Or - It’s nearly impossible to miss the very best park in Lyon. From the zoo (featuring giraffes!) to the tropical botanical gardens to the boat docks along the shimmering lake to the seemingly unreachable Île du Souvenir, the Parc de la Tête d’Or is a real gem. Don’t try to see it all at once though--this magnificent park warrants several visits to take in all it has to offer.
2. Street Art and More - Keep your eyes open for colorful creations as you wander along the maze of streets behind Hôtel de Ville towards Croix-Paquet. Duck into one of the many art galleries along rue René Leynaud (just make sure you check their opening hours first as they can vary) and then admire Passage Thiaffait and its abundance of artsy shops.
Passage Thiaffait - 19, Rue René Leynaud, 69001, Lyon
3. Place Maréchal Lyautey - The grand fountain is what makes this small green space extra special. I love bringing a picnic here at lunchtime and admiring the flowers. The wide, sunny space lends a pleasant breath of fresh air.
4. Passerelle du Collège - My favorite thing about this picturesque suspension footbridge is that you can feel a slight trembling beneath you when you cross over, making it all the more exciting. But don’t be afraid, it is completely safe.
Things to Do
1. Have a drink with a view at Les Muses - The top floor of the Opéra de Lyon is home to a sleek bar with all the cool late-night vibes and a glittering view to match.
1, place de la Comédie, 69001, Lyon
2. Rock out on a péniche - Part pub and part mini-concert venue these boats along the Rhône are unique to Lyon’s music scene. Head down to Le Sirius or any of the others for an unforgettable evening.
Le Sirius - Facing 4, quai Victor Augagneur, 69003, Lyon
3. Splurge a little - Treat yourself to lunch at one of the fancy cafés along and around Cours Franklin Roosevelt. For dessert you can never go wrong with a stop at the glamourous Bernachon chocolate shop and tea salon.
Bernachon - 42, cours Franklin Roosevelt, 69006, Lyon
4. Soak up some culture - The Lyon Museum of Fine Arts has something for everyone with its splendid sculptures, paintings and so much more. Perfect stop for a rainy day.
20, place des Terreaux, 69001, Lyon
5. Visit a crypt - Go on a guided visit of this little-known crypt and catacomb at the Chapelle Expiatoire and learn how Lyon was involved in the French Revolution. Note: the visit is in French so come with a translator friend or be ready to practice.
147, rue de Créqui, 69006, Lyon
The Best Cafés and Tea Salons
1. Diggers Bar à Chocolat - Inside this airy urban oasis there is no such thing as too much chocolate. Whether you opt for a basic hot chocolate or something more daring (think: lavender and acacia honey), all of your chocolate dreams will come true. You can also purchase a treat for later at their mini boutique corner.
6, rue Neuve, 69002, Lyon
2. MyArt - Pastel colors lend a calming atmosphere to this charming spot. The brunch, lunch, and pastries are all homemade the menu changes with the season. If you’re lucky enough to come across the lemon meringue cake, give it a taste-- it is deliciously refreshing.
3, place Croix-Paquet, 69001, Lyon
3. Le Perko Café - This stop is perfectly situated for a lunchtime galette or an afternoon pick-me-up before or after a stroll through the slopes of Croix-Rousse. Relax on the spacious outdoor terrace or get cozy upstairs among the mismatched couches and rustic tree trunk tables.
8, place du Griffon, 69001, Lyon
4. Le Tout Petit Café - This familial café makes local products the stars of their dishes, which include savory tartines as well as cookies and cakes. The orange cake is divine--subtly orange with a nutty crunch. If you’re feeling indecisive or adventurous order the café du moment and surprise your tastebuds with something new.
1, rue Tronchet, 69006, Lyon
The Best Shops
1. Concept Stores - The more you wander around these shops the more treasures seem to appear. Inspiration is a chic boutique with dainty jewelry, scented candles and other upscale homey finds. Blush General Store, on the other hand, is the place to go if you ever need sparkly unicorn stickers or quirky party décor.
Inspiration - 12, rue de Sèze, 69006, Lyon
Blush General Store - 7, rue de Sèze, 69006, Lyon
2. Foodie Heaven - Lyon Gourmand is a magical place swirling with the scent of sugar and nostalgia. The classic Lyonnais sweets are all here (pralines, chocolates) alongside a rainbow of glass jars filled to the brim with treats of all colors and flavors. Around the corner the equally tiny-but-mighty Bongoo Café offers fresh coffee beans, loose teas, and plenty of related accessories.
Lyon Gourmand - 84, rue Vendôme, 69006, Lyon
Bongoo Café - 99, rue Duguesclin, 69006, Lyon
3. Outdoor Market - Outdoor markets are found throughout Lyon almost every day and the Marché de la Tête d’Or is a great one. Held every Wednesday and Saturday morning, there are just enough stalls to provide plenty of options but not be overwhelming. All the essentials are here: fresh produce, meat, fish, cheese, bread, dried fruits and nuts, and flowers as well as some other surprises.
place Jacques Elmaleh, 69006, Lyon
Thank you to our contributor: Kelsey Weidmann
Kelsey was born and raised in a small town in New Jersey so spending a year here in Lyon is quite the adventure! She splits her time between teaching English to children in primary schools and exploring all Lyon has to offer, from funky flavours to cool museums and all the hidden gems in between.