by Céline Crespy
Located in the Southeast of France in the heart of the second wealthiest French region (Rhône-Alpes), Greater Lyon (that includes the city and its suburbs) is the second largest metropolis in France. The city is known as the gateway to the Alps and to Burgandy wineyards.
“I did not know that food was so good in Lyon,” wrote French novelist Rabelais in the 16th century. More than four centuries later, it is still very topical as Lyonnaise cuisine is as famous as it used to be and a new generation of talented chefs is taking the challenge of adapting traditional recipes to the 21st century.
However, the image of Lyon cannot be restricted to the French capital of gastronomy.
Since the founding of the Roman city of Lugdunum, that became the capital of the Gauls, 2,000 years of History have left a rich heritage in the cityscape. You can visit Roman ruins, churches and cathedrals. The most famous cathedral is located at the top of Fourvière hill also called ‘the prying hill’.
In 1998, UNESCO classed Lyon as a World Heritage Site, which helped the city boost its tourist attractiveness. You can know more about its history at the Gadagne Museum that is located in the heart of Old Lyon – known as the Renaissance era architecture district.
In addition to its cultural legacy, Greater Lyon can rely on dynamic urban planning and architecture projects such as the ambitious plan to renovate the banks of both Lyon’s rivers (the Rhône and the Saône). It is worth having a walk or a bicycle ride along the left bank of the Rhône near the buildings of the universities Lumière and Jean
Moulin before enjoying a drink in a floating bar or nightclub. What about an urban cruise down the river Saône, from the city center to the thriving Confluence district? This place – in which the Saône flows into the Rhône – had been a decadent industrial area before an ambitious urban renewal plan turned it into a futuristic architecture neighborhood that includes both housing and trade buildings as well as the headquarters of Rhône-Alpes Region Council.
Confluence can be considered as the most striking example of urban renewal in Lyon metropolis, but it is not the only one. The larger metropolitan area spreads over the former mining city of Saint-Etienne, where a worldwide famous arm factory (Manufrance) became the City of Design and enabled Saint-Etienne to join the UNESCO’s Creative Cities network in 2010.
If you travel to Lyon, do not hesitate to go west and visit the City of Design (the two cities are very well connected by train: it takes 50 minutes and there is one train each 15 minutes).
Thanks to its flourishing heritage and its tradition of innovation and creativity, Lyon is a metropolis that attracts more and more tourists, investors and new residents each year.