Lyon is divided into 9 districts. We have decided to present the town to you by quarters, which in our view is more representative than artificially created boundaries.
Vieux Lyon - Vieux Lyon is without doubt the most famous and most visited area of the town, honored in 1998 with classification as a world heritage centre by UNESCO. In addition to the Palais Episcopal Saint-Jean and the Cathedrale Saint Jean , visitors will find many townhouses which date from the middle ages and the Renaissance: the Maison du Soleil (Saint Georges quarter), the Tour Rose , the Auberge du Gouvernement , the Maison Thomassin , the Hôtel Laurencin , the Maison des Avocats , the famous Cour des Loges hotel, the Maison du Chamarier (Saint Jean quarter), and the Hôtel Paterin . From the Middle Ages the area was reserved for trade and fairs, as shown by the Loge du Change , which was once a bank and then became a Protestant place of worship. Fans of architecture will be delighted to pace the cobblestone alleyways and the traboules —these famous passages link alleyways together and through them you can explore the interior courtyards of the townhouses. Those fond of archeology will be interested in the remains of the primitive cathedral (fourth-eighth centuries) in the Jardin archeologique situated at the north side of the present day sanctuary. Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) has an undeniable charm, with its boutiques, its bouchons (restaurants which specialize in the cuisine of Lyon), and the colors of the city which are reminiscent of Italy.
Fourvière - Old Lyon is situated at the foot of the Fourvière hill. Fourvière represented the very heart of the old town, which explains the large number of Gallo-Roman remains jutting out from its slopes. The Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization presents the history of Lugdunum. Today the hill is home to many ecclesiastical communities who have chosen to settle near the famous Basilique de Fourvière , whose imposing architecture looms above town. Don't miss the superb view from the Esplanade de Fourvière ).
Presqu'île - The spit of the land which stretches from the Rhône and the Saône to the foot of the Croix-Rousse hill. This is the commercial centre of Lyon with the Rue de la Republique and the Rue Victor Hugo which give out onto the Place Bellecour , a meeting place for many people of Lyon. Stylish shops are to be found around the Rue Edouard Herriot, the Rue Comte houses the majority of Lyon's antiques dealers, and the Rue Mercière boasts all styles of restaurants. Visitors should take a stroll down smaller streets in this area, rather than settle on the first appealing window display. Saint Martin d'Ainay , one of the rare Roman churches preserved in Lyon, is situated to the south of Presqu'île, as well as the pleasantly surprising Musee des Tissus , housed in an 18th century townhouse.
Terreaux - The Terraux quarter takes its name from the old moat which protected the north of the town in the Middle Ages. Today it includes the neighborhood of the Place des Terreaux , redesigned by Daniel Buren in 1994. This quarter features many monuments like the highly successful Opera de Lyon , which was renovated by Jean Nouvel, the Palais Saint Pierre which today houses the Musee des Beaux-Arts , and the Town Hall . The Rue Sainte Catherine which runs along the north of the Place des Terreaux is known for its many pubs, but it is not necessarily the most pleasant part of the quarter!
Croix-Rousse - The Croix-Rousse is known as the former den of the silk workers, which Lyon was famous for until the nineteenth century. The buildings were constructed in the nineteenth century to house the large weaving looms invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard. The density and shape of the buildings transformed the Croix Rousse into a maze scattered with passageways, which gave them their reputation—the traboules . The slopes of the hill are also home to many restaurants and bars, where all types of cuisine are to be found. The Croix-Rousse hill became the home of the artists, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts was built on it. By taking an alleyway you will undoubtedly find one of hill's special places like the Amphitheâtre gallo-romain where the first Lyonaise martyrs were sacrificed, or the Jardin des Chartreux which offers a superb view over the town.
Part-Dieu et Villeurbanne - The left bank of the Rhône is to business what the right bank of the Saône is to tourism. The so-called pencil of the Part Dieu is surrounded by and essentially made up of offices. There is a marvelous view over Lyon from the top floor of the restaurant panoramique le Meridien . Those who travel by train know that the train station is an ideal pretext to go shopping in the huge shopping centre of the Part-Dieu. Seems uninteresting to tourists? Not if one considers the contemporary architecture and especially the Cite des Gratte-Ciel complex, one of the first workers' housing developments of the 1920s, situated near the Hôtel de Ville de Villeurbanne which marks the architectural grandeur of the period.
Gerland et les Etats-Unis - The Gerland quarter, in the south of Lyon, is especially renowned for its football stadium, its pharmaceutical laboratories, its weekend traffic jams and its new university campus. The area is gradually coming to life after its industrial past, and this can be seen in the Halle Tony Garnier , the last vestige of the industrial estate built by the famous Lyonnais architect. Tony Garnier was also responsible for a contemporary of the Gratte Ciel — a utopian estate in the quartier des Etats Unis . Fans of modern architecture should also visit the Musee Urbain Tony Garnier , which details the architect's ideas, and appreciate the murals which adorn the façade of the buildings. Near the American quarter do not miss the wonderful Mosquee de Lyon .
Quartier Tête d'Or - The north of the left bank is thought of as the peaceful, residential area of the town, where old buildings stand beside chic boutiques. Here you can take a stroll in Lyon's only big public garden, Tête d'Or Park , which houses botanical gardens and the Jardin zoologique de la Tête d'Or . Not far from the park on the banks of the Rhône, there is an estate which brings together a cinema complex, the modern conference hall, and the unmissable Musee d'art contemporain .
France is undoubtedly a country of gastronomic delights, perhaps unmatched among world cuisines. Among the world's major culinary capitals, Lyon is certainly one of the most important with contributions including traditional beaujolais and the famous quenelles.
Thanks to its geographical position, the kitchens of Lyon have served as meeting points for many different culinary influences over the years. It benefits from a climate which supports bountiful vineyards nearby, providing just the right accompaniment to every dish. Côtes du Rhône and Beaujolais wines feature prominently in the restaurants of Lyon. It is affectionately nicknamed the city of three rivers: the Rhône , the Saône and the Beaujolais! Even if the city's restaurants give local specialties more than their fair share of attention, particularly when it comes to poultry and cooked meats, the fact that Lyon is a large regional capital means it can offer a wide selection of exotic restaurants, reflecting the diversity of contemporary France.
As for cafes and bistros, Lyon boasts numerous establishments ranging from the simple, traditional bistro to the local, trendy bar. France - particularly in the Lyon region - has the highest rate of cafes per capita in all of Europe! But let us begin our tour with the most eminent of Lyon's restaurants.
The most famous restaurants It would be irresponsible to overlook the celebrated Paul Bocuse restaurant in a discussion of Lyon's cuisine. This restaurant is famous the world over and belongs to a league of its own, and offers equally exquisite dishes whether inspired by local traditions or world cuisine. Although it is not centrally located, and the meals are as expensive as the restaurant's reputation warrants, it is well worth the trek. Meanwhile, the Pierre Orsi is establishing a growing reputation and deserves the attention of all refined epicureans. They will not be disappointed: the place is ideal.
The bouchons A gastronomical tour of Lyon would not be complete without the famous bouchons. These are generally small restaurants where diners can order a plate of meats anytime after ten in the morning, or a Saint-Marcellin cheese with a glass of beaujolais. These cozy establishments are an essential part of traditional cuisine of Lyon and are nestled all over the city. Chez Mounier and La Mère Jean are among the guardians of this tradition, representing the simple values which delight visitors to Lyon.
Foreign cuisines For those with a taste for travel, the range of non-French restaurants is vast and virtually guaranteed to include your preferred destination. Even the most educated travelers will be bewildered by the choice. Of course, an exhaustive list of these possibilities is impossible, but a few restaurants deserve mention for offering unusual cuisine in a particularly interesting setting. The Samba atmosphere of O'Brasil whisks patrons away for an evening of energetic rhythms, while the Confort Imperial tempts the palate with Chinese dishes. Buddy Burd looks westward to take its inspiration the sun-kissed dishes of Mexico, and Mamounia evokes the warmth of Marrakesh with its superb decor and delicious couscous.
The brasseries The brasseries of Lyon are worth a visit for their traditional menus and their often striking settings. In fact, many date back to the beginning of the 20th century and the Art Nouveau decoration can be opulent and highly impressive. A case in point is the venerable Brasserie Georges , worth a visit for its decoration alone (the ceilings are spectacular). The Brasserie la Martinière offers the attractive charm of a cozy and comfortable brasserie.
Lyon is clearly an ideal place to explore local and international cuisine. But the city also brims with inviting little bistros and cafes spilling onto their attractive terraces. The most famous is the Grand Cafe des Negociants ; its cultured ambience is ideal for a tea on the terrace. Many others deserve mention, but every traveler deserves the experience of wandering casually off the street for a coffee and discovering their own home away from home - we'll leave you to the adventure.