I always dreamed about visiting Lyon for a long weekend…. 7 years ago when I came for a very short visit, the city made a strong impression on me. I can still remember the old buildings from the medieval town enlightened at night time and the many coffees and restaurants on the riverbanks.
Unfortunately visiting was not, at the time, part of the program and it ended up in a long period of frustration after that every single of my plans to come back failed. However, luckily, this summer things were about to change as we finally decided to include Lyon in our holiday program.
At our return, exited as I was, ( :)!! ) I told my friends about our trip and I realized that many of them did not knew very much of the city. Though very popular in France, I definitely think that this city is underrated internationally or at least in Europe and that instead of going for mainstream destinations like Paris or Nice, agencies should reconsider twice.
Lyon is the third biggest city in Lyon, Paris being the 1rst and Marseille the 2nd. With 491,268 inhabitants you can expect the infrastructure a city has to offer ( shopping, museums, transportation, restaurants, parcs etc …) without the overcrowding feeling unless perhaps you are fearless and decide to go shopping at the biggest shopping mall in town, let´s say at 2pm.
Geographically , Lyon is situated within the Rhône -Alpes region. ( see above) and the region is a big in size as Switzerland.
The Rhône -Alpes region is rich in constrasts : stretching from the Alpine peaks on the East side to the gorges de l´Ardèche.
Lac Blanc, the Mont-Blanc massif © Rhône-Alpes Tourisme/P. Blanc
Lavender field in Drôme Provençale | © Rhône-Alpes Tourisme/P. Blanc
Gorges de l´Ardèche © Rhône-Alpes Tourisme/P. Blanc
Lac d´Annecy © Rhône-Alpes Tourisme/P. Blanc
If you are still wondering whether it is worth to make a stretch from Paris or Nice I would say DO IT!
Since 1981, Lyon enjoys a direct TGV ( high speed train) route connecting Paris to Lyon in only 3 hours. From Nice you can take a train up to Marseille and reach Lyon in 4 hours or drive the 471 km ( most of it motorway at a limited speed of 130 km/h … welcome to France!.)
By the way … do you know how the people of Lyon are called in French? Les Lyonnais!
After the practical information, I would like to bring you for a virtual stroll in one of the most authentic French city in the next episode . ( episode 2)
source for maps : http://about-france.com/regions/rhone-alpes.htm