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Located in the centre of France close to the Alps, the country’s third largest city and second largest metropolitan area is a popular tourist hotspot. Boasting historic points of interest, contemporary attractions and neighbourhoods, and well-known events such as the annual Fête des Lumières (Light Festival), Lyon is an important cultural and economic metropolis. The city is located on the convergence of two rivers, which also allows for scenic cruises along the waterways.
The city was founded in 43 BC and originally known as Lugdunum. Soon after it became the capital of Gaul and a major trading hub in Europe. Throughout history, and numerous wars, the city grew and became a main site of architectural significance. Many of the preserved architectural structures are a draw for thousands of visitors annually, and are the reason the city has earned its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Some of the most visited attractions in Lyon include Fourvière basilica and the views from its observatory, the St Irénée church and Parc de la Tête d'Or, a sprawling urban park which offers boating on its large lake. The city is most popular with tourists between May to August, with July and August being the peak months for summer weather.
Nearly 9 million passengers pass through this facility, the 4th largest in France, annually. It is located around 25 kilometres from Lyon, and services flights to the majority of large European cities, North Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Senegal and the Middle East. The majority of large European airlines operate here.
Transporting 26 million passengers a year, this is the largest train station in France outside of Paris. Its popularity is in part to the large number of connections it serves from within France and Europe. Opened in 1983 it served French connection exclusively until 2011 when services to a from Germany began. It currently also serves connections to Spain and Italy.
This facility is actually part of the train station but serves a large number of regional, national and international destinations. Destinations in Italy and Spain have the highest number of direct services from here, however Geneva, Karlsruhe and Munich are also accessible. Eurolines and iDBUS both operate here.
With an reliable and efficient public transport system, metro, bus or tram stops can be found every 300 metres or so. There are no zones so tickets are valid city-wide.
Cycling in Lyon is relatively common with many locals as well as visitors making use of the bike rental service. The municipal provider, Vélo'V has been in operation since 2005 and is considered one of the best bike rental services in Europe. Alternatively independent hire companies are available at a cost of around 15 - 30 Euros a day. As a word of warning for inexperienced city cyclists, many of the bike lanes here are shared with bus lanes.
Taxis are readily available in all of the expected areas; train stations, bus stations, airports and busier parts of the city centre. Taxi Lyon is a useful app which will help you book a taxi service, or save the following contacts to your phone; Taxi Lyon (+04 72108686), Taxi Lyonnais (+04 7826 8181) or Allo Taxi (+04 7828 2323).
Although the public transport is efficient and well connected, many residents and visitors to Lyon also drive in the city. That being said driving should be avoided during rush hour periods. Some free parking is available in Lyon, however much of it will cost. Averages parking costs are between 50 cents and 1 Euro per hour.
In comparison to most French cities sidewalks in Lyon are fairly wide. In addition there are many pedestrianised zones. These two factors make Lyon a great city to explore on foot.
The city center of Lyon is ideal for walking as all of the major attractions are close together. Situate yourself at Perrache Railway Station as the starting point of your walking tour of Lyon. Head along the pedestrian road towards the Place Bellecour. Along the way, you will pass the la Tour de l'Horloge which is a large clock tower and the last remaining part of hospital where the homeless could once find refuge. The Place Bellecour is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest pedestrian square in Europe. Stop here for a coffee and croissant at one of the many cafes surrounding the square. A short distance away, you will find the Bartholdi fountain in front of the Place des Terreaux. The fountain was built in 1892 and is a popular meeting place for locals in Lyon. Now, cross the Saône River using the bridge de la Feuillée. You are now in the old section of Lyon. Next, take the funicular or walk up the hill to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière which is the symbol of the city. You can take a guided tour of this magnificent cathedral or explore the interior at your own pace.