Hmmm… what’s France’s third-largest city, I hear you ask? Well, first there’s Paris, then comes Marseille. And third? Lyon!
Lyon is located towards the centre-right of France (not quite as far as Marine Le Pen, though), nestled at the junction of the Rhône and the Saône rivers and is home to over 500,000 people. The metropolitan area of Lyon, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, has a population of 2.4 million people – the second largest in France, after Paris.
Here are five reasons why you can’t skip Lyon on your next trip to France.
#1 Fête des Lumières
Lyon’s Festival of Lights is an annual festival held around the end of the first week of December that expresses gratitude towards the Virgin Mary who supposedly saved the city from a deadly plague in the Middle Ages.
During the festival, locals pop candles on their windowsills and the city of Lyon organises large-scale light shows in different spots to create a dazzling overall effect across a number of nights.
#2 International headquarters
Coming in at number 39 globally in Mercer’s 2017 liveability rankings, Lyon is also an economic and business hub. In the 6th arrondissement, take a walk through the Parc de la Tête d’Or , and past the World Headquarters of Interpol. Over in the 2nd arrondissement is the Euronews Global Headquarters… if you’re thinking of an internship or two! If that doesn’t float your boat, give the Centre Commercial de la Part Dieu a go; a centre full of shops and businesses for a day’s easy wander.
#3 UNESCO World Heritage
Lyon also caters to the history buffs among us. In 1998, the old Roman regions of Lyon were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head on up to the Roman ruins near the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, or make your way through the secret passageways (traboules) in Vieux Lyon (Old Town) built in the 4th century, for a real medieval experience.
Traditional Lyonnaise cuisine is a worldwide success. Options include plats such as the quenelle (a mixture of creamed fish cooked in a creamy, breadcrumb-y soup-y sauce), salade Lyonnaise, or the andouillette, a sausage of coarsely cut tripe. Not really up your alley? Wander the streets of Vieux Lyon and pop into one of the many crêpe restaurants, or pick up some macarons for a mouthful of heaven. Oh, and don’t forget to wash it all down with a glass of wine!
#5 The mountains
Snowy and beautiful in winter, warm and sunny in summer – what more could you want? If you’re here in the cooler months, make sure you spend a day skiing in Les Alpes, which are only two hours away!
In summer, the powdery snow of the mountains gives way to numerous hiking and biking trails plus a bungee-jump or two off the ski lifts. And when the sun begins to shine in April, the boat bars along the river start up again, where you can grab a cheap pint in the longest Happy Hours ever – try Le Sirius or Starferry as the local favourites.
There’s plenty to discover in Lyon, whether you’re a foodie, an adventure sportsman or just a fun guy up for a fun time. So, next time you’re in France, catch the two-hour train from Paris and let your hair down in Lyon, the real city of lights.
(Lead image: Faustino Garcia/Flickr CC)[qantas_widget code=CDG]Book flights to France today.[/qantas_widget]