"Former Capital of the Gauls" Top 5 Page for this destination Lyon by alza

Lyon Travel Guide: 571 reviews and 1,353 photos

Lugdunum, Caput Galliarum

After bypassing Lyon many times on my way to other places, I spent a few days there in 2004 and really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know a real French city. I found it extremely cultured, elegant and at the same time, though busy, rather laid back. Maybe because I had been travelling across France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and Corsica just before ending my trip in Lyon, from where I flew home to Montreal.

Lyon feels a bit like the Frankfurt am Main of France... sorry if the comparison is awkward. :) But it's totally French of course...

In -27, with August as Emperor of the Roman Empire, Lyon became the Capital of the Gauls. The city grew rapidly and became rich and beautiful. Two Roman emperors were born here, Claudius, in 10 B.C., and Caracalla in 186.

I don't know Lyon enough to write a complete introduction to it (but I will go back as soon as I can!) I landed in Lyon in August 2004 and drove immediately from there to Alsace, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria again, Italy again, then took a boat to Corsica and a boat back to Toulon, France, before returning to Lyon to take my flight home end of October 2004. That's when I got to know it a bit.
It struck me then as extremely civilised, elegant and pleasant and I would go back on a moment's notice.

I stayed at the Youth Hostel at Fourvière, in Lyon, and had a ball! I ate well and felt very welcomed everywhere I went. Things were easy in Lyon in general, although I still remember it as a puzzle to get around... (probably because of the short time I had there, no time to become familiar with its lay-out.)

I love the presence of the mighty Rhône at the heart of Lyon. The very original and traditional cuisine of the area, the wines there, and the way the Lyonnais in general basically are in general. It's a very authentic city to me.

Jean Moulin, héro de la Résistance

I dedicate this page to Jean Moulin, hero of the French Resistance during WWII, arrested in Caluire (Rhône) in the suburb of Lyon during a meeting of Resistance leaders. He was interrogated by Gestapo Chief Klaus Barbie and transferred to Paris where he was tortured. Jean Mouliin died on 8 July 1943, near Metz, in the train that was taking him to Berlin to be further interrogated.

The Rhône and the Saône run through Lyon

More generally, I hope to clear the waters enveloping Lyon but as I'm working from memory, didn't really understand the lay of the land when I was there, and am writing with a glass of wine from the Lyon area... I'm confusing myself in the process.

The confluence of the mighty Rhône and of the brown banks of the Saône in Lyon is elusive even to the Lyonnais. The elusiveness is not to be broken like a code before a visit... let the water mystery run its course and you'll discover how Lyon came to be.

Lyon is now the third city of France in size, with half a million inhabitants. It's preceded by Marseille in second place and Paris in first.
The pic is of Quartier Saint-Paul at the northern tip of Old Lyon. Saint-Paul's Church there is one of the oldest of Lyon, its architecture is Roman/Gothic. The district was my favourite for its great bohemian atmosphere, hidden gems of local life that made me feel like I was discovering something at every corner.

It's often said that Paris is best discovered on foot and I agree. I also walked a lot in Lyon and sometimes felt a bit dismayed... but now I know it's because I knew it so little. Landmarks there were not as well known to me as those in Paris so I was wandering... but in retrospect, I can say that Lyon is a city for walkers too.

  • Intro Updated Nov 30, 2010
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Reviews (9)

Comments (6)

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2016 at 6:04 PM

    Thanks Lou, I will be checking into many Lyon pages. I am just finishing with my busy tax season and look to get busy on travel planning later this week.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    Thank you for your Lyon page : I live too close (100 km) to visit it as a tourist's destination, I feel it more as a job destination, haha !

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Hi, I am going to watch Real Madrid vs. Olympique Lyon now and thought I'd look up the city on VT - and found your page :-)) Very good tips!

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    Tout comme vous je suis passé plusieurs fois par Lyon sans visiter. Omission à corriger. Autre chose: belle région que l'Alsace et leur Crémant vaut bien le Champagne mais à moitié prix.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Hi Lou, you've written some fine new tips on Lyon, a city I have long been meaning to visit. It was great to see you in Bruchsal and at the opera in Frankfurt in December! I have now done a VT page on Bruchsal, in case you feel like having a look.

  • hquittner's Profile Photo
    Dec 25, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Thank you for the story about the Bartholdi Statue-Fountain and how difficult it was to find a home.


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