The city of Lyon is often, in fact pretty much always, overlooked by France’s most popular attraction – Paris.
Yes, we all know about the beauty of the French capital, its historic monuments, dining scene, spectacular river banks… and the list goes on.
But what about the city of Lyon, just a two-hour trip to the south by train? We never hear Lyon bragging about what it has to offer.
Just for starters, it’s rich in Roman history and the first motion film camera was invented there, but there’s actually a whole lot more going for this city than you might have thought.
With the help of a few locals, we’ve come up with seven reasons why Lyon may just be better than the capital.
But first, the facts.
- Lyon has around 490,000 people in the city, making it France’s third most populous (after Paris and Marseille)
- It’s regularly cited as France’s capital of gastronomy
- The old town in the centre of the city is an Unesco heritage site
- It’s the only French city with an anagram for a slogan (“Only Lyon”)
- The locals are called the Lyonnais
Now that you’re familiar with the city, let’s take a look at the reasons it’s better than Paris.
1. Twice as many rivers
Lyon is one of those rare cities that have two rivers running through them. The Rhône, which comes via Switzerland, and the Saône, which heads down from the north, intersect on the west side of the city.
Miranda Jayde, an Australian masters student who runs a student blog in Lyon, says the area where the rivers merge has been transformed from an industrial district into what she calls “Lyon’s hottest new area”.
It’s known as Confluence, and offers a load of new and exciting things to do, including a shopping complex with rock climbing, the city’s newest museum, and a rooftop bar called Le Sucre
2. Location, location, location
Lyon is not far from everything you want in France. The Alps are just down the road and the riviera coast is about 300 kilometres south.
Aussie student Miranda Jayde says that it’s not only the French attractions that beckon, either.
“It’s the perfect base for people wanting to explore the surrounding countries. The SNCF regularly releases cheap fares to Milan, Turin and Geneva, so mini-breaks in Italy and Switzerland are popular,” she says. Indeed, Geneva is less that 150 kilometres away.
Of course, there are also awesome local attractions inside the Rhône-Alpes region, like Pérouges, a medieval village, Lake Annecy and the Chartreuse national park near Grenoble.
Compare this to Paris, which is actually rather isolated in the north. Your nearest international option is Brussels at 280 kilometres away. And no offense Belgium, but who really
wants to go to Brussels?
3. Cost of living
Finding an accommodation is always a pain, especially when rental prices are so expensive! But in Lyon that’s not the case you can find affordable places to live in the city
, well located for student and campus life
The difference between the cost of living in Lyon and Paris is huge. Paris is ludicrously overpriced in the first place, but take a look at these figures for the average price of a home in each city:
- Paris – €7,786 per sqm
- Lyon – €3,167 per sqm
It’s enough to make you sick. So if you end up loving Lyon, you’d be more than twice as well off buying a place there.
4. Better student life in Lyon
Who better to ask about student life than a student?
Jayde says that the best thing about studying in Lyon is the number of other students you’re likely to meet and the fact that the city really embraces the student vibe.
There’s also the fact that most of the student accommodation is concentrated in three key districts (the 3rd, 7th, and 8th) – all of which are within a 40-minute walk of the bars in Vieux Lyon and the night clubs at Terreaux and Pentes de la Croix Rousse.
“Lyon is big enough to keep things interesting, but small enough that it’s easy to stay in touch with new found friends. See someone at an Erasmus party on Friday and chances are you’ll run into them again hanging out on the Quais (Berges du Rhône in the Guillotière) on Saturday night, or chilling in the Parc de la Tête d’Or on Sunday,” she adds.
The city of Lyon is a large and safe city. The student areas in Lyon are in the old Lyon, the Belle Cour area and near the Opera where you can find many bars, clubs, shops and restaurants. In Lyon you can enjoy many events like the “Night of Lights” where you can see games light the walls of the famous buildings in the city. Note that the cost of accommodation in Lyon tend to be somehow expensive too.
5. It’s good for your French
In Paris, a lot of people speak English now. In Lyon, that is not the case, well, except students. Thanks to a slower pace of life in Lyon, the locals tend to be more open to having a conversation with a foreigner than those in the capital. And there are far fewer expats and tourists in Lyon, meaning there’s less temptation to even start speaking English.
6. The food is better
We turned to the owner of Little Britain
, Lyon’s only English epicerie, to ask just what was so good about the food in Lyon.
“Well, first things first we have Paul Bocuse here… he’s the pope of French gastronomy – maybe of world gastronomy,” Christophe Delarue tells The Local.
Indeed, this is a serious claim to fame. Bocuse is such a stalwart of the cooking scene that one of the most popular French chef awards is actually called the Bocuse D’Or after the 89-year-old himself. One his restaurants in Lyon – the l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges which serves traditional food – is among the very few to boast three Michelin stars.
And the traditional food in Lyon is a must! Nothing better than trying the Rosette (picture above) with some friend and a fresh beer in a bar terrace during summer.
7. Lyon is more beautiful
Eiffel Tower? The Louvre? The River Seine? The cathedral? Yawn. Sure, Paris is wonderful, but it’s a cliché. Enough of the city of Love :). We’re going to leave you with some stunning examples of what’s on offer in Lyon. You be the judge.
We hope you find this article before moving or study in Lyon, get ready for one of the most beautiful city in France. Discover the original article from TheLocalFrance