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LIVE THE GOOD LIFE IN LYON
Often referred to as the food captial of France, Lyon is a prime foodie destination, as well as a historical one. With its many museums, galleries, parks and gardens, this is a buzzing city with a lot to offer. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Lyon is Europe's tallest building and close to all the city's attractions. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Old Town of Lyon, as well as the stunning Tour Métallique de Fourvière, Fourvière Basilica and the medieval Lyon Cathedral. Visitors may also enjoy some retail therapy at the city's largest shopping centre, La Part Dieu, or a cultural night out at the Opera de Lyon.
By choosing to stay at the Radisson Blu hotel for your trip to Lyon, you are guaranteed ultimate comfort in an ideal location. The hotel occupies the 10 top floors of the Part-Dieu Tower, making it the highest hotel in Europe. From your room you will have a panoramic view overlooking the city, and you are only a few kilometres from the historic area of Old Lyon. You will have use of the fitness suite next door to the hotel and to the Hamman and swimming pool too. After a good workout, you can enjoy a meal in the hotel restaurant, where you can look forward to trying some delicious regional specialities and international dishes.
2,000 years of history
Lyon first became well-known during antiquity in Roman times, when it was called Lugdunum. The Capital of the Gauls was a great centre of business and became a prosperous city which continued to develop and expand during the Renaissance, at which point it became one of the most important cities in the kingdom. However, the Wars of Religion hit the city hard, and it took Lyon some time to rediscover its prestigious standing. In the centuries to follow, the silk industry (particularly in the Croix Rousse area), the textile industry and cinema re-established Lyon’s fame and wealth. Today, Lyon is a city specialising in cutting-edge industry, and is known for its universities with large numbers of students, and as a popular tourist destination welcoming many French and foreign visitors.
A rich and varied heritage
As an important city during the Roman times, Lyon has retained a rich and very well-preserved heritage. Historic sites include the Roman Amphitheatre, the Renaissance area of Old Lyon and the Fourvière Basilica, and you will journey through time as you see the city’s neo-Byzantine architecture and the 17th-century Terreaux façades. Other must-see places of interest are the traboules passageways in the Croix Rousse area, Saint-Jean-Baptiste cathedral which marks the entrance to Old Lyon, the Place Bellecour which is an important meeting place for locals, and the Miniature and Cinema museum with its unique collections.
A connected city
As the third-largest city in France, Lyon is at the heart of an easily accessed and well-developed transport network. Lyon-Saint-Exupéry (LYS) airport links Lyon to all of France’s major cities and many European and international destinations. The main train station is Lyon Part-Dieu, which is located very close to the Radisson Blu hotel. The journey from Lyon to Paris on the TGV fast train takes just two hours. Lyon Perrache station is also served by TGVs and the local and national TER lines. In Lyon itself, it’s easy to get around on the metro, bus and tram. The warm and sunny climate makes Lyon the perfect place to visit from spring to autumn.
The Saint-Jean neighbourhood, known as Old Lyon, is an unmissable place to visit during your stay in the city. The paved streets and historic façades demonstrate the Renaissance-era wealth of Lyon. Its small shops and restaurants have retained a certain authentic feel which makes a stroll around this area even more enjoyable. You could start by visiting Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral, which is famous for its astronomic clock dating from the 14th century. Also not to be missed are the numerous traboules, pedestrianised streets which link buildings together, most notably the Cour des Voraces.
The Croix Rousse neighbourhood
The Croix Rousse neighbourhood which housed Lyon’s silk workers the canuts, is one of the two main hills of Lyon. The ‘hill that works’, as it is sometimes known, is both a historic place and a busy area with bustling nightlife. To discover Croix Rousse, go up the Grande Côte hill, starting at the rue des Capucins behind the Place des Terreaux, up to the top. You can take detours along the way using the traboules. On the slopes and in Croix Rousse itself, you will find a huge variety of cafés, open-air bars and pubs as well as theatres, so you have a choice of how to spend your evening.
Known as the ‘hill that prays’, Fourvière is one of Lyon’s unmissable districts. Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Basilica, which dominates the city on top of the hill, was built in the 19th century. It is a place of pilgrimage which pays homage to the Virgin Mary, who saved the city from the plague according to legend. From the top of the hill you will enjoy a beautiful panorama across the whole of Lyon with the Alps on the horizon. You can also admire the Roman theatres which remain well preserved and welcome the Nights of Fourvière festival every summer.
The Miniature et Cinéma Museum
Small in the size of its collections but large by its level of public success, the Miniature et Cinéma museum is a must-visit place, especially if the weather is not up to its sunny best. Opened in 1990 and nestled in the heart of Old Lyon, it is home to a collection of 1,000 miniature objects which bring visitors into mini scenes of daily life; these are astonishing in the level of detail and precision. The museum also has 12 rooms devoted to cinematic special effects, with many original pieces, including the original animatronic from Ridley Scott’s film Alien.
Lyon is the world capital of gastronomy, and naturally is full of a variety of restaurants offering a wide choice of local and international dishes. The rue Mercière in the city centre is one of the most vibrant areas in terms of restaurants, and is home to many traditional Lyon bouchon restaurants, where you will be able to try quenelles (creamed fish or meat with breadcrumbs), andouillette sausage, cardon à la moelle (artichoke thistle with bone marrow) and black pudding with apple. The Terreaux area and the streets close to the opera house are also good places to go for a drink in the evening, as is the Saint-Georges area, which is home to lots of pubs. The Croix Rousse area is full of open-air cafes, bars with live music and other restaurants which serve authentic and modern cuisine.
Events and entertainment
The major event in Lyon’s annual calendar is the Fête des Lumières, which takes place around 8 December. Originally this festival was a local custom where every house and flat put lanterns in their windows at nightfall, in gratitude to the Virgin Mary. This local celebration has become a big festival which welcomes up to 3 million people from all over France and abroad. Illuminations, light shows and street performances create a festival atmosphere for the whole four-day period. There are other festivals taking place in Lyon throughout the year, including the Nights of Fourvière at the beginning of the summer, the dance and contemporary art biennials which alternate every other year, and the Festival of Lights dedicated to cinema in October.
Where to go out
To make the most of Lyon’s nightlife, go for a wander and discover the many bars, nightclubs and cocktail bars on the quai Romain Rolland, opposite the Alphonse Juin Bridge over the Saône. Start your evening with a drink in the city centre, making sure to visit the Cordeliers neighbourhood in particular, then move on to the nightclubs on the quays. The many barges moored in the quays of the Rhône, between the Guillotière and Wilson Bridges, house bars and nightclubs, and are very popular in summer. The hills of the Croix Rousse area are equally good for a night out, in a cosmopolitan and convivial ambience.
Only an hour to the north of Lyon is the Beaujolais region, known worldwide for its vineyards. Lovers of good wine can try red wine made from Gamay grapes, which have made the region famous, and visit the cellars of local wine producers. The low mountains of Beaujolais with their pretty paths and wonderful scenery are also ideal for walkers. You will also enjoy exploring the Pierres Dorées region, notably the villages of Bagnols, Oingt and Theizé, which are recognisable by their houses and buildings made from golden stone. There are approximately 40 villages to discover in the area of Villefranche-sur-Saône.
Pérouges and les Dombes
Pérouges is a medieval town overlooking the Dombes plateau, and is a 45-minute drive from Lyon on the A42 motorway. This village is classed as one of France’s most beautiful, and is the perfect place to relax in a wonderfully preserved environment. With its cobbled streets, 15th-century church and picturesque Place de Tilleul, Pérouges will take you on a journey through time. You can take a detour through the Parc des Oiseaux in Villars-les-Dombes, where you will discover the diverse local fauna in beautiful natural surroundings.
Vienne and its rich antique heritage
During a stay in your Lyon hotel, you can take a trip to Vienne, a French town with a rich antique heritage. Visit the temple of Auguste and Livie dating from the first century, the Garden of Cybèles and the Gallo-Roman remains which take us on a journey through time, and Saint-André-le-Bas Church, famous for its Roman architecture and beautiful cloisters. In July the Vienne Jazz Festival is one of the region’s unmissable events!
Annecy, capital of Haute-Savoie
Just beyond the mountains of Haute-Savoie is Annecy, a charming small city where you cannot help but admire the lovely architecture. Located less than two hours’ drive from Lyon, Annecy is ideal for a day trip. You will love the traditional cobbled streets over the canals, and you can visit the local history museum, housed in a 12th century building. Of course, no trip to Annecy would be complete without trying some of the local specialities while admiring the surrounding mountains.