The third largest city in France, Lyon is situated in the Rhone-Alpes region between Paris and Marseille. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is home to roughly 490,000 inhabitants and was prized in ancient times as a major centre for the production and sale of silk.
During the Second World War, Lyon played an important role in the resistance movement after occupying German forces seized control of the town.
Today, the city of Lyon is one of the country’s premiere tourist destinations thanks to its historic status and reputation for being one of the important gastronomy centres of France.
Your River Cruise Ship Docks…
Most river cruise ships will tie up along the Rhone or the Saone Rivers. The town itself is divided in two by the river, so you may want to get a map when you disembark to ensure you’re headed to the right side, though interesting walks and sights can be had on either. Four Metro lines ensure that almost every sight and attraction is within easy reach.
When in Lyon…
There’s truly no shortage of things to see and do here in Lyon:
- Walk. Like many other river cruise ports of call, a stroll around the town and beautiful countryside is not only convenient but practical, and can be an excellent way to fully enjoy your time here.
- Rent a bike. Do as the locals do and head off on an exciting ride through the city of Lyon! Public bicycles can be rented from and returned to numerous points around the city. You’ll need your Visa or MasterCard and a little patience (the system likes to reject cards without modern PIN chips, common in Europe but still appearing in North America), but the rewards are tremendous.
- Saint Jean Cathedral. Built between 1180 and 1480, the Cathedral is worth a visit if only to see the impressive astronomical clock that graces the interior. Built in the 14thcentury, its bells toll on the hour between Noon and four every day. The rest of the cathedral remains a fascinating look at the conflicting building styles that managed to work their way into the structure, under construction for three hundred years.
- Fourvière. Located near the 2nd arrondissement, this district is one of the oldest in Lyon, and the basis for its UNESCO World Heritage site designation. The Romans first settled here in 43 BC, and today visitors can explore the magnificently-preserved roman amphitheatre. Also of note is the Fourvière Basilica, which can be easily seen from the banks of the Saone River.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- The currency in France is the Euro (€). Other currencies are not widely accepted, but can be changed at most major financial institutions.
- Take care when crossing the street, even in marked intersections. Like many European cities, cars can come fast and furious. Do not assume you have the right of way!
- While some English may be spoken in Lyon, knowledge of basic French will go a long way.
- Crime is generally not an issue in Lyon and its surroundings.