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Lyon is located in the east of central France in the Rhône-Alpes region between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is approximately 470 km from Paris, 320 km from Marseille, 420 km from Strasbourg, 160 km from Geneva and 280 km from Turin. The inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais.

According to the 2009 census, there were 479,803 inhabitants in Lyon. Together with its suburbs and satellite cities, Lyon forms the largest conurbation in France outside of Paris. The metropolitan area has an estimated population of 2.2 million inhabitants.

Lyon is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region. Due to its historical and architectural sites, Lyon is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the past, Lyon was known for its silk production and weaving. Today it is the capital of France's gastronomy. Lyon has played an important role in the history of cinema because of the famous brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière.

Lyon FranceLyonPhoto: Calips CC 1.0 Generic no changes made

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The coordinates of Lyon are: 45 ° 46'1 'N and 4 ° 50'3' E

Lyon is located between two rivers: the Rhône and the Saône. The historic city center is located on a peninsula and forms the southern part of the city. The urban area covers 47.95 km². Lyon is the third largest city in France. The metropolitan area covers 954.19 km². The original medieval town (Vieux Lyon) was built on the west bank of the Saône River and is surrounded by hills. Lyon is divided into nine arrondissements. The two main rivers Saône and Rhône divide the arrondissements into three groups.


The climate of Lyon is temperate. Due to Lyon's location, winters are colder than is normal in the south of France, with an average temperature of 3.2 °C in January. Summers are warm, with average temperatures of 21.3 °C in July. Rain falls evenly throughout the year, averaging 840 millimeters. The winter months are relatively dry. The number of hours of sunshine per year is approximately 1,932. The highest temperature measured is 40.5° C. The record low is -24 °C.


Lyon Roman AmphitheaterLyon Romon AmphitheaterPhoto: Vincent Bloch in the public domain

In 43 BC a Roman colony was founded at the hill of Fourvière. The place was seen as a favorable place on the natural road from the north to the southeast of France and became the starting point of the most important Roman roads in all of Gaul.

In 1572 Lyon was the scene of massive violence against the Huguenots. (St. Bartholomew's Day Eve) During the Renaissance, the city developed rapidly through the silk trade, especially with Italy. There is a strong Italian influence on Lyon's architecture, which can still be seen in the beautiful buildings. Lyon became an important industrial city in the 19th century.

In the Second World War Lyon was an important resistance center in the fight against the Germans. After the war, Lyon developed into a modern metropolis, with a good infrastructure for transport, tourism and culture.


Lyon is a city with countless historic buildings from ancient times to modern times. Roman ruins are visible on the hill near the Fourvière Basilica with the ancient theater of Fourvière and the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls.

Lyon Cathedral of St JeanLyon Cathedral of St JeanPhoto: Otourly CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The most famous historical monuments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance include: The Cathedral of St. Jean, a medieval church with architectural elements from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, also the most important religious building in the city and the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon. The basilica of St-Martin-d'Ainay is one of the few remaining Romanesque churches in basilica style. The whole of Vieux Lyon has many buildings with Medieval and Renaissance features. The following remains of the 17th and 18th centuries: The Bartholdi Fountain, the town hall, the baroque Chapelle Saint-Pierre, the Hôtel-Dieu de Lyon (17th and 18th centuries), the historic hospital with a baroque chapel, the Temple du Change (17th and 18th century), the former stock exchange of Lyon, the Protestant temple since the 18th century, the Place Bellecour, the Chapelle de la Trinite (1622), the first Baroque chapel built in Lyon and part of the former École de la Trinite, now Collège-Lycee Ampère.

Lyon Opera Lyon OperaPhoto: Chabe 01 CC 4.0 International no changes made

From the 19th century and modern times are worth mentioning: the Opera National de Lyon (1831), the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a large 19th-century basilica on top of the hill of Fourvière, the Sainte Marie de La Tourette monastery (1960), designed by Le Corbusier, the Saint-Exupery airport and the Palais des Congrès de Lyon.

Musee des Beaux-Arts Lyon Musee des Beaux-Arts LyonPhoto: Alorange in the public domain

The Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Museum of Fine Arts) is the city's main museum and one of the largest in France. The museum has a large collection of paintings by famous artists including Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Nicolas Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt, Zurbaran, Canaletto, Delacroix, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. There are also collections of sculptures, drawings and prints, decorative arts and Roman and Greek antiquities. It houses the second largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in France after that of the Louvre.

musee d'art contemporain lyon Musee d'art contemporain LyonPhoto: Gonedelyon CC 1.0 Generic no changes made

The Gallo-Roman Museum has many valuable objects and works of art from Roman Lyon (Lugdunum). Other well-known museums are the Musee d'art contemporain de Lyon, Museum of Modern Art, the Musee Gadagne and the Museum of the History of Lyon located in a historic building in Vieux Lyon.


There are numerous beautiful parks and gardens in the city. Ideal places for tourists to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Lyon Gastronomy restaurant Paul BocuseLyon Gastronomic restaurant Paul BocusePhoto: Gordito1869 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Lyon is known as the capital of gastronomy. There are more than a dozen restaurants with one or more Michelin stars. Among other things, the French top chef Paul Bocuse has a restaurant there. However, you can also enjoy regional dishes in simple restaurants in Lyon. More exotic dishes include veal's head or fried stomach or gâteaux de foies de volailles. (Meat pies with duck or bird livers.)

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Last updated May 2024
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