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Lyon is the second largest city in France, and it is a veritable centre of art and culture. The city has a beautifully restored centre which has been declared a world heritage by UNESCO. The St. John Cathedral and the St. Paul church are well worth a visit, as is the rest of the city centre, with narrow streets, the so-called 'traboules' (covered through ways), squares and fountains. Buildings in the newer area have been decorated with enormous mural paintings.
Lyon is considered the capital of French cuisine; it has the highest concentration of star restaurants in the whole of France.
Including the suburbs, the city has 1.6 million inhabitants, although the city itself has only half a million.
Lyon was founded where the rivers Rhône and Saône come together in the east of central France. The old city is located on the west bank of the Saône, at the base of the Fourvière hills, which is also called the 'prayer hill', because it is where the Notre Dame basilica and the Archbishop's palace are located. To the north of the city on a peninsula (presqu'ile) between the Rhône and Saône, lies the 'work hill', traditionally the domain of the silk weavers. Modern Lyon lies on the east bank of the Rhône.
The city is an important economic centre, where machines, cars, electrical equipment and chemicals are produced. In addition, there is a large textile industry.
Oil refineries are found in Saint-Fons and Feyzin. Lyon has a large university with three campuses, and a range of other higher education institutions.
Also, Lyon is an administrative centre. It is the capital of the Rhône department and of the Rhône-Alpes region.
Saint-Exupéry International Airport is experiencing rapid growth. It is used by over 40 airline companies, including budget airlines. The airport is located 25 km to the east of Lyon in Colombier-Saugnieu. There are bus connections to the centre of Lyon, as well as places like Chambéry and Grenoble. There are plans to construct a high-speed tram connection to Lyon. Also, the TGV between Paris and Marseille makes a stop at the airport.
The buses, trams and metros are operated by Transports and Commun Lyonnais (TCL). The central bus station is located next to the train station of Lyon-Perrache. In addition to city buses, there are regional and international bus connections (Eurolines).
The best mode of public transportation in Lyon is the metro. Fast, very frequent and relatively cheap. There are four metro lines and about 40 stations.
The two tram lines run from Perrache to Saint-Priest. The basilica on the Fourvière hill can be reached by cable train.
Lyon has two main train terminals: Lyon-Part-Dieu, which was built especially for the TGV, and the older station of Lyon-Perrache. Many trains stop at both stations. Lyon has high-speed train connections to Paris and Lille in the north and Marseille and Montpellier in the south. During the day, every half an hour the TGV departs for Paris (travelling time: 2 hours).
At various locations in the city you can hire a bicycle, which you can hand in at another location. Registration (and payment) by credit card.
The best way to explore the centre of Lyon is on foot. Traffic is very busy, although not as chaotic as in Paris. It is best to avoid the many tunnels in the city during rush hour.
The city has a host of parking facilities. Most of them are operated by Lyon Parc Auto on the Place des Cordelies, where you can receive more information about parking. On the peninsula (presqu'ile) you can park near the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) and on the Place des Terreaux and the Place Tolozan. You can also park at the two train stations and near the St John cathedral. In the centre you can park in the street (paid and when space is available), for a maximum of two hours.
Most luxury hotels are located in the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements (presqu'ile). Elsewhere there is also a range of hotels available. Near the Place des Minimes (reachable by cable train) there is a youth hostels which is very simple but which has a magnificent view over the city. Lyon is an industrious city. We strongly recommend booking your hotel room in advance.
For more information about Lyon, we recommend Google, and the following sources: