Is Lyon Worth Visiting: 14 Best Reasons Why You Should

Exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance,” – says UNESCO about Lyon, the third-largest city in France. 

Appearance-wise, Lyon is a charming, timeless place. Yet, it is often eclipsed by Paris and coastal cities in tourism. Statistically, that’s true despite being the gastronomical capital of France and its remarkable landmarks.

If you wonder why you should visit Lyon or if Lyon is worth visiting, you have arrived at the right place. In this post, you will find the best travel experiences Lyon offers. And they should help you decide if to go to Lyon or not.

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We all have different preferences for our trips—Some travel for food, others like museums. If you’ll ask me what’s my choice? It’s the historical places or beautiful nature. 

In the case of Lyon, you can find a wide range of experiences… and I think you can find some you can treat as a reason to visit Lyon.

This post will not only introduce you to the best experiences in Lyon. Here, I highlight the “gems” in Lyon’s attractions. Of course, they are not necessarily tangible. Visitors’ information and links to the official pages of each tourist destination are also included. 

So without further ado, let’s answer the question that you’re here for in the first place:

Is Lyon Worth Visiting

Of course, Lyon is worth visiting! However, it may not be for everybody. Visitors who like discovering history, marveling at the stunning architecture, exploring a town’s historical centers, and visiting museums will find Lyon a beautiful destination. The Basilica of Fourviere and Vieux-Lyon should fascinate you the most in Lyon.

Did you know? Lyon has unique features to show you—they are embedded in the fabric of the city architecture. And they should give you a picture of the Lyonnaises’ story back in the day. 

For me, they’re one of the best reasons to visit Lyon.

Reason to visit Lyon France 1_ View of Fourvier hill from the river

Also, did you know that it was in Lyon that the cinema was invented? Here in Lyon, you can find a museum to give you insights into cinema. 

You’ll discover so much about Cinema here. Like, from the cinema’s history down to the antiquated equipment used in its inception.

Then, have you seen those “Made in Lyon” scarves and ascots – they’re of the highest quality, right?

Well, it’s because Lyon has been making silks for centuries, and they are known for it. They have built a museum dedicated to this industry. Come and see it to unfold the secrets of quality-made fabric products of Lyon!

Absolutely, they can be a remarkable discovery in Lyon.

But indeed, it is the historical landmarks and the city’s tradition that give the most compelling reason to visit Lyon. Stay tuned until the end to discover the beautiful things to see in Lyon, dating from 2000 years ago until now going forward in time.

Do you want to visit Lyon now? Here’s the link where you can find the best hotel deals in Lyon.

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14 Best Reasons To Visit Lyon

Here is a list summary of the attractions in Lyon. The places/attractions below can be the reason or can have the reason why you would visit Lyon:

  1. Lugdunum Roman Theaters
  2. The Basilica of Fourviere
  3. Vieux-Lyon
  4. Courtyards & Traboules
  5. Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
  6. Lyon Trompe-l’oeils
  7. Fête des Lumières
  8. Fine Arts Museum
  9. Musée des Confluences
  10. Musée Lumière
  11. Musée Cinéma et Miniature
  12. La Maison des Canuts
  13. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
  14. Parc de la Tête d’Or

See the different ways you can explore Lyon with guides and tours here.

Before we discuss each attraction/place listed above, have a quick look at my list of beautiful villages in southern France first. If you’re looking for a scenic, historical, and romantic destination in France, these places on the list are some you can choose from.

Click the name of the villages to open an article in a new tab to read later.

Village/Town Name Features
Gordes A scenic hilltop village with a view of the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park.
Eze A romantic hilltop village with an overlooking view of the coast of the French Riviera
Rocamadour A breathtaking pilgrimage site and historical village in Lot Department. I really recommend Rocamadour.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie A village sitting by the foothills and nearest to the spectacular Verdon Gorge (Grand Canyon of France).
Aigues Mortes A walled village with imposing gates located in the wildlife-rich Camargue Regional Nature Park.
Carcassonne The village/town with 2 preserved medieval walls and 2 UNESCO sites. It’s also one of the most popular destinations in France
Chamonix The village/town with the most panoramic views of the Alps in the South of France.
Domme A quaint village in Dordogne Valley known for its honey-colored houses.
Saint-Paul de Vence A village in the French Riviera, home to countless artworks tucked in its preserved medieval narrow lanes.
Saint-Cirq Lapopie A charming village with half-timbered houses overlooking Lot River.
10 Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France

You may click the names of the villages to learn more. Alternatively, you can also read my article about the Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France for a brief summary of each village.

I also want to share with you the town called Annecy—my favorite city in France. It’s a scenic place that also has a charming historic center, where you can discover some history. I think that you’ll love hanging out at its lake (Lake Annecy). Learn more from my post “10 Reasons Why Visit Annecy.”

Village/Town Name Features
Gordes A scenic hilltop village with a view of the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park.
Eze A romantic hilltop village with an overlooking view of the coast of the French Riviera
Rocamadour A breathtaking pilgrimage site and historical village in Lot Department. I really recommend Rocamadour.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie A village sitting by the foothills and nearest to the spectacular Verdon Gorge (Grand Canyon of France).
Aigues Mortes A walled village with imposing gates located in the wildlife-rich Camargue Regional Nature Park.
Carcassonne The village/town with 2 preserved medieval walls and 2 UNESCO sites. It’s also one of the most popular destinations in France
Chamonix The village/town with the most panoramic views of the Alps in the South of France.
Domme A quaint village in Dordogne Valley known for its honey-colored houses.
Saint-Paul de Vence A village in the French Riviera, home to countless artworks tucked in its preserved medieval narrow lanes.
Saint-Cirq Lapopie A charming village with half-timbered houses overlooking Lot River.
10 Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France

You may click the names of the villages to learn more. Alternatively, you can also read my article about the Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France for a brief summary of each village.

I also want to share with you the town called Annecy—my favorite city in France. It’s a scenic place that also has a charming historic center, where you can discover some history. I think that you’ll love hanging out at its lake (Lake Annecy). Learn more from my post “10 Reasons Why Visit Annecy.”

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1st Reason – Lugdunum Roman Theaters

Tourism speaking, an advantage of Lyon over some cities in France is the city’s over 2000-year-long history. Believe it or not, Lyon has attractions that date back to antiquity, and they let visitors time travel in reverse with their imagination.

The thing is, back in the day, Lyon wasn’t only an ordinary settlement.

It was once one of the most important cities of the Roman empire. Lyon was the capital of the region that Romans called Gaul.

Reason to visit Lyon France 2_ Roman theaters

Tourism speaking, an advantage of Lyon over some cities in France is the city’s over 2000-year-long history. Believe it or not, Lyon has attractions that date back to antiquity, and they let visitors time travel in reverse with their imagination.

The thing is, back in the day, Lyon wasn’t only an ordinary settlement.

It was once one of the most important cities of the Roman empire. Lyon was the capital of the region that Romans called Gaul.

During those times, the Romans called Lyon, Lugdunum. And it was the region’s center of trade and power throughout the centuries.

And you know what comes with greatness? The impressive structures that are symbolizing the city.

Two remarkable structures that the Romans built in Lyon remain to this day. Their name is Lugdunum Roman Theaters. Others call it the Ancient Theater of Fourvière because of its location on the hill of Fourvière.

There are two theaters in the Lugdunum Roman Theaters.

 Both of them overlook the city down the hill. One of which is larger than the other. The larger is called “the theater,” and the smaller,  “the odeon.”

The theater is the oldest of its kind in Roman Gaul. With its size that’s over 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter, the theater is also one of the largest.

Back in the day, more than 10,000 spectators fit inside the theater. You can imagine comedies, dances, and other plays happening here as intended.

The odeon, however, can only contain up to 3,000 spectators. Thus only concerts, declamations, and smaller gatherings took place here. Despite that, it appears more impressive because of its materials.

The most notable part of the odeon is the orchestra pavement. It is made of marbles sourced from different parts of the world. The green porphyry came from Greece, yellow from Africa, purple and red from Asia Minor, and red from Egypt.

What is so remarkable about these theaters?

They are still used for city events like open-air concerts and festivals. Near the theaters is the modern museum of the Roman archaeological site.

You can find lots of Roman pottery and artworks in the museum. And they should give you more insights into the ancient life in the city. 

The last time I checked the official website of Lugdunum Roman Theaters, the theaters are open daily from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm. For the museum, here’s the schedule:

  • Monday – Closed
  • Tuesday to Friday – 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Entry fees to the museum vary when there are temporary exhibitions. 7 EUR is the rate if there are temporary exhibits, and 4 EUR if there is none. You can join a guided tour for an additional 3 EUR. (The entry is free on the first Sunday of the month).

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2nd Reason – The Basilica of Fourviere

Close to Lugdunum Roman Theaters lies the most iconic structure of Lyon, the Basilica of Fourviere. Witnessing its marvelous architectural beauty is definitely why you should visit Lyon.

For the visitors, the Basilica of Fourviere is an eye-catcher from afar and a jaw-dropping spectacle up close.

But, for the people of Lyon and Catholics, the Basilica of Fourviere is a significant place.

History says this church is pretty miraculous in saving Lyon from wars and plagues. If you are a believer, you can try making a wish if it’s your first time visiting the Basilica of Fourviere.

Reason to visit Lyon France 3_ Fourviere Cathedral, seen from below

The city’s deliverance from the Bubonic plague is attributed to the Virgin Mary, to which the Basilica of Fourviere is dedicated. It also goes for the city’s protection against the Cholera epidemic and Prussian conquerors. 

It is why the Basilica of Fourviere has attracted millions of pilgrims since.

And with its mesmerizing architecture, it manages to attract around 2.5 million visitors yearly. Not to mention its perfect location on top of the Fourviere hill. 

Reason to visit Lyon France 4_ Facade of Fourviere Cathedral

Compared to the Roman theaters, the Basilica of Fourviere is pretty young. It was only built and consecrated in the mid-to-late-19th century. Despite that, the basilica’s expressiveness still levels with other renowned European churches.

The Basilica of Fourviere is very symbolic; symbolism is expressed in many ways.

From its position overlooking the city, it seems to be Lyon’s guardian. Go to the bridges in Vieux-Lyon (old Lyon) and face west to see how it is.

Reason to visit Lyon France 5_ Embellishments in the facade of the Fourviere Cathedral

Even the basilica’s structure… expresses symbolism too. 

Its four towers of around 48 meters high represent the cardinal values. Prudence, Force, Temperance, and Justice. On a clear day, You may climb the north tower to see sweeping views that extend as far as Mont Blanc. 

But before you can access the basilica’s tower, its facade should welcome you first with stunning magnificence. Relief and sculptures of angels and saints heavily adorn the facade. 

The tympanum has the figure of the Virgin Mary, which glows the brightest at night.

Reason to visit Lyon France 6_ Beautiful relief in the main portal of Fourviere Cathedral

Your eyes will glitter after passing through the main portal (upper level) into the interiors of the Basilica of Fourviere. 

You will behold an exceptional design mix of Romanesque and Byzantine styles in its interiors. The fine golden and blue mosaics, marble columns, and stained-glass bursting with colors are beyond awe-inspiring.

Reason to visit Lyon France 7_ Ceiling of Fourviere Cathedral

I’m telling you, the ceiling of the nave, choir, and apse will glue your sight on them! The walls, however, are covered with mosaic artworks depicting scenes of Christendom in France. Don’t skip the altar – it’s one stellar, beautiful depiction of Mary.

Reason to visit Lyon France 8_ Nave and Choir of Fourviere Cathderal

The last time I checked the official website of the Basilica of Fourviere, visitors can explore the church from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm for free. However, if the Holy Mass is taking place, visitors are not allowed to roam around and explore the church. See the link for more information.

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3rd Reason – Vieux-Lyon

Though Lyon has evolved, the medieval flair remains in parts of the city. 

Do you love wandering along cobblestone lanes or taking photos of a preserved medieval city? Then you have another reason to visit Lyon—the district of old Lyon or Vieux-Lyon

Reason to visit Lyon France 9_ Courtyard in Lyon

The history of Lyon is embedded in Vieux-Lyon’s urban fabric. It’s like an open museum

Walking into its narrow streets and seeing its fine historic buildings–you tap into the different scenes of the city’s 2000-year development.

Reason to visit Lyon France 10_ Beautiful Renaissance facade of a house in Lyon

You can find a myriad of buildings in Vieux-Lyon that date back to the early 12th century until the early 20th century. But there’s one thing for sure, you’ll find houses constructed during the Renaissance period. 

Lyon is one of Europe’s largest Renaissance neighborhoods–that’s why!

Reason to visit Lyon France 11_ Elegant Renaissance Building in Lyon France

Did you know? Vieux-Lyon is one of France’s most important heritage sites.

The French government was already protecting it decades before Vieux-Lyon became a UNESCO site. In fact, Vieux-Lyon was the first site in France to be covered by Malraux Law, a law passed to protect France’s cultural sites.

Reason to visit Lyon France 12_ Renaissance style doors in Lyon Fance

Vieux-Lyon is an attraction with many attractions. 

It’s not only about quaint streets like Rue St-Jean and Rue Juiverie that are perfect for a relaxing stroll. Vieux-Lyon also has notable landmarks and museums filled with something new to discover.

Reason to visit Lyon France 13_ Medieval style windows in Lyon France

Suppose you want to see a historic place in Vieux-Lyon. In that case, you must go to the Cathedral of Saint-Jean or Lyon Cathedral

It’s a Gothic-style church that dates back to the 15th century. And it was here King Henry IV and Marie de Medici got married in 1600.

Reason to visit Lyon France 14_ City view from the quaint streets of Lyon

Another notable building in Vieux-Lyon is the Gadagne Museum. It’s the largest Renaissance building in the old district and now houses Lyon’s history museum and puppet museum.

Gadagne Museum also has a cozy-medieval restaurant and garden for a relaxing break after exploring Vieux-Lyon.

Reason to visit Lyon France 15_ Beautiful Stairway in Lyon

Others send you back to different ages in the past. For example, if you go to Place du Change you get a picture of a bustling Vieux-Lyon. It was the economic heart of the city somewhen 15th to 16th centuries.

By the way, Lyon has a beautiful preserved old town but you should check Vieux-Colmar too. Learn more about Colmar and its charming old town from my post Colmar France: 10 Best Reasons Why You Should Visit Colmar

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4th Reason – Courtyards & Traboules

It’s definitely a reason for every traveler to visit a place for the unique qualities it has. 

We all want to discover new things and experience something special, right? If that’s what you like, Lyon won’t leave you empty-handed.

That will be the case because Lyon has distinctive characteristics. And they are your reasons to visit Lyon. I mentioned two or three a while ago (cinema, silk industry). 

Another that Lyon is unique and known for is its traboules.

Reason to visit Lyon France 16_ Traboule in Lyon

Traboules are Lyon’s hidden treasure for travelers. 

But what exactly are traboules? They are the secret passageways linking streets and courtyards. Some often lead to Italian-style galleries, small yet serene gardens, picturesque spiral staircases, towers, and more!

There are a lot of traboules in Lyon, hundreds of them! 

Believe it or not, Lyon has more traboules than streets. There are around 500 traboules in Lyon, 200 of them are in Vieux-Lyon alone. 

Reason to visit Lyon France 17_ Iconic Traboule in Lyon

Back in the day, traboules were initially used by canuts (Lyonnais silk workers), merchants, and craftsmen. These passageways have sheltered them from the inclement weather as they transport goods from their homes to the market.

Reason to visit Lyon France 18_ Instagrammable traboule in Lyon

As most traboules are part of private properties, tourists and travelers do not have access to every traboules in Lyon. The last time I checked, only 80 traboules were accessible to the public. 

Reason to visit Lyon France 19_ Medieval Tower in Lyon in a Traboule

Among the traboules in Vieux-Lyon, the Grande Traboules (27 Rue du Bœuf) is the longest. It is only a few steps north of Lyon Cathedral and near to Musée Cinéma et Miniature. Grande Traboules runs through the courtyards of four buildings.

Reason to visit Lyon France 20_ View from a traboule in Lyon

You can go to Lyon’s tourism information center to ask where the accessible traboules are. But, to make that easier, just download the smartphone app Traboules by Lyon Tourism and Conventions. The app uses augmented reality and a map to help you discover traboules in Lyon.

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5th Reason – Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Let’s say you’re so-into history, specifically regarding the history of Christianity. In that case, Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Lyon Cathedral) can be a reason for you to visit Lyon…

And perhaps if you also want to discover fascinating antiques on your travels.

Reason to visit Lyon France 21_ Facade of the Lyon Cathedral

Why? It’s because Lyon Cathedral is both historically and religiously significant.

As mentioned earlier, it was in Lyon Cathedral that King Henry IV married Marie de Medici in1600. But before that, there’s another!

It was also here that two ecumenical councils of the Catholic church took place. They call it the First and the Second Council of Lyon, which occurred in 1245 and 1274.

Don’t you think that it’s a privilege to visit Lyon Cathedral?

It’s where the largest religion in the world issued answers to the anomalies and threats it faced. Hundreds of bishops gathered here. Even old-world kings and rulers like Baldwin II of Constantinople joined.

Trivia: Lyon is the place where the ecumenical council took place. But it was in Avignon where the popes in the 14th century resided. Dive deep into the beautiful religious history of France by visiting Avignon. Learn more about the city from my article Avignon France: 10 Reasons Why Avignon Is Worth Visiting

Reason to visit Lyon France 22_ Ceiling of Lyon Cathedral

They may not have seen the same cathedral you’ll see if you visit Lyon (since the cathedral was only completed in 1480). But after your trip, it should be wondrous to think that you’ve also been to where these noblemen were.

Today, the Lyon cathedral manifests mixed architectural styles. 

It has a gorgeous gothic facade. However, the interiors, especially the apse and choir, have Romanesque designs. 

The most symbolic part of the church is the crosses located to the right and left of the altar. They are emblems of the Church’s union, one of the issues tackled during the Council of Lyon. And, of course, they’re more than 700 years old already.

Reason to visit Lyon France 23_ Astronomical Clock in Lyon Cathedral

Lyon cathedral houses another century-old treasure, one hundred years younger than the crosses beside the altar. 

It is the 14th-century astronomical clock, which is the primary attraction of the cathedral. The astronomical clock has quite fascinating details, though. 

The astronomical clock in Lyon Cathedral isn’t a simple one. 

It has several dials. First is the astrolabe depicting earth during the time of geocentrism. It tells the phases of the moon and stars above Lyon on particular days.

Lyon’s astronomical clock can also tell the day of the week using an automaton.The days of the week are depicted by Mary, Saint John the Baptist, and Jesus in various images. It also features a perpetual calendar that needs to be updated (the last time I checked, it was stuck in 2017).

You can roam around Lyon Cathedral and check these things I mentioned only if there is no Holy Mass taking place. The cathedral is open all year from 8:15 am until 7:45 pm. It closes earlier at 7:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

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6th Reason – Lyon Trompe-l’oeils and Murals

Previously I mentioned that Vieux-Lyon is like an open-air museum. The truth is, it’s not only the old Lyon. The entire city is

It’s because of the artworks that cover several of the city’s buildings. They are a reason to visit Lyon as some of these murals aren’t only made to decorate the town. But also to tell the history of Lyon and its heritage and future.

What’s really impressive about the murals in Lyon?

It’s their size and style. The most notable of these murals is the Wall of the Canuts, 13,000 square feet or 1207 square meters wide. It is considered one of the largest in Europe!

The Wall of the Canuts also has this mesmerizing Trompe-l’oeil style that tricks our eyes into seeing it as three-dimensional. It’s stunning. Like, marveling at this mural would seem like staring at Lyon in a parallel universe frozen in time

Another giant mural in Lyon is the Famous Faces of Lyon Fresco

It is an 8600-square-foot or 800-square-meter artwork depicting famous French personalities from the city’s 2000-year history.

These people are portrayed as if they’re socializing on the balconies of the building, which are paintings too. 

Since this mural also depicts Lyon’s influential personalities and contributions, it can serve as your introduction to Lyon if this is the first thing in your itinerary.

The CitéCréation, the organization that painted these murals, has also applied the Trompe-l’oeil style in Famous Faces of Lyon Fresco. It should make you think twice if the facade of the building is real or a well-decorated flat surface.

Other murals in Lyon depict the history of the Silk trade, transportation in the city, and biblical scenes.

If you go to Place Mendès France, you can find the mural showing the three towers of Babel. Along Jean Jaurès avenue, however, lies the mural visualizing the future of Lyon in 2046 called the Light Wall Painting.

If you want to learn more about these murals in Lyon, you may check this article on the official tourism website of Lyon. 

The address and map of the murals in Lyon are indicated in the article. Hope that helps you explore Lyon if you decide to come now!

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7th Reason – Fête des Lumières

Previously, we discussed how phenomenal the buildings in Lyon are because of their mesmerizing murals. But did you know that the buildings in Lyon (actually, the city itself) appear more spectacular once a year?

It happens during Fête des Lumières, which is your reason to visit Lyon during winter. Fête des Lumières or Festival of Light, is a celebratory tradition in Lyon that takes place every December 8 – the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Lyonnaise people started this tradition around 400 years ago when the échevins or the municipal councilors made a promise to Mary.

Reason to visit Lyon France 24_ Festival of Lights in Lyon (Fourviere Cathedral)

They promised that if Lyon were spared from the plague, they would light candles and give offerings.

Reason to visit Lyon France 25_ Festival of Lights and Lyon Cathedral

Even today, the tradition is still practiced… and you can still see the candles being burned on the windowsills of the houses during the festival of light. Some people join the procession to the cathedral in Fourviere to light candles.

Reason to visit Lyon France 26_ Light show in Fourviere Cathedral

Candle lighting and the procession are only a part of the experience. The real spectacles of Lyon’s Festival of Lights are the performances and light shows. Public places in Lyon burst with colors; the facades of the buildings are embellished by artistic light projections.

Reason to visit Lyon France 27_ Light show in Vieux-Lyon

As the festival lasts 4 days, visitors will have many chances to see different light shows in different parts of the city

But among the light shows during the Festival of Lights, the ones in Place des Terreaux and the Basilica of Fourviere are what you should not miss seeing.

More than three million people usually attend Lyon’s Festival of Lights.

If you want to join this year’s celebration, here’s the official website of the Festival of Lights. Dates, schedules, and other announcements are posted on the website.

Did you know that the stunning Basilica in Reims, where the kings were crowned, has a light show similar to Lyon’s? Learn more about Reims from my article Reims France: The 10 Best Reasons You Should Visit Reims.

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8th Reason – Fine Arts Museum

Lyon has art on its streets (murals), and once a year, it makes the city glow (Festival of Lights). 

Lyon is the place to be if you want some art inspiration. It is, especially since Lyon has the largest fine arts museum in France after the Louvre Museum.

Obviously, the museum is called the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon or Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. You can watch this YouTube video below for a visual introduction.

Though Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum isn’t the country’s largest, the collections inside it are enough to be a reason to visit Lyon

Like the city it’s on, the Fine Arts Museum lets you discover really fascinating things that date back several centuries to a few thousand years ago.

The last time I checked, one of the oldest collected items in the Fine Arts Museum of Lyon is an Egyptian net-painted cylinder vase. Believe it or not, this treasure is more than 5000 years old, a relic from the protohistoric period of Egypt.

The collection of antiquities is only one of the types of collection in Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum. There are also vast collections of paintings, sculptures, and graphic art! Add to those are medallion and objets d’art collections which I find unique about the museum. 

In essence, a visit to the Fine Arts Museum in Lyon is like a journey in the world of art throughout history. 

That trip will happen in a 17th-century former Benedictine convent with 70 rooms. And these rooms would be the chapters of your journey.

Your journey to the Fine Arts Museum in Lyon includes a time-travel-like experience of where human civilization started.

It is not only in Egypt but also in several parts of the world. We can mention places like ancient Greece, Italy, the Middle, and the Far East.

Genuine objets d’art treasures dating from the start and end of the 20th century also await you in Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum. 

There are exquisite ceramics that came from Islamic countries to Far-Eastern territories. Incredible art and design are manifested. And for me, they’re totally unmissable—especially the ceramics from the Islamic regions. 

The collection also includes Renaissance earthenware and Byzantine ivories. All are insightful into diverse heritage around the world and how the people apply art to their cultures.

Did you know that Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum has the second-best numismatic collection in France?

As you explore the museum, you will encounter artistic medallions, coins, seals, and much more. They should give you an idea of what enabled trade, symbolized recognition, etc., in many places. 

What can thrill every art lover to visit the Fine Arts Museum of Lyon?

Its collection of paintings and sculptures.

Its paintings and sculptures date back to different eras. The artworks are made by famous artists, Picasso, Manet, Monet, Véronèse, and more.

If you want a glimpse of the collections you can find in Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum, check their official website here. You can browse for the stuff I’ve mentioned above from your device. But, of course, the experience would be better if you could see them in person!

The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is open daily except for Tuesdays and holidays. It accepts visitors from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm (it opens late at 10:30 am on Fridays). The entry fee starts at 8 EUR per adult. Please check all the visiting information on the ticketing page of the museum’s website before going.

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9th Reason – Musée des Confluences

The beautiful artworks you can find in Lyon exist in many kinds. 

They are murals, light shows, paintings, sculptures, and more. Of course, architecture is an artwork too we can admire in Lyon. Fourviere cathedral and the preserved medieval buildings in Vieux-Lyon are good examples.

With these attractions in Lyon, and landmarks dating back centuries ago, it is easy to assume that Lyon is only for some travelers. We can conclude that Lyon is only worth visiting if you are interested in history and traditional artworks.

Reason to visit Lyon France 28_ Confluence Museum

However, Lyon’s Confluence Museum changes this presumption. 

This modern museum is probably the biggest twist to the travel experience Lyon offers. With the Confluence Museum, travelers interested in contemporary architecture, science, nature, and animals can now have a reason to visit Lyon. 

So, what is the Confluence Museum? It is Lyon’s new and most modern museum envisioned to become the “medium for the transfer of knowledge.

 The museum’s striking deconstructivist architecture and futuristic design will surely redefine the appearance of Lyon in the minds of its visitors.

The Confluence Museum resembles a floating crystal cloud of stainless steel and glass. Visitors who see the Confluence Museum right after the Roman theaters will feel they’ve been time-tunneled to the future.

Do you also find it amusing to think you can have this kind of experience without visiting multiple cities?

Because of the stunning modern architecture of the Confluence Museum, it never fails to create an excellent first impression with its visitors. However, it’s only the start of the substantial experiences awaiting from Lyon’s Confluence Museum. 

Aligned to what it is envisioned, the Confluence Museum has many collections that teach about many things.

And no, unlike the usual museum experience with collections in standard glass boxes and frames. Being a modern museum, visitors can expect to find interactive platforms to play with.

Like I was saying, the Confluence Museum teaches many things.

You’ll discover incredible things about natural sciences, anthropology, ethnography, zoology, paleontology, and many more when you visit the museum. In summary, you can learn about almost everything about “life” from its inception to the future ahead of us.

Because of the tremendous knowledge the Confluence Museum holds, others think of this museum as the new cabinet of curiosities. With its over-2-million items in its collections, there’s a really high probability you’ll find answers to what you’re curious about. 

The two million things you can discover at the Confluence Museum are divided into four major exhibitions:

  1. Origins – Stories of the World (history of the universe and the birth of life)
  2. Species – the Web of Life (exhibits about animals, humans, evolution, and more)
  3. Societies – Human Theater (human societies, technology, and civilizations)
  4. Eternities – Visions of the Beyond (meaning of life, end game for humanity)

This blog post will be more than 10,000 words if I introduce each of these to you.

So I linked Google Arts and Culture online exhibits to each major Confluence Museum exhibition. You may use the links to learn more about the collections later.

Lastly, the Confluence Museum sits on the peninsula where the two rivers of Lyon (Rhone and Saone) meet. You can go to the museum’s upper floor to see some scenic views of Lyon and these two rivers converge. 

The opening hours of the Confluence Museum are from 10:30 am until 6:30 pm, from Tuesday to Sunday.

Come at least an hour before the closing hour. The entry fee is 9 EUR for adults and free for people under 18. Read more visiting information from the official website of the Confluence Museum.

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10th Reason – Musée Lumière

Another notable thing about Lyon is that it is the birthplace of the cinema.

Let’s say you are curious about the early cinematography technology and want to see the equipment in person. Then, you have another reason to visit Lyon.

In this city, we can find the museum, the exact place where cinematography originated. This museum is called Musée Lumière, housed in the same location (Villa Lumière) where the inventors of the cinema lived and invented the technology.

The inventors of cinema were the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière.

By visiting Musée Lumière, you’ll find different technical masterpieces that were used to spellbind the first spectators of the first cinema.

Edison’s kinetoscope and Demenÿ chronophotography are only two that await you there.

Seeing in person the inventions that allowed pictures to move is only one part of the overall discovery awaiting you in Musée Lumière. There are more!

Of course, In the Lumière Museum, you will also learn who the Lumière brothers really are… their passion and ingenuity

Did you know they’re also the inventor of the Autochrome plates–the ancestors of slides (the stuff people used in reports and presentations)?

Believe it or not, it is composed of a microscopic mosaic of colored grains of potato starch

I think if you have some knowledge about optics, you’ll appreciate Musée Lumière and the technical talents of the Lumière brothers so much. But for everyone, Musée Lumière will be educational, especially in discovering the long history of animated images. 

Musée Lumière is open from 10:00 am until 6:30 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The normal admission fee is 8 EUR. Learn more details from the visiting information page of the official website of Musée Lumière.

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11th Reason – Musée Cinéma et Miniature

Not only do the museums in Lyon have artistic, insightful, and very informational collections. One of them has compelling exhibits, especially if you love movies

It is called Musée Cinéma et Miniature, and this museum is definitely a reason to visit Lyon!

Musée Cinéma et Miniature, as its name suggests, is a two-in-one museum featuring special effects used in films and miniature artworks. This museum, tucked in the middle of the Renaissance Vieux-Lyon, is one of its kind in Europe.

The most impressive exhibits inside Musée Cinéma et Miniature have to be the hyperrealism sculptures of movie characters. But indeed, the miniatures of everyday spaces (e.g., a museum with miniature skeletons of dinosaurs) are commendable too.

Actually, it’s hard to decide which is the most spectacular of Musée Cinéma et Miniature’s exhibits. Especially when you see the tricks, techniques, and illusions used in films.

Essentially, everything that makes close-to-reality effects to the movies before digital filmmaking.

They are as good as magic!

Yes, Musée Cinéma et Miniature is magical. It will make you feel like you’re the ant-man that grew into a giant. When you see the 120 ultra-realistic dioramas and 1000 miniature objects, surely you will! It’s one unique experience to have, I believe.

In summary of Musée Cinéma et Miniature’s cinema collection: in it, you can also find vast exhibits of animatronics, masks, prostheses, costumes, robots, monsters, and fake weapons (aside from what was already mentioned). 

These exhibits will make you realize how talented the studio artists are, and movies will be so-oh damn boring without them.

I can say it’s a whole new world inside Musée Cinéma et Miniature.

It’s pure creativity, and it would make you feel like you enter many parts of fiction and movies. It should give you that experience, either after you peek inside a miniature artwork or see the original costume and props of different movie characters.

Ultimately, Musée Miniature et Cinéma is a reason to visit Lyon because it is France’s largest collection of miniatures. There are just so many fascinating things to see and observe!

Musée Miniature et Cinéma is open every day from 10:00 am until 6:30 pm. Come at least an hour and a half before the closing hour as the ticketing office closes at 5:30 pm. The entry fee is 9.50 EUR for adults and 6.50 EUR for kids. See all the visiting information from the official website of Musée Miniature et Cinéma.

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12th Reason – La Maison des Canuts 

Silk-making is one of the things which Lyon is famous for before the invention of cinema and the boom of its cultural heritage tourism.

For many centuries, Lyon was hailed as the world’s silk capital

Though there were already silk-making facilities in Lyon in the early middle ages, the rise of Lyon as a major player in the silk industry began in the mid-15th century.

It all started during the reign of King Louis XI, the person who invested funds in Lyon to enhance the production of the once so-precious silk products.

Lyon rose as the most important city in Europe’s silk trade within a century.

And by the middle of the 17th century, silk-making had become the largest part of Lyon’s economy. Believe it or not, more than 14,000 looms fabricated silk products in Lyon then.

Lyon’s traditional looms are no longer used in producing quality silk products today. But you can still find some of these traditional looms in La Maison des Canuts (Silk Workers Center), a museum dedicated to preserving Lyon’s silk-making heritage.

Needless to say, La Maison des Canuts offers visitors insightful information about the silk industry in Lyon. 

Of course, the 5-century-long history of Lyon and its prominence in silk products will be a part of the visitor’s discovery during their visit. 

As the visitors explore La Maison des Canuts, secrets of Lyon’s silk-making industry unfold… from the origin of silk to how the fabric is organized to make the finished product. You may find the manufacturing of the gold and silver threads interesting.

There are also documents and videos in La Maison des Canuts about the silk workers. 

You’ll find out that behind the beautiful products they made are tremors that marked deeply in the 2000-year history of Lyon. Overall, it will not only be the artistic aspect of Lyon which you’ll get in this museum but also values in historical and social aspects.

The last time I checked the official website of La Maison des Canuts, the opening hours indicated are from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, from Tuesday to Saturday.

Note that there is a 1-hour lunch break after 1:00 pm. The entry fee for adults is 2 EUR, and guided tours start at 9 EUR.

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13th Reason – Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse (Gastronomy and Cuisine)

Cultural heritage sites, museums of many kinds, the 5-century-old silk industry, and cinema are the reasons to visit Lyon.

But, there’s more… and perhaps it’s the best reason for some travelers.

Remember, Lyon is the gastronomy capital of the WORLD! It only means one thing. You must visit Lyon for the unparalleled gastronomy it offers.

Here’s the complete explainer from expatica.com, or watch this video from Euronews:

If you are coming to Lyon for gastronomy, there’s one place you can’t miss. The place is called Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, dubbed the “heaven for foodies.” This 3-floor building offers the best specialties in Lyon across its 13,000-sq.m. total floor area. 

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the food Mecca of Lyon, is home to restaurants, cafes, and shops served by 50 of Lyon’s finest food specialists.

They are the city’s best pastry chefs, fromagers, butchers, and chocolatiers. Foodies must be thrilled!

There are so many things to try that choosing something to eat for lunch or snacks can be difficult. The hall is open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. See who prepares the meals in Les Halles from its official website.

Discover a new city! If Lyon is the Gastronomy Capital of the world, what’s the capital of Europe, Grand Est, and Alsace? It’s Strasbourg! And it’s one of France’s most charming cities, which I recommend visiting. Learn more from my article 22 Reasons to Visit Strasbourg.

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14th Reason – Parc de la Tête d’Or

What makes a trip to Lyon even more worth it, besides the beautiful reasons we discussed so far, is Parc de la Tête d’Or. 117 hectares (290 acres) wide, it is the largest urban park in France so far.

With Parc de la Tête d’Or, getting a quick rest in nature should not be tricky if you’re in Lyon.

This park in Lyon will definitely be to your advantage if you have a lot of time to spend or if you have your kids with you on your travels

Reason to visit Lyon France 29_ Parc de la Tête d'Or

The park, which comes in enormous size, also has numerous features. 

Parc de la Tête d’Or won’t only be about a relaxing stroll along the trees with birds chirping. It has a rose garden, a botanical garden, and a zoological park you can visit to discover species you haven’t seen before.

Of course, the Parc de la Tête d’Or also offers leisure activities the family can enjoy. You can go to Parc de la Tête d’Or to spend a day bonding in mini boats, bikes, and more. 

You and your kids can enjoy the carousel or the train for a simple scenic tour of the park. There are playgrounds, mini-karts, and bikes for rent.

 Learn more about the park from their official website (French).

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Guides and Tours in Visiting Lyon

Lyon may not be as exciting as Paris (see the 10 unmissable landmarks in the French capital). But based on everything that we discussed, I believe Lyon has value for your time and money.

If you need help visiting Lyon to make your trip more convenient and insightful, this list of travel guides will surely help. Just click one you like to learn more:

Discover more places!

Hello, before you go, I just want you to know that I have articles that can help you discover and visit different places worldwide. Mostly, they are about historical cities and scenic attractions. You may click the images below to find your next fantastic destination!

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Lyon France The 14 Best Reasons Why Lyon Is Worth Visiting
Lyon France The 14 Best Reasons Why Lyon Is Worth Visiting

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