With a 2007 urban population of around 1.8 million, Lyon is France’s third-largest city and is a major center of business and industry. The city is located between Paris and Marseille, and the sprawling metropolitan area is second only to Paris in size. Lyon is a fast-paced mixture of old and ultra-modern and everything in-between.
Lyon has many claims to fame. One is the silk industry — Lyon is known as the silk capital of the world. The city is also known as the culinary capital of France, somehow surpassing Paris in that regard. Lyon’s industry includes chemical, biotech and pharmaceutical, along with a sizable software industry, with a large percentage being in the video game arena. The city is also known as the headquarters of the international crime-fighting organization Interpol, as well as the place where moving pictures were invented.
With all the industry and commerce, the old part of the city retains its old world charm. The Fourviere Hill is where you’ll find ornate 19th-century Basilica Notre-Dame. Also there is a fairly well preserved Roman era theater, along with the beautiful Archbishop’s Palace, a mini Eiffel Tower and funicular. In the old town, known as the Saint-Jean and the Croix-Rousse areas, you’ll find a unique network of narrow passageways called traboules. These passageways are ancient, pass through buildings, and were originally used as shortcuts for transporting goods safely and dryly around town. Many are still in use today.
Lyon boasts the largest urban park in France, called The Parc de la Tete d’Or, which features a small zoo as well as a large boating lake. You can also take an informative river cruise to discover the best of waterside Lyon, with its 28 bridges, embankments, monuments and majestic old buildings.
Juxtaposed amongst the old structures is an eclectic mix of stunning ultramodern, cutting-edge architecture.