Posted on 14/06/2022

#Cityguide #France

5 experiences you should have in Lyon, between green spaces and famous landmarks

With its rivers, breathtaking views, churches and fantastic gastronomy, Lyon is a great place to visit where you will be able to discover local culture and tradition as well as more modern places.

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When you think of Lyon, the first things you might think of are the archaeological excavations and the beautiful old town, but many people just forget that Lyon is also a very green city, with more than 1,800 hectares of green spaces, which includes 430 hectares of public green spaces. Elected French Capital of Biodiversity, then European Smart City in 2019, it is one of the most sustainable cities, also great for mobility. Indeed, with more than 100km of cycle lanes, the city is also planning a further 150km by 2026, which is supported by the ecological party. We have to say that the best way to discover this green city is to explore its iconic places while caring about the environment and biodiversity.

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1. Climb Fourvière Hill on a funicular

Standing at an impressive 300 meters high, Fourvière Hill dominates the historic center of Lyon and is a symbol of the city, since it goes back all the way to the Romans in 43 BC. Today, the main attraction there is Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica, which is a real neo-Gothic jewel with unmistakable white granite columns, which was built in the late 19th century. From the top, you will get a breathtaking panorama over the rooftops of the old city and see the rivers flowing through Lyon, going all the way to the Alps and Mont Blanc. The hill can be reached either by a staircase or by a funicular, which is one the best means of transport in Lyon, and is free of charge with the Lyon City Card.

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2. Cycle along the Berges du Rhone

The Berges du Rhone (the 'Banks of the Rhone') are roads that run along the river, which has a fast current that carries sand and stones. The banks have been developed in order to create an urban project offering people dozens of kilometers of space to have a walk or to cycle, even featuring one lane equipped for people with reduced mobility. That place stretches from the Parc de Gerland, a green area where you can go skateboard, picnic and enjoy the spring to the Parc de la Tête d'Or, the largest urban park in France and a favorite destination for sports enthusiasts, such as jogging, cycling, boules, mini-golf and even sailing, which can be practiced in the lake.

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3. Taste a 'quenelle' in a bouchon

It is no surprise that Lyon has been nicknamed the 'capital of taste' in France, as it brings together plenty of recipes and traditional dishes, but you should know that the gastronomic must-try is the quenelle, which is a soft egg-shaped dumpling made with very simple ingredients -flour, butter and eggs to make the dough, and then mixed with a sauce. Delicate in taste and changing with different ingredients such as veal or fish, quenelles are often baked with tomato sauce, béchamel or prawns and can be served with rice. But if you want to try the better and tastiest version of it, you have to go to Lyon's bouchons, which are typical rustic-style restaurants that have the 'Bouchon Lyonnais' label, a guarantee of quality and authenticity.

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4. Walking in the eco-friendly La Confluence

Recognised by the WWF as a 'sustainable neighborhood', La Confluence is an area of 150 hectares located at the confluence of the two rivers that flow through Lyon, the Rhône and the Saône. Formerly occupied by industrial factories, the area has been redeveloped completely, which included the construction of zero-energy buildings, sustainable and innovative services such as managing resources by collecting rainwater, and preserving biodiversity through the development of green areas and the use of alternative transport. But the most important project is the turning of the A7 from a motorway to an 'Urban Boulevard' along the Rhône and transforming the port and warehouses into an exhibition space that regularly hosts events. 

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5. Attending the Fête des Lumières

With a tradition of more than a hundred years, the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) used to be a religious celebration worshiping the Virgin Mary, and thanking her for her graces. While at first it was just about placing coloured candles behind windows and lighting them on 8th of December (for the Immaculate Conception), it gradually became a popular celebration for everyone with light installations and professional entertainers. Today, it is one of the city's main tourist attractions, and it has actually been extended to four days, but the city keeps a focus on environmental protection using LEDs, and in fact never consuming more electricity during the festival than the annual consumption of a large flat.

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