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Located in the southeast of France, Lyon is the country’s third largest city. However, it only has a fraction of the tourists you may find in other French large cities such as Paris and therefore is a great destination for your next bus trip. Once an Ancient Roman city, Lyon sits between two large rivers – the Saône and the Rhône. The old town that consists of the Roman ruins is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Add this charming city to your European bucket list – you won’t be disappointed!
It may shock you to learn that Paris is not the food capital of France, it is actually Lyon and after going to a few restaurants in the city, you will think so too. If you have a sweet tooth, make a point to go at least once (you won’t be judged if you go more) to A la Marquais. There you can have your pick from an assortment of pastries and bread. If you’re brave or just obsessed with the color pink, try the Lyonnais specialty of a croissant covered with pink pralines – a total sugar rush! If you want to be able to wander aimlessly surrounded by delicious French food, go to Les Halles de Lyon. You’ll find 48 different stands all selling different products ranging from meats and cheeses to chocolates and pastries. Go for a quick snack or to find tasty souvenirs. The typical Lyonnais restaurant of Bouchon is centered around meat – lots of meat. They usually will be expensive, but with some research and careful planning, you will be able to find one that fits your budget. One of the better less expensive bouchons is Le Val d’Isère, just opposite of the Halles de Lyon. Here you can find dishes starting at €10 - €30. That may seem expensive, but considering the location and quality of the food, it is a gem hiding in plain sight. If this is outside of your price range, don’t worry you will be able to experience Lyon and its food on any budget – you just need to do a little research!
Entering the Old Town or Vieux Lyon, you will be almost transported to another time and place. The architecture of the buildings is a total 180 from the rest of the city. Upon the hill you will see the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière. The church itself does not originate from the Roman era, but legend says that it sits upon the point that the Romans founded the city of Lyon all those years ago. You can walk up to the church, but you also have the option of taking the funicular up. Just behind the Basilica, you won’t be able to miss the replica of the Eiffel Tower that is now used as a TV transmitter.
In the Renaissance Vieux Lyon, you'll find Place Saint Jean a large open square where many different streets lead off, so you can get lost in the best way possible. Just off Place Saint Jean, is Cathedrale Saint Jean Baptiste, a large magnificent church built in 1480. The bell that is housed in the cathedral is one of the world’s largest, weighing about 9 tons, and it is only rung during solemn occasions. Be sure to check out the Ancient Roman ruins that still stand in Lyon. You can visit the Roman Theaters of Lyon which includes two different theaters. One was built to host both comedies and dramas and the other for music and reading. In the same area lies the remains of the Temple of Cybele. Walking around the ruins, you'll wonder if you accidentally took a wrong turn to Italy. With a student ID, you can enter for €2.50.
In addition to Roman ruins and fine French food, Lyon is known for its textile industry. If you have a passion for fashion, consider going to the Museum of Textiles and Decorative Arts. You’ll discover the history of the Lyon’s textile industry while enjoying the atmosphere of a wealthy French home during the 18th century. If you are a student under the age of 25, you can buy a student ticket for €7.50 otherwise a ticket will be €10.
Another little-known fact about Lyon is that it is the birthplace of film. Invented by the Lumière brothers, one can now visit their family home while walking through the early inventions of the film industry. Musée Lumière is located at 25 rue de Premier-Film Place Ambroise Courtois, and a student ticket will cost you €6.
Hej! I am an American grad student studying and living in Sweden. Being a grad student, I have perfected the act of budget traveling. I have a fierce passion for cute dogs, film festivals, coffee and traveling. Join me as I work towards my personal goal of visiting all 28 EU countries before I graduate in June 2019! Feel free to pop over to my personal blog, Little Mouse. Big World, to read more about my travels while balancing grad school life.
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