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Know Before You Go: 12 Fun Facts about Lyon, France

Planning a trip to Lyon, France presents the opportunity for adventure and learning something new! Lyon is a vibrant city presenting a unique blend of cultural heritage and modern charm. 


Before you embark on your journey, here are 12 fun facts about Lyon that will deepen your appreciation for this city and get you ready for your trip:


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Lyon’s Location


Lyon is located in east-central France, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. It sits between the cities of Paris and Marseille, making it a strategic and historically significant crossroads in the country.


Two Beautiful Rivers


Lyon is uniquely situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, which divide the city into distinct neighborhoods with their own character and charm.


Lyon’s Population


Lyon has the third largest population of any city in France, ranking only behind Paris and Marseille. For 2024, the population in Lyon is estimated to be 472,317. (whereas Paris has 2,138,551 people)


Innovative Transportation


Lyon has an extensive public transportation system. It has a very hilly terrain, so the funicular railway that connects the city center with Fourvière Hill is truly essential! 


Gastronomy Capital of France


Lyon is often regarded as the culinary capital of France. It has over 20 Michelin-star restaurants and is famous for traditional “bouchons.” 


Bouchons are family-run eateries serving Lyonnaise cuisine, including dishes like coq au vin (chicken braised with wine), quenelles (creamed fish or meat), and petit salé. (sausage-lentil stew)




The Birthplace of Cinema


Did you know that Lyon, France is actually the birthplace of cinema? The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, invented the cinématographe and shot the first motion picture, "La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon" (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), in 1895. This groundbreaking invention marked the birth of cinema and established Lyon as a pivotal city in the history of filmmaking. 


Today, the Institut Lumière in Lyon serves as a museum and cultural center dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacy of the Lumière brothers and their contributions to the film industry.


UNESCO World Heritage Site


The historic site of Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area includes the Roman district and Fourvière, the Renaissance district of Old Lyon, and the silk district of the Croix-Rousse.


Roman Amphitheaters


Lyon has two well-preserved Roman amphitheaters on Fourvière Hill – the Théâtre Romain and the Odeon. They are still used for events and performances today.




Silk History


Lyon has a long history as a center for the silk industry. During the Renaissance, the city became a major hub for silk production, and this heritage is still evident today in the historic silk workshops and museums.


Lights Festival: Fête des Lumières 


If you’re traveling to Lyon in December, the city hosts the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières), a stunning event where the city is illuminated with artistic light displays. This tradition dates back to 1852. Check local websites for exact dates and locations.


Artistic Parallel to New York City


A really unique fun fact is that Lyon and New York city both have statues crafted by the same sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. 


You may known Bartholdi as the artist behind the Statue of Liberty. He also designed the Fontaine Bartholdi in Lyon's Place des Terreaux.


This fountain is impressive to see in any season. During warmer months, you’ll see this 21-ton fountain flowing with beautiful water. In the winter you’ll see water freeze around the horses, which is quite an extraordinary sight. Fontaine Bartholdi is remarkable and a Lyon must-do!




Fabulous Wine Regions


Lyon is located near the Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône wine regions. These areas produce some of France's most celebrated wines. As you all know, wine tasting is a popular activity for visitors.


For a delightful and educational experience, book a wine tasting with us here at Lyon Wine Tastings. We offer intimate masterclasses in the heart of Lyon that will take your appreciation of wine to the next level. Reserve your spot today!




In Conclusion…


With its rich history, vibrant culture, and modern charm, Lyon is a city that offers endless opportunities for adventuring and learning. 


Now that you’re armed with these 12 fun facts, you'll be well-prepared to immerse yourself in all that this incredible city has to offer. 




Want to learn more about wine while in Lyon?


Join us for a tasting!


Our tastings at Lyon Wine Tastings are deeply educational and super fun, and you will leave knowing a lot more about wine than you started with.  We even have a super cute dog named Buffy who sometimes joins us for the event!



Bon voyage and enjoy your journey through Lyon! 


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Get our guide!

Lyon is so beautiful and the Old Town is a must visit, but it's crammed with tourist traps! Check out our local's guide to Vieux Lyon's secrets here. This is a downloadable google map that will go straight into your phone.

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