You're curious about Lyon, France. Welcome! I'm a British American sommelier who has made Lyon my home since 2017. I'm absolutely obsessed with it, and I'm sure you will be too if you ever make it for a visit.
Where is Lyon?
Lyon is in Central Eastern France. It is in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and the Rhône department, delightfully numbered 69.
Lyon has been a historic thoroughfare since before even the Roman times as it is ideally situated at the meeting point of two of France's significant rivers, the Saône and the Rhône. It's nestled between two enormous mountain ranges. The Alps to the East, and the Massif Central to the West. We have the wine regions of Beaujolais and Burgundy to the North, and the Northern Rhône Valley to the South. If I hop in my car I can be in either Fleurie or Côte-Rôtie in about 45 minutes, not bad!
The city is defined by the two rivers, which create a narrow peninsula that makes up the center of town. There are two big hills that dominate Lyon, the Croix-Rousse and the Fourvière.
If you want to learn more about Lyon's neighborhoods, read this article about the Arrondissements of Lyon. Want to go straight to finding your perfect hotel? Click here to read my Lyon hotel recommendations.
Distance from Lyon to Paris
Lyon is a little less than 500 kilometers, or a little less than 300 miles, South of Paris.
How to Get to Lyon
Lyon is very accessible through many different forms of transportation, including by air, rail, road, and even boat.
The Lyon St Exupery Airport is about 30 minutes drive from the city center. It's a fantastic mid-sized airport that is modern and easy to navigate. It has 2 terminals but covid killed Terminal 2 so now we only use Terminal 1, which is much nicer anyway.
We have direct flights all over Europe and North Africa and one transatlantic flight to Montreal.
RhôneXpress Train from the Lyon Airport
This train will get you into town in about 25 minutes. It costs around €28 and is slightly cheaper if you purchase your tickets online first. Their website is typically French and thus seriously awful.
The RhôneXpress will take you 2 stops into Lyon, first to Vaul-en-Velin where you can hop on the metro line A, and then it stops at Gare Part-Dieu which is our main train station.
Hot tip: Sometimes getting off at Vaulx-en-Velin makes more sense depending on which metro you need after that, it's what I do to come home to the Croix-Rousse on metro line C.
Train from Paris
TGV fast trains from Paris come into Lyon Part-Dieu and Lyon Perrache. Both are busted, horrible stations. I am sorry.
When you book your TGV you have the option of OuiGo or InOui. OuiGo are much cheaper and you really feel it, no outlets, no wifi, tiny seats, no food or drink. If you are going to take a OuiGo, remember to bring water with you!
This station has been under construction since I moved here in 2017 but hopefully one day soon will be finished and life for everyone will be better. I cannot lie to you, it sucks and is stressful. If you want to get a taxi I do not recommend Uber in this case, because they can't really get to you. The real taxis are stationed on the Eastern side of the station, so whip out your phone and find that direction and go to there.
Lyon Perrache is also a clusterf*** and perhaps is even worse than Part-Dieu.
Either way, you will arrive in Lyon and things will become significantly better when you escape the station! Both stations have lots of transport links with the bus, the tram, and the metro.
Public Transportation in Lyon
We have great buses, trams, and a nice modern metro system, unlike the dirty, janky, crumbling, ancient Paris metro. You don't need to buy tickets, you can just tap your contactless bank or credit card.
The best tool for navigating Lyon from your phone is the app CityMapper, which works very well here.
We even have a public transport river boat that can get you up and down the Saône river.
Is Lyon Worth Visiting?
Lyon is the best city in the world and I will die on this hill. Literally, I live on top of one of its giant hills! It's stunningly beautiful, filled with ancient history and secrets, and a food and wine lovers paradise. It's off the beaten path and not yet completely overrun with tourists.
Things to do in Lyon
There are so many incredible things to do in Lyon, you can enjoy ancient Roman history, eat incredible food, and drink fabulous wines. Obviously, you should book a wine tasting with me because that's objectively the coolest thing to do here. There's a reason I have 5 stars on Google!
When to Visit Lyon
The best time to visit Lyon undoubtedly spring and autumn. It's cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. The whole city shuts down in August as all the locals go out of town, so I would definitely avoid August. September is my favorite month!
Where to Stay in Lyon
I've made a comprehensive list of Lyon's best hotels of all types, from luxury hotels to business accommodation to hostels. You can also check out my Arrondissement guide to Lyon's different neighborhoods if you want to find an Airbnb.
I hope this inspires you to visit our beautiful city! When you do, make sure to book a wine tasting with me. They are the best.