It's a shame that Lyon, France's second-largest city, often gets left off the active traveler's itinerary. This ancient Roman city has been a central European outpost since the glory days of the Empire, and its Vielle Ville (Old City) is one of the most extensive Renaissance neighborhoods left in Europe. Today Lyon's downtown area is full of ancient ruins, tiny shops, pleasant cafes, and some of the best restaurants in France. You can wander for hours along narrow streets and banks of the Rhône and Saône. These rivers separate Vieux Lyon from the Prequ'île (the central part of the city) and the Prequ'île from the newer part of town (on the east bank of the Rhône). You can also climb the hills of the Croix-Rousse and Fourvière neighborhoods to get some great views of the skyline.
In addition to being a great city to visit, Lyon is also a fantastically easy place to run. Simply head to the Rhône River, where an extensive bike path stretches the length of the city. You can also head to the Parc de la Tête d'Or for an extensive loop around an open green space.
- Narrow Streets: This is more something to watch out for in the Vielle Ville, the old section of town. Here the streets are covered with cobblestones, and occasionally get so narrow that only two people can pass. You'll want to avoid running in this area.
- Steep Hills Up To Fourvière: Don't make the same mistake our BTG researcher did, and think that you can just go for a quick jog up to Lyon's iconic cathedral. The hill climb up to it is incredibly steep, and guaranteed to bring a strong sensation to your legs.
- City Pride: France's second-largest city doesn't like sitting second chair to Paris. The Lyonnais, as the locals are called, have a tremendous amount of hometown pride. And for good reason too: in addition to its plethora of historical and cultural attractions, Lyon is an important center for banking, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries. It headquarters Interpol, Euronews, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and has been ranked ninth on the list of the world's most innovative cities.
Did you know?
Lyon is also considered the gastronomic capital of France. The city apparently has the highest ratio of restaurants to people of anywhere in La Républque.