Surprising Cities – Lyon

Lyon, France is city number two in my surprising cities series. It is the only city I included in my initial itinerary as a main stop on the trip. I had a conference here, and actually formed my trip around the conference (traveling to Brussels, Paris and Geneva as part of the trip). Still, I consider Lyon a surprising city because while I planned to go there, I didn’t plan to be so enthralled with it. It was the least anticipated stop, a “since we have to go to Lyon might as well make a bigger trip out of it” type of thing.

Why I went: Every year I have a major industry expo in a different part of the world. As I mentioned, that particular year it was in Lyon.

What I expected: To attend the conference and wander around Lyon a little bit in my free time. I definitely expected a smaller, more industrial type of city.

What I found: A large, vibrant city with Soane and Rhone rivers running through it, separating the two sides of the city into two distinct sections, each worth a visit. The energy in the city was almost palpable. Its numerous squares created gathering spots for locals, tourists, and street performers at every hour of the day and night. Overlooking this excitement was the city?s own Notre Dame Cathedral, accessible by funicular (tram-like system up the side of the hill) or a pretty active walk, and absolutely worth seeing for the view alone. Across from the convention center was a gigantic park where locals jogged, picnicked, played lawn games – it even had a petting zoo. Much to my surprise, Lyon is also considered the gastronomic center of France. You won’t leave hungry!

How much time to spend: You can easily spend three to four days in Lyon alone, not including it?s easy access to several of France?s most notable wine regions.


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