At the foot of Fourviére Hill, the historical streets of Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) offer a welcome change of pace from the modern city across the river. With elegant medieval churches, Renaissance-era monuments, and pastel-painted facades, this is Lyon’s most atmospheric district.
There are many options for exploring Old Lyon, from walking tours and standard or electric bike tours to Segway jaunts and hop-on hop-off bus excursions. In addition to Old Lyon, city tours often visit neighborhoods such as La Croix-Rousse and the Presqu’île and ride the funicular up to the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière for impressive city views. Food tours explore Lyon’s gastronomic heritage at the famous Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse market and restaurants around Old Lyon.
Things to Know Before You Go
Old Lyon is a must-see for history buffs and first-time visitors.
The narrow lanes of Vieux Lyon are mostly pedestrianized and best explored on foot—wear comfortable shoes.
The majority of cafés and restaurants can be found along Rue Tramassac, but the quayside bars and restaurants offer the best views at night.
How to Get There
Old Lyon stretches along the left bank of the Saône River, with Fourviére Hill rising to the west. It’s a short stroll across the bridge from Place Bellecour or Place des Jacobins, and the closest metro station is Vieux Lyon (line D). Funiculars for Fourvière Hill also run from this station.
When to Get There
Explore the streets of Old Lyon in the morning to avoid the crowds and take photos of the beautiful historical buildings, or visit in the evening to dine along the riverfront. The most spectacular time to visit Old Lyon is during the annual Festival of Lights in December, when dazzling light projections brighten up landmarks such as Saint John the Baptist Cathedral (Cathédrale-Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or Lyon Cathedral).
Architecture of Vieux Lyon
With buildings dating from as early as the 11th century, the streets of Vieux Lyon are bursting with architectural treasures. The star attraction is Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, with its stunning stained glass windows and striking mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Nearby are the Maison du Crible mansion, with its much-photographed pink tower, and a number of historical traboules (narrow alleyways). In the northern Saint Paul quarter, the Gothic Maison du Consul and the grand Hotel Gadagne (now part of the Musées Gadagne) are notable highlights, while the Saint Georges quarter was Lyon’s original silk-weaving area and is home to the riverfront Church of Saint George (Église Saint-Georges).