On our recent Rhone River cruise in France our port of embarkation was Lyon. If your itinerary does not include a few days for travel in Lyon, consider adding extra time in this amazing historical city, which was founded in 43BC by one of Caesar’s lieutenants. Lyon is where the waters of the Saone and Rhone meet, and is just two hours from Paris by TGV train.
The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lyon was the heart of the 19th century silk trade, and in the 1830’s there were as many as 90,000 silk weavers here. Today, you can still walk through the taboules, narrow Renaissance alleyways running mostly perpendicular to the river. These passage ways were used to carry the bolts of silk in secret down to the markets on the peninsula between the two rivers. Several of these are open to the public, and you can explore the interior courtyards and vaulted passages that characterize the historic city.
Lyon has been recognized as the food capital of France and of the world. It is surrounded by some of the finest raw materials in France and has become the hub for a variety of ingredients and top quality regional products. With more than 1,500 good restaurants, 13 awarded the prestigious Michelin Stars, Lyon has the highest numbers of restaurants per inhabitant in France – there’s no shortage of culinary establishments in this gastronomic center of experimentation and innovation. Besides that, there are many authentic places to eat, such as century-old brasseries or the traditional bouchons. Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse, a unique covered market is the gourmet heart of the city with 48 shopkeepers and restaurants. Named after the Pope of French gastronomy Paul Bocuse.
Lyon is considered the best gateway city to visit French vineyards because of its easy access to North and South Cotes du Rhone, Beaujolais & Burgundy wine countries. Each region offers different grape varieties, wine styles, philosophy and landscapes.
The first printing establishment was set up in Lyon in1472 and became the most important printing and publishing center in all of Europe. Another first, the first moving picture in 1895 by Louis and Auguste Lumiere created the fist cinema and studio here. Today Lyon also serves as the world headquarters for Interpol.