Family Travel Guide with Kids

100 fun facts about Lyon, France for kids -2nd most beautiful city in the world

The fun facts about Lyon, France.

Lyon is a vibrant and historic city in eastern France, known for its stunning architecture, delicious food, and rich culture. It’s also a great place to visit with kids, with plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained.

In October 2020, Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked Lyon as the second-best large city in the world. Lyon is ranked ahead of Singapore and even Sydney, but below Kyoto. The capital of Gaul is a multi-scene city that draws a large number of new residents each year. It is praised by readers of the renowned magazine for having a “more intimate atmosphere than in Paris” and “stunning architecture.”

100 fun facts about Lyon

Bellow are 100 fun facts about Lyon, France for kids:

Geography and Landmarks

1. Lyon is located in eastern France along the Rhône and Saône rivers.

2. With over 2,000 years of history, Lyon is considered one of the oldest cities in France.

3. The historic city center of Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Lyon has two hills that overlook the city called Fourvière Hill and Croix-Rousse Hill.

5. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a beautiful 19th century basilica, sits atop Fourvière Hill.

6. Lyon has a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty sitting on an island in the Rhône River.

7. The Saône and Rhône Rivers meet in Lyon, which is nicknamed the “confluence”.

8. Lyon has a large redeveloped dock area along the Saône river called the Lyon Confluence.

9. Place Bellecour is one of the largest pedestrian squares in Europe at 43,000 m2.

fun facts about Lyon Geography and Landmarks

fun facts about Lyon Geography and Landmarks

History and Culture

10. Lyon was founded as a Roman city called Lugdunum in 43 BC.

11. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, Lugdunum was the capital of the Roman provinces of Gaul.

12. The Gallo-Roman Museum displays many artifacts and mosaics from ancient Lugdunum.

13. Lyon has been an important center for banking, commerce and manufacturing for 500 years.

14. Lyon’s historic silk workshops and traboules date back to the 4th century.

15. Traboules are covered passageways that run between streets and courtyards.

16. Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France, with many famous chefs and restaurants.

17. Famous Lyonnaise specialties include saucisson, quenelles, pralines and Beaujolais wine.

18. Lyon is the birthplace of cinema, where the Lumière brothers invented the cinematograph in 1895.

fun facts about Lyon

fun facts about Lyon


19. Lyon has over 70,000 university students across four universities.

20. The University of Lyon was established in 1896 and is one of France’s largest universities.

21. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is one of France’s most prestigious graduate schools.

22. There are over 30 international schools in Lyon offering various curriculums and languages.


Food and Cuisine

23. Bouchons are small bistros that serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. There are over 4,000 in Lyon.

24. The Paul Bocuse Institute provides training in French gastronomy and cuisine.

25. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a large indoor market with over 60 food stalls.

26. Popular local dishes include salade Lyonnaise, quenelle, andouillette and cervelle de canut cheese.

27. Coussin de Lyon is a sweet specialty – chocolate and marzipan shaped like a cushion.

28. Lyon has over 4,000 restaurants, with more Michelin stars than anywhere else except Paris.

29. The International City of Gastronomy organization is headquartered in Lyon.

lyon gastronomie

Lyon gastronomie

Economy and Entertainment

30. Lyon is a hub for banking, medicine, science and technology in France.

31. The headquarters of Interpol, Euronews and Groupe SEB are located in Lyon.

32. The biennial Lumière Film Festival honors the Lumière brothers’ contribution to cinema.

33. Nuits de Fourvière is a large summer performing arts festival held in the Roman theaters.

34. Lyon has an annual Festival of Lights every December when monuments are illuminated.

35. OL Land is a large indoor entertainment complex with restaurants, shops and attractions.

Nature and Wildlife

36. Lyon has over 260 parks, gardens and green spaces throughout the city.

37. Parc de la Tête d’Or is a 117-hectare urban park with a lake, zoo and botanical garden.

38. Jardin des Curiosités is a botanical garden with over 4,000 plant species.

39. The Lyon City Card offers free admission to all municipal museums and public transit.

40. The Lyon Zoo has over 300 animal species, with a large primate house and elephant park.

41. Bois de la Tête d’Or is an urban forest next to Parc de la Tête d’Or.

Sports and Recreation

42. Olympique Lyonnais (OL) is Lyon’s popular professional soccer team that plays at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium.

43. Lyon is home to the International Luge Federation and hosts international luge events.

44. There are over 700km of cycling paths along the rivers and parks in Lyon.

45. Rowing and canoeing are popular on the Saône and Rhône rivers.


46. Lyon has a subway system called the Métro with 4 lines and 62 stations.

47. Trams (streetcars) run on 6 lines throughout the city and suburbs.

48. Buses run on over 150 routes throughout Lyon and the suburbs.

49. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is the third largest in France with over 15 million passengers.

50. High-speed TGV trains connect Lyon to Paris in 2 hours and other French cities.

Festivals and Celebrations

51. Fête des Lumières is an annual festival where buildings are illuminated for 4 nights.

52. La fête de la musique takes place every June 21st with free outdoor concerts.

53. Nuits Sonores is an electronic music festival held over 3 days in May.

54. The Biennial of Contemporary Art displays new art installations around the city.

55. Festival of Cuisine celebrates Lyon’s gastronomy with food events, tastings and shows.

Architecture and Urban Design

56. Lyon has Renaissance architecture, Gothic cathedrals, and Roman ruins dating back 2,000 years.

57. Le Corbusier designed the Sainte Marie de la Tourette convent and chapel outside Lyon.

58. The traboules are covered passageways between buildings that date back to Roman times.

59. Hôtel-Dieu has a Gothic façade and was once one of Europe’s largest hospitals.

60.The iconic La Part-Dieu Tower is a modern skyscraper dominating Lyon’s skyline.

Parks and Gardens

61. Jardin Rosa Mir is a rose garden with over 1,000 varieties of roses and aromatic plants.

62. Jardin des Chartreux has a French formal garden and greenhouse with tropical plants.

63. Jardin botanique de Lyon has a Japanese garden, Islamic garden and greenhouse.

64. Parc de Gerland has a recreational lake, forest and hosts cultural and sport events.

65. Parc de la Cerisaie has a playground, picnic areas and trails through woodland and meadows.

66. Parc de Miribel-Jonage is a large regional park with lakes, forests and wetlands.

67. Parc de Parilly has walking trails, playgrounds and hosts outdoor concerts and cinema.

68. Jardin des Plantes de Lyon is a botanical garden with greenhouses and plant collections.

69. Parc des Hauteurs has picnic areas, playgrounds and views of Lyon from its hilltop location.

Museums and Attractions

70. Musée des Beaux-Arts has a large collection of paintings from the 13th to 21st centuries.

71. Musée d’Art Contemporain features contemporary art installations and exhibitions.

72. Musée Gadagne has collections on the history of Lyon and puppetry from around the world.

73. Musée des Confluences explores the natural world and humanity’s place within it.

74. Transbordeur entertainment complex has nightclubs, concert hall, cinema and climbing wall.

75. L’Antiquaille archaeological site has ruins from ancient Roman city of Lugdunum.

76. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière is an ornate 19th century basilica atop Fourvière Hill.

77. Traboules alleys provide a glimpse into the hidden courtyards and passageways.

78. Opéra de Lyon stages operas, ballets and classical concerts in a historic building.

79. La Sucrière cultural center hosts exhibits, concerts and events in a converted sugar refinery.

80. Cathedral St-Jean is a Gothic cathedral with stained glass windows and astronomical clock.

81. St-Paul church has an 11th century crypt and 16th century Flemish altarpiece.

82. St-Nizier church has a Romanesque west front and nave from the 15th century.

83. St-Georges church is considered one of Lyon’s finest examples of French Classicism.

Museums and Attractions fun facts about Lyon

Museums and Attractions fun facts about Lyon

Festivals and Events

84. Lyon Street Film Festival screens short films in unusual outdoor locations.

85. Lyon’s LGBTQ+ Pride festival takes place every June with a parade and events.

86. Tastetouille food festival celebrates local produce and cuisine through cooking demos.

87. Nuits de Fourvière et de l’Opéra festival presents opera, theater and dance outdoors.

88. Lumière Cinéma promotes cinema through talks and screenings of restored classics.

People and Celebrities

89. Famous natives include chefs Paul Bocuse and Eugénie Brazier, and singer Édith Piaf.

90. Artists Pierre Bonnard and Jean Cocteau lived and worked in Lyon for parts of their careers.

91. Scientists Louis Pasteur and Auguste and Louis Lumière were born and worked in Lyon.

92. Writers Alphonse de Lamartine and Charles Fourier were born in Lyon in the late 18th century.

93. Actor John Malkovich and author Richard Wright spent parts of their childhoods in Lyon.

94. Photographer Vivian Maier discovered her talent while living in Lyon in the 1950s and 60s.



95. Vieux-Lyon is the historic Old Town area with Renaissance architecture and traboules.

96. Croix-Rousse is known for its 19th-century silk weaving workshops and views of Lyon.

97. Le 6ème arrondissement has embassies, upscale apartments, and Parc de la Tête d’Or.

98. La Guillotière is a multicultural area north of the Rhône with shops and restaurants.

99. The Lyon City Card provides free or discounted access to top attractions and transportation.

100. Guignol is a hand puppet character from Lyon who stars in humorous shows for children.

The Nature fun facts about Lyon

The Nature fun facts about Lyon

Why is Lyon famous?

Lyon has earned its fame as one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in France. With over two millennia of history, Lyon has long been an important place and there are several reasons why its reputation has endured.

First and foremost, Lyon has a rich culinary heritage as the birthplace of French cuisine. The city is considered the gastronomic capital of France, renowned for its buttercakes, sausages, roasted chickens, and especially its bouchon restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise dishes. Notable chefs like Paul Bocuse helped elevate Lyon’s cuisine to an art form and put the city on the map for serious food lovers worldwide. Even today, Lyon remains at the forefront of French culinary innovation and culture.

In addition to food, Lyon is also famous for its historical architecture. At the center of the Old Town stands the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a stunning example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that has watched over the city for centuries. Elsewhere in Vieux Lyon, you’ll find Renaissance-era townhouses, medieval alleyways called traboules that cut through buildings, and the opulent Hôtel Dieu building. The city also boasts well-preserved Roman ruins like the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls and theaters that give glimpses into Lyon’s past as the capital of Gaul under the Romans.

Lyon additionally earned prominence as a hub of commerce and industry during the 19th century. The city grew wealthy from the silk trade and became an important producer of silk textiles, earning it the nickname “Silk Capital of the World.” Major companies still headquartered in Lyon like Bouygues and Dassault Systèmes are a testament to its industrial legacy. Along with this economic success came grand civic buildings, museums, and cultural institutions that have enriched Lyon’s cultural offerings for residents and visitors alike.

On the subject of culture, Lyon is considered a leader in the arts. It is the third largest cultural center in France after Paris and Marseille, hosting numerous museums, theaters, and artistic events year-round. A fixture on the global contemporary art scene, Lyon played a pioneering role in supporting video and new media arts. The Biennale d’Art Contemporain, founded in 1995, has helped establish the city as a creative capital. Additionally, the renowned Opéra Nouvel, Opéra de Lyon, and Théâtre des Célestins stage world-class performances that have burnished Lyon’s reputation.

Lyon is also renowned for higher education and scientific research. With over 140,000 students, it is the second largest student city in France after Paris. Top universities and graduate schools like École centrale de Lyon, Sciences Po Lyon, and Lyon 1 University conduct innovative research and train many of France’s future leaders. In the fields of medicine and biotechnology especially, Lyon has emerged as a European center of excellence with prestigious research hospitals, laboratories, and technology clusters. Major pharmaceutical companies, attracted by the skilled workforce and research infrastructure, have located key R&D centers in and around Lyon.

Aside from its history and accomplishments, Lyon remains famous simply for its beauty and high quality of life. Straddling the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon displays a unique topography of hills and bridges that lend the city a picturesque setting. Public parks, outdoor activities, and a mild Mediterranean climate have earned Lyon accolades as one of the most livable cities in Europe. Its compact size also allows residents and visitors to easily explore on foot, taking in the charming streets, squares, and architecture at a leisurely pace. With all it has to offer culturally and naturally, it is no wonder that Lyon retains its fame as one of France’s most captivating urban destinations.

Why is Lyon the gastronomic capital of France?

Lyon has rightfully earned its reputation as the gastronomic capital of France. The city’s rich cuisine and culinary heritage have developed over centuries and are deeply rooted in the local culture. From its famed bouchon restaurants to its pâtés, sausages, and other charcuterie specialties, Lyon offers a bounty of delicious foods that food lovers from around the world flock to sample. Here are some of the top reasons why Lyon reigns supreme as France’s foodie mecca.

History of Cuisine

The roots of Lyon’s cuisine stretch back to Roman times when the city was a major trading hub. Merchants introduced ingredients from across the empire like olive oil, wine, and exotic spices. This early multicultural influence established Lyon as a melting pot of flavors. In the Middle Ages, guilds of chefs and butchers formed to oversee quality and techniques. Their traditions continued to refine Lyon’s style of cooking with an emphasis on robust sauces and fresh ingredients from the surrounding countryside.

Charcuterie Mastery

Few cities can rival Lyon’s charcuterie scene. Local pork products like rosette sausage, andouillette sausage, and présalé cheese have been granted AOC protected designation of origin status, ensuring traditional recipes and quality. Artisanal butchers meticulously prepare pâtés, terrines, rillettes, and other cured meats that feature prominently in the city’s bouchon restaurants. The neighboring Beaujolais wine region provides an ideal pairing for these saltier fare specialties.

Bouchon Culture

Nowhere else captures the spirit of a true French bistro quite like Lyon’s famous bouchon restaurants. These traditionally family-run eateries serve up hearty, homestyle cooking using high-quality regional ingredients. Classics like quenelles, coq au vin, and fondue are highlights. Bouchons also champion the local Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône wines. Dating back to the 19th century, bouchons originally served wine traders refreshing meals—a tradition they uphold today amongst a lively, convivial atmosphere.

Fresh Produce

As France’s largest urban agricultural zone, the surrounding Rhône-Alpes region provides Lyon with a bounty of fresh seasonal produce. The city’s markets overflow with vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and more that chefs showcase in their cooking. Dishes highlight ingredients like green beans, cherries, chestnuts, and mushrooms in their simplest, purest form. This emphasis on letting quality products shine through underscores Lyon’s cuisine.

Culinary Education

Lyon is home to some of the most prestigious culinary schools in France, chiefly Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School, which opened its first international campus here in 1995. Students gain hands-on experience working in the city’s top restaurants under renowned chefs. This high level of culinary training has earned Lyon a reputation for innovative techniques and creative flair alongside traditional fare. Top graduates spread Lyon’s food gospel in professional kitchens worldwide.

Artisanal Producers

Small family businesses abound in and around Lyon, carefully crafting everything from sausages to sweets that elevate the city’s cuisine. Pralus chocolatier pioneered pralines in 1950, while Neuville produces over 80 varieties of mustards. And popular local liqueur, absinthe, adds herbal complexity to regional specialties. Visiting producers’ shops offers a taste of authentic Lyon flavors and an education in time-honored methods.

Celebrity Chefs

International culinary stars like Paul Bocuse, who established his legendary L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges restaurant just outside Lyon in 1955, have helped spread Lyon’s food fame globally. Bocuse introduced nouvelle cuisine and championed locally-sourced ingredients, cementing the city’s modern gastronomic identity. Today, rising chefs like Jean-Paul Lacombe and Jérome Bocuse continue developing their family legacies at the table.

Culinary Events

Major food festivals like November’s Salon International de la Gastronomie spotlight Lyon’s dynamic dining scene and artisanal producers. The city also hosts an annual “Nuit de Fourchettes” where top chefs collaborate on innovative multi-course dinners. And the newly opened Espace Gastronomique Paul Bocuse food emporium gathers all things Lyon cuisine under one roof for visitors. These events attract foodies from around the world.

With its centuries of culinary refinement, Lyon truly deserves its status as the gastronomic capital of France. The city’s culture, history, education system, and dedication to high-quality local ingredients have combined to create a one-of-a-kind food

What food is Lyon famous for?

Lyonnaise cuisine is known for its exquisite flavors, generous portions, and hearty dishes, making it a true delight for the palate.

Quenelles: A Culinary Icon

Quenelle, a delicate oval-shaped dumpling, is one of Lyon’s most iconic dishes. Traditionally made with pike, quenelles can also be filled with other meats, poultry, or vegetables. The dumplings are poached in broth or water and then served in a creamy sauce, often accompanied by rice, veal, or vegetables. Their delicate texture and flavorful filling make them a true culinary gem.

Image of Quenelles Lyonnais

Andouillette: A Sausage with a Signature Aroma

Andouillette, a sausage made from coarsely chopped tripe and pork, is another Lyonnaise specialty. Its unique aroma, which some might find pungent, is derived from the spices and herbs used in its preparation. Andouillette is typically served grilled or pan-fried, and its rich flavor is often enhanced with a variety of sauces.

Image of Andouillette Lyonnais

Coq au Vin: A Hearty Wine-Braised Chicken Dish

Coq au vin, a classic French dish, is a culinary staple in Lyon. Braised chicken, onions, mushrooms, and bacon are cooked in a rich red wine sauce, creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. This hearty dish is often served with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.

Image of Coq au Vin Lyonnais

Tablier de Sapeur: A Unique and Flavorful Tripe Dish

Tablier de sapeur, literally meaning “sapper’s apron,” is a unique and flavorful tripe dish. Beef tripes are marinated in white wine, lemon juice, mustard, and spices before being breaded and pan-fried until golden brown. The dish is often served with a gribiche sauce, a mayonnaise-like sauce made with hard-boiled eggs, pickles, and herbs.

Image of Tablier de Sapeur Lyonnais

Grattons Lyonnais: Crispy Fried Pork Fat

Grattons Lyonnais, crispy fried pork fat, are a popular appetizer or snack in Lyon. Salted pieces of pork fat, often from pork belly or shoulder, are fried until golden and crispy. Grattons Lyonnais can be enjoyed plain or dipped in a variety of sauces, such as mustard, vinaigrette, or mayonnaise.

Image of Grattons Lyonnais

Poireaux à la Lyonnaise: Onion Soup with a Difference

Poireaux à la Lyonnaise, Lyonnaise onion soup, is a comforting and flavorful dish. Sliced onions are cooked in butter and white wine until caramelized, then seasoned with garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. The soup is traditionally served with a slice of Gruyère cheese melted on top.

Salade Lyonnaise: A Simple yet Elegant Salad

Salade Lyonnaise, a simple yet elegant salad, is a staple in Lyon. Romaine lettuce is topped with lardons (cubes of pork fat), croûtons, a poached egg, and a vinaigrette dressing. The combination of flavors and textures makes it a refreshing and satisfying dish.

Image of Salade Lyonnaise

Other Lyonnaise Delights

Beyond these iconic dishes, Lyon offers a vast array of other culinary delights. From savory bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise bistros) to Michelin-starred restaurants, the city caters to every palate. Here are a few additional Lyonnaise specialties to try:

  • Coussin de Lyon: A savory galette made with potatoes, Gruyère cheese, and bacon

  • Cardon à la moelle: Celeriac cooked in a rich sauce with marrow

  • Cervelle de canut: A soft cheese spread with herbs, salt, oil, and vinegar

  • Bugnes: Round, fritter-like pastries traditionally eaten during carnival season

  • Praline rose: A candy made with almonds, sugar, and red fruit liqueur

Lyon’s culinary scene is a testament to its rich history and passion for food. From hearty classics to delicate pastries, the city has something to offer every palate. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or a curious beginner, Lyon is a must-visit for anyone seeking a culinary adventure.

Tips for visiting Lyon with kids

Lyon presents endless opportunities for families to learn, play and create lasting memories together. From its storied past unveiled in medieval Old Town to dynamic cultural scene, there is no shortage of enchanting discoveries around every corner. Here are some tips to help you plan a truly magical trip.

When to Go

Spring (April-June) and fall (September-October) have mild weather ideal for sightseeing. Major festivals like Fête des Lumières in December and Nuits de Fourvière in summer feature incredible light shows and outdoor concerts. Summer invites warm days perfect for parks and activities while winter brings holiday magic. Whenever you visit, Lyon’s treasures will charm young explorers.

Where to Stay

Stay in the heart of it all with a hotel or apartment rental in Vieux Lyon or Croix-Rousse, within walking distance of attractions. Family-friendly options include Hotel Le Royal with an indoor pool or Citad’Or Hôtel with games room and family rooms. B&Bs in historic buildings like traboules offer character and insider tips. Hotels near parks like Tête d’Or or along the river promenade provide scenic stays.


Things to Do

Fuel curious minds at ingenious hands-on museums. Musée des Confluences introduces science, cultures and nature while children act as archaeologists at Gallo-Roman Museum. Wander hidden Traboules alleys and uncover Lyon’s secret past. Explore lush green spaces like Tête d’Or and Des Hauteurs parks. Ride iconic funiculars up Fourvière Hill for stunning vistas. Catch world-class theater, concerts and more during summer festivals. Slow adventures like biking along the Saône or puppet shows after dusk lead to magical moments.

  • Visit the Parc de la Tête d’Or. This large park is home to a lake, gardens, a zoo, and a playground. It is a great place to spend a day exploring and having fun.
  • Explore the Vieux Lyon (Old Town). This charming neighborhood is full of narrow streets, medieval buildings, and hidden courtyards. It is a great place to wander and get lost.
  • Visit the Musée des Confluences. This science and anthropology museum is home to a variety of interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids of all ages.
  • Take a boat cruise on the Saône River. This is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and relax at the same time.
  • Attend a puppet show at the Guignol Théâtre. This traditional Lyonnaise puppet theater is a fun experience for kids of all ages.
  • Visit the Lugdunum Museum. This museum tells the story of Lyon’s Roman past through a variety of exhibits, including mosaics, artifacts, and a reconstruction of a Roman street.
  • Explore the Croix-Rousse hill. This hilltop neighborhood is known for its silk-weaving history and its bohemian atmosphere. It is a great place to find unique shops and restaurants.
  • Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This basilica is located on the Fourvière hill and offers stunning views of the city.
  • Take a day trip to the nearby town of Pérouges. This medieval town is known for its well-preserved architecture and its charming atmosphere.
  • Purchase a Lyon City Card.This card gives you free admission to many of the city’s attractions, as well as unlimited use of public transportation.
  • Take advantage of the city’s many free activities. There are many free things to do in Lyon, such as visiting the parks, exploring the Vieux Lyon, and attending the Fête des Lumières in December.
  • Look for discounts. Many attractions and restaurants offer discounts to families and children. Be sure to ask about discounts when you are purchasing tickets or making reservations.

Hands-On Fun

Budding scientists love microscopes and experiments at interactive Palais des Sciences exhibits. Budding chefs can learn to make crepes, quenelles and local specialties at family-friendly cooking workshops. Future architects build bridges and structures during engineering activities. Artists hone skills in the Musée des Confluences studio. Future historians roleplay life in Roman Lyon through immersive games.

Special Adventures

Take a nighttime Traboules tour by candlelight for a taste of history. Go behind-the-scenes at the puppet theater to meet characters like Guignol. Stargaze or spot glowing plankton during a nocturnal river cruise. Attend a lively street festival in summer. Learn about silk production on a Croix-Rousse walking tour. Picnic under the trees in one of Lyon’s many lush parks.

By planning a mix of educational exploring and hands-on fun, you’ll spark curiosity and create memories to last a lifetime. Lyon holds a treasure trove of magical discoveries just waiting for your adventurous family!



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