Secret Passageways in Lyon

The city itself is nestled between Burgundy and Provence. It is France’s most historic and culturally important city after Paris. You’ll experience Old World cobbled alleys, pastel Renaissance mansions, and colorful shops of Vieux Lyon; and the more staid but classy, Paris-like buildings and shopping streets of the Presqu’île. Professional chefs like Paul Bocuse here are more famous than athletes, making for some of the best cuisine in the world.

  • 11:00am: Begin your hike up the hill de Fourvière which is home to the famous Basilique Notre-dame. Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary for eradicating the city of the bubonic plague that swept Europe in the mid-17th century. From atop the hill, enjoy the grand view of the city — with two major rivers running through it — the Rhône and Saône. You’ll have a tremendous view of the Old Town (Vieux Lyon). Spend some time in the church itself, for some interesting renditions of the Virgin Mary in cultures around the world.

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  • 12:00pm: Right next to the Basilique is Théâtre Antique de Fourvière. This historic roman amphitheater should not be missed! The theatre was built in two stages: around 15 BC, a theatre with a 90-meter diameter was built next to the hill. At the beginning of the 2nd century, the final construction added a last place for the audience. There is seating for 10,000 people and it is still in use as a cultural venue.

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  • 12:30pm: Have lunch at one of the many restaurants in Lyon’s Old Town (Vieux Lyon), which is full of cafés and bistros around every corner. The cobblestones streets are vehicle-free, and have many specialty shops, restaurants (local specialty restaurant are labelled “bouchons”) and museums.

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  • 1:30pm: Be sure to check out the city’s secret passageways (traboules), which narrow shortcuts that link the Old Town’s three main streets that run parallel to the river. One thing Lyon’s founders had forgotten was to do some proper urban planning as most streets ran parallel to the river, making it relatively hard to get from one street to the next without making a massive detour. By connecting building courtyards with a network of passages, a large number of shortcuts were created, normally hidden by doors that otherwise served as the entrance to an apartment building. You’ll be able to find these by looking for the large, golden rectangular signs identifying them as such. The longest one is accessible at 54th St Jean street and exits at 27 rue Du Boeuf.

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  • 3:00pm: Get ice cream at the famous Terre Adelice, an ice cream shop with a range of over 100 organic ice cream flavors, from black sesame to wild flavors like goat cheese. Known for being the best ice in Lyon, it was hard to be disappointed here!
  • 4:30pm: Grab a beer at Les BeRThoM, an excellent local beer bar featuring a great selection of keg and bottled beer with excellent service. It is known for having a great tavern-like atmosphere to relax.
  • 5:00pm: You’ll want to spend some time, preferably around sunset, to walk down the steps along the Saone river. The ground-level pathway will be filled with French locals chatting, drinking wine, basking in the sun. Walk inland and make a quick stop by the Place Bellecour, a massive pedestrianized public square. It will be marked by the large rider on horseback statue in the center of the square.

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  • 6:00pm: Drinks in city center at Place des Jacobins. Sit outside in front of the fountain and enjoy the view. It’s a beautiful square with a large fountain in the center recently renovated and delightful to relax and plan your evening’s adventure.
  • 8:00pm: Dinner at Burgundy Lounge. If you are looking for a more romantic, fine-dining experience with an excellent multi-course menu along with stunning decor, you won’t be disappointed. Complete with a French sommelier offering you a selection of Burgundian wine to pair with your meal, this romantic ambience is sure to please. Service is virtually faultless and every course here exceeded the mark, particularly the desert. Difficult to find a decently priced bottle (under €60), but they do have good by-the-glass options. I’d recommend getting the Degustation Menu which for €50 gives you canapés, appetizer, fish course, meat course, introduction to dessert, dessert and petits fours.
  • 9:30pm: Have a night cap along the Saone River at Buvette Bonaparte At night, the monuments of Lyon, particularly the Basilique are illuminated and look simply splendid. Sitting at this outdoor bar / patio along the river on a warm night, overlooking the river and watching the pedestrian foot traffic on your adjacent side is a great way to enjoy your evening.

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