Lyon - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Lyon


Lyon is a city synonymous with the silk industry, the French Resistance and a reputation as the 'gastronomic capital of the world', and is located between the Rhone and the Saône rivers in the south west of France. Lyon is home to some of the finest restaurants and chefs in the country and forms the second largest metropolitan area in France after Paris.

This gastronomic wonder's culinary history came about in the first half of the 20th century when many bourgeois families fired their in-house cooks. These women went on to revolutionise Lyon's cuisine by setting up their own restaurants and cooking for some of the finest French dignitaries of their time.

Besides the many restaurants, bistros and cafés that entice people to this endearing city, Lyon boasts three large city parks, some 30 museums and countless monuments symbolising Lyon's development through the ages. It is home to the world famous Lyon Opera House, whose orchestra's reputation has travelled far beyond French borders.

UNESCO lists Lyon as a World Heritage site due to its rich and diverse 2,000-year-old history, evident in the awe-inspiring Romanesque architecture and medieval buildings in Old Lyon, including the Primatiale St-Jean cathedral, and the 16th-century Hôtel du Chamarier.

To the west, Fourviere Hill offers panoramic views of the city, and its own attractions include the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, and the Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine.

By day Lyon can be viewed by boat on a trip down its rivers and at night dinner cruises add an element of fantasy to the city. Lyon is a city rich in food, history and culture, making it a hidden treasure in the French landscape and living up to its Roman name, Lugdunum, meaning 'the hill of light'.

Information & Facts


Lyon's climate is temperate and sunny. The average annual temperature is 52°F (11°C), with an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine per year. The hottest months of the year are May to July when temperatures can soar up to 86°F to 95°F (30-35°C).

Getting Around

Lyon takes full advantage of the Rhone Valley's roads and rivers. Air-rail links are made simple with Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport's TGV high-speed train station, as well as the highly developed TGV network and freeway system. The urban transport network consists of over 100 bus lines, two funiculars, four metro lines and two tramway lines. Tickets can be used across all modes of transport. A single ticket is valid for an hour and allows for three changes across the different forms of transport. A daily ticket is ideal for sightseeing as you can get to most places in the city with it. The metro runs from 5am to 12pm and buses stop running at around 8pm. Taxis are widely available. Commuters should make sure the meter has been reset before travelling and that the meter in on during the journey.

French is the official language.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

The ancient theatre in Lyon is the oldest in France, dating back to the year 17 BC. Built by the Emperor Augustus, it was originally used for theatre, pageants, musical shows, and poetry competitions. While much of its rich decorations are gone, decorated floors of inlaid marble and porphyry are still visible. Now it is primarily a tourist site, but the Nuits de Fourvière festival is held there every year. Nearby you can also see the ruins of a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele.

To the right of the river Saône lies the Hôtel Gadagne, one of the most prestigious Renaissance mansions in Lyon. It was built between 1511 and 1527 for the two sons of a spice merchant but fell into the hands of the prominent Gadagne family in 1545. Being rich Florentine bankers, they threw many extravagant parties, infamously linking their name to the mansion. In 1902 the city of Lyon bought the mansion and in 1921 the Historical Museum was installed on the premises. It wasn't until 1950 that the International Puppet Museum became an additional attraction to the mansion's contents. The Gadagne Museum houses paintings, sculptures and furniture, as well as archaeological relics dating back from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, illustrating Lyon's vast history. The International Puppet Museum displays hand puppets, stick puppets, marionette puppets and sliding bar puppets originating from countries such as Japan, Cambodia, England, Italy, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Russia.

This 300-year old structure's glass dome has become a landmark attraction in Lyon, situated between the City Hall and the Rhone River. The first five levels of the Lyon Opera House are underground while the six higher levels are encased in vaulted glass. The hall seats 1,200 people and boasts six vertically-stacked balconies overlooking the orchestra level. This Italian-style hall is lined with black wood and gold detail, and is home to the Lyon Opera Ballet company and the world-renown Opera House Orchestra. The acoustics are so good that it currently makes more recordings than any other French opera house, and has released award-winning opera CDs including 12 world premieres, ballets and symphony performances.

The Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization at Fourviere is located on the site of the ruins of the Roman city of Lugdunum, which dates back to 43 BC. The museum houses rich collections of artefacts, including glassware, mosaics, ceramics, and other items relating to the military, domestic and spiritual lives of the Romans. Highlights include a chariot from 700 BC and a 3rd-century sarcophagus. There is a gift shop and workshop area for children.

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