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The districts of Lyon

Choose your own atmosphere


To feel the pulse of a city, you have to immerse yourself in its atmosphere. And to do that, there's no better way than to stroll through the various districts until you find one that suits your personality.

La Confluence - travelview - shutterstock 583547641

Choose your own atmosphere

If you feel like meandering through winding streets and traboules, your best bet is to head for Vieux-Lyon. But if it's shopping you have in mind, you'll be better off going to the Presqu'île. Otherwise, if it's modern architecture you’re looking for, then we suggest the Confluence district, but if you'd rather have a drink and discover designer boutiques, Croix-Rousse is the district for you!

Place de la Basoche, Vieux-Lyon © Romain Biard / Shutterstock _1041637660


Nestled between the hill of Fourvière and the banks of the Saône, steeped in history and dripping with charm, Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon) is listed as a World Heritage Site. Covering the Saint-Georges, Saint-Jean and Saint-Paul neighbourhoods, Vieux-Lyon is home to a cathedral and churches, squares, statues and museums, as well as bouchons (restaurants serving Lyonnaise cuisine) and artisans’ shops. High heels and buggies are not recommended! It’s best to come unencumbered and allow yourself to get lost in the maze of traboules (hidden passageways), secret courtyards waiting to be explored, and cobbled streets that are sometimes steep. You’ll then be able to admire the fifteenth and sixteenth-century façades and buildings, once home to wealthy families of bankers and merchants from Italy, Germany and Flanders, at your leisure.


La statue équestre de Louis XIV Place Bellecour © Laurent Berthier


A peninsula lying between the rivers Saône and Rhône, the Presqu’île is huge! It includes some of the 1st and 2nd districts, as well as some iconic parts of Lyon, such as Les Terreaux, Cordeliers, Bellecour and Ainay. It is therefore difficult to sum it up. It can be seen as the city centre, where Lyon’s main arteries are found. Here, you will find a plethora of shops, ranging from large eclectic stores around Rue de la République to more intimate, designer places around Ainay. As you may have guessed already, this is the perfect place to go shopping in Lyon, and maybe come back with a beautiful souvenir! There’s more to it than that though: you can take a stroll and admire the riches of the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), the Opera House, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu (a former hospital) and the Théâtre des Célestins, as well as the squares of Place de la Bourse, Place des Jacobins and Place Bellecour. And there are many other places you could add to this list! 


La Montée de la Grande Côte à la Croix-Rousse © Keitma /


Standing proudly opposite ‘the hill that prays’, in reference to the religious importance of the hill of Fourvière), this is ‘the hill that works’! Since the nineteenth century, the Croix-Rousse has been famous for the 30,000 or so Canuts (silk-workers) who lived and worked here. As you stroll through this part of Lyon, you can still see the characteristic buildings where they lived, with their colourful yet unadorned façades, exposed beams, and high ceilings, which allowed space for their huge weaving looms. Like Vieux-Lyon, this is a place of great historical and cultural importance for the city. With its “village atmosphere”, the plateau of Croix-Rousse hill has become very popular with families, thanks to its large market, its shaded parks and its squares lined with cafés. The livelier slopes of Croix-Rousse (known as ‘Les Pentes’) are a magnet for artists, creative types and associations. As an important centre of the French Resistance during World War Two, this district has kept its rebellious and free spirit! Bringing together tradition and modernity, it is a charming part of Lyon, which people visit as much for its traboules (hidden passageways) as for its street art.


La Confluence © Brice Robert


Where the rivers Saône and Rhône come together, Lyon – the “Capital of the Gauls” – is a constantly evolving place, shaping the city of today and tomorrow. Since the early 2000s, this former industrial district, where factories gradually closed down, has seen unprecedented urban redevelopment. Its entire cityscape has undergone a transformation, while respecting the environment. Contemporary architects have been allowed to express their boldest ideas here, creating landmarks such as the Musée des Confluences, the Orange Cube, the shopping centre and the headquarters of Euronews, as well as the futuristic façades looking out over the quayside. The Confluence is also a district that welcomes hybrid, unique and converted spaces, attracting tourists and young professionals: La Sucrière, Mob Hotel, Heat Lyon… Why not hop on the Vaporetto river shuttle at Saint-Paul or Bellecour to visit this eco-district and architectural laboratory?