Why I Low-Key Prefer Lyon over Paris +[Is Lyon Worth Visiting?]

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Is Lyon Better than Paris?

Why I Low-Key Prefer Lyon over Paris

#1 Lyon is Intimately Smaller

Lyon is intimately smaller than Paris. This means it’s more manageable in size compared to the vastness of Paris. All of Paris’ attractions are scattered in different ‘arrondissements’ that are relatively far from each other and sometimes deserve separate days to visit an entire ‘quartier’. In Lyon, I loved being able to walk from one end of the city to another. I found Lyon to be more compact in layout and smaller making it easier to explore on foot or bike.

#2 Lyon Has Traboules

Ok but one of the things that are so unique about Lyon that you can’t find anywhere else in the world are its traboules. These secret passages were used by silk merchants in the 19th century to transport their products and later in WW2 by the resistance fighters. These were so cool to visit and some of them even became hubs for street art.

vieux lyon traboule secret hidden gems

Related: The Most Beautiful Traboules in Lyon OPEN to the Public

#3 Lyon is less Fast-Paced than Paris

Despite Lyon being a large city, I found Lyon to  be less fast-paced and generally more laid back than Paris. I’ve lived in Paris for awhile and can attest to the hustle and bustle that comes with any major city. I’m also used to the distant and slightly cold nature of people, especially in shops. I found Lyon’s people to be slightly more warm. Of course, it depends where you’re coming from. If this is the first time you visit France through Lyon it’ll be different than your first time visiting Paris. It all depends what you’re comparing it to plus your past travel experiences.

#4 Lyon’s Unique Scenic Beauty

One of the things that struck me the most was when I was just arriving to Lyon’s Presqu’île on a Sunday morning and heading to my accommodation. The city was empty, and the sun was just starting to rise. The stunning view of the Fourvière church on top of the hill behind the city and over the Saône river was absolutely stunning. I remember thinking that’s something you could never find in Paris.

#5 Lyon’s Amazing Food Scene

Yes, I know you’re thinking France is known for its food so what’s so special about Lyon. But did you know that Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. The bouchons or traditional restaurants there offer hearty and rustic cuisine using their culinary traditions.

If you’re vegan like me you would steer clear from bouchons, but let me tell you their vegan food was just as incredible. I found the vegan food scene actually quite better than Paris. There were so many vegan friendly restaurants and they were not too far from each other (because of Lyon’s size). You can imagine how much fun I had trying all the vegan places.

#6 Lyon is Less Crowded and has Larger Streets

Compared to the bustling streets of Paris, (and minus the old town and some public transport stops in Lyon), I found Lyon to be significantly less crowded with tourists than Paris. This made it a nicer and more intimate experience making it more easier to immerse in the local culture.

Unlike the narrow, winding streets of Paris, Lyon has larger boulevards and big open spaces. If you visit Lyon you can’t miss it’s iconic Place de Bellecour a vast and huge square with the statue of Louis XIV (the Sun King) at its center. This difference provided a sense of openness and airiness throughout the city that I felt Paris didn’t have.

#7 Lyon’s Public Transport

Coming from Paris, I really appreciated that in Lyon a metro or tram/ bus ticket can be used for 1 hr in any direction. This means you can use it as many times as you can on any until the hour is up.  This is different than Paris where a metro bus or tram ticket can only be used for one journey within Paris. Once you exit the public transportation system the ticket cannot be reused.

Is Lyon Worth Visiting?

A big yes. Lyon is one of my favorite city’s and a must! Here’s why I think it’s one of the top cities to visit in France:

#8 Vieux Lyon’s Old Town: A Must-Explore Gem

Vieux Lyon is the Old Town of Lyon. It’s filled with history with beautiful Renaissance buildings, charming cobblestone streets, and hidden traboules to explore. I love taking a walk here and just seeping in all its history. Once you’re done visiting go on a river promenade or boat trip on the Saône River.

vieux lyon old town france thing to do

#9 Awesome Museums and Expos

Lyon always has so many cool art and expos happening. One of my favorite is the Musee des Confluences, a spaceship-looking museum with brilliant exhibits and a roof top bar with stunning views of the city. I also loved the Lumiere Museum, a small cast-away museum located at the family villa of the Lumiere brothers who invented modern day cinema. It’s a must-visit to explore the birthplace of cinema and learn about the techniques that shaped the film industry.

#10 Vintage Stores in Lyon

There are plenty of thrift stores and flea markets in Lyon where you can hunt for treasures. And the cool thing is that they’re mostly all in small proximity of each other. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the amazing finds I’ve stumbled upon.

#11 So Many Amazing Day Trips

Lyon’s location in East central France makes it a perfect base for going on day trips. It’s an ideal hub for exploring the surrounding areas. Lock in 2 or 3 days extra and go on day trips by taking the train. You can venture further south to visit charming Provencal towns like Avignon and Arles (Van Gogh’s town) or head east to explore the stunning landscapes of the Swiss Alps.

best day trips from lyon france

#12 Peaceful Garden in Lyon:

One of the things I love about Lyon is  the Parc des Tetes D’Or. This is like Lyon’s own Central Park in the middle of the city. The parc was is super vast and really felt like you were away from the city surrounded by nature. It was the perfect place to grab a picnic, take a novel and bask in the sun.

#13 Lyon’s Secret Spots:

Lyon has so many secret spots to explore that are amazing. I loved exploring these so much that I included entire guide of my fav. Spots.

Lyon hidden gems secret things to do

#14 Lyon’s Fun Street Art:

Street art enthusiasts don’t miss Croix Rousse with it’s brilliant and super fun street art. The Cour des Voraces traboule is always a highlight of my visits transforming with new street art every time I visit.

#15 Lyon’s Fun Festivals and Events:

Lyon is known for its dope festivals. Every year the city holds amazing festivals like the Lyon Festival of Lights. This takes place in winter where the entire city is illuminated with dazzling light displays and big landmarks transformed into works of art.

lyon Fête des Lumières festival of lights- gimme confetti.png

#16 Great accommodation for All Budgets:

I’ve had the chance to visit Lyon more than four times. Here’s a guide of the best spots to stay in Lyon:

best Lyon Hotels at The Presqu'île France in the city center inlcuding: hotel dieu , intercontinental boscolo petit prince hotel, Warwick Reine Astrid, Mercure Lyon Plaza Republique, Hôtel Le Boulevardier

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About the author

Latifah is a vegan foodie who loves travelling and cooking plant-based recipes. She loves sharing her favorite travel spots and adding a sprinkle of confetti to your day.

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