How To Be A Local In Lyon France
Lyon France is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in France where past and present, old traditions and new trends live side by side and add a quirky touch to the city.
We spent two weeks staying in an apartment in Vieux Lyon (old town), and had a chance to see the city from a local perspective and find out what it would take to become “one of them”.
To blend in with the locals in Lyon you simply have to do what they do and …
Get Yourself A “Kick Scooter”How To Be A Local In Lyon France
A very peculiar detail we found in Lyon was that everyone, adults and children alike, loved to get around the city on kick scooters – you know the ones every kid on the block had in the late 90’s!
The trend quickly faded and became uncool in the rest of the world, but in Lyon the kick scooter business is thriving.
Fancy girls in high heels and businessmen in suits sweep past on their kick scooters every few minutes – so the first step to becoming a local in Lyon is to get yourself one of those.
Always Buy 2 Baguettes
Of all assumptions the French are associated with, their love for baguettes is indeed one that is true.
Every day, no matter what time it is, you will see people walking down the street on their way to work, lunch or home, carrying not one – but two, baguettes.
It was a rarity to see someone holding just one baguette, and we sometimes got a funny look from the baker when asking for one rather than two – judging by what we saw on the street, one baguette is for munching on while you’re on your way home, and the other one for lunch or dinner.
So next time you buy yourself a baguette, get two… 😉
Buy Your Food At The Right PlacesBuy Your Food At The Right Places
Lyon is a foodie mecca, so don’t resort to buying all your food from the supermarket – in fact, good supermarkets are difficult to find in Lyon, perhaps because the locals prefer to shop elsewhere.
From Tuesday to Saturday there is a morning market (St Antoine Market) along the Saône River on Quai St-Antoine where locals go to buy food, flowers, wine and delicacies.
Stalls are lined up along the river offering a huge variety of local wines, meat, cheese straight from the farm, fresh vegetables and fruit, grilled chicken, bread, cakes and pastries.
Anything French you’re looking for, you will be sure to find on this market.
Behind one stall they serve massive oyster plates and a glass of white wine as though it was fast food. Can it get any more French than this?!
Once you zoom off on your adult kick scooter on your way to the local market to buy your daily dose of 2 baguettes – you know you’ve become a local in Lyon.
Have you been to Lyon? What did you think about the city?
Capturing The Essence of Lyon France
So far, Lyon is my favorite city in France. It has all the benefits of a cosmopolitan city but it feels more like a small town and has a great laid-back atmosphere. Although there aren’t many attractions per se, it’s a wonderful city to just wander around in soaking up the atmosphere and all the “Frenchness” surrounding you.
Getting to Lyon France:
Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport makes it easy to reach the city from all over Europe with several great flights going between UK (Birmingham, London-Luton and Dublin are just a few).
You can use websites for parking your car at the airport in Birmingham and Luton, and can book your parking there and at other airport locations on their website.
From the airport you can take the tram-train Rhônexpress to the city for €13 one-way (30 min) – the train is a more convenient way of reaching Lyon with three stations to arrive at, Part-Dieu station being the most central one.
These three things are what for me really capture the essence of Lyon…
Lyon France City Of Food
Lyon prides itself to be France’s best food capital, and it truly is – that is, if you’re a fan of pig cooked in a hundred different ways..!
One of the main things to do in Lyon is to dine at the many Bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants), but the menus are excessively meat heavy so there wasn’t much to choose from for vegetarians like us.
Instead, we decided to explore Lyon’s sweets and snacks, which fortunately there was plenty of!
What to eat in Lyon France
Make sure you try the Praline tart and St Martin cheese – two local specialties that are really tasty.
Also make sure to check out the St-Antoine market where stalls sell plenty of local specialities and delicacies – especially during weekends!
Hidden Treasures in Lyon France
There is more to Lyon than what meets the eye – literally.
On the historical cobblestoned streets of Lyon are doors leading to old traboules, a type of traditional passageways that are used as a way of moving between buildings hidden from the outside.
It was primarily used by silk manufacturers to quickly transport their silk to the merchants by the river. Textiles were also transported in the traboules as they were sheltered from bad weather.
Some of the traboules are said to date back to roman times, and many of them are from the medieval century.
The traboules are open to the public, and residents live in the buildings and use the traboules every day, but since people live there you should respect their privacy while you’re there.
Where: Finding the traboules can be difficult without a map, but fortunately all the traboules in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse are marked in red on the city map that you can get for free at the tourist office (with a numbered list above the fold).
There is also an app you can use to find your way.
Views And Gardens in Lyon France
When exploring the traboules you will be walking through some of Lyon’s cutest neighborhoods and oldest areas, but after some time wandering the streets of Vieux Lyon and Roisse croux you may want to find a place to relax and enjoy some nature or views.
The most famous viewing point in Lyon has to be the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, overlooking the whole city and its rivers.
The cathedral is truly beautiful, and the views are nice as well, but just like with the views from the eiffel tower it’s missing one important thing – the cathedral itself.
The best view in Lyon is the one overlooking the old town with the cathedral in the background, perched on top of the green hill – and you get it from the riverside walk along Quai des Célestins and Quai St-Antoine.
But the walk up to (or down from) the cathedral is worth the visit alone, as you walk through beautiful lush gardens and flower plantations. It’s an oasis in the middle of the city.
Another lovely green area in Lyon is the Parc de la Tête d’Or, a huge park expanding 290 acres and a favorite picnic hangout among locals.
There is a lake, gardens, ponds with exotic birds and small open-air zoo that is free to visit.
These are just a few things that make Lyon so special, what are your favorite things about Lyon?