Lyon has numerous parks and open spaces where you can enjoy the outdoors. Besides our walks through various neighborhoods for “mural-spotting” and the visits to the Parc de la Tête d’Or and the riverside promenade, we strolled through other smaller parks and visited the lovely Roman Theater in the city.
If you enjoy the outdoors, here are some places that you could add to your itinerary in Lyon, formerly known as Lugdunum, an important Roman city in Gaul.
Croix-Rousse Neighborhood: Jardin des Chartreux and Parc Gros Caillou
Head to the unique Croix-Rousse neighborhood, known as the home of the silk weavers or canuts. Walk up the slopes of the hill and reflect on the history of the district.
The Jardin des Chartreux is a green space on the steep slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill. Spend some time in this garden with picturesque views of the Fourvière hill and the basilica. Gaze at the river Saône meandering its way through Lyon.
And then, if the climb uphill was exhausting, enter one of the cafes or restaurants on the plateau of Croix-Rousse. Situated atop the hill, this area has a vibrant feel and unique charm. Take a break at the small Parc Gros Caillou, watch the kids playing in the park, enjoy a chat with a friend or loved one, and admire the panoramic vista from this location.
Junior’s spirits were high at both the parks and we loved ambling through the Croix-Rousse district.
Ferry Ride and Confluence Park
Hop on to a ferry to be transported to another world. Look out for the “Confluence” ferry at the Hotel de Ville-St. Paul boarding point and enjoy the ride along the Saône. The boat passes Pont Bonaparte and other landmarks before reaching the confluence of the Rhône and Saône. Suddenly, the scene undergoes a dramatic change.
A new district with a striking architecture appears ahead. Here is the brand new Confluence district, a neighborhood that has been dramatically transformed. New trendy housing projects and a grand commercial complex have replaced the prisons and warehouses that dominated the area sometime ago. Hop off the ferry and explore the Confluence district.
Stroll through the area for a curtain-raiser to the novel architecture of the residential buildings. A well-designed park had Junior in a joyous mood, while we looked around at the colorful edifices.
If you are keen on some indoor time, head into the mall and shop, eat, or watch a movie.
Roman Theater (by funicular) and Fourvière
Retrace Lyon’s history by visiting the Roman Theater near the Fourvière hill. Take the funicular from Vieux Lyon to Saint Just-Minimes and walk to the site of an ancient Roman Theater.
The construction of this Roman theater dates back to 15 BC. The well-maintained complex, one of the oldest in France, has three main structures – a theater, an odeum, and a temple. Explore the grounds at a leisurely pace, take the opportunity to test the incredible acoustics, and, if time permits, visit the museum nearby to delve into the historical aspects.
We had a good time exploring the theater and Junior jumped on the chance to climb more steps. However, we gave the museum a miss.
From the Roman theater, walk to the summit of the Fourvière hill to visit the Notre Dame de Fourvière basilica, an imposing structure that looks over Lyon and is visible from many parts of the city. The Virgin Mary saved the residents of Lyon from devastating epidemics of plague and cholera. For many years now, candles are lit and the Fête des Lumières is celebrated to thank Mary for her protection.
From the Fourvière hill, one can board a funicular that descends the hill and halts at Vieux Lyon.
Other outdoor attractions and sights include the beautiful Bartholdi fountain in the Place des Terreaux at the base of the Croix-Rousse hill. For another dash of history, you can view the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules from outside (access inside the premises is not allowed).
The Confluence ferry and other information about the Confluence district: http://www.confluence.fr/W/do/centre/navette
Transportation in Lyon (Subway and Funicular Routes): http://www.tcl.fr/Me-deplacer/Toutes-les-lignes/, http://www.tcl.fr/en/Getting-Around/Getting-around
Fourvière hill and the basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière: http://www.fourviere.org/en/
Fête des Lumières in Lyon: http://www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en
Rhônexpress shuttle between Lyon airport and the city: https://www.rhonexpress.fr/