Where to live in Lyon: a guide for expats

What makes Lyon an exceptional place to live or visit, even compared to Paris, the much-loved French capital and City of Light?

If you want to explore France and its culture, meet French people and learn their beautiful language, or have a cool city break with plenty of sightseeing, there’s no better place to visit than Lyon. I would even choose Lyon over Paris and I’m 100% sure you wouldn’t regret it if you did the same. Why am I so sure of this? There are plenty of reasons but here are my top 15 reasons why I think Lyon is better than Paris.

1. Because Lyon is much cheaper than Paris… and that’s a fact!

It’s no secret that Paris has often been ranked among the most expensive cities in the world. In the Economist Intelligence Unit report in 2015, Paris was ranked the second most expensive city in the world, which means it is more expensive than even Oslo, Zurich and Sydney; only Singapore came out more expensive. Lyon will not empty your wallet as much as Paris.

2. Because Lyon has the king of French cuisine and Paris has none

Yes, Lyon has Paul Bocus, the pope of French cuisine, with its restaurants and quality cuisine. Paul Bocus has become world famous for his innovative creation of “new cuisine”. He introduced this type of lighter and healthier cuisine which was opposed to the Lyon tradition and succeeded over time in revolutionizing French cuisine. It is also famous for its high quality restaurant and breweries. For more than 50 years, his restaurant has received three stars in the Michelin Guide, which is an exceptional achievement.

3. Paris is the capital of France but Lyon is the capital of more

Besides being known as the capital of gastronomy for about 80 years, Lyon was also the “capital of the resistance” which you can discover in the museum, and historically it was an important center as the capital of Gaul. It could also be called the French capital of trompe l’oeil walls (check for more info here). Lyon also holds the title of capital of lights thanks to the Festival of Light and urban development.

4. Paris has good French food but Lyon has the best French food

It is not only because of Lyon’s rich gastronomic history that led to the city being crowned the French capital of gastronomy, but also because Lyon is the gateway to the Beaujolais wine region, which provides top quality products and wines. Lyon’s restaurants use some of the best produce in France to prepare meals and you can experience very traditional Lyon cuisine – served at corks – or new kitchen. There are over 2,000 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide, as well as 72 Michelin-starred chefs in the region. You can also buy the best products at one of Lyon’s many food markets to cook for yourself. In addition, the people of Lyon love their cuisine, appreciate a good meal and will share this experience with you!

5. Lyon has mysterious-sounding “bouchons”, which you can’t find in Paris

Plugs are small traditional bistros that serve traditional Lyon dishes such as typical local sausages, roast pork or duck pâté, or the more unusual dishes of tripe, marrow bone, donkey snout and sausage pork offal, to name but a few. There are only about twenty authentic and certified corks in France and all of them are in Lyon.

6. Paris has impressive lights and fireworks all year round but Lyon has created its own Fête des Lumières

Once a year, Lyon hosts the famous Fête de Lumière. It has become so popular that it has been extended to four days to accommodate all the thousands of tourists who travel to Lyon in December to take part. Dubai fell in love with the festival and the Organization of Lyon also organized a Festival of Lights there. But what exactly is the Festival of Light? It is an event in which the people of Lyon express their gratitude towards Sainte Marie; originally, each house was supposed to light a candle in its window. This tradition continues, but the event has become much larger these days and is packed with attractions. The whole city is lit and decorated, there are light and music shows, and many free shows. Take a look here to get a taste.

7. Lyon has around 230 traboules and Paris doesn’t have a single one

traboules are the unique passages between buildings, connecting them to each other. They were constructed to protect silk during transport. They came in handy during World War II, as they were ideal for escaping and hiding from the Gestapo. Today they are part of private apartments, hidden behind closed doors, but you can visit and admire them freely. Check here and plan a walk to discover many hidden ones, especially in Old Lyon and Croix Roux.

8. Lyon has more than 60 CitéCréation frescoes but Paris has none


CitéCréation’s frescoes are amazing murals on the walls, which add charm to the city. My favorite is Le Mur des Canuts, located in Croix Rousse, but there are many other famous ones. A newer one even incorporates lights into the design and is a unique modern project.

9. Lyon was the first French city to launch a self-service bicycle system

The Vélo’v system has around 4,000 bikes and 340 stations where you can easily pick up a bike. It’s cheaper, healthier and easier to get around in Lyon. Of course Paris has a similar system – Vélib’ – but Lyon was the first to set up such a system, in 2005. Moreover, Paris has a lot of cars, so there are more pollution and safety problems.

10. Lyon has two rivers and Paris has none

The Rhône and the Saône are two impressive rivers in Lyon that merge in an interesting way at some point. You can see it in the Confluence district. Two rivers means four banks and many ways to enjoy the water in the city: sunbathing, walking, fishing, jogging, biking, walking the dog, having lunch or going out for a drink on the boat.

11. Paris has parks but Lyon has the incredible Parc de la Tête d’Or

The Tête d’Or park is an immense green beauty of 105 hectares including a 16-hectare lake. There is a free zoo and botanical garden. It is a great place for a picnic, a walk, a date, a boat trip and much more.

12. Lyon is a city of contrasts: old and new


The beautiful historic district of Lyon, called the Vieux-Lyon district, has been classified as a Unesco site, while the modern district located in the Confluence district of Lyon has become one of the most sustainable and exemplary districts of Europe. The beauty of Lyon’s architecture is that new developments don’t destroy historic parts of Lyon. Both parts are beautiful and unique in their own way and worth a visit.

13. Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame but Lyon has its own versions

Notre Dame de Fourvière has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Lyon also boasts the Tour Métallique de Fourvière. So why would they be better than those in Paris? Well, they’re both located on Fourvière hill, where the city was founded in 43 BC, and you can either climb the stairs with amazing views, or take the Lyon funiculaire, which is a French train at the old one. It’s a great experience and you can only find it in Lyon but not in Paris! Another interesting fact is that the Lyonnaise tower rises higher in the sky than the Eiffel Tower. That’s right, it’s on a high hill, isn’t it?

14. Lyon has friendly French people

Even though Parisians are nice, how many of them reflect authentic French society? Paris is full of international companies, employees, expatriates and English-speaking tourists. English is therefore widely spoken, which is unusual for French cities. Usually, the French love their French – and the people of Lyon love their language and their city as well! They care about the city, celebrate it and cherish it whenever they can. In the past, they weren’t so focused on tourism, so Lyon quietly sat as a hidden gem. But whoever visits is very well received by the Lyonnaises, helpful and talkative… in French, of course, so you will have to learn the language. But isn’t that the best way to learn a new language?

15. The connections are no longer much worse than in Paris

It was high time for Lyon to be connected to other countries. In the past, it was quite difficult to get direct flights and trains to Lyon. Maybe the clever Lyonnaise planned it that way to protect their beautiful city from a huge wave of tourists. But now there are decent transport links to and from Lyon, and a relatively low budget. Lyon has the Eurostar train to London and there are cheap direct flights to cities in Europe.

I could write and cherish my favorite city of Lyon endlessly, but I hope these 15 points give you an idea of ​​why Lyon is such an exceptional French city to visit.

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