Lyon is a vibrant and historic city in eastern France, known for its stunning architecture, delicious food, and rich culture. It’s also a great place to visit with kids, with plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained.
In October 2020, Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked Lyon as the second-best large city in the world. Lyon is ranked ahead of Singapore and even Sydney, but below Kyoto. The capital of Gaul is a multi-scene city that draws a large number of new residents each year. It is praised by readers of the renowned magazine for having a “more intimate atmosphere than in Paris” and “stunning architecture.”
100 fun facts about Lyon
Bellow are 100 fun facts about Lyon, France for kids:
Geography and Landmarks
1. Lyon is located in eastern France along the Rhône and Saône rivers.
2. With over 2,000 years of history, Lyon is considered one of the oldest cities in France.
3. The historic city center of Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Lyon has two hills that overlook the city called Fourvière Hill and Croix-Rousse Hill.
5. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a beautiful 19th century basilica, sits atop Fourvière Hill.
6. Lyon has a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty sitting on an island in the Rhône River.
7. The Saône and Rhône Rivers meet in Lyon, which is nicknamed the “confluence”.
8. Lyon has a large redeveloped dock area along the Saône river called the Lyon Confluence.
9. Place Bellecour is one of the largest pedestrian squares in Europe at 43,000 m2.
History and Culture
10. Lyon was founded as a Roman city called Lugdunum in 43 BC.
11. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, Lugdunum was the capital of the Roman provinces of Gaul.
12. The Gallo-Roman Museum displays many artifacts and mosaics from ancient Lugdunum.
13. Lyon has been an important center for banking, commerce and manufacturing for 500 years.
14. Lyon’s historic silk workshops and traboules date back to the 4th century.
15. Traboules are covered passageways that run between streets and courtyards.
16. Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France, with many famous chefs and restaurants.
17. Famous Lyonnaise specialties include saucisson, quenelles, pralines and Beaujolais wine.
18. Lyon is the birthplace of cinema, where the Lumière brothers invented the cinematograph in 1895.
19. Lyon has over 70,000 university students across four universities.
20. The University of Lyon was established in 1896 and is one of France’s largest universities.
21. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is one of France’s most prestigious graduate schools.
22. There are over 30 international schools in Lyon offering various curriculums and languages.
Food and Cuisine
23. Bouchons are small bistros that serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. There are over 4,000 in Lyon.
24. The Paul Bocuse Institute provides training in French gastronomy and cuisine.
25. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a large indoor market with over 60 food stalls.
26. Popular local dishes include salade Lyonnaise, quenelle, andouillette and cervelle de canut cheese.
27. Coussin de Lyon is a sweet specialty – chocolate and marzipan shaped like a cushion.
28. Lyon has over 4,000 restaurants, with more Michelin stars than anywhere else except Paris.
29. The International City of Gastronomy organization is headquartered in Lyon.
Economy and Entertainment
30. Lyon is a hub for banking, medicine, science and technology in France.
31. The headquarters of Interpol, Euronews and Groupe SEB are located in Lyon.
32. The biennial Lumière Film Festival honors the Lumière brothers’ contribution to cinema.
33. Nuits de Fourvière is a large summer performing arts festival held in the Roman theaters.
34. Lyon has an annual Festival of Lights every December when monuments are illuminated.
35. OL Land is a large indoor entertainment complex with restaurants, shops and attractions.
Nature and Wildlife
36. Lyon has over 260 parks, gardens and green spaces throughout the city.
37. Parc de la Tête d’Or is a 117-hectare urban park with a lake, zoo and botanical garden.
38. Jardin des Curiosités is a botanical garden with over 4,000 plant species.
39. The Lyon City Card offers free admission to all municipal museums and public transit.
40. The Lyon Zoo has over 300 animal species, with a large primate house and elephant park.
41. Bois de la Tête d’Or is an urban forest next to Parc de la Tête d’Or.
Sports and Recreation
42. Olympique Lyonnais (OL) is Lyon’s popular professional soccer team that plays at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium.
43. Lyon is home to the International Luge Federation and hosts international luge events.
44. There are over 700km of cycling paths along the rivers and parks in Lyon.
45. Rowing and canoeing are popular on the Saône and Rhône rivers.
46. Lyon has a subway system called the Métro with 4 lines and 62 stations.
47. Trams (streetcars) run on 6 lines throughout the city and suburbs.
48. Buses run on over 150 routes throughout Lyon and the suburbs.
49. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is the third largest in France with over 15 million passengers.
50. High-speed TGV trains connect Lyon to Paris in 2 hours and other French cities.
Festivals and Celebrations
51. Fête des Lumières is an annual festival where buildings are illuminated for 4 nights.
52. La fête de la musique takes place every June 21st with free outdoor concerts.
53. Nuits Sonores is an electronic music festival held over 3 days in May.
54. The Biennial of Contemporary Art displays new art installations around the city.
55. Festival of Cuisine celebrates Lyon’s gastronomy with food events, tastings and shows.
Architecture and Urban Design
56. Lyon has Renaissance architecture, Gothic cathedrals, and Roman ruins dating back 2,000 years.
57. Le Corbusier designed the Sainte Marie de la Tourette convent and chapel outside Lyon.
58. The traboules are covered passageways between buildings that date back to Roman times.
59. Hôtel-Dieu has a Gothic façade and was once one of Europe’s largest hospitals.
60.The iconic La Part-Dieu Tower is a modern skyscraper dominating Lyon’s skyline.
Parks and Gardens
61. Jardin Rosa Mir is a rose garden with over 1,000 varieties of roses and aromatic plants.
62. Jardin des Chartreux has a French formal garden and greenhouse with tropical plants.
63. Jardin botanique de Lyon has a Japanese garden, Islamic garden and greenhouse.
64. Parc de Gerland has a recreational lake, forest and hosts cultural and sport events.
65. Parc de la Cerisaie has a playground, picnic areas and trails through woodland and meadows.
66. Parc de Miribel-Jonage is a large regional park with lakes, forests and wetlands.
67. Parc de Parilly has walking trails, playgrounds and hosts outdoor concerts and cinema.
68. Jardin des Plantes de Lyon is a botanical garden with greenhouses and plant collections.
69. Parc des Hauteurs has picnic areas, playgrounds and views of Lyon from its hilltop location.
Museums and Attractions
70. Musée des Beaux-Arts has a large collection of paintings from the 13th to 21st centuries.
71. Musée d’Art Contemporain features contemporary art installations and exhibitions.
72. Musée Gadagne has collections on the history of Lyon and puppetry from around the world.
73. Musée des Confluences explores the natural world and humanity’s place within it.
74. Transbordeur entertainment complex has nightclubs, concert hall, cinema and climbing wall.
75. L’Antiquaille archaeological site has ruins from ancient Roman city of Lugdunum.
76. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière is an ornate 19th century basilica atop Fourvière Hill.
77. Traboules alleys provide a glimpse into the hidden courtyards and passageways.
78. Opéra de Lyon stages operas, ballets and classical concerts in a historic building.
79. La Sucrière cultural center hosts exhibits, concerts and events in a converted sugar refinery.
80. Cathedral St-Jean is a Gothic cathedral with stained glass windows and astronomical clock.
81. St-Paul church has an 11th century crypt and 16th century Flemish altarpiece.
82. St-Nizier church has a Romanesque west front and nave from the 15th century.
83. St-Georges church is considered one of Lyon’s finest examples of French Classicism.
Festivals and Events
84. Lyon Street Film Festival screens short films in unusual outdoor locations.
85. Lyon’s LGBTQ+ Pride festival takes place every June with a parade and events.
86. Tastetouille food festival celebrates local produce and cuisine through cooking demos.
87. Nuits de Fourvière et de l’Opéra festival presents opera, theater and dance outdoors.
88. Lumière Cinéma promotes cinema through talks and screenings of restored classics.
People and Celebrities
89. Famous natives include chefs Paul Bocuse and Eugénie Brazier, and singer Édith Piaf.
90. Artists Pierre Bonnard and Jean Cocteau lived and worked in Lyon for parts of their careers.
91. Scientists Louis Pasteur and Auguste and Louis Lumière were born and worked in Lyon.
92. Writers Alphonse de Lamartine and Charles Fourier were born in Lyon in the late 18th century.
93. Actor John Malkovich and author Richard Wright spent parts of their childhoods in Lyon.
94. Photographer Vivian Maier discovered her talent while living in Lyon in the 1950s and 60s.
95. Vieux-Lyon is the historic Old Town area with Renaissance architecture and traboules.
96. Croix-Rousse is known for its 19th-century silk weaving workshops and views of Lyon.
97. Le 6ème arrondissement has embassies, upscale apartments, and Parc de la Tête d’Or.
98. La Guillotière is a multicultural area north of the Rhône with shops and restaurants.
99. The Lyon City Card provides free or discounted access to top attractions and transportation.
100. Guignol is a hand puppet character from Lyon who stars in humorous shows for children.
Tips for visiting Lyon with kids
Lyon presents endless opportunities for families to learn, play and create lasting memories together. From its storied past unveiled in medieval Old Town to dynamic cultural scene, there is no shortage of enchanting discoveries around every corner. Here are some tips to help you plan a truly magical trip.
When to Go
Spring (April-June) and fall (September-October) have mild weather ideal for sightseeing. Major festivals like Fête des Lumières in December and Nuits de Fourvière in summer feature incredible light shows and outdoor concerts. Summer invites warm days perfect for parks and activities while winter brings holiday magic. Whenever you visit, Lyon’s treasures will charm young explorers.
Where to Stay
Stay in the heart of it all with a hotel or apartment rental in Vieux Lyon or Croix-Rousse, within walking distance of attractions. Family-friendly options include Hotel Le Royal with an indoor pool or Citad’Or Hôtel with games room and family rooms. B&Bs in historic buildings like traboules offer character and insider tips. Hotels near parks like Tête d’Or or along the river promenade provide scenic stays.
Things to Do
Fuel curious minds at ingenious hands-on museums. Musée des Confluences introduces science, cultures and nature while children act as archaeologists at Gallo-Roman Museum. Wander hidden Traboules alleys and uncover Lyon’s secret past. Explore lush green spaces like Tête d’Or and Des Hauteurs parks. Ride iconic funiculars up Fourvière Hill for stunning vistas. Catch world-class theater, concerts and more during summer festivals. Slow adventures like biking along the Saône or puppet shows after dusk lead to magical moments.
- Visit the Parc de la Tête d’Or. This large park is home to a lake, gardens, a zoo, and a playground. It is a great place to spend a day exploring and having fun.
- Explore the Vieux Lyon (Old Town). This charming neighborhood is full of narrow streets, medieval buildings, and hidden courtyards. It is a great place to wander and get lost.
- Visit the Musée des Confluences. This science and anthropology museum is home to a variety of interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids of all ages.
- Take a boat cruise on the Saône River. This is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and relax at the same time.
- Attend a puppet show at the Guignol Théâtre. This traditional Lyonnaise puppet theater is a fun experience for kids of all ages.
- Visit the Lugdunum Museum. This museum tells the story of Lyon’s Roman past through a variety of exhibits, including mosaics, artifacts, and a reconstruction of a Roman street.
- Explore the Croix-Rousse hill. This hilltop neighborhood is known for its silk-weaving history and its bohemian atmosphere. It is a great place to find unique shops and restaurants.
- Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This basilica is located on the Fourvière hill and offers stunning views of the city.
- Take a day trip to the nearby town of Pérouges. This medieval town is known for its well-preserved architecture and its charming atmosphere.
- Purchase a Lyon City Card.This card gives you free admission to many of the city’s attractions, as well as unlimited use of public transportation.
- Take advantage of the city’s many free activities. There are many free things to do in Lyon, such as visiting the parks, exploring the Vieux Lyon, and attending the Fête des Lumières in December.
- Look for discounts. Many attractions and restaurants offer discounts to families and children. Be sure to ask about discounts when you are purchasing tickets or making reservations.
Budding scientists love microscopes and experiments at interactive Palais des Sciences exhibits. Budding chefs can learn to make crepes, quenelles and local specialties at family-friendly cooking workshops. Future architects build bridges and structures during engineering activities. Artists hone skills in the Musée des Confluences studio. Future historians roleplay life in Roman Lyon through immersive games.
Take a nighttime Traboules tour by candlelight for a taste of history. Go behind-the-scenes at the puppet theater to meet characters like Guignol. Stargaze or spot glowing plankton during a nocturnal river cruise. Attend a lively street festival in summer. Learn about silk production on a Croix-Rousse walking tour. Picnic under the trees in one of Lyon’s many lush parks.
By planning a mix of educational exploring and hands-on fun, you’ll spark curiosity and create memories to last a lifetime. Lyon holds a treasure trove of magical discoveries just waiting for your adventurous family!