The Hidden Wonders of Lyon – The city of Lyon was founded 2,000 years ago at the meeting of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, and built its fortune on the silk trade.
Despite being France’s third-largest city, home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lyon offers historical and cultural richness as well as extensive beauty representing the intimate charm of a smaller town with the excitement of a larger urban hub.
You will soon discover that the rhythm is slow, but the energy is high. A favourite Lyonnais pastime is simply sitting for hours at an outdoor café or along the riverbanks enjoying the view. With so much to see and do, Lyon is a city that is absolutely worth the effort—but only if you give it the time it deserves.
With a selection of wonderful sights to see and historical trails to follow, self catering accomodation in Lyon comes in all shapes and sizes, for long, short, tourist or professional stays. For lone, group or family travel.
If you decide to take the plunge we have chosen a selection of unique places to visit:
Institute Lumière- The Birthplace of Cinema
Before the Lumière brothers created cinema as we know it today, people watched short, looped films through individual viewing machines. But in the 1890s, the Lumière brothers invented the camera that doubled as a projector, drawing massive crowds to theatres and transforming the cinematic experience into a collective one.
Institute Lumière features a museum dedicated to the early history of cinema, daily film screenings, and the Lumière Film Festival is held every October. You can even stand in the exact spot where, in 1895, the Lumière brothers shot their employees Leaving the Lumière Factory, which many film historians consider to be the first real film.
Find the Hidden Traboules in Lyon
Known for its fortune built on the silk trade, traboules are secret passageways tucked between buildings Lyon’s old-town streets and its Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. They served as short-cuts to make the transportation of silk easier and are unique to Lyon, allowing the Canuts (silk workers) could go from one street to another and reach the river very quickly.
There is still a vast network of around 400 hidden corridors, passages, and stairwells that have borne witness to historic moments from the silk trade to French Resistance meetings in World War II. Most of them are hidden behind doors in Vieux Lyon, so don’t be afraid to try and open a door, you may discover a Traboule!
Situated within Lyon’s Cité Internationale, by the banks of the Rhone and near the park Tete d’Or, the Musée d’Art Contemporain is at the heart of the scenic and pleasant area.
This museum doesn’t just display art, it also creates it. Its “production of works” philosophy invites artists to set up exhibitions at the museum’s full disposal, and the building only contains art that was created on-site. With no permanent exhibitions, the attraction completely reinvents itself every time a new artist takes over. This means you could come back every year and experience a whole new place. It’s an exciting new way for visitors, artists, and the community to engage with contemporary art, and with exhibitions rotating every few months, your visit becomes even more one-of-a-kind.
The Festival of Lights
Ever since Lyon was founded, light has held a special place in the city and each year on 8 December, this special connection radiates throughout the city. The Festival of Lights is an international event renowned for its temporary light installations during which the city is metamorphosed for four magical evenings, reconnecting with a popular tradition dating back to 1852.
The Fête des Lumières dates back to the 14th century when the Black Death (i.e. Bubonic Plague) was decimating the city. Inhabitants marched to Fourvière with a candle in hopes of good health. Now every year leading up to December 8th (the feast of the Immaculate Conception), the city council organises light shows in the streets and on the façades of major buildings while households decorate their windows with colourful candles. It is a vibrant celebration of gratitude, tradition, and pride for Lyon.