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Vieux Lyon picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon 1 picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon 3 picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon 1 picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon 3 picture in Lyon

Key Info

  • 5th arrondissement
    Lyon, France

Details

  • Sightseeing, Neighborhood/Area Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Food Scene
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

Vieux Lyon, or Old Lyon, is the city's renaissance district located in the 5th arrondissement. Here, visitors will find many attractions, such as the Place du Change, the former business square of the city, and Rue St-Jean, a popular place to walk – partly for its traboules (secret pathways and staircases that pass through buildings). It's believed that these passageways date back to the fourth century, when residents needed a way to get from their homes to the river (their source of fresh water) without having to weave through the town's winding streets. They were later used by the silk trade and then by the resistance during World War II. 

The fact that this history remains intact is thanks to Andre Malraux, the French Minister of Culture in 1962, who saved the district from demolition plans by designating it a protected area. This jumpstarted a revitalization of the area. Just decades later, the refurbished renaissance district was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Some say that Vieux Lyon can feel touristy in certain parts, but they say it's nonetheless charming. In fact, most visitors to Lyon say a few hours meandering through Vieux Lyon is a must-do, citing the interesting traboules, the plethora of restaurants and cafes, and the gorgeous architecture. The area is free to visit and accessible 24/7. Note that not all traboules are open to the public. Passageways in Vieux Lyon are marked with a bronze shield; those that are open to the public are identified with a small seal, while those that are private are behind locked gates or doors. You can hunt for the traboules on your own, but past visitors highly recommended taking a tour with a guide as the passageways can be difficult to find and a guide will also supply a great amount of historical background. If you purchased a Lyon City Card, a guided tour is included in your pass.

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
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Cour des Loges

Cour des Loges ...

  • 0.2 Miles Away
  • 5.0-star Hotel Class
Best Western Hotel Saint Antoine

Best Western Hotel Saint Antoine ...

  • 0.3 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
Citadines Presqu'île Lyon

Citadines Presqu'île Lyon ...

  • 0.4 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
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#1 Theatres Romains de Fourviere Built in 15 B.C., the Theatres Romains de Fourvière are the ruins of three ancient Roman sites, including a theater, a smaller theater and a temple located on the ... Read more » Ivan Livia / EyeEm / Getty Images

#2 Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière crowns Lyon from its perch on Fourvière hill, which is also known as "the praying hill." It was built in the late 19th century by ... Read more » Kylie Carter / EyeEm / Getty Images

#3 Vieux Lyon Vieux Lyon, or Old Lyon, is the city's renaissance district located in the 5th arrondissement. Here, visitors will find many attractions, such as the Place du Change, the former ... Read more » Tu xa Ha Noi / Getty Images

#4 Musee Miniature et Cinema The Musée Miniature et Cinema (Museum of Miniature and Cinema) is really two museums in one. First, the museum contains the miniature scenes of artist Dan Ohlmann and the work ... Read more » DanOhlmann / Courtesy Musée Miniature et Cinema

#5 Musee des Beaux Arts More than 70 rooms filled with artwork, such as "Dancers on the Stage" by Edgar Degas and "La Tentation de saint Antoine" by Auguste Rodin, among other French and European ... Read more » Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

#6 Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse Called a "heaven for foodies," Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is the city's premier indoor food market boasting nearly 50 vendors and several bars and restaurants. Here you ... Read more » Kirill Rudenko / Getty Images

#7 Musee des Confluences The Musée des Confluences, established in 2014, is one of Lyon's newest institutions set in the city's newest neighborhood. Lyon's natural history museum, it aims to tell ... Read more » Qwill / Flickr

# Plum Lyon Teaching Kitchen Read more » Mint Images / Getty Images

# Les Bateaux Lyonnais Read more » RossHelen / Getty Images

# Lyon Winetours Read more » gael_f / Getty Images

Theatre picture in Lyon
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon picture in Lyon
Musee Miniature picture in Lyon
Musée des Beaux Arts  picture in Lyon
Les Halles picture in Lyon
Musée des Confluences  picture in Lyon
Cooking Class picture in Lyon
Boat Tours picture in Lyon
Lyon Winetours picture in Lyon
Theatre picture in Lyon
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere picture in Lyon
Vieux Lyon picture in Lyon
Musee Miniature picture in Lyon
Musée des Beaux Arts  picture in Lyon
Les Halles picture in Lyon
Musée des Confluences  picture in Lyon
Cooking Class picture in Lyon
Boat Tours picture in Lyon
Lyon Winetours picture in Lyon

The Theatres Romains de Fourviere are three ancient Roman structures, including the main theater.  Ivan Livia / EyeEm / Getty Images

Locals have nicknamed the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière "the upside-down elephant" for the way the building's exteriors resemble just that with its four legs – ahem, towers. Kylie Carter / EyeEm / Getty Images

Picturesque Old Lyon reflects off the city's Saône River.  Tu xa Ha Noi / Getty Images

The Musée Miniature et Cinema contains the miniature scenes of artist Dan Ohlmann and the work of dozens of other miniature artists. It also holds hundreds of film set props. DanOhlmann / Courtesy Musée Miniature et Cinema

The Musée des Beaux Arts is located on the Place des Terreaux. Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

According to past travelers, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a foodie heaven. Kirill Rudenko / Getty Images

The Musée des Confluences, constructed in 2014, features an otherworldly, almost Space Age-design.  Qwill / Flickr

Want to learn how to make authentic French pastries? Consider a cooking class while in Lyon. Mint Images / Getty Images

Past visitors said a boat tour offered the best views of Lyon. RossHelen / Getty Images

Wine tours to regions like the Rhône Valley, Beaujolais and Burgundy are popular daytrip options for Lyon visitors. gael_f / Getty Images

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