The Romans chose hilly Fourvière for their capital city of Gaul. On the west bank of the river Saône, the leafy area looks down onto the red- roofed sprawl of Vieux Lyon, the remarkably preserved Renaissance area with UNESCO World Site status. Palaces of wealthy 15th- and 16th-century Italian banker-merchants line the narrow cobbled streets. Doorways invite the curious to enter the traboules, the narrow passageways connecting parallel streets. The Cathédrale St-Jean and the Musée Gadagne tell the history of Lyon, while lively bars and restaurants draw the crowds. Book a Lyon city hotel housed in a converted ancient building.
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On the opposite hill to the north, La Croix- Rousse lies between the Saône and Rhône rivers. The silk weavers moved here in the 19th century, building tall live-in workshops. This low-key residential district, still with a working-class edge, attracts the young and fashionable. You’ll feel like a local strolling around the squares, winding streets, small shops, bistros and markets.
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Bellecour and Hôtel de Ville are at the north end of Presqu’île, the peninsula that stretches from the foot of the La Croix- Rousse hill to the Saône and Rhône rivers’ confluence. This is Lyon’s playground, the centre for high-end shopping, the National Opera and restaurants of all kinds. It’s also home to Lyon’s top museums: the world- class Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Textiles with its exquisite wall hangings. The Place des Terreaux and the huge Place Bellecour bear witness to Lyon’s importance in the 17th century.
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At the south end of Presqu’île, former industrial Perrache is being developed as a major new business and commercial district. Attracting locals and visitors is the former sugar warehouse of La Sucrière with its cutting-edge art shows, and Nicolas Le Bec’s latest restaurant, Rue Le Bec. Lyon’s second station, Gare de Perrache, connects by Satobus to Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport, trains to the rest of France and the TGV to Paris.
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La Part- Dieu, France’s second biggest business district after La Défense in Paris, contains a library, concert hall, shopping centre and the nearby food market, Les Halles de Lyon. The Gare Part-Dieu is the main TGV station and connects by Satobus to Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport. To the north, the ornate former station of Les Brotteaux and the surrounding streets have become one of Lyon’s foremost restaurant and bar areas.
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To the north, Cité Internationale lies between the Rhône river and the huge Parc de la Tête d’Or. The complex, designed by Renzo Piano, houses luxury apartments, hotels, restaurants, a convention centre, vast amphitheatre and the radical Musée d’Art Contemporain.
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