Guides

Short breaks in Lyon – 48 hours of silks and saucissons, museums and markets

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Lyon is a city for connoisseurs of the good life, so book a short break in a Lyon hotel to enjoy all it has to offer.

Lyon short break day one, morning

Start your Lyon short break with a funicular ride up to the Fourvière site of the great Gallic Roman capital whose city and theatres spread out over the hill. From the ornate 19th-century Basilica of Notre-Dame, Lyon stretches below you in a mosaic of red-tiled roofs and grid-patterned streets interrupted by the Saône and Rhône rivers. Then plunge through the medieval traboules, the secret passageways threading through the houses of the silk weavers in Vieux Lyon. Merchants and traders stayed at inns like the 15th-century Golden Cross, now home to the Musée des Miniatures et Décors de Cinéma where children are enchanted by a world shrunk to doll's house proportions. Lunch beckons in one of Lyon's traditional bistros, the bouchons; try La Machonnerie in the old town.

Start: Basilica of Notre-Dame. Nearest transport: Fourvière funicular

Afternoon

Follow in the footsteps of the silk workers who for centuries produced the delicate fabrics that brought Lyon its wealth. In the 19th-century they moved from Vieux Lyon up the hill into La Croix-Rousse. Echoes of their silken past remain in the Maison des Canuts (silk workers' house) and the Association Soierie Vivante where the complex Jacquard looms continue their hypnotic, intricate weaving. Fashion created by young designers in unusual textiles lives on in the small shops in Passage Thiaffait.

Start: La Croix-Rousse. Nearest Metro Croix-Rousse

Evening

After a rest in your Lyon hotel, venture out to relive the glory days when the Mères Lyonnaises, former cooks who had been dismissed by their employees, opened restaurants to offer family-style cooking for the silk weavers. Traditional dishes using all parts of the pig and Lyon dumplings or quenelles at La Voûte - Chez Léa will set you up for a nocturnal stroll around the lit-up buildings.

Start: La Voûte - Chez Léa. Nearest Metro Ampère Victor Hugo

Morning, Lyon short break day two

Begin in central Lyon at one of the two major museums. The Museum of Fine Arts has lesser-known Impressionist paintings to discover. Then seek out the contemporary silverware from the likes of Zaha Hadid and follow the evolution of textiles in the room settings that make up the popular Museum of Textiles and Decorative Arts Museum. If the weather is kind, set yourself up from the cornucopia of fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and cheese at the Marché Saint-Antoine along the banks of the Saône and eat a picnic by the slow-moving river.

Start: Musée des Beaux-Arts. Nearest Metro Hôtel de Ville

Afternoon

Bookworms browse the stalls of old tomes, prints and engravings of the bouquinistes at their weekend market. It's just by the mural of the City Library - try to figure out some of the 500 literary references to the city. If you're after luxury names and French designers, walk the Square of Gold between Place Bellecour and Place des Cordeliers. Finish off an afternoon's shopping with the saucissons, chocolates, perfect cheeses and chic macaroons temptingly laid out at Les Halles de Lyon, named in honour of Paul Bocuse, the French pope of gastronomy.


Start: Quai de la Pêcherie. Nearest Metro Hôtel de Ville 

Evening

Walk off your excesses with a stroll past the Hôtel de Ville whose dramatically illuminated façade takes on a shimmering nocturnal beauty.

Start: Quai de la Pêcherie. Nearest Metro Hôtel de Ville