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Lyon (Arpitan: Liyon), often Anglicized as Lyons, is a city in east-central Francemarker in the region Rhône-Alpes, situated between Parismarker and Marseillemarker. Its name is pronounced in French and Arpitan, and or in English. Lyon is located at 470 km from Paris, 320 km from Marseille, 160 km from Genevamarker, 280 km from Turinmarker, 450 km from Milanmarker and 600 km from Barcelonamarker. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais (singular and plural).

Lyon is a major centre of business with a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy and having a significant role in the history of cinema due to Auguste and Louis Lumière. The local professional football team, Olympique Lyonnais, has increased the profile of Lyon internationally through participation in European football championships.

Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Lyon forms the second-largest metropolitan area in France after that of Parismarker, with the population of its urban area estimated to be 1,783,400 and that of its metropolitan area 4,415,000 (2007). Its urban region (Urban Community of Lyon), represents half of the Rhône-Alpes région population with three million inhabitants. Lyon is also a major industrial centre specializing in chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. The city also contains a significant software industry with a particular focus on video games.

Lyon is the préfecture (capital) of the Rhônemarker département, and also the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known as the silk capital of the world. The city is known as the culinary capital of France. It also hosts the international headquarters of Interpolmarker, Euronews, International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commissionmarker Intercultural cities programme.


Main article for early history: Lugdunummarker.
Main article for the middle ages: History of Lyon

Lyon was founded on the Fourvièremarker hill as a Roman colony in 43 BCE by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar, on the site of a Gaulish hill-fort settlement called Lug[o]dunon, from the Celtic god Lugus ('Light', cognate with Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish Lú) and dúnon (hill-fort). Lyon was first named Lugdunum meaning the "hill of lights" or "the hill of crows". Lug was equated by the Romans to Mercury.

Agrippa recognized that Lugdunum's position on the natural highway from northern to south-eastern France made it a natural communications hub, and he made Lyon the starting point of the principal Roman roads throughout Gaul. It then became the capital of Gaul, partly thanks to its convenient location at the convergence of two navigable rivers, and quickly became the main city of Gaul. Two emperors were born in this city: Claudius and Caracalla. Today, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "le primat des Gaules" and the city often referred to as the "capitale des Gaules".

The Christians in Lyon were persecuted for their religion under the reigns of the various Roman emperors, most notably Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus. Local saints from this period include saints such as Blandina (Blandine), Pothinus (Pothin) , and Epipodius (Épipode), among others.

The great Christian bishop of Lyon in the 2nd century was the Easterner Irenaeus.
Lyon under siege (1793)

Burgundian refugees from the destruction of Wormsmarker by Huns in 437 were resettled by the military commander of the west, Aëtius, at Lugdunum, which was formally the capital of the new Burgundian kingdom by 461.

In 843, by the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon, with the country beyond the Saône, went to Lothair I, and later became a part of the Kingdom of Arles. Lyon only came under French control in the fourteenth century.

Fernand Braudel remarked, Historians of Lyon are not sufficiently aware of the bi-polarity between Paris and Lyon, which is a constant structure in French development from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution (Braudel 1984 p. 327). The fairs in Lyon, the invention of Italian merchants, made it the economic countinghouse of France in the late 15th century. When international banking moved to Genoamarker, then Amsterdammarker, Lyon simply became the banking centre of France; its new Bourse (treasury), built in 1749, still resembled a public bazaar where accounts were settled in the open air. During the Renaissance, the city developed with the silk trade, especially with Italymarker; the Italian influence on Lyon's architecture can still be seen. Thanks to the silk trade, Lyon became an important industrial town during the 19th century.
Lyon in the 18th century

Lyon was a scene of mass violence against Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572.

During the French Revolution, Lyon rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins. In 1793, the city was under siege for over two months, assaulted by the Revolutionary armies, before eventually surrendering. Several buildings were destroyed, especially around the Place Bellecour, and Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois with Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people. A decade later, Napoleon himself ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during this period.

The silk workers of Lyon, known as canuts, staged two major uprisings: in 1831 and 1834. The 1831 uprising saw one of the first recorded uses of the black flag as an emblem of protest. The world's first funicular railway was built between Lyon and La Croix-Rousse in 1862.
Lyon in 1860

Lyon was a centre for the occupying German forces and also a stronghold of resistance during World War II, and the city is now home to a resistance museum. (See also Klaus Barbie.) The traboules, or secret passages, through the houses enabled the local people to escape Gestapomarker raids.


Lyon's geography is dominated by the Rhône and Saône rivers that converge to the south of the historic city centre forming a peninsula or "Presqu'îlemarker"; two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the historic city center; and a large plain which sprawls eastward from the historic city centre.

To the west is Fourvièremarker, known as "the hill that prays", the location for the highly decorated Notre-Dame de Fourvièremarker basilica, several convents, the palace of the Archbishop, the Tour métalliquemarker (a highly visible TV tower, replicating the last stage of the Eiffel Towermarker) and a funicular (a railway on a steep hill).

To the north is the Croix-Rousse, "the hill that works", traditionally home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was once renowned.

The original medieval city (Vieux Lyonmarker) was built on the west bank of the Saône river at the foot of the Fourvièremarker hill, west of the Presqu'îlemarker. This area, along with portions of the Presqu'îlemarker and much of the Croix-Rousse is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Place Bellecourmarker is located on the peninsula (Presqu'îlemarker) between the rivers Rhône and Saône and is the third largest public square in France and one of the largest in Europe. Specifically, it is the largest clear square (i.e., without any patches of greenery, trees or any other kind of obstacles) in Europe. The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour. The 2nd arrondissement has many of the finest old residential buildings in Lyon and the area is known for its concentration of old Lyonnaise Catholic families, particularly in the Ainay part of the arrondissement.

East of the Rhône from the Presqu'îlemarker is a large area of flat ground upon which sits much of modern Lyon and most of the city's population.Situated in this area is the urban centre of Part-Dieumarker which clusters the former Tour du Crédit Lyonnaismarker, "Part-Dieu Tower" today, the Tour Oxygène, the Tour Swiss Life , the Part-Dieu shopping centre, and one of Lyon's two major rail terminals, Lyon Part-Dieumarker.

North of this district is the relatively wealthy 6th arrondissement, which is home to the Parc de la Tête d'Ormarker, one of Europe's largest urban parks, the prestigious Lycée du Parcmarker to the south of the park, and Interpolmarker's world headquarters on the park's western edge. The park contains a free zoo that has recently been upgraded.

Several buildings are being constructed in Part-Dieumarker such as the Tour Oxygène and other projects such as the Tour Incity


Climate Table
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 6.2 8.4 12.4 15.3 20.0 23.5 27.0 26.7 22.3 16.7 10.2 7.1 16.3
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) 0.1 1.2 3.3 5.6 9.9 13.1 15.6 15.3 11.9 8.4 3.6 1.5 7.5
Mean total rainfall (mm) 52.9 50.5 54.8 72.3 87.8 80.2 62.0 69.0 88.3 94.7 75.1 55.5 843.1
Mean number of rain days 9.4 9.0 8.8 9.5 11.3 8.8 6.8 7.2 7.7 10.3 9.2 9.5 107.5


Lyon is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région, the préfecture of the Rhône département, and the capital of 14 cantons, covering 1 commune, and with a total population of 488,300 (2007).


Lyon's early 17th-century town hall.

Like Parismarker and Marseillemarker, Lyon is divided into a number of municipal arrondissements (sometimes translated into English as boroughs), each of which is identified by a number and has its own council and town hall.

Five arrondissements were originally created in 1852, when three neighbouring communes (La Croix-Roussemarker, La Guillotière, and Vaise) were annexed by Lyon.

Between 1867 and 1959, the 3rd arrondissement (which originally covered the whole of the Left Bank of the Rhône) was split three times, creating a new arrondissement in each case.

Then, in 1963, the commune of Saint-Rambert-l'Île-Barbe was annexed to Lyon's 5th arrondissement. A year later, in 1964, the 5th was split to create Lyon's 9th – and, to date, final – arrondissement.

Within each arrondissement, there are a number of recognisable quartiers or neighbourhoods:


  • Since the Middle Ages, the residents of the region, speak several dialects of Franco-Provençal language. The Lyonnais dialect was partly replaced by the French language as the importance of the city grew. However, it is still alive and, in addition, some "frenchified" Franco-Provençal words can also be heard in the French of the Lyonnais, who call their little boys and girls "gones" and "fenottes" for example.
  • Lyon was an early centre for printing books, and nurtured a circle of 16th century poets.
  • The Lumière brothers invented cinema in the town in 1895. The Musée Lumière is there as a testimony, hosting many of their first inventions.
  • December 8 each year is marked by the Festival of Lights (la Fête des lumières), a celebration of thanks to the Virgin Mary, who purportedly saved the city from a deadly plague in the Middle Ages. During the event, the local population places candles (lumignons) at their windows and the city of Lyon organizes impressive large-scale light shows onto the sides of important Lyonnais monuments, such as the medieval Cathédrale St-Jean.
  • The church of Saint Francis of Sales is famous for its large and unaltered Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ, attracting audiences from around the world. Lyon also features a renowned opera house.
  • Lyon is also the French capital of "trompe l'œil"-walls, a very ancient tradition. Many are to be seen everywhere around the city. This old tradition is now expending in a contemporary expression. See for example Guillaume Bottazzi art work [407921] .
  • The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic congregation that operates schools in Europe and North America, was founded in Lyon in 1821.
  • The African Museum of Lyonmarker is one of the oldest museums situated in Lyon.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Historic Site of Lyon was designated a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site in 1998.In their designation, UNESCO cited the "exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance." The specific regions composing the Historic Site include:
  • the Roman district and Fourvière;
  • the Renaissance district, Vieux-Lyon
  • the silk district (slopes of Croix-Rousse), and
  • the Presqu'île, which features architecture from the 12th century to modern times.
Both Vieux-Lyon and the slopes of Croix-Rousse are known for their narrow passageways (traboules) that pass through buildings and link streets on either side.


For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due, in part, to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings (e.g. Paul Bocuse). This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France's best known wine-growing regionsare located near Lyon: the Beaujolaisto the North, and the Côtes du Rhôneto the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.

Lyon is the home of very typical and traditional restaurants: the bouchons. Bouchonsare usually convivial restaurants serving local dishes, and local wines.

Lyon is famous for its morning snacks, the mâchons, made up of local charcuterieand usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Traditional local dishes include saucisson de Lyon(sausage), andouillette, coq au vin, esox quenelle, gras double(tripecooked with onions), salade lyonnaise(lettuce with bacon, croutonsand a poached egg), marrons glacésand cardoonau gratin.


The GDP of Lyon is 52 billion euros, and the city is the second richest city after Paris. Lyon and its region Rhône-Alpes represent one of the most important economies in Europe and, according to the Loughborough university, can be compared to Philadelphiamarker, Bombaymarker or Athens concerning its international position.The city of Lyon is working in partnerships to more easily enable the establishment of new headquarters in the territory. (ADERLY, Chambre du commerce et d'industrie, Grand Lyon...). According to the ECER-Banque Populaire, Lyon is the 14th favorite city in the European Unionconcerning the creation of companies and investments.


Lyon is the headquarters of many companies like Euronews, Toupargel, Lyon Airports, BioMérieux, LVL Medical, Voisin , CEGID, Boiron, Infogrames, GL Events, Alptis, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône ...

Business quarter

The specialization of some sectors of activities have the consequence of creating several main business centers:La Part-Dieu, located in the 3rd arrondissement is the second biggest business district after La Défensemarker in Paris with its emblematic Tour du Crédit LyonnaisPencil towermarker and Oxygen Tower.Cité Internationale(International City), completely created by the architect Renzo Pianoand finished in 2006. This zone is located in the border of the Parc de la tête d'orin the 6th arrondissement. The worldwide headquarters of Interpolmarker is located there.The quarter of the Confluence, in the south of the historic centre is a new pole of economical and cultural development. This zone is located in the south of Bellecourand the Perracherailway station.


The tourism industry is really beneficial to Lyon with one billion euros in 2007 and 3.5 million hotel nights from foreigners in 2006. Approximately 60% of tourists visit for business, with the rest for leisure. In January 2009, Lyon is in first place of the hostels business in Francemarker.The main tourist festivals are the Fête des lumièresalso known as the festival of lights. The Nuits de Fourvière, annual festival in June and August. The Biennale d'art contemporain. The Nuits Sonores


Laboratory P4 Jean Merieux

Lyon is home to some of the most dangerous viruses in the world (class 4) in the Jean Merieux laboratory of research, like Ebola, Marburgmarker,Nipah, Hendra, Lassa...

Main sights

These are the main sights in Lyon.

Noteworthy sites

Parks and gardens

The garden was established in 1857 as a successor to earlier botanical gardens dating to 1796, and now describes itself as France's largest municipal botanical garden. Today it contains about 15,000 plants, including 3500 plants of temperate regions, 760 species of shrubs, a hundred species of wild roses, 750 varieties of historical roses, 200 varieties of peoniesrecognized by the Conservatoire Français des Collections Végétales Spécialisées(CCVS), 1800 species of alpine plants, 50 varieties of water lilies, and 6,000 species in its greenhouses.

The garden's greenhouses enclose a total of 6500 m² in area, and include a central pavilion for tropical plants including camelliasover a hundred years old; a greenhouse-aquarium with Amazonian water lilies; a Dutch greenhouse containing carnivorous plants; small greenhouses with orchids; and small cold greenhouses with azaleas, cactus, and so forth.

  • Parc de la Tête d'Ormarker, (literally, Golden Head Park), in central Lyon is the largest urban park in Francemarker at 117 hectares. Located in the 6th arrondissement, it features a large lake on which boating takes place during the summer months. Due to the relatively small number of other parks in Lyon, it receives a huge number of visitors over summer, and is a frequent destination for joggers and cyclists. At the northern end of the park, there is a small zoo, with giraffes, elephants, tigers and other animals. There is also sporting equipment, such as a velodrome, boules court, mini-golf, horse riding, and even a miniature train.

Colleges and universities

International primary and secondary level schools in Lyon

There are some international schools in Lyon, including:


Lyon is home to the Ligue 1footballteam Olympique Lyonnais, commonly known as "Lyon" or "OL". The team has enjoyed unprecedented success recently, winning seven consecutive national titles and establishing themselves as France's premier football club. The captain of the side, Juninho Pernambucanois one of several Brazilians at Lyon, and he has received many awards while leading his team to unrivalled success. The team competes in the prestigious UEFA Champions League and currently plays at the impressive Stade de Gerlandmarker, where the Danone Nations Cup is held every year.The team is set to move to a new stadiummarker in Décines-Charpieumarker (in the eastern suburbs) in 2010, which will hold 61,556 people.Lyon also has a rugby unionteam, Lyon OU, currently playing in division 2, Rugby Pro D2. In addition, Lyon has a rugby leagueside: Lyon Villeurbanne Rhône XIII, or LVR XIII, play in the French rugby league championship. The club's current home ground is Stade Georges Lyvet in Villeurbanne. Lyon is also home to the Lyon Hockey Club, an ice hockeyteam that competes in France's national ice hockey league. Finally, Villeurbanne also has a renowned basketball team, ASVEL, who play at the Astroballemarker arena in Cusset.



The Saint-Exupéry International Airportmarker is located east of Lyon, and serves as a base for domestic and international flights.With its in-house train station (Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupérymarker) the airport is also connected to the TGV network.

The Lyon-Bron Airportmarker is a smaller airport dedicated to General Aviation (both private and commercial), located east of the city centre.Having helipads, the facility hosts a Gendarmerieand a Sécurité Civile(civilian defence) Base. This smaller airport used to be Lyon's international airport before all the airline's activities got transferred to Lyon Saint-Exupéry.


Lyon is connected to the north (Lillemarker, Parismarker, Brusselsmarker, and in the future Amsterdammarker) and the south (Marseillemarker, Montpelliermarker, and in the future Barcelonamarker, Turinmarker) by the TGV.It was the first city to be connected to Paris by the TGVin 1981.

Lyon has two major railway stations: Lyon Part-Dieumarker, which was built to accommodate the TGV and has become the principal railway station for extra-regional trains; and Lyon Perrachemarker, which is an older station that now primarily serves regional rail services.In practice, many trains, including TGVs, serve both stations. Smaller railway stations include Gorge de Loup, Vaise, Vénissieuxmarker, St-Paul and Jean-Macé.


Network of highways around Lyon
The City is at the heart of a dense road network and is located at the meeting point of several highways: A6 (to Parismarker), A7 (to Marseillemarker), A42 (to Genevemarker), A43 (to Grenoblemarker).The city is now bypassed by the A46.

Intercity coach

Lyon is served by the Eurolinesintercity coach organisation. Its Lyon terminal is located at the city's Perracherailway station, which serves as an intermodal transportation hub that also includes tramways, local and regional trains and busses, the terminus of metro line A, the bicycle service Vélo'v, taxis, and high-speed TGV trains.

Public transport

public transport map
Public bicycle service Vélo'v

The TCL(French: Transports en Commun Lyonnais), Lyon's public transit system, consisting of metro, buses and tramways, serves 62 communes of the Lyon agglomeration. The subway network has 4 lines ( ), 39 stations and runs with a frequency of up to a train every 2 minutes. The bus network consists of normal buses, trolleybusesand coaches for areas outside the centre. There are four tram lines since April 2009: T1 from Montrochet in the south to IUT-Feyssine in the north, Tram T2 from Perrache railway station in the southwest to Saint-Priest in the southeast, Tram T3 from Part-Dieumarker to Meyzieumarker, and Tram T4 from Mendès-France to Feyzin.There are also two funicular lines from Vieux Lyonmarker to Saint-Just and Fourvièremarker.Despite the existence of several systems and operators the ticketing is unified through a unique system.

The REALproject intends on promoting and eventually increasing, the usage of public transport means by commuters.

Rhônexpress(formerly The LESLYS - Liaison ExpresSLYon Saint-Exupéry) will provide the metropolis with a light train shuttle ("Tram-Train") connecting the airport to the city's downtown. Rhônexpress (a consortium created for this purpose by major French construction companies) was awarded the operation of this rail link by the prime owner of the infrastructure (Département du Rhônemarker) through a PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) vehicle.

The public transit system is complemented by Vélo'v, a bicycle network providing a low cost and convenient bicycle hire service where bicycles can be hired and dropped off at any of 340 stations throughout the city. Borrowing a bicycle for less than 30 minutes is free.

International attraction

The unusual project Lyon Dubai City, a reproduction of some districts of Lyon in Dubai, is a major point for the tourism in Lyon.

People from Lyon

Movies in Lyon

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Lyon is twinnedwith:

Cultural references

  • The city figures in the play The Lyons Mail by Charles Reade, which was adapted into a film in 1931.
  • Lyon in the year 1656 is described by Samuel Chappuzeau in his book Lyon dans son lustre.
  • A historical article about a 19th century flood inspired the 1979 song "The Flood at Lyons" by the rock band Renaissance.
  • In the Marillion song "Bitter Suite" from Misplaced Childhood there is a reference to Lyon. The line is: "The sky was bible black in Lyons, when I met the Magdalene."
  • Morrissey, former singer with The Smiths, briefly mentions Lyon in the 2006 song "Christian Dior," the B-side to "In The Future When All's Well".
  • Lyon is the name of a multi-player level in the real-time strategy game Company of Heroes.
  • In the video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the character Revolver Ocelot has gone through an arm transplant in Lyon, as revealed in one of the dialogs.

The lion is a common sight in Lyon:File:Lyon lion door knocker.jpg |A liondoor knockerin LyonFile:Lyon lion maison des avocats.jpg |The lion at Maison des AvocatsFile:Lyon lion Parc de la Tête d'Or.jpg |A real lion in the Parc de la Tête d'OrmarkerFile:Lyon lions Gare Part-Dieu.jpg |Sculpture of lions at the Gare Part-DieuFile:Blason ville fr Lyon (Rhone).svg |The lion on the seal of Lyon

See also


Lyon centre, view to Fourvière Hill from Presqu'île near Place Bellecour


External links

A view of one of the many gardens in the Parc de la Tête d'Or
The Roman-era Theatre on the Fourvière hill

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