Half way between Northern and Southern Europe, Lyon is the third largest city in France and has been a major French powerhouse for the past 500 years. Lyon is clean, orderly and efficient, but its urban charms often go underappreciated – its cultural attractions are superb, and its gastronomy is legendary. HAPPYCAR is here to help you find the best car hire Lyon has to offer so you can take full advantage of this sophisticated city, with a direct car hire Lyon Airport is also available. We check the prices of international and local providers so that you don’t have to check each website to provide you with the best deals to make your money go further on a rental car that fits your specific rental needs.
Since the 16th century, Lyon has been a city of industry, dominating in metal works, chemicals and silk and leaving behind a multitude of Renaissance buildings. In fact, Lyon is the archetype of the heritage city, as recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its arts and culture is equally storied, including fine churches, excellent museums, antique markets and music populate the city’s cobbled neighborhoods, and it is also the birthplace of cinema. The city has long been known for its festivals, with the Festival of Lights chief among them, but there are always a number of music and dancing festivals on in Lyon all year round.
There is much to see in Lyon and the center is best explored on foot. The first port of call is the Presqu’île – this peninsula features the place Bellecour, laid out in 1617, and offers superb views of the Notre-Dame de Fourvière. To the north of the Presqu’île is the old commercial center of the city, with the church of St-Nizier, famous for its bells and for its historical sanctuary. Lyon is home to a good many museums, such as the Gallo-Roman Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, housed inside a grand Neoclassical building and the Institut Lumière, where you can learn all about the birth of cinema. Lyon has a thriving population of specialist independent bookshops and you can find many well-stocked nooks around the narrow streets.
All around Lyon lurk traboules, alleyways and tunnelled passages originally built to provide shelter from the weather for the silk-weavers. The streets running down from boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, as well as many in Vieux Lyon, are intersected by these traboules. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a truly beautiful church and its hilltop position has become a defining element in the city’s skyline. The observation tower is presently closed but a rooftop tour is a vertigo-worthy replacement. If you can’t stomach that, you can take in the magnificent citywide views from the esplanade. Alongside these, a massive array of diverse parks and murals are all available to enjoy for free.
Lyon is considered France’s gastronomic capital, fueled primarily by its bouchons, Lyonnaise institutions currently undergoing a renaissance. These small eateries serve hearty traditional French cuisine with many local offal dishes and must be tried for the experience. Lyon’s standing as one of the world’s finest gastronomic destinations is in no small part down to the Méres Lyonnaises, or “Mothers of Lyon”. Originally house cooks for the middle and upper classes, many of these women served food that combined grand bourgeoisie cuisine with more humble fare of the kind you might find in a bouchon, hence dishes such as pullet hen with black truffles, and pike quenelle casserole. The French cafe tradition is alive and kicking in the city and Café de la Cloche is a perfect example to recline with a coffee and wax lyrical on the nature of life. Lyon also boasts France’s best Chinatown outside of Paris, and provides an enjoyable gastronomic change of scene.
Using a car hire in Lyon, if you drive thirty-four kilometers northeast you will find Pérouges, a lovely village of cobbled alleyways and ancient houses. Its charm has been utilized heavily by the film industry and the residents have fought long and hard for preservation orders on its most interesting buildings. Local traditional life is also thriving in the hands of a hundred or so workers who still weave locally grown hemp. A Lyon car rental can also take you to a number of ski resorts, roughly two hours from the city, and Marseille is just three hours south.