TRABOULES ARE THE STARS OF THE SHOWThese are secret passageways THROUGH THE CITY. Need I say more?
Here’s some more info on tours and traboules themselves. We only did a few of them in the Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) area, and please remember to respectful if you decide to check them out as they’re located in people’s apartment complexes.At first, we thought they were all closed. But turns out, if you press the gold button on the door and push it open you’ll be able to get in! Just be sure to press on the unmarked button – if you press on one with a name under/above it, you’ll accidentally buzz someone at their apartment!
In the Vieux Lyon area, they’re often marked with a bronze plate. In Croix Rousse, they’re denoted by a sign with a lion’s head.Here are the routes we did in Vieux (Old) Lyon:
- 27 Rue St Jean connecting with 6 Rue des Trois Maries
- 54 Rue St Jean with 27 Rue de Boeuf
- 31 Rue du Boeuf with 14 Rue de la Bombarde
- 2 Place du Gouvernement with 10 Quai Romain Rolland
- 9 Rue des Trois Maries with 17 Quai Romain Rolland
- 16 Rue du Boeuf (The Rose Tower)
THE PRETTY OLD TOWN IS OH SO PRETTYI mean, I know Paris is pretty, too, but I really loved Lyon’s Old Town! The architecture and the colors had me #dead.
THE COLORS JUST KILL ME (IN A GOOD WAY)Many of the buildings in Old Lyon and the Croix Rousse area are pastel and perfect! Colors mostly came in hues of pink, orange, and yellow, but there were some pretty light blues as well. Regardless my eyes were doing a mega heart dance the whole time we were there.
LESS HUSTLE & BUSTLEI’ll be honest, Paris just totally overwhelmed me.
As I travel, I’m reminded time and time again that BIG cities really just aren’t my jam. Instead of feeling energized by all the people and (often loud) city life, I feel totally drained and filled with anxiety. I’d honestly say that this is probably the main reason I preferred Lyon!It was still a big-ish city (the second largest in France!) but wasn’t as busy or loud. Also, the people were a little friendlier overall (at least in our experience), and life seemed to move at a slower pace. It was also pretty easy to get away and get lost in quiet alleyways if you wanted to. I’m sure those exist in Paris, but weren’t as easy to find. One of our waiters told us that there’s a saying about Paris: “Paris would be a lot nicer without the Parisians”. Or something along those lines. He explained that Paris is lovely, but the people in Paris seem very busy and a little haughty. I’m not saying this is my personal opinion (and we did meet plenty of nice people in Paris!) but just his opinion on the overall vibe.
THE VÉLO’V BIKES ARE LIFE CHANGINGOkay, so I know that Paris has a similar bike rental system, but biking in Paris sounds terrifying (especially as a tourist). The streets are crazy busy and the traffic is nuts!
I know I didn’t TRY biking in Paris so maybeee I’m wrong, but I feel like I would probably accidentally cause 15 car crashes. Also, the roundabouts (namely the one right below the Arc de Triomphe) had NO LANES and it was a complete free for all and we saw people weaving in and out of traffic on their bikes and narrowly missing passing cars and to that I say NO THANKS.The Vélo’v bikes were pretty easy to check out (although you may want to watch a tutorial beforehand as we ended up having to ask some locals how the hell to do it haha, but once they explained it it was easy and made sense).
We wished we could’ve spent a whole day riding around, but we checked them out too late in the day and the weather was not so nice. It would’ve been lovely to ride them in between different stops and have a picnic somewhere.Plus Lyon has some lit bike lanes. It wasn’t at all scary and there weren’t nearly as many honking cars on the roads! And there are Vélo’v stations EVERYWHERE. So if you’re running out of time and need to return your bike, it’s pretty easy to find one. Plus there’s an app! Here’s more info on Vélo’v and how exactly it works, rates, etc.
MUCH SMALLER & MORE WALKABLEWe didn’t use public transportation at all because everything was so close to where we wanted to go! I mean, there are definitely some cool things to see that are a little further out, but that’s when the Vélo’v bikes would’ve come in handy. But if you’re only staying for a couple of days, pretty much everything is in walking distance. We stayed in the 1st Arrondissement (basically just another word for a neighborhood) which was great! It was walking distance to both La Montée de la Grande Côte and the Croix Rousse area (about 10 min walking) and Old Lyon (about 20 min walking). It was close to markets and bars, but if you do stay in this area don’t get a place on Rue Ste Catherine as it can get very loud.
This was especially useful as many businesses/restaurants DON’T USE YELP. So, you kind of just have to walk around and stumble upon things. There are some that do, but it’s also kinda nice to stumble!Public transportation can be fun to use, but honestly, it’s just so much easier to walk everywhere and not have to spend time figuring it out (especially if you’re only staying for a couple days). You save money, and it’s overall less stressful IMO.
Plus smaller cities are so much less overwhelming to me, and typically have an overall friendlier vibe. The night life was also concentrated in a central area which was nice. We could just walk from bar to bar and not have to worry about taking the metro back to our AirBnb late at night.
THE FRESQUES ARE SCARY REALThese are super cool! They’re these giant murals on many of the walls in the city. They’re gorgeous and often almost look like the real thing!
My crappy photo above does not at all do it justice. It’s huge and so so majestic.
EASILY ACCESSIBLE & PRETTY VIEWSAight aight I know y’all are gonna come at me and be like BUT PARIS HAS THE BEST VIEWS and yes, Paris does have some pretty amazing ones. Maybe even better than Lyon? Idk, I guess it’s just whatever your preferences are. But we accidentally stumbled on Lyon’s views and a lot of them were much easier to find! Plus, they were in NATURE in the hills and I was like yaaas. I guess that would be another reason I liked Lyon better? It’s got more nature than Paris? I also feel like that typically just comes with smaller cities, though.
THE CHEAPER PRICE, DUHAirBnbs in Paris are like twice the price as those in Lyon, and are usually half the size, too. And not even in the best area. SO. It’s kind of no brainer when you consider those factors!
Food is a little cheaper, too. And a lot of the things we did were free (walking around, checking out all them views, finding traboules) or very inexpensive (Musée Miniatures et Cinema), whereas in Paris we paid more for a lot of the attractions we visited (view from the Arc de Triomphe and Sacré-Coeur, etc.).Of course you can do Paris “on the cheap”, and there are plenty of free things to do, but many of the “popular” tourist attractions can get pretty pricey. That coupled with the higher price of accommodation meant we definitely spent more in Paris than in Lyon!
DA FOODZLyon is KNOWN for its food. It’s actually famous for being the food capital of the France (some say the world???). There are “bouchons” all around that serve supposedly delicious traditional Lyonnaise meals – unfortunately we didn’t get to try any of them despite one of the most popular ones, Le Bouchon des Filles, being RIGHT outside our AirBnb. If you want to eat there, you definitely need to make reservations in advance. We tried to go last minute and they were sold out for the night. Also, I don’t eat meat, and most bouchons have meals involving meat, meat, and did I mention meat? However, some of them have vegetarian options/sides, but we didn’t do enough research to actually find one. So yes, don’t come at me, Paris has great food – but according to the internet, Lyon is the best. And I do admit that I enjoyed my meals there more than I did in Paris, although we didn’t really eat out much in general. We ate lots of croissants, sandwiches on the go, and food that our AirBnb hosts left for us because we be living that budget life yo.
IT FELT A LOT CLEANER & SAFERYes, Lyon had some graffiti, BUT it still seemed a lot cleaner than Paris did. I think that’s just what comes with the territory in a super big city I think, though.
I also felt safer in Lyon. Granted, we weren’t staying in the BEST area of Paris, but overall I would’ve felt more comfortable in Lyon had I been traveling alone. That said, I definitely wouldn’t say that Paris is dangerous (so by all means, solo travelers rejoice!) but I just felt a smidge safer had I been wandering around alone in Lyon.
GETTING TO LYONYou can either fly into Paris and take the train to Lyon (what we did) or fly directly into Lyon! The fastest train takes about 2 hours from Paris to Lyon, and we had a great experience. Definitely arrive early, though, as the Paris train station we left from (Gare de Lyon) is pretty large and can be confusing! I’d imagine all the large stations in Paris are pretty similar.
There are two train stations in Lyon – Perrache and Part Dieu. We went to Perrache. I don’t think it really matters which one you go to either way, just make sure to get off on whichever one is closer to your accommodation.So, what do you think? Will you check out Lyon instead of (or in addition to) Paris? What are your thoughts? Do you love Paris or were you not a fan?
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