The city of Lyon is known for its picturesque old town (Vieux Lyon) and its fantastic food served in traditional restaurants called bouchons. My day in Lyon was part of a larger trip across France, which began and ended in Beaune, another French city known for its food and wine. There was a gastronomic theme to my trip: I was looking to eat great food, explore a new city and enjoy some kid-free time after a rather exhausting time in Disneyland.

Trees in the foreground give way to a sprawling city view, with several taller buildings and the river as focal points
Lyon from the viewpoint in front of Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière © Claire Naylor / Lonely Planet

Pre-trip spending

Transport: the return train journey from Beaune to Lyon cost €54.40
Accommodation: my share of a double room in a three-star hotel in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon for one night was €42

Total: €96.40

On the ground


Total: €82.55

On arrival at Lyon Part-Dieu station at 2pm, we purchased 24hr transport tickets for €6 (per person). This covers the whole of the transport network in Lyon, including metro, bus, tram and funicular. We took the metro to our hotel, checked in and went straight out again on a mission to find a decent lunch. 

Crossing the Saône on foot, we meandered through the streets of Vieux Lyon, stopping to browse menus on our way. My concerns that shops and restaurants may be closed on a Monday (as they often are in France) evaporated as I saw many tourists strolling the cobbled streets, and plenty of bouchons with guests enjoying meals under shady canopies.

Two images together as a collage. On the left is a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and croutons. On the right is an image of a woman using a knife and fork on a steak
Salad Lyonnaise as a starter (left), and steak and shallots as a main (right) © Claire Naylor / Lonely Planet

We opted for a carte Lyonnaise set menu, which was €19.90 per person. My salad Lyonnaise was spectacular – a large dish with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, poached egg and croutons. Dishes in Lyon tend to be quite meat-heavy, often including tripe. I’d really not enjoyed the tripe sausage I’d had for lunch the day before, so I steered well clear of that and ordered a steak with shallots (€1 supplement). Together with a couple of glasses of rosé and tip, my share of the meal was €35.40.

We walked from here up the windy path to Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière to enjoy the view over the city. The church itself is an architectural wonder. I was really amazed by the vaulted ceiling in the crypt, which reached a height that didn’t seem possible tucked under the main nave.

A Roman amphiteatre with some houses and the top of the basilica in the background
The impressive Théâtre Romain, or Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, built around 15 BC © Claire Naylor / Lonely Planet

From here we hopped on the funicular back down the hill. Upon arrival at Vieux Lyon station, we spotted the other funicular line with a waiting train. Not really knowing where it was going, we jumped on board and started heading back up the hill. Turns out, luck was on our side: this took us to Lyon’s Roman theatre (free entry). 

Returning back down the hill via the funicular, we bought a bottle of water and a refreshing Fanta Lemon from a small shop near the station for €4.30. Browsing the shops selling beautiful silk scarves and souvenirs was thirsty work, which required another glass of rosé (€5.50). We walked along the riverside to Place Bellecour. Dinner that evening was at a pizza restaurant. A rocket and parmesan salad, pizza and two glasses of wine cost €21.60. A nightcap later (€9.75) and it was back to the hotel to bed.

The exterior of the Musée des Confluences is made of glass and steel with a concrete ramp up to the entrance. The building has an unusual shape, a little like a crouching animal
The unusual glass-and-steel exterior of the Musée des Confluences where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet © Claire Naylor / Lonely Planet


Total: €32.80

We checked out of the hotel, paying the city tax as we went (€1.65pp), and had croissants, juice and tea in a nearby cafe, costing €5.40. From there we made our way via the tram replacement service to Musée des Confluences (the tram was out of action through summer 2019). This glass-and-steel structure holds a fascinating collection of science and natural history. I was particularly interested in the ‘Societies – human theatre’ section, which explores how human groups evolve and interact. We only had a very limited amount of time, but it was well worth the €9 entry fee.

Many different types of sausage laid out on several dishes at a deli counter in Lyon
A range of meaty treats in Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse © Marc Naylor / Lonely Planet

Never wishing to miss a food hall, we returned to the station via Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse to gawp at the delicious dishes, treats and wines. I bought a packet of six macarons as a thank you gift to my mum for looking after the kids, which cost €10.50 (turns out she doesn’t like them, so I scoffed the lot myself). Realising we were running late for the train, we grabbed lunch on the move. A ham baguette, crisps and water bought at a stall near the station came to €6.25.

The final tally

Overall spend: €211.75

More spending diaries:

What my family of four spent on one day at Disneyland Paris
What I spent on a long weekend in Sydney
What I spent in 24 hours in Cork City
What I spent on a four-day trip in and around Nice
What I spent on a five-day trip in New York
What I spent on a two-day trip to Prague

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