Image by Patrice Coppee Getty Images
Lyon's race toward the future is personified in this reborn industrial district near the southern tip of Presqu'île. Once a landscape of empty warehouses and urban blight, the newly dubbed Confluence is a 150-hectare district of cutting-edge architecture and innovative redesign. After years of construction and millions of euros in investment, the urban-renewal project has brought new shops, restaurants, high-end lodging and one groundbreaking new museum (reminiscent of the Bilbao Guggenheim) to a formerly abandoned part of the city.
The first phase of the project focused on the Saône riverbanks, with the creation of architecturally daring buildings, including Le Cube Orange, a striking iridescent orange office building designed by Jakob + Macfarlane architects. Also in the area is the sleek, modern Pôle de Commerces et de Loisirs Confluence, which reinvents the shopping experience with a huge transparent roof that allows light to filter through the complex. The crown jewel of the district is the science-and-humanities museum, Musée des Confluences. It's set in a jaw-dropping architectural work of geometric forms in glass and steel, right at the meeting of the Rhône and the Saône.