Catching a performance in Lyon is a treat, with a wide array of venues hosting opera, ballet and theatre performances as well as concert venues.

Guignol: Lyon's Historic Puppet

The history of Lyon's famous puppet, Guignol, is intertwined with that of the city. In 1797, out-of-work silk-weaver Laurent Mourguet took up dentistry (ie pulling teeth). To attract patients, he set up a puppet show in front of his chair, initially featuring the Italian Polichinelle (who became Punch in England). Success saw Mourguet move into full-time puppetry, creating Guignol in about 1808 and devising shows revolving around working-class issues, the news of the day, social gossip and satire.

Today this little hand-operated glove puppet pops up all over his home town, including on the Fresque des Lyonnais mural and at puppet museums.

Guignol's highly visual, slapstick-style antics appeal equally to children and adults (theatres also stage some adult-only evening performances). Shows are in French but also incorporate traditional Lyonnais dialect, such as the words quinquets (eyes), picou (nose), bajafler (talking nonstop) and gones (kids, and, by extension, all Lyonnais).

In addition to Puppet Theatre performances at Parc de la Tête d'Or, Lyon has three dedicated Guignol theatres:

Théâtre La Maison de Guignol Quaint St-Georges theatre.

Guignol, un Gone de Lyon In Croix Rousse; puppeteers give audiences a behind-the-scenes peek at the props and puppets after certain performances.

Théâtre Le Guignol de Lyon In Vieux Lyon.

Check individual websites for ticket prices (around €10 or €11) and schedules (typically Wednesdays and weekends, with extra dates added during school holidays).

Fever Pitch

After decades of playing in the 1920s-built, 40,000-seater Stade de Gerland, today rechristened the Matmut Stadium Gerland, Lyon's multichampionship-winning football team Olympique Lyonnais ( inaugurated its massive new 58,500-seat home stadium, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, in time to host the summer 2016 UEFA European football championship. Buy match tickets online, at the stadium or from the club's brand-new downtown boutique, OL Store Lyon Centre. Big upcoming events include the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019 and group football matches during the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.