The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, affordable places to stay, interesting attractions and good transport.
Visiting traditional bouchons for dishes such as andouillette and tarte aux pralines is a must, while the city’s indoor market, the Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, will keep you occupied for hours; stop at one of the market bars for locally cured charcuterie and a light red from nearby Beaujolais.
Venture a little further, and there’s even more to discover: inventive contemporary restaurants in the modern quarter of the city; the vineyards of the northern Rhône; the charming village of Pérouges.
The city also holds an excellent Musée des Beaux-Arts, with works from the likes of Rubens and Rembrandt, while you’ll find exhibitions by big names such as Yoko Ono and Andy Warhol in the Renzo Piano-designed Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC). Make time, too, for the Institut Lumière, which celebrates the birth of cinematography.
Head to Mama Shelter for edgy design at budget prices, splash out on a night at converted convent and spa the Fourvière Hôtel for luxury, or save your pennies at one of the beautiful campsites just outside the centre.
Looking for something more unusual? Self-cater on a quirky barge moored on the Saône or cosy up in a lavish four-poster at the nearby Cháteau de Bagnols.
You’ll find award-winning cocktails at L’Antiquaire, an American-style speakeasy with a French twist, while the speciality coffee scene is starting to flourish at hip little cafés such as Mokxa and Le Tigre.
This means you’ll spend less of your weekend travelling, giving you more time to make the most of the city.
The whole city is UNESCO-listed, with the Basilique Notre-Dame, Roman amphitheatres and ancient traboules (secret passages once used by silk manufacturers) just a few of the fascinating sights that are free to explore.
When it comes to eating and drinking, you might need to bypass the city’s 18 Michelin-starred restaurants, but you’ll find the riverbanks are made for sunny-day picnicking.
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Top image: Cityscape of Lyon © Svetlana Bondareva/Shutterstock