Stylish Riverside Living in Gastronomic Lyon

Originally posted on & updated on 10th February, 2024

The majestic French city of Lyon has evolved around two rivers, the Rhône and Saône, giving it a unique waterside vibe. Lyon’s riverbanks are lined with classy cafés and restaurants which are the perfect place to relax and watch life pass by.  

The major regeneration zone where these two waterways meet is known as Confluence and has undergone a significant transformation in recent years from industrial wasteland to an exciting modern quarter that is in stark contrast to the cobbled streets of the old city and the relics of Lyon’s Roman heritage as the capital of Gaulle, which include the Amphitheatre of Fourvière.

Many of the factories of Confluence may have made way for cutting edge architecture and modern apartments but Lyon is still an important technical and industrial hub where biotech companies, software start-ups, financial institutions and chemical firms provide plenty of work for the residents of France’s second largest urban area.

One of Lyon’s big attractions for businesses is its accessibility. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is a base for domestic and international flights and serves the whole Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. There is also the Rhônexpress tram which links the airport to the city’s main business district within half an hour and the city is connected to France’s TGV network.

Lyon’s commercial strength is balanced by a rich cultural legacy. As the airport’s name suggests, this was the birthplace of famous French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whose best known work is The Little Prince. It is also home to a statue by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who created the Statue of Liberty. Another claim to fame is the fact that the Lumière brothers invented film-making here back in 1895. The site of their earliest film shoots is still operational.

Let’s not forget another great reason for moving to Lyon – the food. Lyon is deservedly referred to as the gastronomic capital of France and with such a bounty of fresh produce on its doorstep it’s easy to understand how this reputation grew. The rich agricultural areas of Charolais, Drome and Ardeche are close by as are the wine regions of Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley. Local fruit, vegetables, cheeses, wines and meat are traded in the prestigious Les Halles de Lyon and at outdoor markets such as the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse.

The regional fare served up in this part of France is rustic and robust. Smoky Lyonnaise sausage, creamy quenelles made with either fish or meat and salade Lyonnaise, a warm bacon and egg salad are well-known local dishes. Lyon’s foodie reputation was reinforced by the famous Michelin starred nouvelle cuisine chef Paul Bocuse who lived and worked here until his death in 2018, his main restaurant being the esteemed l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon.

For anyone thinking of buying a property in Lyon, it is worth taking time to explore the city’s nine arrondissements which each have their own unique character, from the lively 1st arrondissement to the calmer 9th district. The city’s many historical and architectural features – plus a heritage that dates back over two millennia - have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Museums, art galleries, theatres and the Opéra Nouvel help to keep its cultural heart beating.

Another popular area for property hunters who are looking for a base near this fabulous city is the Pierres Dorées – or Golden Stone – area. Forming the southernmost part of the Beaujolais wine region and sitting just north of Lyon, it also goes by the nickname of “little Tuscany” thanks to the warmth of the yellow ochre stones that have been used to build its homes, castles and churches.

Lyon is a vivacious place to live but whilst there is plenty to keep residents busy, the Lyonnais know how to relax too. That might mean enjoying the renowned local food and wine, heading to the Parc Olympique Lyonnais (also called Groupama Stadium) to watch city football team Olympique Lyonnais in action or taking time out to explore one of the many green spaces, such as the Parc de la Tête d’Or, nicknamed the “Lung of Lyon”, which has a lake, extensive plant collection and a zoo.

The proximity of Lake Annecy, the picturesque Puy de Dome area, the peaceful Saone-et-Loire department and historic towns like Vienne and Avignon add even more leisure options for those wanting to escape the city for a while.

For expats, Lyon offers all the advantages of a big city like Paris on a slightly smaller and more manageable scale along with a unique lifestyle that has been inspired by the presence of the two great rivers that flow through it.

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