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Things to do in Lyon

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Parc de la Tete d'Or
Influenced by the style of an English garden Le Parc de la Tete d’Or is the largest urban park in France and contains numerous attractions for all the family including a zoo, boating lake, botanical gardens, miniature railway, pony rides for children and more.It’s an excellent place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty and includes dozens of trails for walking, jogging or bicycling and large open spaces for activities and picnics.Created in 1857 by the brothers Denis and Eugène Buhler in the same year as New York’s famous Central Park, Le Parc de la Tete d’Or has seen numerous additions since it’s initial creation, including in 1865 the impressive glass houses containing species of plants and flowers from all over the world and in the 1960’s the inclusion of the rose gardens featuring 30,000 rose bushes comprising 350 different varieties.The name of the park originates from a legend that says treasure with the “head of Christ” could be buried somewhere in the park.France’s second public zoo after the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris contains almost 400 different animals divided into 64 different species.The last 10 years have seen improvements to the zoo’s infrastructure including in 2006 the new African Savannah featuring zebra, giraffes and pink flamingos. The zoo is a member of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the preservation of species threatened by extinction.
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Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a vital part of the Lyon cityscape and you’d be a fool not to go up there. Mr Mayor, Gérard Collomb, even calls it a “treasure of humanity”. With one of the best views over the entire city, it understandably draws in busloads, who all load off to celebrate Mary and the paraphernalia of Christianity. Then you have those who hike up there for a brisk morning walk to lord it over the panoramic view and feel regal. The beautiful white Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, known by locals as the upside-down elephant, sits on the top of Fourvière hill, aka the ‘praying hill’, in Lyon’s 5th district, where the world of Catholics rubs shoulders with vestiges of Ancient Rome. From its dominant position, looming over the city below with vantage points aplenty, Fourvière has become a symbol of Lyon, attracting over 2 million visitors annually. Designed by Pierre Bossan, Fourvière basilica draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It’s actually one church on top of another.
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Lyon Gallo-Roman Civilisation Museum
The Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation astounds the visitor with its avant-garde architecture and carefully-chosen exhibits, nudging you to uncover more of what Lyon’s Roman, Gaul and Celtic forebears got up to. Facing the rising sun and the Alps, way up over the Confluence of Rhône and Saône, the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation chronicles five centuries of the city’s history under Rome when Lyon was known as the dazzling capital Lugdunum. Dug deep inside Fourvière hill in the 5th district of Lyon, with its two huge windows overlooking its neighbouring Amphitheatre and Odeon, the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon is akin to a submarine, set to journey through the undergrowth and vestiges of this ancient civilisation. Step on-board and be subtly wowed by polychrome mosaics, the sarcophagus of the triumph of Bacchus, the unique Gallic Coligny calendar, a plan-relied of the ancient town, a rare circus mosaic, not to mention the Tabla Claudiana, reproducing a speech by the emperor Claudius, all set inside an avant-garde architectural experience whipped up by Bernard Zehrfuss.
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Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon
The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the largest French and European museums. Located in the heart of Lyon, between the Rhône and Saône rivers, it is found in a magnificent building dating from the 17th century. The collections are exhibited in over 70 rooms and offer visitors an outstanding sample of art from antiquity to contemporary art. The museum is regularly enriched, through an active acquisition policy that relies on donors, art lovers, collectors and the descendants of artists.
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Place Bellecour
It’s the largest pedestrian square in Europe. So whether you want to get to the Tourist Information centre inside, join a march, jump on the big wheel, or just simply sit, this oversized square reinvigorates the lungs and stretches the horizons. As the central focus of shopping on the presqu’île and the chosen starting point for most city visits, Bellecour is the kilometre 0 of Lyon and all distances are calculated from it. Four major streets start from this famous square: rue de la République, which takes you up to Hôtel de Ville and the Opera; rue Victor Hugo and rue du Plat both leading to Perrache; and rue du Président Édouard Herriot, with a concentration of luxury shops all the way to the Place des Terreaux. Surrounded by linden trees, wild cherries and beautiful Napoleonic buildings, Place Bellecour is the third largest square in France after Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux and Place de la Concorde in Paris, measuring 312m by 200m, not to mention the biggest pedestrian square in the whole of Europe. Fact.
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Rosa Mir Garden
Le Jardin Rosa Mir, or the Rosa Mir Garden, located in the heart of Croix-Rousse in Lyon’s 4th arrondissement, is one of Lyon’s unique treasures, founded in the dreams of a self-taught artist. The Rosa Mir Garden is a small, originally private garden located in the courtyard of an apartment building. Created between the years of 1957 and 1977, the garden is a tribute to the creativity and artistic vision of its creator, a Spanish mason called Jules Senis Mir. Made up of pillars, basins, obelisks and pergolas sculpted from pebbles and shells, the monument pulls its inspiration from Arab-Andalusian motifs and styles. It is filled with over 10,000 plants, from cacti to perennials to roses to oregano and lemon.
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Place des Terreaux
Place des Terreaux was once a huge bog, believe it or not. Today, the famous Lyonnais landmark deserves a visit, either as a starting point to explore the presqu’île and the City Hall area, or as a beautifully-constructed square to while away the hours. Place des Terreaux is a famous Lyonnais square, grand and grey. It’s a perfect rectangle in fact, located in the 1st district of Lyon inside the peninsular or ‘presqu’île’ between the Rhône and Saône rivers, at the foot of the Croix-Rousse hill. It’s a Lyon landmark and a UNESCO heritage site, the place to meet, inside which you can sip beer in the outdoor cafés, perch on the steps of the Fine Arts Museum and observe the Bartholdi fountain, or pop into the beautiful City Hall to pay new mayor Mr Képénikian a visit.
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The Musee des Confluences
The Museum inherited over two million pieces collected from the 16th century through today. Referred to as “the 21st Century’s Cabinet of Curiosities,” the institution’s finds relate to paleontology, mineralogy, zoology, entomology, and ethnography.