By Gloria Blondé

The above is Lyon’s marketing spiel and includes a silhouette of a lion. Lyon is truly magnificent and well worth a visit. Located centrally in France at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, there is much history and culture to savour in Lyon – the Renaissance district, the Silk culture and still working silk printing workshops, murals, the opera house, les ‘traboules’ (passageways), the cathedral with the astronomical clock; and the list goes on.

We did the typical ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour for a couple of days which is an efficient and economical way of covering off the main tourist attractions, if only for a brief visit at each. A few sights in the attached photos – the magnificent opera building, the dramatic town square fountain, Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière on the hill, and one of dozens of large painted murals throughout the city.

Of course it was much more fun grabbing a bike at any one of hundreds of VéloV stations around the city. As can be seen from the photo below, the bikes are similar to those seen in most city bike hire schemes – a bit heavy and chunky – but nonetheless very reliable and able to do the job well, particularly in largely flat cities. The hire process was very easy, and free, as long as you swapped bikes every 30 min – which was easy to do because there are so many VéloV stations. One interesting observation - wanting to go out for a spin Sunday morning – at 9am we had a hard time finding bikes at any of the numerous bike stations near where we were staying – a sign that they had been used for people getting home the night before. When we did land a couple and head out of the main city, the bike stations were absolutely full of bikes! (Ed Note: a number of elements from Barcelona’s ‘Bicing’ story are similar to Lyon, except tourists can use the bikes!)

Riding around Lyon was great fun and allowed us to get to more attractions where we could stay longer because of the efficient and ubiquitous bike hire system. Riding along the rivers was also very enjoyable.

If you are in central France, don’t overlook Lyon as a great stopover for a few days or even a week if you have the time.