Located in the Rhone-Alps region in east-central France, Lyon is the second largest city in the country after Paris and followed by Marseilles. Situated between the other two large cities, Lyon is a major center of business and trade and is also know as the capital of gastronomy in France.

WHAT TO DO

Lyon is perhaps most famous for its Fete des Lumieres, or Festival of Lights, which takes place over 4 days every December. During this time, the city is transformed into an illuminated urban spectacle. Huge light installations by well-known artists and architects illuminate public buildings throughout the city, and local Lyon inhabitants decorate the city streets with lanterns made from paper bags and candles. The vent attracts 4 million spectators and is Lyons most established and well-known festivals.

Lyon is also famous for its traboules, or secret passages, that liter the city. These traboules are mostly located in Vieux Lyon and are indoor passageways that were originally used by the city's silk manufacturers to transport products. The traboules also were used by Resistance fighters during Nazi occupation in WWII and are credited with preventing the Germans from taking complete control of the city. Today, these traboules are popular tourist attractions and there are over fort that are free and open to the public.

Widely known for its food and culinary heritage, bouchons lyonnais offer delicious French bistro cuisine at usually affordable prices. Lyon can credit its famous food to high quality local produce, fresh meats and cheese from the livestock in neighboring areas, and local wines. Menus are marked by specialty pork dishes, soft cheese with herbs, and doughy beignets.

GETTING THERE

As the second largest city in France, Lyon does have a major international airport (airport code LYS), which makes getting a direct flight into Lyon relatively easy. This coming from Paris can also take a direct TGV (high-speed train) to Lyon.

WHERE TO STAY

Lyon is a large and bustling city with about as many accommodation options as places to eat (well, maybe not quite). There are a variety of hotels in Lyon ranging from high-end to mid-range. I would recommend staying as close to the center of the city as possible, as the suburbs in France are often areas of little interest and higher crime and poverty rates. For those on a tighter budget there are also several hostels in Lyon to chose from as well as bed and breakfasts.