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Planning a family adventure to Lyon?
France’s capital of gastronomy was always on my list of places to visit due to its history and reputation for amazing food. To be honest, I had hoped to experience the city without the kids so we could bar and restaurant hop.
But circumstances conspired against us, so it was a lovely surprise to find such a family friendly city that also satisfied our food cravings.
Built on the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, Lyon’s history was shaped by its strategic position on trade routes between Paris and Italy.
The city is the third biggest in France after Paris and Marseille, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has many wonderful parks and gardens, markets and interesting outdoor spaces.
So there is plenty to do for families with young children.
Best things to do in Lyon with kids
1 | Hang out riverside – we spotted some seriously cool parks along the banks of the Rhone
2 | Munch your way around the Marché Alimentaire on Quai St Antoine a typical and wonderful French open air fresh food market open every day except Monday 6am to 1pm
3 | Take a Lyon river cruise to the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône
3 | Pick up a cake or pastry at the amazing and decadent patisseries – you won’t have to look hard to find them
4 | Wander the massive and beautiful Parc de la Tête d’Or
5 | Admire the elegant fountain and architecture surrounding the Place des Jacobins – kids love throwing coins in the fountain
6 | Stroll through the lovely Vieux (Old) Lyon and admire the medieval and renaissance architecture – especially the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Don’t forget to explore the traboules or secret passageways dating from the 4th century. There are rumoured to be over 400!
7 | Visit Lyon Zoo in the grounds of the Parc de la Tête d’Or – quite lovely as far as zoos go as many of the animals are roaming in large enclosures. And it is free!
We spent ages trying to count the turtles at the Lyon Zoo – there are over 1,200! – many of which were rescued from the ecological disaster in Florida
8 | Explore the Musée des Confluences – this new museum devoted to the development of mankind is housed in a spectacular building that looks like an alien spaceship right on the confluence of Lyon’s famous rivers
9 | Pick up a picnic at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse – a gourmet mecca probably best experienced without toddlers but we made it work with the takeaway option!
10 | Admire the enormous space of the Place Bellecour and the imposing Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which looks over the square – great place for kids to run around and let off steam.
There are also 2 great playgrounds, a cafe and tourist information located in the Place Bellecour – pictured below
12 | Save your pennies for a splurge at In Cuisine – a bookshop, cafe, ingredient store and cookery school – in the heart of Lyon. They have a great kids section (including books in English) and offer cooking lessons for kids too.
13 | Stroll across the city’s picturesque bridges and take in views of the majestic Rhône and Saône rivers
14 | Admire the lovely fountain, visit the playground and stop off for a casual dinner in the Place du Maréchal Lyautey. We stayed around the corner from here and it was the perfect spot
Where to stay in Lyon with kids
Warwick Reine Astrid – a mid range hotel with an unbeatable position right next door to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. The Warwick Reine Astrid has family friendly suites, access to pubic transport and onsite parking so you can overlook the somewhat dated room decor. Check availability and prices
Hotel Particulier Ste Hélène – offering a range of modern apartments, this aparthotel is located on La Presqu’île close to the Place Bellecour. From this central location and its easy access to public transport you can explore all Lyon has to offer. Check availability and prices
Hotel Carlton Lyon – this upscale hotel is in a historic building with lots of character close to the Place Bellecour. The hotel has cosy family suites and can arrange babysitting should you wish to dine out Michelin style. Check prices and availability
For the best hotel deals in Lyon and France we recommend searching Hotels Combined
Stopover in Lyon en route to the South of France or Italy
Lyon is a perfect stopover destination on the drive to the south of France or Italy from the UK.
Depending on how far you are prepared to drive in one day, you can make it for dinner the same day you leave. If you are not driving you can get there in just over 4 and a half hours by Eurostar which sounds a lot more civilised!
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