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!
We had been planning a child free foodie adventure here earlier in the year 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 Marche 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
6 | Stroll through the lovely Vieux (Old) Lyon and admire the medieval and renaissance architecture – especially the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
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!
8 | Count the turtles at the Lyon Zoo – there are over 1,200! – many of which were rescued from the ecological disaster in Florida
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
12 | Save your pennies for a splurge at In Cuisine – a bookshop, cafe, ingredient store and cookery school – in the heart of Lyon
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
As you can see, Lyon is a city with many charms. We have vowed to return for a much longer visit soon.
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