Lyon or Lyons (, ,[c] French: [ljɔ̃] (); Arpitan: Liyon, pronounced [ʎjɔ̃]) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, about 470 km (292 mi) southeast of Paris, 320 km (199 mi) north of Marseille and 56 km (35 mi) northeast of Saint-Étienne. Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais (masculine) and Lyonnaises (feminine).
The City of Lyon proper had a population of 516,092 in 2017 within its small municipal territory of 48 km2 (19 sq mi), but together with its suburbs and exurbs the Lyon metropolitan area had a population of 2,323,221 that same year, the second-most populated in France. Lyon and 58 suburban municipalities have formed since 2015 the Metropolis of Lyon, a directly elected metropolitan authority now in charge of most urban issues, with a population of 1,385,927 in 2017. Lyon is the prefecture of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and seat of the Departmental Council of Rhône (whose jurisdiction, however, no longer extends over the Metropolis of Lyon since 2015).
Former capital of the Gauls at the time of the Roman Empire, Lyon is the seat of an archbishopric whose holder bears the title of Primate of the Gauls. Lyon became a major economic hub during the Renaissance. The city is recognised for its cuisine and gastronomy, as well as historical and architectural landmarks; as such, the districts of Old Lyon, the Fourvière hill, the Presqu'île and the slopes of the Croix-Rousse are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lyon was historically an important area for the production and weaving of silk. Lyon played a significant role in the history of cinema: it is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph. It is also known for its light festival, the Fête des Lumières, which begins every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of "Capital of Lights".
Economically, Lyon is a major centre for banking, as well as for the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The city contains a significant software industry with a particular focus on video games; in recent years it has fostered a growing local start-up sector. Lyon hosts the international headquarters of Interpol, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, as well as Euronews. According to the , Lyon is considered a Beta city, as of 2018. It ranked second in France and 40th globally in Mercer's 2019 liveability rankings.
According to the historian Dio Cassius, in 43 BC, the Roman Senate ordered the creation of a settlement for Roman refugees of war with the Allobroges. These refugees had been expelled from Vienne and were now encamped at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers. The foundation was built on Fourvière hill and officially called Colonia Copia Felix Munatia, a name invoking prosperity and the blessing of the gods. The city became increasingly referred to as Lugdunum (and occasionally Lugudunum). The earliest translation of this Gaulish place-name as "Desired Mountain" is offered by the 9th-century Endlicher Glossary. In contrast, some modern scholars have proposed a Gaulish hill-fort named Lug[o]dunon, after the Celtic god Lugus (cognate with Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish Lú), and dúnon (hill-fort).
The Romans recognised that Lugdunum's strategic location at the convergence of two navigable rivers made it a natural communications hub. The city became the starting point of main Roman roads in the area, and it quickly became the capital of the province, Gallia Lugdunensis. Two Emperors were born in this city: Claudius, whose speech is preserved in the Lyon Tablet in which he justifies the nomination of Gallic Senators, and Caracalla.
Early Christians in Lyon were martyred for their beliefs under the reigns of various Roman emperors, most notably Marcus Aurelius and Septimius Severus. Local saints from this period include Blandina, Pothinus, and Epipodius, among others. The Greek Irenaeus was the second bishop of Lyon during the latter part of the second century. To this day, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "Primat des Gaules".
Burgundians fleeing the destruction of Worms by the Huns in 437 were re-settled at Lugdunum. In 443 the Romans established the Kingdom of the Burgundians, and Lugdunum became its capital in 461. In 843, under the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon went to the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I. It later was made part of the Kingdom of Arles which was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1033. Lyon did not come under French control until the 14th century.
Fernand Braudel remarked, "Historians of Lyon are not sufficiently aware of the bi-polarity between Paris and Lyon, which is a constant structure in French development...from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution". In the late 15th century, the fairs introduced by Italian merchants made Lyon the economic counting house of France. Even the Bourse (treasury), built in 1749, resembled a public bazaar where accounts were settled in the open air. When international banking moved to Genoa, then Amsterdam, Lyon remained the banking centre of France.
During the Renaissance, the city's development was driven by the silk trade, which strengthened its ties to Italy. Italian influence on Lyon's architecture is still visible among historic buildings. In the late 1400s and 1500s Lyon was also a key centre of literary activity and book publishing, both of French writers (such as Maurice Scève, Antoine Heroet, and Louise Labé) and of Italians in exile (such as Luigi Alamanni and Gian Giorgio Trissino).
In 1572, Lyon was a scene of mass violence by Catholics against Protestant Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Two centuries later, Lyon was again convulsed by violence during the French Revolution, when the citizenry rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins. The city was besieged by Revolutionary armies for over two months before it surrendered in October 1793. Many buildings were destroyed, especially around the Place Bellecour, and Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois and Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people. The Convention ordered that its name be changed to "Liberated City", and a plaque was erected that proclaimed "Lyons made war on Liberty; Lyons no longer exists". A decade later, Napoleon ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during that period.
The Convention was not the only target within Lyon during the French Revolution. After the Convention faded into history, the French Directory appeared and days after the September 4, 1797 Coup of 18 Fructidor, a Directory's commissioner was assassinated in Lyon.
The city became an important industrial town in the 19th century. In 1831 and 1834, the canuts (silk workers) of Lyon staged two major uprisings for better working conditions and pay. In 1862, the first of Lyon's extensive network of funicular railways began operation.
During World War II, Lyon was a centre for the occupying Nazi forces, including Klaus Barbie, the infamous "Butcher of Lyon". However, the city was also a stronghold of the French Resistance, the many secret passages known as traboules, enabled people to escape Gestapo raids. On 3 September 1944, Lyon was liberated by the 1st Free French Division and the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur. The city is now home to a Resistance museum.
The Rhône and Saône converge to the south of the historic city centre, forming a peninsula – the "Presqu'île" – bounded by two large hills to the west and north and a large plain eastward. Place Bellecour is located on the Presqu'île between the two rivers and is the third-largest public square in France. The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour.
The western hill is Fourvière, known as "the hill that prays" because it is the location for Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, several convents, and Archbishop residence. The district, Vieux Lyon, also hosts the Tour métallique (a highly visible TV tower, replicating the last stage of the Eiffel Tower) and one of the city's railways. Fourvière, along with portions of the Presqu'île and much of La Croix-Rousse, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
East of the Rhône from the Presqu'île is a large flat area upon which sits much of modern Lyon and contains most of the city's population. Situated in this area is La Part-Dieu urban centre, which clusters the landmark structures Tour Incity, Tour Part-Dieu, Tour Oxygène, and Tour Swiss Life, as well as the city's primary railway station, Gare de Lyon-Part-Dieu.
Lyon has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa), bordering on an oceanic climate (Cfb) due to the higher average temperature being around 22 °C. But in modified classifications such as that of Trewartha, France's third largest city has an oceanic climate (Do). The mean temperature in Lyon in the coldest month is 3.2 °C (37.8 °F) in January and in the warmest month in July is 22 °C (71.6 °F). Precipitation is adequate year-round, at an average of 830 mm (32.7 in), but the winter months are the driest. The highest recorded temperature was 40.5 °C (104.9 °F) on 13 August 2003 while the lowest recorded temperature was −24.6 °C (−12.3 °F) on 22 December 1938.
Like Paris and Marseille, the commune (municipality) of Lyon is divided into a number of municipal arrondissements, each of which is identified by a number and has its own council and town hall. Five arrondissements were originally created in 1852, when three neighbouring communes (La Croix-Rousse, La Guillotière, and Vaise) were annexed by Lyon. Between 1867 and 1959, the third arrondissement (which originally covered the whole of the Left Bank of the Rhône) was split three times, creating a new arrondissement in each case. Then, in 1963, the commune of Saint-Rambert-l'Île-Barbe was annexed to Lyon's fifth arrondissement. A year later, in 1964, the fifth was split to create Lyon's 9th – and, to date, final – arrondissement. Within each arrondissement, the recognisable quartiers or neighbourhoods are:
Geographically, Lyon's two main rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, divide the arrondissements into three groups:
This is a list of mayors of the commune of Lyon since the end of the 19th century.
Since 2015, the commune of Lyon (48 km2 (19 sq mi) in land area) and 58 suburban communes have formed the Metropolis of Lyon (534 km2 (206 sq mi) in land area), a directly elected metropolitan authority now in charge of most urban issues. The Metropolis of Lyon is the only metropolitan authority in France which is a territorial collectivity, on par with French communes and departments. Its metropolitan council was for the first time directly elected by universal suffrage in 2020 within 14 electoral wards, the only directly elected metropolitan council in France.
The 6 wards with names starting with "Lyon" are all located within the commune of Lyon. The Villeurbanne ward is coterminous with the namesake commune. All other 7 wards each group various suburban communes.
The division of the Metropolis of Lyon in large electoral wards often grouping various communes and dividing the commune of Lyon into 6 wards was criticized by the suburban mayors, as it ended the rule of 'one commune, one metropolitan councilor'. The goal of this electoral division of the metropolis was to focus metropolitan elections more on metropolitan issues than parochial communal issues, and ensure the 'one person, one vote' rule be respected, by creating electoral wards of more homogeneous population sizes. Opponents said it diluted the voice of the small suburban communes, which are now part of large electoral wards and do not each possess a representative in the metropolitan council anymore.
The two first presidents of the Metropolis of Lyon's metropolitan council were chosen by indirectly elected metropolitan councilors. The current president since July 2020 was elected by new metropolitan councilors following their election by universal suffrage in March (1st round) and June (2nd round) 2020, the first direct election of a metropolitan council in France.
The GDP of Lyon was 74 billion euro in 2012, making it the second richest city in France after Paris. Lyon and its region Rhône-Alpes represent one of the most important economies in Europe and, according to Loughborough University, can be compared to Philadelphia, Mumbai or Athens with regard to its international position. The city of Lyon is working in partnership to more easily enable the establishment of new headquarters in the territory (ADERLY, Chambre du commerce et d'industrie, Grand Lyon...). High-tech industries such as biotechnology, software development, video game (Arkane Studios, Ivory Tower, Eden Games, EA France, Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe), and internet services are also growing. Other important sectors include medical research and technology, non-profit institutions, and universities. Lyon is home to the P4-Inserm–ean Merieux Laboratory which conducts top-level vaccine research.
The city is home to the headquarters of many large companies such as Groupe SEB, Sanofi Pasteur, Renault Trucks, Norbert Dentressangle, LCL S.A., Descours & Cabaud, Merial, Point S, BioMérieux, Iveco Bus, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, GL Events, April Group, Boiron, Feu Vert, Panzani, Babolat, Euronews, Lyon Airports, LVL Medical, and inter-governmental agencies IARC, Interpol. The specialisation of some sectors of activities has led to the creation of many main business centres: La Part-Dieu, located in the 3rd arrondissement is the second biggest business quarter after La Défense in Paris with over 1,600,000 m2 (17,222,256.67 sq ft) of office space and services and more than 55,000 jobs. Cité Internationale, created by the architect Renzo Piano is located in the border of the Parc de la Tête d'Or in the 6th arrondissement. The worldwide headquarters of Interpol is located there. The district of Confluence, in the south of the historic centre, is a new pole of economical and cultural development.
Tourism is an important part of the Lyon economy, with one billion euros in 2007 and 3.5 million hotel-nights in 2006 provided by non-residents. Approximately 60% of tourists visit for business, with the rest for leisure. In January 2009, Lyon ranked first in France for hostels business. The festivals most important for attracting tourists are the Fête des lumières, the Nuits de Fourvière every summer, the Biennale d'art contemporain and the Nuits Sonores.
Since the Middle Ages, the region residents have spoken several dialects of Franco-Provençal. The Lyonnais dialect was replaced by the French language as the importance of the city grew. However some "frenchified" Franco-Provençal words can also be heard in the French of the Lyonnais, who call their little boys and girls "gones" and "fenottes" for example.
The Historic Site of Lyon was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In its designation, UNESCO cited the "exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance." The specific regions comprising the Historic Site include the Roman district and Fourvière, the Renaissance district (Vieux Lyon), the silk district (slopes of Croix-Rousse), and the Presqu'île, which features architecture from the 12th century to modern times. Both Vieux Lyon and the slopes of Croix-Rousse are known for their narrow passageways (named traboules) that pass through buildings and link streets on either side. The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century. The traboules allowed the inhabitants to get from their homes to the Saône quickly and allowed the canuts on the Croix-Rousse hill to get from their workshops to the textile merchants at the foot of the hill.
Lyon has a long and chronicled culinary arts tradition. The noted food critic Curnonsky referred to the city as "the gastronomic capital of the world", a claim repeated by later writers such as Bill Buford. Renowned 3-star Michelin chefs such as Marie Bourgeois and Eugénie Brazier developed Lyonnaise cuisine into a national phenomenon favoured by the French elite; a tradition which Paul Bocuse later turned into a worldwide success.
The bouchon is a traditional Lyonnais restaurant that serves local fare such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork, along with local wines. Two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near the city: the Beaujolais region to the north and the Côtes du Rhône region to the south. Another Lyon tradition is a type of brunch food called "mâchons", made of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Mâchons were the customary meal of the canuts, the city's silk workers, who ate a late-morning meal after they finished their shifts in the factories.
Other traditional local dishes include coq au vin; quenelle; gras double; salade lyonnaise (lettuce with bacon, croûtons and a poached egg); and the sausage-based rosette lyonnaise and andouillette. Popular local confections include marron glacé and coussin de Lyon. Cervelle de canut (literally, "silk worker's brains") is a cheese spread/dip made of a base of fromage blanc, seasoned with chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
More recently, the french tacos was invented in Lyon suburbs in the early 2000s and is now worldwide famous.
Lyon is home to the football club Olympique Lyonnais (OL), whose men's team plays in Ligue 1 and has won the championship of that competition seven times, all consecutively from 2002 to 2008). OL played until December 2015 at the 43,000-seat Stade de Gerland, which also hosted matches of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Since 2016, the team has played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, a 59,000-seat stadium located in the eastern suburb of Décines-Charpieu. OL operates a women's team, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, which competes in and dominates Division 1 Féminine. They are on a streak of 14 top-flight championships (2007–present), and additionally claim the four titles won by the original incarnation of FC Lyon, a women's football club that merged into OL in 2004 (the current FC Lyon was founded in 2009). The OL women have also won the UEFA Women's Champions League seven times, including the five most recent editions from 2016 to 2020. Lyon hosted the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup semi-finals as well as the Final on 7 July at Stade de Lyon.
Lyon has a rugby union team, Lyon OU, in the Top 14, which moved into Stade de Gerland full-time in 2017–18. In addition, Lyon has a rugby league side called Lyon Villeurbanne that plays in the French rugby league championship. The club's home is the Stade Georges Lyvet in Villeurbanne.
Lyon is also home to the Lyon Hockey Club, an ice hockey team that competes in France's national ice hockey league. The Patinoire Charlemagne is the seat of Club des Sports de Glace de Lyon, the club of Olympic ice dancing champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, and world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Shoenfelder. Lyon-Villeurbanne also has a basketball team, ASVEL, that plays at the Astroballe arena.
Since 2000, Birdy Kids, a group of graffiti artists from the city, has decorated several random buildings and walls along the Lyon ring road. In 2012, the artist collective has been chosen to represent the city as its cultural ambassadors.
The city of Lyon and 58 suburban municipalities have formed since 2015 the Metropolis of Lyon, a directly elected metropolitan authority now in charge of most urban issues, with a population of 1,385,927 in 2017.
There are some international private schools in the Lyon area, including:
Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport, located east of Lyon, serves as a base for domestic and international flights. It is a key transport facility for the entire Rhône-Alpes region, with coach links to other cities in the area. The in-house train station Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry connects the airport to the nationwide TGV network. The Rhônexpress tram monopoly links the airport with the business quarter of La Part Dieu in less than 30 minutes, and offers connections with Underground A & B, Tramway T1, T3 & T4, and bus lines. Lyon public transport Sytral offers a bus service, Route 47, that links the airport to Meyzieu where passengers can change onto Tram T3. The regular price of public transport is €1.90, as opposed to €15 one way for the Rhonexpress. In the suburb of Bron, the smaller Lyon-Bron Airport provides an alternative for domestic aviation.
Lyon has two major railway stations: Lyon Part-Dieu, which was built to accommodate the TGV, and Lyon Perrache, an older station that now provides mostly regional service. Smaller railway stations include Gorge-de-Loup, Vaise, Vénissieux, Saint-Paul and Jean Macé. Lyon was the first city to be connected to Paris by the TGV in 1981. Since that time the TGV train network has expanded and links Lyon directly to Perpignan, Toulouse, Nice, Marseille, Strasbourg, Nantes and Lille. International trains operate directly to Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Turin, Geneva, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Brussels and London.
The city is at the heart of a dense road network and is located at the meeting point of several highways: A6 to Paris, A7 Marseille, A42 to Geneva, and A43 to Grenoble. The city is now bypassed by the A46. A double motorway tunnel passes under Fourvière, connecting the A6 and the A7 autoroutes, both forming the "Autoroute du Soleil".
Lyon is served by the Eurolines intercity coach organisation. Its Lyon terminal is located at the city's Perrache railway station, which serves as an intermodal transportation hub for tramways, local and regional trains and buses, the terminus of Metro line A, of the Tramway T2, the bicycle service Vélo'v, and taxis.
The Transports en commun lyonnais (TCL), Lyon's public transit system, consisting of metro, tramways and buses, serves 62 communes of the Lyon metropolis. The metro network has four lines ( A B C D ), 42 stations, and runs with a frequency of up to a train every 2 minutes. There are seven Lyon tram lines ( T1 T2 T3 T4 T5) since April 2009: T1 from Debourg in the south to IUT-Feyssine in the north, Tram T2 from Perrache railway station to Saint-Priest in the south-east, Tram T3 from Part-Dieu to Meyzieu, Tram T4 from 'Hôptial Feyzin Venissieux' to Gaston Berger. Tram T5 from Grange Blanche, in the south-east to Eurexpo in the south-west. Tram T6 from Debourg, in the south to Hôpitaux Est-Pinel in the east. Tram T7 from Vaux-en-Velin la soie, in the north-east to Décines – OL Vallée in the east. The Lyon bus network consists of the Lyon trolleybus system, motorbuses, and coaches for areas outside the centre. There are also two funicular lines from Vieux Lyon to Saint-Just and Fourvière. The ticketing system is relatively simple as the city has only one public transport operator, the SYTRAL.
The public transit system has been complemented since 2005 by Vélo'v, a bicycle network providing a low-cost service where bicycles can be hired and returned at any of 340 stations throughout the city. Borrowing a bicycle for less than 30 minutes is free. Free rental time can be extended for another 30 minutes at any station. Lyon was the first city in France to introduce this bicycle renting system. In 2011 the Auto'lib car rental service was introduced; it works much the same way as the Velo'v but for cars.
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Lyon on a weekday is 45 minutes. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 11 min, while 17% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 4.7 km, while 4% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.