Population (2016) 1,336,994
Lyon may be France’s third largest city after Paris and Marseille, but it arguably offers the same quality of life as many of its smaller towns and villages.
Situated at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers, the capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is famous the world over for its food. Boasting some 2,000 restaurants, many of them holding Michelin stars, Lyon comfortably lives up to its reputation as the gastronomic capital of France. Yet despite its celebrated haute cuisine scene, it is the city’s classic bouchons (bistros serving up traditional, timeless dishes) that have really earned Lyon its position as the heartland of French cooking. It’s here in these cosy, charming little eateries where hearty dishes sit atop red-and-white checked tablecloths that the locals come together to eat and drink.
If your intention is to not only eat but cook better when you move to France, you’ll have no excuse not to do so in Lyon as every one of the city’s nine arrondissements has its own food market. There is also the city centre Marché St-Antoine with over 100 vendors and the famous Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse indoor market, where you can pick up the very best produce for the week ahead before sitting down to a long, lazy Sunday brunch.
But there’s plenty more to do in Lyon besides wining and dining, as you’ll find in many of the city’s distinct little pockets. The city’s newest neighbourhood, the Confluence area, where the two rivers meet, is enjoying a new-found buzz. Once an industrial district, a multi-million euro project has transformed the area into a trendsetting hot spot, populated with environmentally friendly, outlandish buildings, a shopping complex and a rockclimbing centre.
The area is also home to the stateof-the-art metal and glass Musée des Confluences that houses a scientific and anthropology collection and a converted sugar warehouse where you can enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop bar. Work to make the area more liveable is currently underway and the entire project – which will include a residential and market district – is due to be completed in 2020.
There is a feeling that while some parts of Lyon will never change, other parts are constantly evolving, a dynamic that make it an exciting place to live, says expat Sophia Marci Anderson.
“I love living in Lyon; it’s such a vibrant and dynamic city,” she enthuses. “It’s big enough that there’s always something happening: new exhibitions, new restaurants, new events, but it never feels hectic – there’s still the French joie de vivre. The city itself is beautiful, the two rivers each have their own charm, and the different arrondissements feel quite distinct. Being a business hub, there’s also a substantial English-speaking community,” she says.
Indeed, the city is known for being very business friendly and as such, is a popular place for expats who are considering setting up a business in France. There is also the added bonus that Lyon is an ideal base to explore other European spoils. The Alps are within easy reach and a 90-minute drive will take you to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.
“I love that we’re not too far from the mountains,” says Sophia, who often goes on hiking and camping trips just a short distance away from her beloved Lyon.
Top: Rooftop view of Lyon Left: Lyon’s contemporary Confluence district is a multimillion euro urban renewal project boasting housing and shops Bottom: Église St-Georges on the banks of the Saône