10 Top-Rated Day Trips from Lyon
In the countryside around Lyon, visitors can explore cute villages, prehistoric caves, castles, and a trove of other cultural treasures. For a relaxing jaunt, spend a day at the beautiful grounds of the Domaine de Lacroix-Laval, unwind at Le Corbusier's ultramodern convent at the edge of the forest, or visit the picturesque country village of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez. History buffs will enjoy Vienne, with its ancient temple and theater dating from 25 BC.
Not far from Lyon, Chazelles-sur-Lyon will appeal to the fashion conscious. Once a center of hat making, the town features a museum on the subject, and custom-made hats are available from its atelier. Adventure seekers will want to explore the Grottes de Cerdon. These mesmerizing caves were once inhabited by prehistoric humans and are now used to make blue cheese. Whatever the choice of excursion, visitors will be delighted by the tourist attractions around Lyon.
On the left bank of the Rhône River, 30 kilometers south of Lyons, Vienne is renowned for its well-preserved ancient buildings. The city boasts incredible Gallo-Roman ruins as well as interesting Romanesque and Early Gothic churches. The top attraction is the Temple d'Auguste et de Livie (Place Charles de Gaulle) built in 25 BC. During the Middle Ages, the Roman temple was converted into a church, and during the Revolution, it became a "Temple of Reason" and later a courthouse. Another impressive Roman monument is the Théâtre Antique southeast of the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville on the Rue du Cirque. This large Roman theater was built in the 1st century AD and originally had seating for 13,500 spectators. For a deeper insight into the world of antiquity, visit the Musée Archéologique Saint-Pierre at Place Saint-Pierre. This museum is housed in the 6th-century Eglise Saint-Pierre, one of France's oldest churches. The Romanesque Cloître de Saint-André-le-Bas (Cour Saint-André-le-Bas) dates from the 11th century and now houses a museum of Christian art. The Cathédrale Saint-Maurice (Place Saint-Pierre) has precious relics from the 8th century.
Ambronay is a quaint little village about 60 kilometers from Lyon. The village grew up around a Benedictine abbey during the 13th century to the 15th century. Visit the Abbey church to admire its lovely cloister and chapter house. The best time to visit the village is during its annual Festival d'Ambronay. This renowned music festival offers a series of weekend concerts in September and October held in the Abbey church, a splendid venue with incomparable acoustics. The festival focuses on Baroque chamber music and classical music such as Bach and Vivaldi. However, the program also includes other genres of music such as tango and jazz.
3 Domaine de Lacroix-Laval
Surrounded by tranquil parklands on a 115-hectare nature preserve, this beautiful historic château lies only 13 kilometers from Lyon. The Lacroix-Laval property offers a peaceful retreat from city life in a splendid setting. The luscious estate includes large meadows that are used for picnics and children's games. There are also elegant manicured areas with tree-lined paths and other untouched nature spots with ponds and streams, offering an oasis of serenity. It's the perfect place for relaxation and nature walks. Take a stroll to discover the conservatories, rose garden, and vegetable garden. The property also hosts cultural events throughout the year.
Address: Route de Sain-Bel, 69280 Marcy-l'Étoile
The elegant town of Chazelles-sur-Lyon was once famous as a center of hat manufacturing and has a wonderful Atelier - Musée du Chapeau (Hat Museum and Atelier). This museum presents interesting information about the history of handcrafted hats with their ever-changing fashions. The museum's atelier creates handmade hats in the latest styles available for sale in the boutique. The hats can be custom-ordered. They are often requested by drama professionals for theater performances. Visitors can also order custom-made hats for upcoming events such as weddings and other special occasions-it's worth the drive from Lyon, 50 kilometers away.
5 Couvent de la Tourette
Nestled in a small valley at the edge of a forest, the Convent de la Tourette is a serene and meditative spiritual place. The stunning modern building was created by renowned French architect Le Corbusier from 1957 to 1960. It was built for the Dominican monks of Lyon and consists of study halls, a library, refectory, and church. There are also work spaces, recreational areas, and 100 dormitory cells for teachers and students. The different areas of the building encircle a courtyard which acts as a traditional cloister. As in many religious buildings, light is used in symbolic ways. Le Corbusier employs light "cannons" to specifically direct sunlight into the rooms. The design also plays with colors reflected from and onto painted surfaces to reinforce the symbolic aspects of the building. The convent is a 30-kilometer-drive from Lyon and is open to the public through guided visits only.
Address: Couvent de La Tourette, 69210 Eveux - L'Arbresle
Listed as one of France's "Plus Beaux Villages" (Most Beautiful Villages), the picturesque village of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez lies in the foothills about 45 kilometers away from Lyon. This natural environment is part of the Parc Naturel Régional du Pilat, a protected nature reserve centered on the Mont Pilat massif. The mountain range separates the Loire River from the Rhône River, and the highest mountains reach 1,432 meters. In the area surrounding Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez, there are also many ancient Carthusian buildings and old hermitages.
7 Maison d'Ampère (Electricity Museum), Poleymieux
Just 14 kilometers outside of Lyon, this excellent museum educates the public about the history of electricity. The exhibits begin at the time of the Greeks and continue up to the developments of Coulomb, the French physicist who discovered the principles of electromagnetism and the law of electric force. The exhibits are presented in a simple fashion so that anyone can understand the concepts behind the science of electricity. The museum was created in 1928 in the house where André-Marie Ampère (French physicist who founded the science of electromagnetism) lived as a youth.
Address: Route Ampère 69250 Poleymieux-au-Mont-d'Or
8 Château de Rochetaillée-sur-Saone
The village of Rochetaillée-sur-Saone lies 11 kilometers north of Lyons. This pleasant historic village is dominated by the Château de Rochetaillée that belonged to the Counts of Lyon. Situated on the Saône River, the spectacular 15th-century château houses the Musée de l'Automobile Henri Malartre (Henri Malartre Automobile Museum). The 2,500-square-meter museum displays more than 130 old cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.
Address: Château de Rochetaillée, 645 Rue du Musée, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône
9 Grottes de Cerdon
The Grottes de Cerdon (Caves of Cerdon) is a unique nature site that was used during prehistoric times. The caves are in Labalme, a place of beautiful natural scenery, about 75 kilometers northeast from Lyon. The system of underground caves begins where a river once flowed below ground. During prehistoric times, the caves served as shelter, and during the Middle Ages were turned into a refuge for lepers. More recently, the caves have provided storage for maturing blue cheese. The caves awe visitors with many geological wonders, including formations called the "Cambodian Statue" and the "Canopy." Go on a guided tour to discover this magical environment. After the visit, take a footpath to the nearby park and spend some time admiring the pristine landscape.
Address: Domaine des grottes du Cerdon, 01450 Labalme
10 Château Grillet
Enveloped by the rolling hills of the Northern Rhône region, the Château Grillet enjoys a charming setting. The château lies in the village of Vérin, which is 43 kilometers south of Lyon. The château has an illustrious history. Girard Desargues, who was an architect, mathematician, and the adviser to Cardinal Richelieu, retired in the Château-Grillet from 1648 during France's civil war. One of Desargues' friends was the famous mathematician Blaise Pascal who visited the château in 1652.
Address: Château Grillet, 42410 Verin