The Perfect Paris to Lyon Day Trip Itinerary (by a Local)

I’ve been living in France for more than six years and I spent three of those years in Paris. During that time, I used it as a base to explore nearby cities.

One of my favorite day trips was to Lyon, so much so that I’ve visited several times since then.

It’s known for its delicious food, fascinating landmarks, secret passageways, and charming Old Town.

And, best of all, it’s only two hours from Paris by train.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect Paris to Lyon day trip itinerary, this guide has you covered. I’ll help you make the most of your time and share with you the best things to do, see, and eat in one day.

Paris to Lyon Day Trip Itinerary. Here is everything you need to plan the perfect visit.
A Lyon Day Trip from Paris

Paris to Lyon Day Trip Overview

If you’re short on time, here is an overview of my helpful guide.

  • Morning: Vieux Lyon (Old Town), Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Musée Cinéma et Miniature, Fourvière Basilica, Roman Ruins, Jardin des Curiosités
  • Afternoon: Lunch at Boulangerie Du Palais, Fresque des Lyonnais, La Croix-Rousse, Cour des Voraces, Escalier Mermet, Place des Terreaux, Parc de la Tete d’Or, Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse
  • Evening: Return to Paris

Getting to Lyon from Paris

This is the front of a TGV train in France. It's the best way to get to Lyon for this day trip from Paris.
TGV Train

While there are a ton of ways to get to Lyon from Paris, for this day trip, the best option is to take a high-speed TGV train.

These trains leave from Gare de Lyon in Paris and take about two hours. You’ll arrive at Lyon’s Part-Dieu station, which is near the center, so you can start your visit right away.

I also recommend leaving early in the morning, so you don’t have to rush through this itinerary.

Train tickets can be bought online or at the train station. But this is a very popular route, so I recommend buying them in advance to secure your seat.

Helpful Tip: I’ve driven from Paris to Lyon, and it takes about five hours, which is why I don’t recommend renting a car for this day trip.

One Day in Lyon – 15 Things to Do

Now that you know how to travel from Paris to Lyon, let’s look at 15 amazing things you can do in one day.

Helpful Tip: Lyon is the third largest city in France, so the distance between some sites can be far. While you can walk, I recommend using public transport for this itinerary.

1. Walk Around Vieux Lyon

This is a cobbled street in Vieux Lyon. It's surrounded on either side by tall stone buildings. There are people walking up and down the street.
Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon is Lyon’s oldest neighborhood, and it was one of my favorite areas to explore on foot.

Here you’ll find colorful buildings lined along cobbled streets, secret passageways, and tons of quaint shops. It’s also incredibly safe.

Most of the architecture here dates to the Renaissance era and it has been beautifully preserved. In fact, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

I loved walking down Rue Saint-Jean and popping into all the little shops.

This is the longest traboule in Lyon. It's a long hall way that has some lights and several archways.
The Longest Traboule

It’s also where I found the entry to the longest traboule (secret passageway) in Lyon.

I saw a bronze plaque next to a door and realized it was the entrance. I walked through and ended up on Rue du Boeuf, another spectacular street.

Helpful Tip: The entrance to the longest traboule is at 54 Rue Saint-Jean.

Nearest Metro Station: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

2. Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

This is the exterior of Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. It's the top half so you can see the rose window and two towers. There are triangle structure between the two towers.
Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Located in the heart of Vieux Lyon is one of its most beautiful cathedrals, Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

Construction started in 1175 and wasn’t completed until 1480, some 300 years later. And once you see the size of it, it’s easy to see why it took so long.

It’s a beautiful mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, and the inside is as spectacular. It houses stunning stained-glass windows and a 14th-century astronomical clock.

I’ve been to a lot of churches in France. From the Amiens Cathedral to the Strasbourg Cathedral, each one has been more impressive than the last. And the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste holds its own.

Address: Place Saint-Jean

Nearest Metro Station: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

3. Discover the Musée Cinéma et Miniature

This is an Independence Day Replica at the Musée Cinéma et Miniature. It's shows the white house before and after the explosion.
Independence Day Replica

I visited a lot of museums in Lyon and the Musée Cinéma et Miniature was my favorite.

It’s dedicated to the art of cinema and miniatures, showcasing hundreds of objects from various films and TV shows.

They had replicas from iconic films including Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and Mrs. Doubtfire. I loved learning how explosion scenes were created, and special effects were added.

They look so lifelike in the movie, and it was fascinating to see how they pulled it off.

I also enjoyed the exhibits dedicated to miniature scenes. From alleyways to grocery stores, each detail was meticulously crafted. And it was amazing to see the level of skill and patience that went into these pieces.

Address: 60 Rue Saint-Jean

Nearest Metro Station: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

4. Marvel at the Fourvière Basilica

This is the interior of the Fourvière Basilica. There are several pews made of wood and an altar. There are stained-glass windows behind the altar and a person praying in the front.
Fourvière Basilica

The Fourvière Basilica towers over Vieux Lyon and is easily one of the most breathtaking architectural masterpieces in town.

It was built in the late 19th century as a symbol of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for sparing Lyon from the bubonic plague. Its most striking feature is its white exterior, much like Paris’ Sacre Coeur.

But, for me, the interior was far more impressive. The giant mosaics on the ceiling were so detailed and the way the light hit the altar made it feel almost ethereal.

The views from its courtyard were also incredible. I visited on a clear day and could see the entire city.

Helpful Tip: The easiest way to get there is to take a funicular, but if you have time, I recommend walking along Montée du Gourguillon. It’s a picturesque alleyway with tons of colorful doors and windowsills.

Address: 8 Place de Fourvière

Nearest Metro Station: Fourvière (Funiculars F2)

5. Tour Ancient Roman Ruins

This is the Théâtre Gallo Romain de Lyon-Fourvière. There are several stone structure and the theater is in the middle. It's a semi-circle with stone seats.
Théâtre Gallo Romain de Lyon-Fourvière

Lyon is home to several ancient Roman ruins, with the most notable ones located on Fourvière Hill, not far from the Fourvière Basilica.

There are three sites, Théâtre Gallo Romain de Lyon-Fourvière, Odeon of Lyon, and Thermes Antiques de Lyon. They were built around 15 BC during a period of rapid growth and prosperity, and they’ve remained remarkably intact.

Théâtre Gallo Romain de Lyon-Fourvière and Odeon of Lyon are next to each other, and they are impossible to miss.

But I had a hard time finding the Thermes Antiques de Lyon.

The entrance is at 12 Rue des Farges in the courtyard behind the residential-looking building.

Helpful Tip: Admission is free for all three sites.

Nearest Metro Station: Minimes Théâtres Romains (Funiculars F1)

6. Take in the Views from Jardin des Curiosités

This is the view from Jardin des Curiosités. There are bushes in the foreground then there view over the rooftops of Lyon.
View from Jardin des Curiosités

Jardin des Curiosités is a small park that is also located on Fourvière Hill.

It offers stunning panoramic views of Lyon and is a great spot for a picnic or a peaceful escape from the busy city.

Compared to the other viewpoints that I visited in Lyon, Jardin des Curiosités was far less crowded. I had the entire park to myself, which is a rarity in such a popular tourist destination.

Address: 8 Place de l’Abbé Larue

Nearest Metro Station: Minimes Théatres Romains (Funiculars F2)

7. Stroll Along the Saône River

This is the view from the banks of the Saône River in Lyon. There are several houses of different colors and Saint George's Church.
Banks of the Saône River

Lyon has two main rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, that divide the city into three sections.

I walked up and down the banks of both rivers, and they each offered beautiful views. But I found the ones from the Saône River to be particularly charming.

My favorite area was along Quai Tilsitt between Passerelle Saint Georges de Lyon and Pont Bonaparte. That’s where I took the photo above.

I was there early and caught the sun’s rays hitting Saint George’s Church.

8. Grab a Sandwich at Boulangerie Du Palais

This is the entrance to Boulangerie Du Palais in Lyon. There is a window display of their sandwiches and there are people standing in line.
Boulangerie Du Palais

If there is one thing Lyon is known for its food, so much so that it’s referred to as the gastronomic capital of France.

But with so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

One place that stood out to me was Boulangerie Du Palais.

This bakery offers a variety of delicious sandwiches and pastries, perfect for a quick lunch.

Every time I’ve gone, there have been a lot of people, so try to get there before noon.

Address: 8 Rue du Palais de Justice

Nearest Metro Station: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

9. Admire the Fresque des Lyonnais

This is Fresque des Lyonnais. It's a mural on the side of a tall building. There are windows with famous standing in them.
Fresque des Lyonnais

The Fresque des Lyonnais is an impressive 800-square-meter (8611-square-foot) mural in Lyon’s first arrondissement.

It was commissioned by the city in the mid-1990s and showcases 30 prominent individuals from Lyon.

When I first saw it, I thought it was real and I walked right passed it. That’s how lifelike it looked.

Lyon has two other murals that are painted in a similar style – Mur des Canuts and Bibliothèque de la Cité.

If you have time extra time, I recommend checking them out. They are as spectacular as the Fresque des Lyonnais.

Address: 2 Rue de la Martinière

Nearest Metro Station: Hôtel de Ville L. Pradel (Lines A and C)

10. Walk Around La Croix-Rousse

This is Montée de la Grande-Côte in La Croix-Rousse. It's a cobbled street with sherbet colored houses. Then there are people walking down the street.
La Croix-Rousse

La Croix-Rousse is one of the most unique neighborhoods in Lyon. It’s known for its sherbet-colored buildings stacked along Montée de la Grande-Côte and its spectacular views over Lyon.

The district’s name, which means ‘Red Cross,’ comes from a 16th-century stone cross that once stood there.

But what I found most interesting about this part of Lyon was its history. It was once a bustling hub of silk workers, known as canuts, in the 19th century, giving it the nickname ‘the hill that works.’

Today, the spirit of these canuts still lingers and there’s a lively, bohemian atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else.

Nearest Metro Station: Croix-Rousse (Line C)

11. Check Out the Cour des Voraces

This a photo of a section of the stone staircase in Cour des Voraces in Lyon.
Cour des Voraces

One of the coolest attractions in Lyon is the hidden passageways known as traboules.

Over the years they’ve served several different roles.

At first, they were used by silk workers to transport their goods. But when their working conditions deteriorated it became the epicenter of the 19th-century Canuts Revolts.

Not long after they were used to escape the Nazis and plan resistance operations during World War II.

Today, they provide shortcuts between streets, neighborhoods, and buildings.

And Cour des Voraces is one of the most well-known traboules, particularly for its monumental six-story staircase.

It stands as a symbol of resistance and attracts Instagrammers from all over the world.

This is thesSymbol for the Traboules Circuit in Lyon. It's a Lion's head surrounded by a yellow square. Then, there's an arrow pointing which direction to walk.
Symbol for the Traboules Circuit

It’s also the start of a circuit of traboules in this part of Lyon. The photo I took above is of the symbol that is used to mark the path.

It starts at the Cour des Voraces and goes to Escalier Mermet, which is the next activity on this list.

Address: 9 Place Colbert

Nearest Metro Station: Croix Paquet (Line C)

12. Climb Escalier Mermet

This is Escalier Mermet. It's a 80-step staircase with a modern design painted on the steps. It's of organic shapes that resemble some of a half circle.
Escalier Mermet

Escalier Mermet is an 80-step staircase that has been turned into a piece of art. It’s the result of a collaborative effort between the artist WENC and the local community.

And, since the painting is on the stairs themselves, you have to be standing in front of it to see it.

Since I was coming from Cour des Voraces, at first, I only saw the staircase from the top.

But once I got to the bottom, I was blown away by the colors and geometric shapes.

Nearest Metro Station: Croix Paquet (Line C)

13. Hang Out in Place des Terreaux

This is Place des Terreaux. It's a large square and in the distance there is the Hôtel de Ville. It's a large stone building with three stories.
Place des Terreaux

Place des Terreaux is a large square in the center of Lyon and every time I’ve been, it’s always buzzing with life.

It’s a popular spot for locals to hang out. So, if you want to catch a glimpse of what life is like in here, this is the place to do it.

The square is also surrounded by magnificent buildings including the Hôtel de Ville and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Then, in the middle stands the famous Fontaine Bartholdi, a large fountain designed by the creator of the Statue of Liberty.

Nearest Metro Station: Hôtel de Ville L. Pradel (Lines A and C)

14. Relax in Parc de la Tête d’Or

This is a photo of roses from the International Rose Garden in Parc de la Tete d'Or.
Parc de la Tete d’Or

After a full day of exploring, there’s no better place to take a break than Parc de la Tête d’Or. This is the largest urban park in France and it’s full of beautiful gardens and green spaces.

Take a stroll around the lake or have a picnic under the trees – it’s the perfect place to unwind.

Of the things to see here, the International Rose Garden was my favorite. I love photographing flowers, so, for me, this was heaven on earth.

Nearest Metro Station: Masséna (Line A)

15. Shop at Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse

This a selection of French Cheese you can find at Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse. There are several rows of cheese and there are little pins that show the price per kilogram and the type of cheese.
Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse

Of course, no trip to Lyon is complete without stopping by Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse.

This lively indoor market is known for its high-quality food and local specialties. You’ll find everything from fresh produce, cheese, meats, and even ready-to-eat meals.

Plus, it’s not far from the Part-Dieu train station, so you can grab a snack for the trip back to Paris. At least, that’s what I did!

Address: 102 Cr Lafayette F

Nearest Metro Station: Gare Part-Dieu V. Merle (Line B)

Conclusion: Day Trip from Paris to Lyon

Lyon is a beautiful city full of history, art, and delicious food. It’s also the perfect destination for a day trip from Paris.

From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in local cuisine, there’s something for everyone in this itinerary.

Now that you have your day planned, it’s time to book your trip. Why not start by reserving your train tickets with the companies I use?

Read More Articles About France

I hope you enjoyed my post and found it helpful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.

Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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