Lyon will forever compete with Marseille for the title of France’s 2nd city, but its reputation as the country’s gastronomical capital remains undisputed.

Welcome to the City of Light. Lyon’s luminous nickname stems from an ancient tradition of offering candles as a tribute to the Virgin Mary. This custom has evolved into the spectacular Fête des Lumières – an annual light festival that takes place on the 8th of December for 3 days. During this weekend, you will see the city’s population almost triple in size, as awe-stricken spectators flock from all corners of Europe to attend.

Lyon is ‘bright’ in many other ways – vibrant nightlife, unrivalled culture and picturesque parks all combine to make this city shine. If you are feeling drawn to Lyon’s light, read on to discover Spotahome’s best places to live in Lyon…

Fête des Lumières 2014 – Rétrospective (Ville de Lyon YouTube page)

Lyon’s most lively areas…

Lyon has plenty to offer, but what this city certainly excels in is its lively atmosphere. If you are looking to party or thrive in an upbeat neighbourhood, there is a place for you.


One word to describe this area: Elegant

Arrondissements 1, 2 and 4.

Sandwiched between the Rhône and Saône rivers, the Presqu’île, or almost island is the heart of all the action. Consider this area if you like diverse nightlife, high-end shopping and fancy restaurants. If you are fond of food, hang around Rue Mercière – here you will stumble upon food sourced from all corners of the globe. We particularly recommend l’Epicérie – a quintessentially French eatery that serves especially tasty treats.

Cultural Hotspots…

Nouvel Opera House
Renovated between 1985 and 1993, this state-of-the-art, dome-shaped structure stands out amongst its historic surroundings. You don’t even need to pay to see a spectacle at this theatre – hoards of break dancers line the forum on a daily basis.

Musée des Beaux Arts – This extensive art gallery can be found in the picturesque Place des Terraux. Visit this museum if you would like to see a hoard of ancient Egyptian and Greek artefacts.

Some of Spotahome’s properties in this area:

Medium Range: Charming 2 Bedroom Flat for Workers in Perrache, Lyon

High range: Luxurious and Spacious Studio Apartment for Rent in Central Lyon

Vieux Lyon

One word to describe this area: Historical

5th Arrondissement

Vieux Lyon, a Unesco World Heritage Site is otherwise known as one of the world’s most extensive renaissance neighbourhoods. Despite being lined with quaint, historic buildings, this area is far from sleepy. Walk around Vieux Lyon and you will discover the city’s highest concentration of Irish Pubs, some of which stay open until the early hours of the morning. This neighbourhood is also home to the famous Bouchons Lyonnais– visit one of these restaurants and find out just why Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France.

Cultural Hotspots…


These narrow passages can be found throughout Vieux Lyon and Croix Rousse. Formerly used by residents to collect water from the river, they were then used by the canuts – silk weavers of the 18th century who needed to transport goods through Lyon. During the Second World War, these passages were used by residents for hiding from the clueless Gestapo.

Some of Spotahome’s properties in this area:

Budget: Couple-Friendly Room for Rent in Historical Building in Heart of Vieux Lyon

Medium Range: Charming Studio Apartment Situated in Historic Vieux Lyon Area

Croix Rousse

One word to describe this area: Unique

1st and 4th Arrondissements

Croix Rousse is otherwise known as the hill that works, as this vibrant neighbourhood was once home to the thriving silk trade. Positioned on a hill, this unique area is often considered a village in itself, and can be compared to a smaller Montmartre. Having undergone a process of gentrification, the Croix Rousse is an increasingly artistic, trendy area which is home to parks, markets, winding streets, good schools, quirky bars and restaurants. The Croix Rousse is also home to a network of traboules similar to those that can be found in Vieux Lyon.

Best places to live in Lyon for families…

Lyon is a city that accommodates everyone, therefore you can find plenty of neighbourhoods to welcome your family…

Fourvière Hill

One word to describe this area: Peaceful

5th Arrondissement

Placed above Vieux Lyon, Fourvière Hill is known amongst residents as the hill that prays. This neighbourhood is tranquil and picturesque – one of the best places to live with a family. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière can be found here. This monumental building can be seen towering over the city from most places in Lyon. On a clear day, Mont Blanc can be seen from this Basilica. Fourvière Hill is also home to several parks – go to Parc des Hauteurs and Parc de la Visitation to enjoy spectacular views of Lyon’s skyline.

Cultural Hotspots…

The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière:

Built in 15 BC, this Roman amphitheatre is supposedly the oldest of its kind in France. Each summer, the Nuits de Fourvière festival takes place here. Previous musicians have included Elton John, the Queens of the Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, they sell out quickly!


One word to describe this area: Luxurious

6th Arrondissement

Brotteaux, the 6th arrondissement is arguably Lyon’s most expensive, yet most family friendly district. This area is one of the best places for those who seek a safe environment to raise their children. The 6th arrondissement is home to the famous Parc de la Tête d’Or – why not visit the free zoo or hire a paddle boat on the large lake in summer? **Brotteaux **is a tranquil, prestigious neighbourhood where it is easy to find shops, bars, cafés and restaurants to suit all tastes.

Best Places to Live in Lyon for Students…

Whether you’re an Erasmus student, undertaking an internship or just seeking an area with less expensive rent, this neighbourhood is ideal for you…

Guillotière and Surrounding Area

One word to describe this area: Diverse

3rd and 7th arrondissements

This underrated neighbourhood is one of the best places to live in Lyon for students, those who are bound to a budget and those who would like to live near the city centre. Guillotière is home to at least 3 universities: Université Lyon 2, Université Lyon 3 and the Sciences Po campus are all here. This neighbourhood is also culturally diverse, featuring many alternative bars and restaurants that cater to vegetarians and those with specialised diets. Although accommodation prices are on the rise, it is still possible to find affordable housing and several flat shares in this area.

Cultural Hotspots…

Lyon’s celebrated Museum of Resistance and Deportation is situated in Lyon’s 7th arrondissement. This museum is on the site of the Sciences Po university campus, and is based in the former headquarters of the Gestapo who tried to seize the city during the Occupation.

Some of Spotahome’s properties in this area:

Budget: Furnished Studio with Views, Close to Jean Moulin University Lyon 3, ISCOM and IAE

2 Rooms in Elegant Flat Near Université Lyon 2 in Lyon 7th Arrondissement

Medium Range: Luminous Studio in Guillotiere, close to Université Lumière Lyon 2**

Essential sites for life in Lyon:

Le Petit Paumé – an extensive guide to the best places to drink, eat and party in town…

Ville de Lyon – useful information about everything related to Lyon…

My French Lifeguard – Help with settling into your new environment…

Where do you think is the best place to live in Lyon?

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