Category Archives: French Travel

Lyon

Lyon

Why visit Lyon?

Lyon is a city in east central France. It is the third largest French city, the first being Paris and the second Marseille. It is a major centre of business, situated between Paris and Marseille, and has a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy and a significant role in the history of cinema. It is also the religious capital of France for the Roman Catholic Church.

Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Lyon forms the second largest metropolitan area in France after Paris, with 1,783,400 inhabitants at the 2007 estimate, and approximately the 20th to 25th largest metropolitan area of Western Europe. Its urban area (Région Urbaine de Lyon), represents half of the Rhône-Alpes région population with 2,9 million inhabitants. Lyon is also a major industrial center specialized in chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries.

Lyon Map

Lyon is the préfecture (capital) of the Rhône département, and also the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lyon is known to be the silk capital of the world and is a centre for fashion. It is also the international headquarters of Interpol and EuroNews.

Lyon’s geography is dominated by the Rhône and Saône rivers which converge to the south of the historic city center forming a sort of peninsula or “presqu’île”; two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the historic city center; and a large plain which sprawls eastward from the historic city center.

To the west is Fourvière, known as “the hill that prays”, the location for the highly decorated Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, several convents, the palace of the Archbishop, the Tour métallique (a highly visible TV tower, replicating the last stage of the Eiffel Tower) and a funicular.

Cathédrale-St.-Jean Lyon

To the north is the Croix-Rousse, “the hill that works”, traditionally home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was renowned.

The original medieval city (Vieux Lyon) was built on the west bank of the Saône river at the foot of the Fourvière hill, west of the presqu’île. (This area, along with portions of the presqu’ile and much of the Croix-Rousse are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the peninsula (presqu’île) between the rivers Rhône and Saône is located the third largest public square in France, and one of the largest in Europe, the Place Bellecour. Specifically, it is the largest clear square (i.e., without any patches of greenery, trees or any other kind of obstacles) in Europe. The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour.

East of the Rhône from the presqu’île is a large area of flat ground upon which sits much of modern Lyon and most of the city’s population. Situated in this area is the urban centre of Part-Dieu which clusters the former Crédit Lyonnais Tower (central France’s only skyscraper), the Part-Dieu shopping centre, and Lyon’s main rail terminal, Lyon Part-Dieu.

Lyon

North of this district is the relatively wealthy 6th arrondissement, which is home to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, one of Europe’s largest urban parks, the prestigious Lycée du Parc to the south of the park, and Interpol’s headquarters on the park’s western edge.

French Travel Tips

French Travel Tips

Before we get into the great places to visit in France and its rich history, I Henry Badabing would like to provide you with a few French Travel Tips.

Arrival

Depending on your nationality, the duration and the reason for your stay in France, it may be necessary for you to obtain a visa before leaving. In this case, you should apply to the French consulate in your country. For citizens of European Union countries, a current valid identity card is sufficient. However, if you are a citizen of another country, a passport is obligatory, with a visa for certain countries. To check if this concerns you, please go to: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/venir/visas/index.html

No vaccinations are required for entering France. There are two international airports in Paris: Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Transfers to Paris can be made by shuttle bus, taxi or, if arriving in Orly, metro.

Climate

France is influenced by a temperate climate. Continental France is divided into four climatic zones: Oceanic and humid climate with often cool summers to the west of a line from Bayonne to Lille; Semi-continental climate with harsh winters and hot summers in Alsace, Lorraine, along the Rhone corridor and in the mountainous regions (Alps, Pyrenees and Massif Central); Intermediate climate with cold winters and hot summers in the north, and in the Paris and central regions; Mediterranean climate with mild winters and very hot summers in the south of France.

Currency

The Euro is now the official currency of 12 EU member states (including France). Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Automatic cash machines can be found in most commercial centers. Currency exchange can be carried out at all banks and Post Offices. ‘Bureaux de change’ (moneychangers) can also be found in large department stores, railway stations, airports and near tourist sites.

French Travel Tips, although the exchange rate is fixed, commission rates are not. These must be clearly displayed. Major credit cards are accepted in numerous shops, hotels and restaurants. Shopkeepers often state a minimum amount required to be spent in order to process a credit card payment.

Time

UTC / GMT (+1)

In France daylight savings time starts on the last Sunday in March at 2 o’clock in the morning. At this time, one hour is added to the current time. DST (daylight savings time) ends on the last Sunday in October at 3 o’clock in the morning. At this time, one hour is taken away from the current time.

Business Hours

Banking hours in Paris are usually from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday through Friday. Throughout the rest of France, banks are usually open from 10 am to 1 pm, and 3 pm to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Banks often close early the day before a public holiday.

Non-food shops are open from 9 or 9:30 am to 6 or 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and some large stores in big cities stay open until 11 pm one or two evenings a week. Small shops, especially in rural towns, may close for lunch and on Monday. Many food shops open as early as 7 am as well as opening on Sunday mornings. Some restaurants have fixed serving hours for specific meals. The average workweek is 39 hours.

Communication

France ranks fifth in the world in telecommunications. Many French homes have a ‘minitel’-a computer linked to a telephone providing a wide variety of services, including ticket reservations and home shopping. The mail service is efficient. Visitors will not encounter any difficulty with public telecommunication services.

All of France receives the public television channels France 2, France 3, Channel 5/Art, and two privately-held stations, TF1 and M6. Additional broadcasts by cable or satellite and premium services such as Canal Plus are also available.

Electricity

220V, 50Hz Bring suitable transformers and / or wall plug adapters for your appliances.

Language

The official national language of France is French. Most people working in the tourism industry and in related fields speak English. Many French nationals have a good notion of another European language (German, Italian or Spanish). Regional languages and variations, including Alsatian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, and Occitan are present in the country.

Dress Code

French Travel Tips: Fashion knows no boundaries in France. Formal dress is ‘de rigueur’ in fine establishments. If you are unsure of requirements, it is advisable to telephone beforehand.

Transport

The network of roads and highways is very well developed in France: nearly one million kilometres, of which almost 8,000 kilometres are highways. If traveling in a rental car or travel-van, be aware there is usually a toll for thoroughfares.

Air France, the national airline company, links most of the large towns to Paris (in one hour on average), as well as serving connections between regional towns. Practical, fast and comfortable, the train is one of the best ways of getting about in France.

The rail system is very developed (especially from Paris) and connects every town by either TGV or TER (regional express trains). Ticket prices vary according to the level of comfort (there are 2 classes) and departure time (rush hour or not). There are many attractive price options reserved for foreign travellers (Europass, Eurodomino, Inter-Rail), which can be obtained from your country of origin before you leave.

Several cities in France have metro or tram systems and most offer comprehensive bus routes.These means of transport serve the town centers and inner suburbs. Fast and economical, they are the most practical worry-free way to discover a town.

In Paris, the metro is by far the quickest and most practical way of getting around. The service usually starts around 5:30 am and ends around 12:30 am. Numerous connections with the RER (Regional express network) and the SNCF railway stations allow easy travel to the suburbs. SNCF Line (Paris outskirts): a ticket purchased from the outskirts to a Paris railway station now also includes travel on the Paris metro and bus. The five lines (A, B, C, D and E) of the RER (Regional express network) cross Paris and the Ile-de-France during the same times as the metro.

Generally, buses operate from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm. At night the ‘Noctambus’ connects the centre of Paris to the suburbs. You can ask for a map of the network (metro, bus, RER) at metro or RER stations (issued free).

For tourists the Paris Visit Ticket is valid for either 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and allows unlimited travel in all zones of the whole network (metro, bus, RER) and on the Montmartre Funicular.

Almost 15,000 taxis operate in the town. You can take them from taxi stands (indicated by a square sign with Taxi in white on a blue background) or hail one in the street (on condition that it is available: the “Taxi” sign on the roof is then fully lit, and the small lights under the sign are switched off).

Paris has put a lot of emphasis on pedestrian streets and has laid out paths reserved for cyclists and roller-bladers. On Sundays, the roads by the side of the Seine are reserved for pedestrians, cyclists, roller-bladers.

French towns are actively promoting the use of bicycles. Already, Rennes, Strasbourg and Nantes have increased the number of cycle paths, created parking space for bicycles, provided cycle shelters next to bus stations, and promoted cycle rental outlets in car parks.

Health Facilities

In case of medical emergency dial 15 (SAMU)

SOS Medecins (Paris – emergency doctors): 01 47 07 77 77 or 0 820 332 424

SOS Dentistes (Paris – emergency dentists): 01 43 37 51 00

There is a variety of medical services available to you in France. Consultations and examinations by general practitioners, specialists, dentists etc, as well as emergency room facilities, will be provided at any hospital or health center. You can also make an appointment for surgery, or have a doctor visit you at your hotel.

Doctors are either registered with the Department of Health (their fees are fixed), or are in a private practice (their fees will be more expensive). There is always a doctor on call, but please be aware that home visits and consultations on Sundays and public holidays are always more expensive. To find out the addresses and telephone numbers of local doctors, ask at the police station or dial 15 (SAMU – medical emergencies).

There is a wide selection of pharmacies in most towns. Although their hours of business are usually the same for stores (9am to 7pm or 8pm), there is always a pharmacy open nights, Sundays and on public holidays.

Reimbursement of medical costs is dependant on your health insurance policy. Check with your plan to be certain you have sufficient coverage while travelling.