France’s third city after Paris and Marseille, Lyon is located in the Rhône Valley in southeast France. The city has about 500,000 inhabitants, while the wider urban area has a population of 2.5 million. Once a centre for the textile industry, Lyon’s economy is now led by the healthcare, pharmaceutical and chemical sectors—with the latter two being the subjects of major industrial clusters.
However, the Rhône-Alpes is also a major agricultural area, producing a variety of foods and the celebrated Beaujolais and Côtes-du-Rhône wines. It is considered by many to be the country’s gastronomic capital.
The pleasant environment of the city itself features a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, notably the medieval area of Vieux Lyon. The city’s museums range from Gallo-Roman civilisation and the history of silk and textiles to the famous Guignol puppets and the Lumière cinema museum. The city is home to France’s oldest theatre, built by Augustus in 15 BC, and the city’s leading Roman site. The recent redevelopment of many green spaces on the banks of the River Rhône has markedly improved the local environment. The city has three main areas: the medieval quarter; buildings from 18th and 19th centuries; and 20th century developments in the Part-Dieu district.
Three public universities provide a vibrant student community, while a major transport network includes railway, metro, high-speed rail links and an international airport. The city is also home to a series of festivals throughout the year, from art, culture and music to film.