Lyon culture can be well understood by taking an insight into the dance, music, theatre and various cultural events of the place.
* Since the Middle Ages, the residents of the region, speak several dialects of Arpitan language. The Lyonnais dialect was partly replaced by the French language as the importance of the city grew. However, it is still alive and, in addition, some "frenchified" Franco-Provençal words can also be heard in the French of the Lyonnais, who call their little boys and girls "gones" and "fenottes" for example.
* Lyon was an early centre for printing books, and nurtured a circle of 16th century poets.
* The Lumière brothers pioneered cinema in the town in 1895. The Musée Lumière, built as Auguste Lumiere's house, and a fascinating piece of architecture in its own right, holds many of their first inventions and other early cinematic and photographic artefacts.
* 8 December each year is marked by the Festival of Lights (la Fête des lumières), a celebration of thanks to the Virgin Mary, who purportedly saved the city from a deadly plague in the Middle Ages. During the event, the local population places candles (lumignons) at their windows and the city of Lyon organizes impressive large-scale light shows onto the sides of important Lyonnais monuments, such as the medieval Cathédrale St-Jean.
* The church of Saint Francis of Sales is famous for its large and unaltered Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ, attracting audiences from around the world.
* The Opéra Nouvel (Nouvel Opera House) is the home of the Opéra National de Lyon. The original opera house was re-designed by the distinguished French architect, Jean Nouvel between 1985 and 1993 and is named after him.
* Lyon is also the French capital of "trompe l'œil"-walls, a very ancient tradition. Many are to be seen everywhere around the city. This old tradition is now expending in a contemporary expression. See for example Guillaume Bottazzi art work.
* The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic congregation that operates schools in Europe and North America, was founded in Lyon in 1821.
* The African Museum of Lyon is one of the oldest museums situated in Lyon.
* The Museum of Resistance and Deportation looks at the various persons prominent in the Resistance movement in World War II. The building is strongly linked to Klaus Barbie. Lyon sees itself as the centre of the French resistance and many members were shot in Place Bellecour in the town centre. The exhibition is largely a series of mini-biographies of those involved.
* The unusual project Lyon Dubai City, a reproduction of some districts of Lyon in Dubai, is a major point for the tourism in Lyon.
* Lyon is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commission Intercultural cities programme.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Historic Site of Lyon was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In their designation, UNESCO cited the "exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance." The specific regions composing the Historic Site include the Roman district and Fourvière, the Renaissance district (Vieux Lyon), the silk district (slopes of Croix-Rousse), and the Presqu'île, which features architecture from the 12th century to modern times. Both Vieux Lyon and the slopes of Croix-Rousse are known for their narrow passageways (named traboules) that pass through buildings and link streets on either side. The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century. The traboules allowed the inhabitants to get from their homes to the Saône river quickly and allowed the canuts on the Croix-Rousse hill to get quickly from their workshops to the textile merchants at the foot of the hill.
For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due, in part, to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings (e.g. Paul Bocuse). This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.
Lyon is the home of very typical and traditional restaurants serving local dishes, and local wines: the bouchons.
The city is famous for its morning snacks formerly had by its silk workers, the mâchons, made up of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Traditional local dishes include Rosette lyonnaise and saucisson de Lyon (sausage), andouillette (a sausage of coarsely cut tripe), pistachio sausage, coq au vin, esox (pike) quenelle, gras double (tripe cooked with onions), salade lyonnaise (lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg), marrons glacés, coussin de Lyon and cardoon au gratin.
Cervelle de canut (lit. silk worker's brains) is a cheese spread/dip, a Lyonnais speciality. The dish is a base of fromage blanc, seasoned with chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.