Lyon is best known for its dining prowess, although its nightlife and entertainment value is also not to be sniffed at. France’s third city boasts a huge range of pubs and clubs as well as opera, jazz concerts and many cinemas, and there is a wonderful atmosphere in Vieux Lyon (Old Town) and the newer parts of the city, over the Soane. Le Progrèscope is a fortnightly brochure distributed by the tourist office with entertainment listings, while Lyon Poche, available from newsagents, is published weekly.
There are several quality areas in Lyon to enjoy the nightlife in both the old and new parts of the city. Place des Terreaux and Croix Rousse have some fantastic nightspots between them, while rue Mercière, rue de la Monnaie and the streets of the Old Town are fine for wandering around at night and are loaded with affable bars – the southern part of Vieux Lyon (place Bertras) is particularly popular. Establishments to look out for in Lyon are the Grand Café des Négociants; Bus Café; KGB; and the many riverboats-come-nightclubs along the Rhône.
2. Theatre and music
The opera is fairly big in Lyon and there are a number of renowned theatres here with some outstanding productions. The Théâtre National Populaire, on Place Lazare-Goujon, is perhaps the city’s number one theatre, while the gilded Théâtre des Célestins, on Place des Célestins, has less obscure offerings.
The opera house on Place de la Comédie is reputed to be one of the finest in the country and cheap tickets can usually be had just before performances begin. However, Lyon is not all about the performing arts; there are many live music venues both in the old and new parts of the city, where rock, jazz and dance clubs also feature.
Festivals and events are a very popular pastime in Lyon and take place almost every day in the summer months. Music festivals are the main celebration throughout the year, with many musical extravaganzas being held here.
* Foire de Lyon, also known as the ‘Carnival of Nations’, this 10-day event covers the city’s culture through crafts, food and many fun activities and exhibitions (March).
* Lyon Summer Festival runs from mid-June to early August and is set in the Roman amphitheatre, providing the perfect setting for thousands of spectators to enjoy big name artists including the likes of Phil Collins and David Bowie (June to August).
* Festival de Musique du Vieux Lyon consists of a variety of musical styles and sounds from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It is a near month-long celebration, held at the end of the year (December).
* Fête des Lumières is the annual festival of lights in Lyon, featuring a slew of street performances held in honour of the Virgin Mary (December).