Situated at the crossroads of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, Lyon lies only two hours from the alpine ski resorts and three hours from the sea. Lyon is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region and the second largest contributor to the French economy after Paris, and there is a fantastic selection of conference venues in Lyon.
In December 1998, Lyon became one of only a few urban centres on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city’s major asset resides in the way that it has developed, enabling each of its districts to conserve their own distinctive architectural hallmarks. As a city, Lyon is characterized by contrasts in its setting, between its two hills – the Fourvière and Croix-Rousse – and between its two rivers – the Rhone and the Seine. Lyon also demonstrates its mixed heritage, by displaying traits of a typical northern French town in some areas, while other features bear witness to its Latin heritage.
The city’s history begins on Fourvière Hill, where vestiges of the original Roman city are still evident. The Romans named Lyon Lugdunum, meaning the ‘city of light’. This tradition continues to the present day – every evening throughout the year, over a hundred sites throughout the city are lit up to show the splendour of Lyon’s architecture. Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) contains the largest display of Renaissance architecture in France, which dates back to the end of the 15th century, when it became an important and wealthy trade centre, famous for its fairs and its silk industry.
Lyon is a gourmet’s paradise. With the exception of Paris, the city boasts the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants and famous chefs in the whole of France. This intermingling of the history and architecture of the past with the cultural and gastronomic delights of the present combine to make Lyon far more than just another milestone on the way to the Mediterranean but a city worth a visit in its own right.
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