Lyon had a population of 506,615 in 2014. It is the capital of the Metropolis of Lyon and the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The metropolitan area of Lyon had a population of 2,265,375 in 2014, the second-largest in France after Paris'. The city is known for its cuisine and gastronomy, and historical and architectural landmarks; part of it is a registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically an important area for the production and weaving of silk. Lyon played a significant role in the history of cinema: it is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematographe. It is also known for its light festival, the Fête des Lumières, which begins every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of Capital of Lights.
Economically, Lyon is a major centre for banking, as well as for the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. The city contains a significant software industry with a particular focus on video games, and in recent years has fostered a growing local start-up sector. Lyon hosts the international headquarters of Interpol, Euronews, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon was ranked 19th globally and second in France for innovation in 2014. It ranked second in France and 39th globally in Mercer's 2015 liveability rankings.
According to the historian Dio Cassius, in 43 BC, the Roman Senate ordered Munatius Plancus and Lepidus, lieutenants of the assassinated Julius Caesar and governors of central and Transalpine Gaul, respectively, to found a settlement for a group of Roman refugees. These refugees had been expelled from Vienne (a town about 30 km [19 mi] to the south) by the Allobroges and were now encamped at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers. Dio Cassius says this task was to keep the two men from joining Mark Antony and bringing their armies into the developing conflict. The Roman foundation was at Fourvière hill and was officially called Colonia Copia Felix Munatia, a name invoking prosperity and the blessing of the gods. The city became increasingly referred to as Lugdunum (and occasionally Lugudunum). The earliest translation of this Gaulish place-name as "Desired Mountain" is offered by the 9th-century Endlicher Glossary. In contrast, some modern scholars have proposed a Gaulish hill-fort named Lug[o]dunon, after the Celtic god Lugus ('Light', cognate with Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish Lú), and dúnon (hill-fort).
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa recognised that Lugdunum's position on the natural highway from northern to south-eastern France made it a natural communications hub, and he made Lyon the starting point of the principal Roman roads throughout Gaul. It then became the capital of Gaul, partly due to its convenient location at the convergence of two navigable rivers, and quickly became the main city of Gaul. Two emperors were born in this city: Claudius, whose speech is preserved in the Lyon Tablet in which he justifies the nomination of Gallic senators, and Caracalla. Today, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "Primat des Gaules" and the city often referred to as the "capitale des Gaules".
The Christians in Lyon were martyred for their beliefs under the reigns of various Roman emperors, most notably Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus. Local saints from this period include Blandina (Blandine), Pothinus (Pothin), and Epipodius (Épipode), among others. In the second century ADIrenaeus.
Burgundian refugees fleeing the destruction of Worms by the Huns in 437 were re-settled by the military commander of the west, Aëtius, at Lugdunum. This became the capital of the new Burgundian kingdom in 461.
In 843, by the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon, with the country beyond the Saône, went to Lothair I. It later was made part of the Kingdom of Arles. Lyon did not come under French control until the 14th century.
Fernand Braudel remarked, "Historians of Lyon are not sufficiently aware of the bi-polarity between Paris and Lyon, which is a constant structure in French development...from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution". In the late 15th century, the fairs introduced by Italian merchants made Lyon the economic countinghouse of France. (Even the Bourse (treasury), built in 1749, resembled a public bazaar where accounts were settled in the open air.) When international banking moved to Genoa, then Amsterdam, Lyon remained the banking centre of France. In the later 1400s and 1500s Lyon was an key centre of literary activity, both of French writers (Maurice Scève, Antoine Heroet, Louise Labé) and of Italians in exile (Luigi Alamanni, Giorgio Trissinio), for book publishing and of protestant activity.
In 1572, Lyon was a scene of mass violence by Catholics against Protestant Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres.
During the French Revolution, Lyon rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins. In 1793 the city was assaulted by the Revolutionary armies and under siege for over two months before eventually surrendering. Several buildings were destroyed, especially around the Place Bellecour. Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois and Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people. After Lyons was defeated in October of 1793, the Convention ordered that its name be changed to "Liberated City." A plaque was also erected which proclaimed" "Lyons made war on Liberty; Lyons no longer exists." A decade later, Napoleon ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during this period.
During the Renaissance, the city's development was driven by the silk trade, which strengthened its ties to Italy. (Italian influence on Lyon's architecture is still visible among historic buildings.) Thanks to the silk trade, the city became an important industrial town during the 19th century. In 1831 and 1834, the canuts (silk workers) of Lyon staged two major uprisings for better working conditions and pay. The 1831 uprising had one of the first recorded uses of the black flag as an emblem of protest.
In 1862, the world's first urban funicular railway was built between Lyon and La Croix-Rousse.
During World War II, Lyon was a centre for the occupying German forces, as well as a stronghold of resistance. The traboules (secret passages) through houses enabled the local people to escape Gestapo raids. On 3 September 1944, the city was liberated by the 1st Free French Division and the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur. The city is now home to a resistance museum. (See also Klaus Barbie.)
The Rhône and Saône Rivers converge to the south of the historic city centre forming a peninsula or "Presqu'île". There are two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the city centre, as well as a large plain which sprawls eastward. West of the Presqu'île, the original mediaeval city (Vieux Lyon) was built on the west bank of the Saône river at the foot of the Fourvière hill. This area, along with portions of the Presqu'île and much of the Croix-Rousse is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To the west is Fourvière, known as "the hill that prays". This is the location for the highly decorated basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, 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 (a railway on a steep hill).
To the north is the Croix-Rousse, known as "the hill that works". This area is traditionally home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was once renowned.
Place Bellecour is located on the Presqu'île between the two rivers and is the third-largest public square in France. The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour. The second arrondissement has many of the finest old residential buildings in Lyon and the area is known for its concentration of old Lyonnaise Catholic families, particularly in the Ainay part of the arrondissement.
East of the Rhône from the Presqu'île is a large area of flat ground upon which sits much of modern Lyon and contains most of the city's population. Situated in this area is the urban centre of Part-Dieu which clusters the Tour Part-Dieu (affectionately nicknamed "The Pencil"), the Tour Oxygène, the Tour Swiss Life, La Part-Dieu (a shopping centre), and Lyon Part-Dieu (one of Lyon's two major rail terminals).
North of this district is the relatively wealthy sixth 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 world headquarters on the park's western edge. The park contains a free zoo that has recently been upgraded.. The zoo hosts animals from around the world. It covers more than 6 hectares.
Lyon has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), albeit having some characteristics of the oceanic climate (Cfb). The mean temperature in Lyon in the coldest month is 3.2 °C (37.8 °F) in January and in the warmest month in July is 22 °C (71.6 °F), hence maintaining its subtropical classification. Precipitation is adequate year-round, at an average of 830 mm (32.7 in), but the winter months are the driest. The highest recorded temperature is 40.5 °C (104.9 °F) on 13 August 2003 while the lowest recorded temperature is −24.6 °C (−12.3 °F) on 22 December 1938.
Like Paris and Marseille, the city of Lyon is divided into a number of municipal arrondissements, each of which is identified by a number and has its own council and town hall. Five arrondissements were originally created in 1852, when three neighbouring communes (La Croix-Rousse, La Guillotière, and Vaise) were annexed by Lyon. Between 1867 and 1959, the third arrondissement (which originally covered the whole of the Left Bank of the Rhône) was split three times, creating a new arrondissement in each case. Then, in 1963, the commune of Saint-Rambert-l'Île-Barbe was annexed to Lyon's fifth arrondissement. A year later, in 1964, the fifth was split to create Lyon's 9th – and, to date, final – arrondissement. Within each arrondissement, the recognisable quartiers or neighbourhoods are:
Geographically, Lyon's two main rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, divide the arrondissements into three groups:
Since the Middle Ages, the residents of the region have spoken several dialects of Franco-Provençal. The Lyonnais dialect was replaced by the French language as the importance of the city grew. However 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.
The Historic Site of Lyons was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In its 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 comprising 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 from their workshops to the textile merchants at the foot of the hill.
Lyon has a long and chronicled culinary arts tradition. The noted food critic Curnonsky referred to the city as "the gastronomic capital of the world", a claim repeated by later writers such as Bill Buford. Renowned 3-star Michelin chefs such as Marie Bourgeois and Eugénie Brazier developed Lyonnaise cuisine into a national phenomenon favoured by the French elite; a tradition which Paul Bocuse later turned into a worldwide success.
The "bouchon" is a traditional Lyonnais restaurant that serves local dishes such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork; along with local wines. Two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near the city: the Beaujolais region to the north and the Côtes du Rhône region to the south. Another Lyon tradition is a type of brunch food called "mâchons", made of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Mâchons were the customary meal of the canuts, the city's silk workers, who ate a late-morning meal after they finished their shifts in the factories. Other 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, croûtons and a poached egg); marrons glacés; coussin de Lyon, sabodet and cardoon au gratin. Cervelle de canut (lit. silk worker's brains) is a cheese spread/dip, another Lyonnais speciality. The dish has a base of fromage blanc, seasoned with chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
Lyon is home to the football club Olympique Lyonnais (OL), whose men's team currently plays in Ligue 1 and has won the championship of that competition seven times (all consecutively from 2002–2008). OL played until December 2015 at the 43,000-seat Stade de Gerland, which also hosted matches of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Since 2016, the team has played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, a 59,000-seat stadium located in the eastern suburb of Décines-Charpieu. OL operates a women's team, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, which competes in and currently dominates Division 1 Féminine. They are on a current streak of 11 top-flight championships (2007–present), and additionally claim the four titles won by the original incarnation of FC Lyon, a women's football club that merged into OL in 2004 (the current FC Lyon was founded in 2009). In addition, the OL women have won the UEFA Women's Champions League four times, including the two most recent editions in 2016 and 2017.
Lyon has a rugby union team, Lyon OU, currently in the Top 14, which moved into Stade de Gerland full-time in 2017–18. In addition, Lyon has a rugby league side called Lyon Villeurbanne that plays in the French rugby league championship. The club's current home is the Stade Georges Lyvet in Villeurbanne.
Lyon is also home to the Lyon Hockey Club, an ice hockey team that competes in France's national ice hockey league. The Patinoire Charlemagne is the seat of Club des Sports de Glace de Lyon, the club of Olympic champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat; and world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Shoenfelder (both pairs competed in ice dancing). Villeurbanne also has a basketball team, ASVEL, that plays at the Astroballe arena.
Since 2000, Birdy Kids, a group of graffiti artists from the city, has decorated several random buildings and walls along the Lyon ring road. In 2012, the artist collective has been chosen to represent the city as its cultural ambassadors.
The GDP of Lyon was 74 billion euro in 2012, and it's the second richest city in France after Paris. Lyon and its region Rhône-Alpes represent one of the most important economies in Europe and, according to Loughborough University, can be compared to Philadelphia, Mumbai or Athens with regard to its international position. The city of Lyon is working in partnership to more easily enable the establishment of new headquarters in the territory (ADERLY, Chambre du commerce et d'industrie, Grand Lyon...). According to the ECER-Banque Populaire, Lyon is the 14th favourite city in the European Union for the creation of companies and investments. High-tech industries such as biotechnology, software development, video game (Arkane Studios; Ivory Tower; Eden Games; EA France; Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe), and internet services are also growing. Other important sectors include medical research and technology, non-profit institutions, and universities. Lyon is home to some of the most dangerous viruses in the world (class 4) in the Jean Merieux laboratory of research, like Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, Hendra, and Lassa.
The city is home to the headquarters of many large companies such as Groupe SEB, Sanofi Pasteur, Renault Trucks, Norbert Dentressangle, LCL S.A., Descours & Cabaud, Merial, Point S, BioMérieux, Iveco Bus, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, GL Events, April Group, Boiron, Feu Vert, Panzani, Babolat, Euronews, Lyon Airports, LVL Medical, and inter-governmental agencies IARC, Interpol. The specialisation of some sectors of activities has led to the creation of many main business centres: La Part-Dieu, located in the 3rd arrondissement is the second biggest business quarter after La Défense in Paris with over 1,600,000 m2 (17,222,256.67 sq ft) of office space and services and more than 55,000 jobs. Cité Internationale, created by the architect Renzo Piano is located in the border of the Parc de la Tête d'Or in the 6th arrondissement. The worldwide headquarters of Interpol is located there. The district of Confluence, in the south of the historic centre, is a new pole of economical and cultural development.
Tourism is an important part of the Lyon economy, with one billion euros in 2007 and 3.5 million hotel-nights in 2006 provided by non-residents. Approximately 60% of tourists visit for business, with the rest for leisure. In January 2009, Lyon ranked first in France for hostels business. The festivals most important for attracting tourists are the Fête des lumières, the Nuits de Fourvière every summer, the Biennale d'art contemporain and the Nuits Sonores.
The population of the city of Lyon proper was 491,268 at the January 2011 census, 14% of whom were born outside Metropolitan France.
There are some international private schools in the Lyon area, including:
Other Japanese supplementary schools:
Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport, located east of Lyon, serves as a base for domestic and international flights. It is an important transport facility for the entire Rhône-Alpes region. Coach links connect the airport with other towns in the area including Chambéry and Grenoble. With its in-house train station (Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry), the airport is also connected to the TGV network. Since August 2010, the new Rhônexpress tram links the international airport with the business quarter of La Part Dieu in less than 30 minutes and can reach up to 100 km/h (62 mph); it offers connections with Underground A&B, Tramway T1, T2 & T3, and many bus lines. The Lyon-Bron Airport is a smaller airport dedicated to General Aviation (both private and commercial). Having helipads, the facility hosts a Gendarmerie and a Sécurité Civile (civilian defence) Base.
Lyon has two major railway stations: Lyon Part-Dieu, which was built to accommodate the TGV and has become the principal railway station for extra-regional trains; and Lyon Perrache, an older station that now serves primarily regional rail services. In practice, many trains, including TGVs, serve both stations. Smaller railway stations include Gorge-de-Loup, Vaise, Vénissieux, Saint-Paul and Jean Macé. Lyon is connected to the north (Lille, Paris, Brussels, Rennes, and in the future Amsterdam) and the south (Marseille, Montpellier, and in the future Barcelona, Turin) by the TGV. Since 23 March 2012 there has been a direct TGV connection from Frankfurt via Strasbourg and Lyon to Marseille. It was the first city to be connected to Paris by the TGV in 1981.
The city is at the heart of a dense road network and is located at the meeting point of several highways: A6 (to Paris); A7 (to Marseille); A42 (to Geneve); and A43 (to Grenoble). The city is now bypassed by the A46. A double motorway tunnel passes under Fourvière, connecting the A6 and the A7 autoroutes, both forming the "Autoroute du Soleil". Prior to the construction of the bypass by the east, the tunnel was famous for its traffic jams, since traffic between northern and southern France, as well as from neighbouring countries and local traffic, converged at this point, Lyon being virtually the only low passage between the Alps and the Massif Central (extinct) volcano range. Lyon is served by the Eurolines intercity coach organisation. Its Lyon terminal is located at the city's Perrache railway station, which serves as an intermodal transportation hub that also includes tramways, local and regional trains and buses, the terminus of Metro line A, of the Tramway T2, the bicycle service Vélo'v, and taxis.
The TCL (for Transports en Commun Lyonnais), Lyon's all-four public transit system, consisting of metro, tramways and buses, serves 62 communes of the Lyon agglomeration. The metro network has four lines ( A B C D ), 42 stations and runs with a frequency of up to a train every 2 minutes. There are five Lyon tram lines (T1 T2 T3 T4 T5) since April 2009: T1 from Debourg in the south to IUT-Feyssine in the north, Tram T2 from Perrache railway station in the south-west to Saint-Priest in the south-east, Tram T3 from Part-Dieu to Meyzieu, Tram T4 from 'Hôptial Feyzin Venissieux' to Gaston Berger. Tram T5 from Grange Blanche, in the south-east to Eurexpo in the south-wast. The Lyon bus network consists of the Lyon trolleybus system, motorbuses, and coaches for areas outside the centre. There are also two funicular lines from Vieux Lyon to Saint-Just and Fourvière.
The current ticketing system is relatively simple as the city has only one public transport operator; the SYTRAL (TCL is the brand name used for the transport, it stands for Transport en Commun Lyonnais (Lyon Common Transport)).
In 2008, an 'RER' (commuter rail) project was started, with the objective of linking Lyon with the surrounding cities which are growing fast. It should have a total of eight lines and will replace the actual TER lines operated by the SNCF (National French Railway Network). It was planned to be fully finished by 2010.
The public transit system has been complemented since 2005 by Vélo'v, a bicycle network providing a low-cost and convenient bicycle-hire service where bicycles can be hired and dropped off at any of 340 stations throughout the city of Lyon and Villeurbane, Lyon was the first city in France to introduce this bicycle renting system. Borrowing a bicycle for less than 30 minutes is free. Free rental time can be extended for another 30 minutes at any station. In 2011 the Auto'lib car rental service was introduced; it works in the same way as the Velo'v but for cars.
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Lyon, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 45 min. 11% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 11 min, while 17% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 4.7 km, while 4% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.