11+ Hidden Gems in Lyon off the Tourist Map
Posted On April 7, 2020
Lyon is an interesting city and filled with hidden gems that very few tourist go see. This is my personal list. I love all these places and I never get to show tourists them. When you visit Lyon, make sure to visit some of these hidden gems and secrets in Lyon. They are quite fun to visit and to make the extra effort to go see them.
This garden is my new favorite space in Lyon. I only discovered it recently. It is down some sidestreet and the entrance is not clearly marked, but once you are inside, you suddenly have the most amazing view over Lyon that you can imagine. There are a lot of great views over the city, but this one easily tops all of them. Furthermore, there are some fun chairs bolted to the floor, so you can have a lovely instagram session with your friends, lots of likes guaranteed.
On a clear day, when the air pollution is not too bad, you can see all the way to the Alps. Once, I saw the Mont Blanc from there.
This little square is hidden away in a residential neighborhood in the 7th arrondissement. When I saw pictures of it, I could not believe it was in Lyon, so I hopped on a city bike and went out to find it. There are two fresco paintings that look like they could have been done by Mexico’s greatest muralist, Diego Rivera (did you see the movie Frida?). One looks like an Aztec temple and the horrors of Mexican history are clearly displayed.
I found the murals quite impressive, so if you like Rivera or Mexico, just hop on the metro to the Debourg stop. The two murals are just around the corner. This square is definitely a hidden gem in Lyon.
Tony Garnier was an influential city planner. There is a little museum dedicated to him in the États-Unis neighborhood. The greatest thing about the museum are the outside murals on the flats around the museum. There are really a lot of massive murals, so if you like these, take the tram to the États-Unis stop and go have a look.
There are also quite a few peculiar building named after Tony, like the Halle Tony Garnier, that now serves as a concert hall (Metallica and other big groups have played here) and the Rugby Stadium.
This bar is located in the Crayon, the most famous sky scraper in Lyon (and also for decades the only one). The bar is called Celest and you have amazing views over the city from here. Moreover, an espresso is not that expensive, so if you are in the neighborhood, go have a coffee. The Crayon is located in the Part-Dieu business district and can be seen from all over Lyon.
To get to the bar, just enter the building at the Radisson entrance at the bottom and take the elevator to the reception level. The bar is just there and you can have a drink there without staying in the hotel.
This hidden gem is very new. They recently restored this spiral-like parking lot next to the Halles Paul Bocuse and decided to put a rooftop terrace and garden on top. Very few Lyonnais have discoverd this secret garden. Everytime I went up there it was completely empty. Moreover, the views from the top are very nice. You could have a pick-nick on the roof. For example, you could buy some lunch at the Halles below and take it up here to enjoy the view and food.
I’m planning to come up here a lot more to read and relax in the sun, when the weather is nicer.
This upscale neighborhood is lovely to visit and really a hidden gem, because very few tourist visit this area. It is located around the old Brotteaux train station that now houses restaurants (like Paul Bocuse’s L’Est) and some nightclubs. In front of the old train station is a lovely square with beautiful buildings. There are quite a few nice cafés and bars here to sit down and enjoy some people watching. In the streets west of the station, you can also find some of the best restaurants in Lyon, like Takao Takano (2 Michelin stars), Miraflores (1 star) or Les Apothicaires (1 star). Le Book-Lard is also very good, but much more affordable.
There are also a suprising amount of ethnic restaurant here, I’ve seen some Thai places, Brazilian places and my favorite, Mesob the Ethiopian restaurant.
If you are looking for a place to have some beers, go to Barabaar, a massive pub with many beers on tap. If you are still thirsty after they close, you could move the party over to one of the clubs in the Brotteaux Station.
This is a very strange museum out of town, but well worth a visit if you like punk art, grafitti and strange artifacts. The owner of the house decided to fill it with anarchistic artworks as a contrast to the small lovely village closeby. There have been so many lawsuits about this place, but he is still going and has excellent reviews on both google and TripAdvisor. Moreover, many people have told me they love the place.
In conclusion, it is quite worth the trip if you like this kind of stuff. Google the name to see what to expect. The abode of Chaos (or the Demeure du Chaos) really belongs on this list of hidden gems in Lyon.
This is tiny little peculiar garden on the Croix-Rousse hill, that is only open on saturday for a little while. However, it is quite interesting and beautiful to visit.
The Gadagne museum is the local history museum in Vieux Lyon. It is not my favorite museum (I think there are better ones in Lyon), but on top of the museum there is a hidden garden with bar and restaurant. You can just take the elevator to the top floor, without paying entrance fee and have lunch in the garden. It is a lovely spot. You don´t have to order anything if you just want to hang out in the garden, reading a book or looking at girls shooting their instagram fashion shoots.
Moreover, on Sunday they organize an excellent brunch. You might want to reserve if you want to go. It is very nice food.
LPA is a company that runs most of the parking garages in Lyon. Most of their parking garages have some art inside. They call it the Musée Souterain, the underground museum. For example, the rooftop terrace on the parking garage next to the Halles Paul Bocuse is also an artwork. However, the artwork inside the Célestins Parking Garage is my favorite. It was designed by Daniel Buren, a quite famous modern French artist. In addition to the art here, he also redesigned the Place de Terreaux recently.
This artwork consists of two parts. In the square in front of the Théatre des Celestins, you find some sort of periscope. If you look down it, you see some moving lights. To see what you are looking at, you have to descend into the parking garage. There, you can see the massive moving mirror at the bottom. It is quite a sight and people are always amazed when I show them. Go have a look, it is right in the center of Lyon!
This stunning bar is located in the Hôtel Dieu, the old hospital of Lyon. The Hôtel Dieu has completely transformed the last few years. There are fancy shops, restaurants, bars, the new culinary museum and also the intercontinental hotel. It is a stunning building and if you join my free tour of Vieux Lyon, we will finish the tour here.
The hotel bar of the Intercontinental is located right underneath the main dome of the Hôtel Dieu and is stunningly beautiful. However, it is a bit expensive…
You can find this massive orange man in the Cité Internationale, the modern conference center between the Parc de la Tête d’Or and the Rhône river. It is an interesting building, which also houses the Musée d’Art Contemporain. However, I think the most fun parts of this enormous building are the big plastic sculptures you find all around. There is this orange man, a big blue Pizza Delivery Guy and other figures. In addition, the lovely park is just around the corner.
On top of the Perrache train station (the parking garage and bus terminal to be more exact), there is a lovely and quite big hidden garden. It is only visited by the few employees of the train station and local workers that know about it. You have excellent views and it’s a nice place to sit when the sun is out!