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Lyon or Dijon?

Windham, New...
Level Contributor
6 posts
15 reviews
Lyon or Dijon?

We are traveling from Marseilles to Paris and will be spending a night in either Dijon or Lyon. Anyone been to both cities and have a preference or suggestion? Do either have an "old city" within them? We like to be able to walk around a city to see not only the highlights but get a feel for the place.

Basel, Switzerland
Level Contributor
5 posts
77 reviews
1. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

I've been thinking of these 2 options, too. So I am keen to see any response on this question.

Level Contributor
2 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

Perhaps someone else can speak to Dijon?

I can highly recommend Lyon – two rivers divide it in thirds: the Saône to the west and the Rhône to the east. For visiting on foot, the Presqu'île (nearly an island) between the rivers and the west side across the Saône have the oldest architecture. Our family stayed in a hotel in the Presqu’île called La Residence and it was well situated for touring on foot with pedestrian dedicated roads and sidewalks. The Office du tourisme is on Place Bellecour (close to the hotel) and you can pick up brochures there on all the latest exhibits/fairs, etc.

'Vieux Lyon' west of the Saône has many medieval buildings, but the Presqu'île has its share of charmingly narrow streets, cobblestones, fountains and varieties of architecture. The Presqu'île has a train station and there is a funicular up to the Roman ruins. We enjoyed two museums on the Presqu'île: a medical museum and a printing museum.

The Musée des Hospices Civils faces the Rhône and is a small museum of ancient medical practices in an impressive 16th c. building used as a hospital. The famous author Rabelais used to teach there. In the square behind it, you'll find cafés and ice cream for the kids. The Musée de l'Imprimerie displays the history of the printing press itself as well as texts of some notable authors who published in Lyon (a hotbed of poetry and humanism in the 16th century). Finding the place is part of the adventure and it's in a 15th century mansion in another charming part of the Presqu'île.

If you take the funicular up to the Basilique Notre Dame, you can visit the Roman ruins and the Musée gallo-romain de Fourvière. My twelve-year-old and I rode up to the ruins and walked down the hillside on switchback trails past gardens and down the steps of old town. The descent is steep, though, not stroller friendly, but great for older kids to run off steam and there are some lovely views. We chose a cute dedicated pedestrian bridge across the Saône to return back to the hotel.

By night, the Basilique is lit up and beautiful when seen from below from Place Bellecour. Lyon has some reasonably priced restaurants with *fabulous* food (ask locals for recommendations). Strolls along the river are charming day and night.

And I'd love to hear more about Dijon...it's on my list :).

san francisco
Level Contributor
228 posts
32 reviews
3. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

I'd pick Dijon for a one night stay.

It;s a smaller town, easy to get around, fabulous museums as well as just walking around and looking at all the great old architecture and gargoyles. It was one of the prettiest towns I've been too.

It also has a nice area with lots of restaurants to choose from, we enjoyed the food here too.

Lyon is also a nice city, we liked it a lot, but for a little longer period. I would think if you are spending time in Marseilles and Paris a smaller town would be a better stop

Level Contributor
183 posts
38 reviews
4. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

I am taking a small group to both cities in October, and we are spending more nights in Lyon (4) than Dijon (3). Both are great places to visit and I agree that, of the two, Dijon would be easier for a one night stay. In practical terms, I'd always rather have the smaller portion of the journey after the break, and since Dijon is farther north, it fits the bill in that sense.

However. I would also consider staying in an even smaller town between the two (Villefranche sur Saône, Mâcon, or Beaune, which oozes charm). The whole driving and parking situation might be simpler and more efficient in a small town, and the hotel rates may even be lower.

London, UK
Level Contributor
7,040 posts
208 reviews
5. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

If you are travelling by train, Lyon would be the better option. However, if not then I would join those saying that with only one night Dijon may be a better bet. Both are wonderful destinations.

6. Re: Lyon or Dijon?

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