Lyon (Photo:prochasson frederic/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Lyon

The capital of the Rhone-Alpes region, Lyon is the second-largest metropolitan area in France. But this historic city beats Paris as a cruising destination, thanks to its prime location at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers.

About Lyon


Lyon's food scene has earned the city its nickname, the "world capital of gastronomy"


Some people on the streets try to trick tourists into donating money to fake charities

Bottom Line

From its cobblestone streets to its Paris-like shops, Lyon offers a taste of both old and new

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The original medieval town, Vieux Lyon, was founded in 43 B.C. by a lieutenant of Julius Caesar on the hilltop district known today as Fourviere. Ruins of this Roman settlement are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with concerts and operas still held at the (partially intact) ancient amphitheater every summer.

In the Middle Ages, the city expanded to the east bank of the Saone, and it has belonged to multiple provinces over time. It wasn't until the Renaissance era that Lyon truly flourished, largely in the industries of silk-weaving and printing. Almost 500 years later, it still holds its status as a leading world center for textile design.

Modern Lyon is most famous for its excellent gastronomic scene, as well as many striking buildings, such as the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere, which looms over the city; La Tour Metallique, sometimes called the Eiffel Tower's "little sister"; and almost 100 walls painted with huge murals.

Where You're Docked

Ships dock along the Quai Claude Bernard, on the east bank of the Rhone, near the University of Lyon.

Good to Know

Crime is not a major concern in Lyon, but pickpockets are known to operate in tourist areas, so it is sensible to take the usual precautions.

Also, be careful when crossing the street, as French drivers do not always slow down for disoriented tourists.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

As part of the European Union, France uses the euro. Visit for current exchange rates. Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATM's are easily found throughout the city.


The official language is French. English is spoken, but not all shopkeepers or waiters are fluent. It is best to start with bonjour (hello) and ask parlez-vous anglais? (do you speak English?). Always say merci (thank you) when leaving a store or restaurant. People will smile politely at your poor pronunciation, but they appreciate the effort.


Silk is the top purchase among shoppers, and cruise lines' shore excursions probably will include a stop at a store selling beautiful scarves, ties and clothing. Croix-Rousse is the main region for silk production and can be conveniently visited on a guided tour.