Lyon is a French city of the east-central France in the Rhône department and a European metropolis. The city’s agglomeration is the most important one of the Rhône-Alpes region, of which Lyon is part. It is composed of 9 arrondissements. It has a privileged location since it is located at the heart of the Rhone Valley and is crosses by two main rivers: Rhone and Saone. To the north, Lyon is bordered by the Beaujolais area renowned for its vineyards. To the west, the Monts du Lyonnais offer a breath of air and countryside sceneries. To the east, people can admire the Massif Central and the Dombes and Isère plain. Besides, from the Croix-Rousse hill, the Mont Blanc can be seen when the sky is clear.
Two hills overhang the third city of France (in terms of population – 472,305 inhabitants in 2006): Fourvière (meaning ‘hill which prays’) and Croix-Rousse. From these points on interest, you have an amazing view over the Rhone and Saone Rivers, which play an important role in the city’s economy. Lyon is situated half way between sea (3 ½ hrs from Marseille by motorway) and mountain. Indeed, it is at the edge of the largest ski area in the world, Les 3 Vallées (2 or 3 hrs by train or by car).
Historically, Lyon is an industrial city and thus houses numerous petrochemical industries along the Saone and Rhone Rivers, an area nicknamed the chemistry corridor. After textile industries stopped their activity, Lyon developed in other sectors such as high technology (pharmacy and biotechnology). But Lyon is also the second student city of France (3 universities and numerous engineer schools). Finally, the city kept a gorgeous architectural heritage from the Roman period to the 20th century. Besides, Lyon is part of the World Heritage (UNESCO), so are many famous quarters like Vieux-Lyon, Croix-Rousse and Fourviere.
A dynamic part of Lyon is definitely the peninsula, a trade quarter holding one of the longest pedestrian axes of Europe. The Rue de la République will seduce those who are fond of shopping. But the area also has cultural points of interest like a theatre, opera and museum. Gaze at the town hall, Saint Pierre abbey and Hotel-Dieu, three prestigious edifices of the peninsula. Finally, Part Dieu is the business quarter. There, a shopping centre, high-speed train station, business edifices are the setting. If you are lost in the surroundings of Part Dieu, do not panic, look up and you can easily get yourself bearings thanks to the Crayon – literally the pen – a strong visual fixed point 142m tall!
A last detail not to be missed: Lyon is the birthplace of the famous Frères Lumière, French engineers who have played an essential role in the cinema and photography history. They invented for instance coloured photographs and relief cinema.
In the city, the number of dwellings increased by 15.2% in the last decades. Amongst them, the number of main homes also increased by 13.6%. However, the figure as regards second homes dropped by 10.5%. This may be explained that investors would rather buy in calmer places of the surroundings. Traditionally, Lyon is a burgher city. Thus, some arrondissements are quite expensive in terms of property prices: near the Parc de la Tête d’Or, in the peninsula, Croix-Rousse and Vieux-Lyon quarters. The popular quarters are located in the suburbs e.g. la Guillotière and Mermoz. In the agglomeration, the Monts d’Or (north of Lyon) is a well-off quarter whereas the south and west are more popular areas Bron, Venissieux).
Lyon is renowned to offer a pleasant lifestyle: indeed, it is a compromise between a very large city like Paris and a city closely linked to nature. Besides, Lyon was given in 2007 a ‘Liveable Communities’ award in London. Lyon became then the 7th city of Europe as regards quality life.
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In 2009, the average property price in Lyon is €2,662 /sq m and properties are rent €9.98 /sq m a month on average. These prices are low if we consider that Lyon is the third city of France in terms of population. However, as exposed previously, prices in some quarters are more expensive than in others. For instance, the arrondissements 2 and 6 are well-off areas. On the contrary, if your budget is low, you can invest in the arrondissements 8 and 9 which may be more affordable.
As regards rentals, the arrondissements 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 are quite reasonable (about €10 /sq m /month) whereas in the 6, you will find high rental prices. Lyon offers good rental opportunities (64.9% of tenants) as being the second student city of France. It should be easy to find tenants in the centre, especially near the universities and schools. Another solution if you can not afford a property in the city centre is to search in the agglomeration or in the surrounding towns. There, you are more likely to find bargains and properties of good value.
To get updated info about property prices in Rhone, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to have an overview of Rhone Alpes Property Prices.
Gourmet food: Lyon cuisine is inseparable from the local art de vivre. Indeed, the city is the world capital of gastronomy. The Bouchons Lyonnais (name of the restaurants in Lyon) have seduced an infinite number of people since the 16th century. Richness and land produce quality are the principle of Lyon’s gastronomy. Here are some examples: grattons, Lyonnaise salad, quenelles, andouillettes, boudin, cardons and rosette as regards salted dishes. Other sweetened specialities are also delights: bugnes, pogne, coussins lyonnais! For cheese lovers, let’s quote the Saint Marcellin, Saint Félicien, and Mont d’Or.
Environment: for those who want to settle in a ‘green’ city, Lyon will be perfect! Indeed, the city has strong ties with nature: two hills, two rivers, green belt and so on. The great Parc de la Tête d’Or is one of the largest and most beautiful urban parks of France. This park was designed according to the English gardens and includes a 16 ha lake, a zoo and a botanic garden. Other parks all around the town also offer greenery such as the Parc des Hauteurs. Furthermore, Lyon is a Ville Fleurie: 3 flowers out of 4 (the maximum).
Main quarters and heritage: some quarters in Lyon are not to be missed. The Vieux-Lyon is a must-visit. This is one of the vastest Renaissance areas of Europe. This quarter is situated near Fourvière and is surrounded with three religious monuments: Saint-Jean cathedral, Saint-Paul Roman church and Saint George church. Walking until arriving to Fourviere’s hill will let you discover the stunning basilica, Roman vestiges and archaeological park and museum, which are amidst the richest and representative sites of Lyon. Then, Croix-Rousse (meaning ‘hill which works’) was the quarter of the workers. This is the place where the so-called canuts (workers in silk) lived and worked.
Tourism and activities: Lyon is a touristy location which attracts each year a great number of visitors. The latter come either for business or holidays. The city has constituted for a long time a step city since located between the northern and southern Europe. There, relaxation, family walks, sports hiking, white water sports, nature discovery are accessible in less than half an hour. You can also try hot-air balloon, canyoning, horse riding, potholing, biking… Discovering the city by boat is even a possibility and could be a great way to admire hidden facets of Lyon!
Fête des Lumières: this famous event in Lyon takes place each year the 8 of December. The locals light lanterns and put them on their windows, as a tribute to the Virgin. Originally, the celebration should have occurred the 8 of September, but a flood of the Saone River obliged the authorities to postpone it. The city is illuminated with thousands of lanterns and animated by shows in all the quarters. These illuminations are absolutely a must: you can see them during 4 days on the walls of Lyon (town hall, Fourviere…). They constitute a strong tradition and are part of the local way of living. The Fête des Lumières attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Location – transport links: Rhone Valley has always been a major road and fluvial axe. Lyon is located 1 ½ hr from Geneva, 3 hrs from Turin, 4 hrs from Paris and 5 hrs from Barcelona. It is also close to two main tunnels (Mont Blanc and Frejus). The airport is located 25km to the east and flies to a hundred of French and foreign cities: Italy, UK, Poland, Switzerland, Morocco. Regular shuttles drive from the principal towns of Rhone-Alpes to the airport. Since 1994, the airport has been connected to a high-speed train station which serves Marseille in 1h40, Nice, Paris in 1h55, Cannes and Aix-les-Bains for example. The public transports are also well developed: 100 bus routes, 4 tube lines, 3 tramway lines and over 100 schools coach routes. Furthermore, Velo’v allow you to use bikes all around the city.
Wine: prestigious wines are the pride of Lyon. Amongst the most famous, we can quote the Beaujolais, Coteaux du Lyonnais and Cotes du Rhone. Red wines of the syrah varietals have a red fruit and liquorice taste. White wines have an intense flower and honey bunch. Here are the 8 appellations: Saint Joseph, Condrieu, Château-Grillet, Saint Peray, Cornas, Hermitage, Croze-Hermitage and Côte-Rotie. These wines are a delight when drunk white local cheese!
As 94.5% of the properties in Lyon are apartments, we can easily deduce that the city has no particular architectural style. Indeed, all the flats are built in large buildings and residences. However, investing in an apartment has some advantages. First, this is the best kind of property for those who are looking for a buy-to-let. Furthermore, Lyon being a huge student city, it will not be difficult to find a tenant. Then, you are almost always located in a dynamic and thriving area which is usually very well connected to the city centre but also to the surroundings. Finally, when built in residences, flats may even offer a piece of land, a swimming-pool and a garage. If you are interested in a house, you should look in remote villages or in the suburbs.
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