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This article is about the French city. For other usages (as Lyons), see Lyons (disambiguation).

Arrondissement43 cantons
162 communes
1 406 043 inhabitants
Cantonsadministrative centre of 14 cantons
(1 commune, 445 452 inhabitants)
Population (1999)453 187
Metropolitan Population (1999)1 348 832
Area4 787 hectares
18.48 square miles

Lyon is a city in eastern central France. The traditional English spelling, "Lyons", is falling out of usage.

Together with neighboring towns, Lyon forms the second largest conurbation in France after Paris. It is also the administrative centre for the Rhône-Alpes region and the Rhône département.

The city gives its name to the Lyonnais region. Two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Colleges and Universities
4 Transportation
5 Culture
6 Religion
7 Twinning


Lyon was founded in 43 BC by the Roman Empire, who named it Lugdunum after the Celtic sun god Lugh ("shining one"). It became then the capital of the Gauls.

Under Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, the Christians in Lyon were prosecuted for their religious views.

During the Renaissance the city developed due to the development of the silk trade, especially with Italy; the Italian influence on Lyon's architecture can still be seen. Thanks to the silk trade, Lyon became an important industrial town during the nineteenth century.

Lyon was a centre for the occupying German forces, and also a stronghold of resistance during World War II, and the town is now home to a resistance museum. The traboules through the houses enabled the locals to escape Gestapo raids.

- Central Lyon from the Fourvière hill -


The Rhône and Saône rivers meet in the centre of the city, which is dominated by the two hills Fourvière and the Croix-Rousse. Fourvière, known as the hill that prays is the location for the highly decorated Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, several convents, the palace of the Archbishop, and a funicular. Croix-Rousse the hill that works was traditionally home to the many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was renowned.

The Sain-Jean and the Croix-Rousse areas, which are noted for narrow passageways (traboules) that pass through buildings and link the streets either side, were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998.

On the peninsular between the rivers Rhône and Saône, is the third largest public square in France, and one of the largest in Europe, the place Bellecour.

Colleges and Universities


Airport: Saint-Exupéry International Airport

Lyon was the first city to be connected to Paris by the TGV c.1982.

Metro: see


For several centuries Lyon has been known as the capitals of gastronomy and the silk trade. The Lumière brothers invented cinema in the town in 1898. December 8 each year is marked by a Lumière festival, with the local population putting lamps in their windows.


The Roman Catholic Archbishop of the city holds the title "Primate of the Gauls" (Primat des Gaules) and is the leading Archbishop of France. The archdiocese dates to Roman times before Franks entered modern France (see history above).

A mediaeval Pope's admiration of the red vestments of the canons of Lyon is said to have given rise to red becoming the signature color of the cardinals.


Lyon is twinned with Birmingham, England.