Best Places to Live in Lyon: The City’s Top 10 Areas
The city of Lyon in France is known, the world over, as the beating heart of the French gastronomic landscape. Lyonnaise cuisine has elevated the southeastern French city onto the global stage, along with its fantastic architecture, rich history, and culture.
As the third-largest city in all of France, Lyon is made up of numerous arrondissements. Each of these neighborhoods has its own characteristics and appeals, so choosing where to live in Lyon can be a tough decision to make.
Finding the best neighborhoods to look for apartments in Lyon will all come down to what you personally want and need when living or visiting the city. Whether you’re looking for a neighborhood with a large and welcoming ex-pat community, one close to the action in the city center, or a suburban neighborhood with its fair share of greenery, Lyon has it all and so much more.
Throughout this neighborhood guide, we’ll break down the best neighborhoods to live in in Lyon and what each of them offers to its residents. This will include some of the most famous areas, known globally by tourists, and others that are hidden gems just waiting to be found. Read on to see what each of Lyon’s districts and neighborhoods provides in the way of culture, affordability, nightlife, employment, and so much more.
1. Vieux Lyon
Best for: Living in the famous UNESCO Old Town and surrounded by charming and preserved architecture.
Vieux Lyon, known in English as Old Lyon, is the oldest part of the city and also one of France’s premier cultural sites. Located on the western banks of the River Saône, the neighborhood of Vieux Lyon is made up of many square miles of Renaissance architecture. So much so, that Vieux Lyon has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As one of the only major neighborhoods on the western banks of the river, Vieux Lyon has an atmosphere that combines both inner-city Lyon and riverbank relaxation. Connections to the rest of the city are made even easier by the series of eight bridges that link Vieux Lyon to the rest of Lyon. Vieux Lyon is, therefore, one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon if you want both a laidback and eventful life in the city.
Vieux Lyon’s location and impressive historical landscape make it one of the more popular places to live in Lyon. This demand for housing means that prosperity prices in Vieux Lyon can be some of the city’s highest. When it comes to socializing and dining out, the banks of the River Saône in Vieux Lyon provide a fantastic place to go. With small cafes, restaurants, and bars, the river banks of Vieux Lyon are a natural hub for residents.
Best for: Living in historic Lyon while close to the city parks and large residential areas.
Immediately west of the Old Town of Vieux Lyon is the district known as Fourvière. Fourvière takes the form of a large hill rising up from the lower banks of the river and is known as the ‘hill that prays’. Fourvière gained this nickname from the numerous religious buildings that are centered around the neighborhood.
At its very heart is the 19th-century Fourvière Basilica, one of the most well-known landmarks in Lyon. Alongside the church is another of the neighborhood’s most visited sites, an ancient Gallo-Roman amphitheater.
Fourvière is a blend of historical landmarks, open green spaces, and a few residential areas. With a number of significant landmarks and tourist attractions, Fourvière has become a focal point for many of Lyon’s tourists. If you enjoy being part of the bustling fanfare of touristic life, Fourvière is one of the best areas to live in in Lyon.
Alongside the historic buildings, Fourvière is an ideal area to live if you want a balance of open green spaces and residential streets. Parks such as Hauteurs Pak and Jardin du Rosaire are perfect places in which to escape the inner city and enjoy some fresh air and greenery. All in all, Fourvière has a little bit of everything.
3. Cité Internationale
Best for: Open spaces and family-friendly parks, while being close to the city.
Cité Internationale, the International City, is located in Lyon’s 6th arrondissement and stands picturesquely between the east banks of the River Rhône and Tête d’Or Park. The neighborhood is almost equally divided between its compact cityscape in the west and the huge expanse of the park to the east. Cité Internationale is another of the best places to live in Lyon if you want a little greenery and still be in the city center.
With construction on new modern buildings and streets ongoing, Cité Internationale is seen as one of Lyon’s most modern neighborhoods. Appartement buildings, hotels, and waterfront entertainment make Cité Internationale a hub for young professionals who want to be close to the action yet still, live in affordable modern apartments.
Alongside its greenness and its modern architecture, Cité Internationale is also renowned for being the artistic center of Lyon. This can be seen with a visit to the Cité Internationale-based Museum of Contemporary Art. Here, you can dive into the groundbreaking work of Lyon and France’s modern art movement.
This perfect mixture of green spaces, modern apartments, and a booming artistic scene makes Cité Internationale one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon for young professionals and those who are involved in the arts.
4. La Croix Rousse
Best for: Settling in Lyon’s premier bohemian neighborhood and amongst its historic silk manufacturing district.
Located just north of the city center, La Croix Rousse is one of Lyon’s most colorful and vibrant neighborhoods. Once the industrial heart of Lyon’s silk manufacturing industry, La Croix Rousse is crossed-crossed by many passageways (traboules), once used to transport the silk to the city center.
Over the years, the neighborhood has gone through a series of regenerations and gentrification, turning the neighborhood into one of Lyon’s hippest districts. This can be seen in La Croix Rousse’s laid-back cafe culture, shops, and restaurants. The people that make up La Croix Rousse often see themselves as living in their own separate village or town rather than simply in another neighborhood. This has led many of the residents to address themselves as Croix-Roussiens.
This maze of leafy squares, mixed with its bohemian atmosphere, makes La Croix Rousse one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon to live in, especially if you want to feel the vibrancy of modern Lyon with long textured history to match. The up-and-coming nature of the neighborhood means that there is competitiveness for securing properties in the district. Although this has driven up rental prices, the affluence has only added to La Croix Rousse’s appeal, especially amongst students and young families.
Best for: Living along the river bank and enjoying Lyon’s sociable nightlife scene.
Sitting at the very center of Lyon, the Préfecture neighborhood is one of Lyon’s most prestigious and elegant. This middle-class community and neighborhood are based around the Rhône Prefecture building, giving the district its name. Lying between the Rhone River and the Part Dieu area of the city, Préfecture has a dual border of both riverbank and inner-city Lyon.
Although seen as an affluent place to live, the Préfecture neighborhood is a far more affordable area compared to many of Lyon’s expensive regions while still getting the best for your money. The homes and apartments in the Préfecture are built in a 19th-century Haussmann style, giving it the feeling of a quintessential French inner city.
Being so close to the river banks, Préfecture is a hub of sociability and enjoyment, both during the day and night. As barges pass and cafes and restaurants boom into life, Préfecture’s riverbank nightlife is the perfect example of Lyon cafe culture and idyllic French nighttime gatherings.
Although the Préfecture is well and truly in the inner city of Lyon, it is not without its green spaces. The Jardin Général Delestraint has the exceptional title of being the city’s most central green space and park. Préfecture is one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon for those who want a little high-class elegance, mixed with inner-city Parisian architecture and green open spaces thrown in as an added extra.
Best for: Living in Lyon’s high-end district with a fashionable nightlife and a famous culinary scene.
The small but still significant neighborhood of Brotteaux has gone down through the decades as one of Lyon’s most famous and talked about districts. From its beginning, Brotteaux was once called Morand and was a pre-planned neighborhood designed and built under the instruction of Jean-Antoine Morand Jouffrey. Under this instruction, the neighborhood was built stylistically and now also stands as a pinnacle example of France’s endless Art Déco architectural movement.
The modern Brotteaux neighborhood has grown out of the art deco movement’s architectural reputation and bloomed into a Lyoniese district of must-dine restaurants and nighttime hotspots. So much so that Brotteaux is the place to go if you want fine dining and exceptional Lyoniese food.
If this wasn’t enough to make you fall in love with the neighborhood, Brotteaux has another claim to fame. Once the home of the historic Les Brotteaux station, the former high-speed station of Brotteaux has become the proud location of Aguttes Auction Rooms, offices, and institutions such as L’Est Brasserie by Paul Bocuse, Le Boudoir, and F&K.
To sum things up, Brotteaux has become a neighborhood that ticks numerous boxes for those who want to work hard but also let their hair down. The perfect balance of high-end and well-designed homes blends seamlessly with fashionable nightlife and a culinary scene that has put Lyon on the global stage.
7. La Part Dieu
Best for: Finding employment in Lyon’s booming service sector district.
La Part Dieu, translating as the Part of God, says everything you would need to know about this Lyon neighborhood. Well known as the central business district of Lyon, La Part Dieu is seen as the beating heart of modern Lyon. La Part Dieu is one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon for those that settle or visit the city for business or economic reasons, and it is easy to see why.
After the French capital of Paris, the La Part Dieu neighborhood of Lyon is the largest service sector district in all of France. This growth was born out of not only La Part Dieu’s central location but also from it being the central location of many French titans of business.
With its fair share of multinational conglomerates and high rises, the central business district of La Part Dieu is arguably one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon for those settling in the city for work or business.
Aside from the often mundane aspects of La Part Dieu being a business hub, the neighborhood is also a fantastic place to live for its sociable side. Growing out of its business success, La Part Dieu is also home to one of the largest urban shopping malls in all of Europe. Throughout this mall, you are able to shop ‘till you drop and secure anything from the wide tapestry of European and global goods.
Best for: Expats and those who want to live in central Lyon.
Located on the built-up island that divides the eastern and western banks of the River Rhône, Belecoulr is one of Lyon’s most unique neighborhoods. It’s not only the neighborhood’s location on the natural island that sets it apart; it has numerous other titles to its name.
Belecoulr is, in itself, an epic manmade square, devoid of greenery and natural landscapes; this continuous square makes it one of the largest open squares in all of Europe and the third-largest in all of France.
Surrounding this huge square is the residential district of Belecoulr proper, a neighborhood that has grown out of this undeniable sociable and magnetic town square. Both from a residential point of view and a business one, Belecoulr is a popular neighborhood for ex-pats and those who want to tap into the buzz surrounding the square.
This natural nucleus of Belecoulr has also brought with it a myriad of restaurants, cafes, and bars surrounding the square and neighborhood. Belecoulr is one of the best places in Lyon for a night out. Regardless of its frills, Belecoulr is a neighborhood that has it all – employment opportunities, sociable engagement, and fantastic chances for housing.
9. 5th Arrondissement
Best for: Families with children and leafy suburban living.
Sprawling out along the western banks of the River Saône, the 5th Arrondissement of Lyon has quickly become one of the most popular areas of the city, for both tourists and settlers alike. Taking in the eastern neighborhoods of Vieux Lyon, Fourvière, and as far west of Ménival Battières La Plaine, the 5th Arrondissement is a real combination of both historic and modern Lyon.
Many would argue that the 5th Arrondissement is the best neighborhood in Lyon, as it incorporates both the historic city and the modern. Starting out from the banks of River Saône, the 5th Arrondissement covers areas west of the city, flowing out into peaceful suburban neighborhoods. For those who want to live close to the city center and the iconic locations of Vieux Lyon and Fourvière but also wish to have leafy suburban surroundings, the 5th Arrondissement is ideal.
The long streets and spacious neighborhoods that make up the 5th Arrondissement are perfect for families who wish to raise their children away from the hustle and bustle of inner-city Lyon. This is increased by the numerous schools, green spaces, and accommodating homes that can be found throughout the 5th Arrondissement.
Best for: Being in the center of Lyon and enjoying the buzz of the inner city.
Terreaux makes up the majority of the modern city center in Lyon. Terreaux is named after the UNESCO World Heritage Site Place des Terreaux, a city square that has stood for centuries in Lyon. Terreaux is one of the best neighborhoods in Lyon for those who want to be in amongst the buzz of inner-city Lyon. Although this is the very center of the city, Terreaux and its square creates an open plan feel to the neighborhood.
Surrounding the square are many cafes, bars, and sociable hotspots that a frequented by locals and tourists during the day and night. This, combined with its open plan and jaw-dropping historical buildings, makes Terreaux one of the more captivating neighborhoods in which to live in Lyon.
The central location and competitiveness for home and business in Terreaux make it one of the more expensive places to live in Lyon. This being said, the price you pay to live in Terreaux is rewarded by being in the very hub of Lyon life. Whether this is being amongst the crowds of tourist life, dining at Lyon’s most celebrated restaurants, or simply enjoying the buzz of central Lyon, Terreaux has it all.
11. University District
Best for: Students who want to be close to campus and those who want a little greenery within their inner-city neighborhood.
Located on the southwest side of Lyon’s city center, the University District is one of the city’s newest neighborhoods and has fresh, forward-thinking ideas to go with it. Home to several universities, the University District is the best neighborhood in Lyon for students settling in the city. The huge stately facility buildings of the university overlook the River Rhône, giving the district an impressive and modern look, blended with the natural landscapes of the river.
Alongside this modern cityscape look, the University District is also home to one of Lyon’s most popular and beautiful public parks. The Parc Blandan is a square of lush green lawns and paths that allow you to take in the picturesque surroundings. Whether you head here as a student after a day’s hard work or take the family out for a stroll, the Parc Blandan adds something special to the University District neighborhood.
Surrounding the University District neighborhood is a string of greenery-line paths, both for walking and cycling. This allows residents to have the feel of the great outdoors, right in the heart of the city. Access to the city center is made even easier by these paths, and for those who want a quick journey, you can easily take the Metro along the lines B or C.
12. Institut Lumiere
Best for: Working-class communities, living amongst ex-pats, and non-French-speaking communities.
The Institut Lumiere neighborhood in the 8th Arrondissement is another of the newest regions to be incorporated into the city of Lyon. Traditionally a working-class neighborhood, much of Institut Lumiere’s community is employed in working-class jobs. Located in the southeast of the city, this district offers far more affordable housing options, making it one of the best places to live in Lyon if you can splash out for the center of the city.
Alongside this, the Institut Lumiere neighborhood is far enough away from the city center that it has an almost suburban feel while still retaining its links to France’s third-largest city. The working-class nature and affordable housing have also brought with it a diversity and multiculturalism that is far stronger here than elsewhere in Lyon. For those looking to settle amongst other ex-pats and non-French-speaking communities, the Institut Lumiere neighborhood is a great choice.
Final Thoughts on the Best Neighborhoods in Lyon
The city of Lyon has a myriad of identities and reputations, making it one of the most famous and desirable cities to live in all of France. The combination of rich history, an iconic food scene, and breathtaking cityscapes means that choosing the best neighborhood to live in Lyon is a fun but difficult task.
Although on the surface Lyon can seem like an affluent and somewhat inaccessible city for everybody, the city has a huge variety of neighborhoods and districts that provide homes and communities to many different people from all walks of life.
Whether you choose Vieux Lyon for its protected UNESCO Renaissance architecture, La Croix Rousse for its bohemian and forward-thinking ideals, or the west of the 5th Arrondissement for its idyllic suburban neighborhoods, the city of Lyon has something for everyone.