Lyon, France at night
Night time in Lyon is really when the city comes alive and all the locals come out to celebrate the end of day, an evening out to enjoy some drinks or discover a new restaurant in town. And Lyon really sparkles at night when all its squares, river front and historical monuments are lit up like little jewels for everyone to enjoy.
Here’s a photo essay of some wonderful places to explore at night in Lyon, France.
Dining venues in Lyon
It looks like almost all the restaurants and bars are filled and busy for the evening, it’s no surprise considering that it is a weekend night in Lyon. It’s a lovely summer evening and everyone wants to be outdoors at any of the public venues in fashionable attire. I keep forgetting the French are so stylish even here in Lyon, and people watching is almost a sport at any of the busy promenades. At Pres qu’ile, in the heart of Lyon’s central district, there is a exciting buzz filled with sexy French conversations, glasses filled with champagne and huge platters of fresh oysters which seem to be prevalent on every menu, porquoi? It just seems natural that the French love to celebrate their weekends leisurely at the many parks and squares or having a nice long meal at any gastronomic restaurant open for the late afternoon to evening dining event.
Fashionable window shopping in Lyon
Lyon’s public squares are beautiful
The main gathering places seem to be all the wonderful fountains, plazas and monuments in Lyon where all the venues are lit at night . The squares are used like a like an extended living room for meeting friends and hanging out late into the evening. Many of these public venues are also a great spot to find a nice bar or café and people watch, or just have a nice relaxed conversation. Considering that it is not even the busy tourist season, the squares are already packed including the large venues at Place des Terraux or Place Bellecour, and all the restaurants along the perimeter of the square are filled.
I was drawn immediately to this stunning water fountain above created by French Sculptor FE Bertholdi in 1889. He is also the same artist who created the Statue of Liberty in New York, creating significant public sculpture for everyone to enjoy especially in Lyon at Place des Terreaux in the historic center of the city.
City Hall and Place des Terreaux
Saone riverfront walk
Walking along the Saone riverfront at night is magical, especially on a warm summer evening. All the restaurants are busy and everyone is seems to be hanging out at all the piers and sitting areas along the waterfront. Eclectic sounds of sappy Euro pop, the Beatles and Jazzy French beats echo through the public areas where people congregate, sing and even do some impromptu dancing. And it’s fun to just hang out by the river where it’s cool and breezy late into the evening with all these amazing landmarks lit up. Along the riverfront, the city has installed some local art and sculpture, including this dramatic sculpture below of two young lovers. Placed right next to this illuminated pedestrian bridge that leads to Vieux Lyon (the old medieval area of Lyon), it’s the perfect spot to take a photograph of Lyon’s central district and riverfront.
An elegant pedestrian bridge to Vieux Lyon
Exploring Vieux Lyon at night
The old medieval town is wonderful to explore at night with all the pedestrian zones filled with cafes and bars. You can explore the many promenades which all lead to the main square facing the cathedral of St. Jean with it’s stunning interiors and stained glass. Vieux Lyon is the perfect spot to really get a feel for the older parts of the city where all the main historic roman monuments and medieval buildings are located, including Lyon’s Cathedral of St. Jean and the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. If you want to see what the area of Vieux Lyon looks like during the day time, check out my post on Lyon’s attractions here.
Interior details of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
Dining in Vieux Lyon at night
Eating and shopping venues at Pres qu’ile
Check out some of my other favorite night tours of cities around the world below
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