Vieux Lyon, located in the 5th arrondissment, is the oldest district in the city. It translates into English as Old Lyon. It was a vibrant center for culture and the arts during the period of the Renaissance, but wound up in a state of relative disrepair by the second half of the twentieth century. It was not until 1964 that Vieux Lyon became the first protected historic district in France. It comprises one of the largest Renaissance quarters on the continent and features an array of churches, architecture, and art, as well as the modern conveniences of hotels in Vieux Lyon, cafes, and restaurants.
Old Lyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. It is mainly made up of the Croix-Rousse, the Fourviere hillside, and the Presqu’ile area near the confluence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers. This charming district is known not only for its many historical and cultural attractions, but also for its elegant buildings, narrow streets, and traboules (or covered passageways). It is a perfect area of the city to both take in significant cultural attractions, history, and also simply relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful parts of the city. There are no shortages of shops or restaurants to keep you entertained and well fed. It is noteworthy that you can set up a guided tour to in English or French to help you make the most of your experience touring Vieux Lyon attractions like Saint Jean Cathedral. There is so much history contained within many of the attractions at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, that it is advisable to take advantage of one of the modesty priced guided tours through the historic district.
The Vieux Lyon area is primarily centered around three major religious monuments: Saint Jean Cathedral, the medieval Church of Saint Paul, and Saint Georges Church. The Saint Jean Cathedral is the oldest of all three and contains some of the most popular attractions in all of Lyon, including the famous Astronomical Clock. The Bourbon Chapel, medieval stained glass, and archaeological gardens are of special interest as well at this impressive Gothic church. The octagonal bell tower of the Church of Saint Paul is one of the more iconic feats of architecture in the city, and Bossan, the same man who designed the Fourviere Basilica, designed Saint Georges. All three of these sacred destinations are must-sees in Old Lyon.
There are a variety of hotels in Vieux Lyon should you decide to stay in this area. Hotel Saint Paul is a reasonably priced accommodation located in a gorgeous, fourteenth-century building in the heart of Vieux Lyon. There are plenty of bouchons (local restaurants) in the area as well as cafes. You have easy access to the public transport system from here, too. The accommodations are basic but comfortable and the staff is very helpful. The reception desk is open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Hotel Villa Florentine is an example of one of the nicer hotels in Vieux Lyon. It is housed in a spectacular pink, sixteenth-century mansion that overlooks the city. It is a wonderful, four star boutique hotel that offers a fine dining restaurants onsite, a swimming pool, and a spa and wellness center. No matter where you choose to stay in Old Lyon, you are sure to have a wonderful experience.