Rich in history, populated by millions, intersected by two rivers, situated in France's beautiful Rhone-Alps region; kinda makes you wonder why Paris gets all the attention, doesn't it? Once a center of silk production in Europe, modern day Lyon is replete with remnants of past mystique and greatness, including the magnificent 12th century Cathedral St. Jean Baptiste, a network of once-secret passages known as traboules and UNESCO World Heritage status. Heck, there's even a Roman amphitheater to check out.
But while its history is certainly worth exploring, contemporary Lyon comes equipped with all the trimmings of a well rounded, 21st century metropolis. Fine arts and architectural museums settle in comfortably next to La Part-Dieu (one of Europe's largest shopping complexes) and barge-clubs on the Rhone, and all easily accessible thanks to the city's 43-station metro system. Then there's the food; that distinctive, world renowned Lyonnaise cooking that drives all the ladies wild. Yep - there's so much to tempt you within the city that you just might forget to check out what good old French geography has in store just beyond the city lines.
But what an array of adventures there are to tackle. Hikers will revel in an almost limitless supply of nearby and relatively nearby parks, including Parc du Pilat and the beautiful Massif des Bauges. Head further west and here come the Alps: those towering peaks that, come winter, will be covered in all the snow you could ask for, making Lyon a choice home base for ski and snowboard getaways as well. Throw in some great river rafting opportunities on the Isere or the Adreche Gorge (a little further out) and a few nights spent dancing to some of the country's hottest bands and DJ's, and you'll remember why you decided not to spend your French holiday confined to the capital.