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Turn your city break into a microadventure 

Lyon:  Cross-country hiking from Lyon to Grenoble

Journeys often lead to adventures. Having a reason to hike from one place to another adds purpose to a journey and leads you to places you have never seen before, and meetings with interesting, interested local people. So consider booking a flight out to Lyon and your return flight two days later from Grenoble. 

Hike cross country from one airport to the other and see what you discover on the way. With planning, or a high level of adventure, you could do most of this hike off-road. But even if you stick to small roads (D-roads) then you'll be in quiet, wooded farmland most of the time. There are plenty of gentle rivers and secluded lakes to swim in along the way. That, plus a diet of bread and cheese, sounds perfect to me! The idea of this little adventure is for you to use your imagination and curiosity to plan your route. There is no official route here - I just made it up because it sounded fun to me! If you'd like to plan more carefully I recommend buying a detailed road atlas of France and plot your route. Tear out only the pages you require to save some space in your pack. 

Level of Difficulty: Hard (you need to be sure you are able to walk 60km and not get lost. Otherwise you'll miss your flight home!).  

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag. 

Best time to go: late spring.


Lyon really does represent the best things about France; arguably the finest cuisine in the world, beautiful classical French architecture, pavement cafes, perfectly manicured parks and even a World Heritage listed old town.  Paris might have the romance, Nice the beach, but Lyon has the food.  If you’re after a good meal, then look no further than France’s third-largest city. The gastronomy capital of the world, Michelin starred eateries, cafes and bistros abound. Not to mention, the city’s own traditional restaurants, known as bouchons offer up a healthy serving of hearty Lyonnaise cuisine such as coq au vin, all washed down with a glass of red – well this is Beaujolais country after all. You’ll find markets galore selling everything. 

This World Heritage listed old town is a delight of Renaissance gems, Gothic cathedrals and medieval churches, with many of the buildings doubling up as boutique hotels and restaurants. And as France’s third-largest city, you can expect the usual assortment of museums and cultural diversions.  This cosmopolitan city has a mix of everything from traditional pubs, wine bars, jazz cafes and even the odd riverboat-cum-nightclub or two, bobbing about on the River Rhone.  



Watch 350 hardy souls swim 8kms upstream along the Rhone as it traverses Lyon on 15th January. The "Traversée de Lyon à la nage" starts at 10am and you can watch from any of the river banks or bridges. See traverseelyon.nap.free.fr .

The Fete des Lumieres runs from 8 to 11 December, attracting millions of visitors from all over Europe. Get a map from the tourist office to find out where the best light shows are, and eat before setting out because it's a long walk! www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en

The Musee Lumiere has one of the best collections of movie-making equipment in the world. Spend a morning here for a complete education on the technical side of making pictures move: it's utterly fascinating. Head to institut-lumiere.org for more information.

Key Areas

The Henri Matisse exhibition at the Beaux-Arts museum runs until 6th March (closed Tuesdays) with 250 of his drawings on display tracing his artistic development throughout his career. More info from www.mba-lyon.fr .

Annecy is a fabulous day out from Lyon (an hour on the train) and 8 October is the "Retour des Alpages" a traditional festival welcoming herds back from the hilltops. Traditional dress, melted cheese, cows wearing flowers, music and dancing. For more information visit http://en.lac-annecy.com/.

Go to Croix Rousse market on a Sunday morning and browse the fabulous food stalls: think cheese, meat, patisserie and charcuterie stalls, as well as toys, knick-knacks, clothes and Irish bars for when you're tired.

The Museum of the Resistance (Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation) is a sobering but excellent reminder of the role Lyon played during WWII as the embarkation point for deported Jews and the heroism of those who resisted. www.chrd.lyon.fr/

Day Trips

Annecy, 1 hour 30 minutes by car from Lyon, is a stunning min-Venice complete with canals, tiny bridges, 12th century buildings and a crowd of bars and restaurants. The lake offers swimming, boating, pedalos, cycling, sun-bathing and pleasure cruises.

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*Prices shown are per person based on two people flying on the same booking. Fees & charges may apply. Min 4 seats available per flight, one way inc. taxes.