Staying out of the heat while staying active in Lyon city center and elsewhere
It’s summer in Lyon and it feels like we’re the ones roasting on that grill instead of those burgers. Lots of Lyonnais flee to the waters of the south for July and August, but if you’re not one of them there’s still plenty of ways to get out of the heat in Lyon this summer.
To that end, the city has put together a map of five cool courses for your next stroll around the city that use trees, buildings, and water to keep you feeling fresh in the great outdoors. We’ve tested them all and will be awarding superlatives accordingly.
From the depths of the 5th to the outer reaches of the 3rd, these “parcours frais” cover everything from countryside paths to inner city tunnels, so let’s get walking.
“Entre Campagne et Histoire Urbaine”
Hypothetical: 50 minutes
Realistic: 50 minutes for each section
The first of our paths meanders over two separate courses, and hence is deserving of two different superlatives, which we’ll get to in a minute. But first, let’s discuss! Entre Campagne et Histoire Urbaine (let’s call it E.C.H.U. for short, shall we?) sits on either side of the 5th arrondissement.
The first half runs from the far edge of the district near the Eglise Demi-Lune bus stop all the way in towards Gorge de Loup. It follows an old railroad track that’s now a dirt walking path, earning it our superlative for the shadiest path on the map! Stroll among the trees and under the bridges, and even get in a little workout at the fitness playground installed at one of the intersections.
The second half takes us into the city, starting near the Roman Theatres, running across to the Fourvière garden, and dipping down into the heart of Lyon’s old district. Start in the heights of one of Lyon’s famous hills and reward yourself with some froyo near the Cathédral St. Jean. As you may have guessed, this second half takes the cake for best views.
“De la colline qui travaille à la Presqu’île”
Hypothetical: 1 hour
Realistic: 1 hour or less
From the wilderness of our first path to the metropolis of our second! De la colline qui travaille à la Presqu’île (D.L.C.Q.T.A.L.P?) takes walkers down the center of the Presqu’île. Start at the exit of the Croix Rousse metro and head down the “pentes” to get a true taste of Lyon in the many traboules around the area.
The path is easy to follow; even if you’re not a pro at spotting traboules just follow the lion signs marking the doorways. Once down to river-level, De la colline runs the traditional course into Place des Terreaux, through the Église Saint-Nizier, past the new Grand Hôtel Dieu and into Bellecour.
If you’re visiting the city in the hotter months or showing someone around, it’s a good way to see the center without turning into a tomato, with a bonus dose of traditional Lyonnais history. For that, we’re awarding this path the designation of Most Lyonnais.
“L’eau en ville”
Hypothetical: 2 hours
Realistic: 2 hours or more
We promised you water and here it is! This popular path is one many have traveled already and everyone must try once. Starting at the exit of the Foch metro, L’eau en ville runs along the Berges du Rhône and into the Parc de la Tête d’Or, where it takes a refreshing lap around the lake.
Perfect for bikers, walkers, runners, rollerbladers, and everyone in between, get your fill of green and blue with the water and trees of Lyon’s biggest park. This is an ideal route for families too, with a flat, even course and lots of places to stop, sit, and relax.
One word of warning though: you certainly won’t be alone on this walk. It easily wins the prize for most highly trafficked of the five routes.
“A la découverte des quartiers du Parc Blandan”
Hypothetical: 30 minutes
Realistic : 30 minutes
Linking the third and seventh arrondissements is our fourth cool course, A la découverte des quartiers du Parc Blandan. The one thing we can say is that it truly is a discovery.
As the most eccentric of our five options, the Parc Blandan path starts out innocently enough from the exit of the Garibaldi metro to, you guessed it, Parc Blandan. Take your kids to play in the giant wood fort and slide area on the north side or take a ride at the skatepark on the south side.
Then head around the corner for an, uh, interesting twist at the Ancient Cemetery of Guillotière. It was opened in 1822 and quickly became Lyon’s main burial ground. It’s denoted a green space but as with most French cemeteries is now more stone than green. If you’ve never seen a French city cemetery before it’s worth a look, if only to appreciate a giant game of Tetris in the making.
“De parc en parc”
Hypothetical: 50 minutes
Realistic: 50 minutes one way
Our final option combines the 3rd with the 8th arrondissement this time, running all the way from Parc Chambovet to Place Ambroise-Courtois with two optional diversions around Place Henri and up to Parc Bazin.
This route is the least remarkable landscape-wise, running along city streets to link one end to the other, but does get our award for best playgrounds. Its course takes walkers through the brand-new Parc Zénith along with its massive wall mural and playground. It’s also worth the walk up to Parc Bazin for what may be the only playground in Lyon with swings. Swings, people!
It might not be worth the whole trek, but if you live in the area and are looking to switch up your playground game it’s definitely worth checking out the highlights.
There you have it! It might be in the 30s (that’s 80s and 90s for you Fahrenheiters!) but that’s no reason to sit in front of your fan all day!
Some of the courses are long, so if it’s really boiling out we recommend staying in your home area or heading straight for the highlights. If nothing else, they can be a nice change from the monotony of beating feet down the melting concrete of Rue de la République.
So stay active and stay hydrated, folks. It’ll be autumn before you know it. Click here to see the map and find a list of all the city’s designated “cool spaces.”