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Sites in Lyon Tours Day trips Getting around

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Place Bellecour in Lyon, France, is a vast square that was first set out in 1617. Just south of it is the Musée des Tissus (€4.60) at 34 rue de la Charité, Lyon's best museum with every kind of fabric from Egyptian linen to 20th century Raoul Dufy designs. North of the place Bellecour is the impressive Hotel de Ville and accompanying 19th century Bartholdi fountain in place des Terreaux. Here also is where you will find the Musée des Beaux Arts (€3.80) with a collection of Rodin, Picasso, Matisse and David works rivalled only by the collections in Paris' Louvre.

On the way to place des Terreaux you will pass the quartier Mercière, the 16th and 17th century commercial centre, now with old houses mingling with new bars, restaurants and shops, especially on rue de la République. Take a look at the opera house behind the Hotel de Ville. It was redesigned by Jean Nouvel in 1993 and now combines a Neoclassical façade with a rather space age glass roof. The interior is a black space with silver staircases leading you into the unseen.

After you have wandered around Vieux Lyon, and the Presqu'île, head up to La Croix Rousse where the silk workers (canuts) used to live. Here you will find the traboules, alleyways and tunnels that were used for moving delicate fabrics about the manufacturing district whilst protecting them from the weather. Later, Resistance members used the traboules to escape from the enemy. Try following the one from 36 rue Burdeau and see where you end up.

Once you've had your fill of old things, Lyon has plenty of more modern buildings to enjoy as well. On the eastern banks of the Rhone there are two Musées d'Art Contemporain, one of which is at the Cité Internationale (€3.81) and houses a very large collection of installation art, as well as some great temporary exhibitions. The building was designed by Renzo Piano and it combines a Neoclassical 1930s façade on the park side with a pink concrete construction on the riverside. The other Musée d'Art Contemporain is further east at 11 rue Dr Dolard (€4) and is a space where contemporary artists question the very nature and purpose of art and architecture. Also on the east side of town, in the 8th arrondissement, is the Institut Lumière at 25 rue du Premier Film (€5.50), which traces the development of the Lumière brothers' interest in moving pictures with magic lanterns and early cameras, and it shows films in the evening.