Learn French… in Lyons

cultural visits | destinations tips

In the series “learn French in”, Vacances Actives Linguistiques takes you to the capital of French gastronomy, Capital des Gaules, City of Lights, and City of Gones … so many names and renames to describe Lyons!

A few minutes of reading will inspire you on a gourmet, folkloric journey rich in experiences, with a taste of French slang!

Here is a tasty linguistic and cultural stay menu to visit France with our FLE guides keen on history and gastronomy! Discover our essentials, our flagship activities and our unmissable events in Lyons: the best destination in France for a gastronomic stay according to “The Times (2015)”. 

lyon, place vue de nuit
croisiere sur saone Lyon
lyon vue à la tombée de la nuit

A cultural stay in Lyons, UNESCO heritage

Discover Old Lyons and stroll through the traboules

traboule  du Vieux Lyon

Any traveller disembarking in Lyon must be well shod: wandering through the districts, traboules and old alleys of Lyons is exciting, energetic and endless! Each visitor will find his favourite era and district. You can walk around the city and soak up the cultural dynamism and historical richness of Lyons, and use the funicular at the Antiquaille to save yourself a little effort!

Our French guide, a true expert of the must-see “Vieux-Lyon”, a medieval and Renaissance district, will take students and learners through the traboules, these semi-hidden passages connecting the streets together and reveal surprising interior courtyards, Italian-style galleries, wells and spiral staircase towers…

From Fourvière to the Fontaine des Jacobins, from the Croix Rousse to the promenade of the Saône quays, Lyons offers a perfect setting for travellers who wish to follow a photographic circuit! The city is particularly photogenic!

vue sur la fourviere-de-lyon
lyon-vue sur les toits

Discover the district and the life of the Lyons Canuts


Lyon has built its fortune on the silk trade, developed at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. At the Canuts’ House and the Silk Factory, we rediscover ancestral looms and centuries-old silk printing techniques. Students and learners will be able to attend particularly unusual demonstrations in French, weaving workshops on Jacquard, or observe the various printing and hand painting methods, unique in France! 

Learning and discovering the city of Lyons continues in the Croix Rousse district, steeped in working-class life, the silkworm culture and the textile industry in the 19th century: a story full of twists and turns to share with our historian guide.

metier-tisser de la Maison Canut de Lyon
metier à tisser Maison des canuts de Lyon

The great architectural signatures

Lyons bears witness to great modern and contemporary architectural signatures, something to challenge and surprise foreign travellers: the Opera and its dome redesigned by Jean Nouvel, the fountain by Bartholdi with its horses smoking through the nostrils, the Lyons Confluence Museum on the Peninsula between Rhône and Saône… there is something for all architectural tastes!

Dome de l'Opera de jean Nouvel à Lyon
musee des Confluences à Lyon

Language study holiday in Lyons, come and test your chef skills in French!

Our gastronomic activities and workshops in Lyons

atelier cuisine de chef en groupe à lyon

4,300 restaurants, 20 starred restaurants, 20 traditional “bouchons”: enough to get lost as there is such an abundant choice (and quality) of good gastronomic addresses in Lyon, the birthplace of the world-renowned starred chef, Paul Bocuse.

By travelling with Vacances Actives Linguistiques for a linguistic and culinary stay in Lyons, you can count on our expert and gourmet guides to direct you to the best addresses, the real “bouchons” that do not deceive their customers. And why not introduce yourself to the culinary art made in Lyons!

Our team organizes various group experiences with French guides: Gastronomic tour of Lyons cuisine, tasting of Beaujolais wines (for adult learners only of course!), Pastry or cooking workshops. It’s up to you to choose the activities that will make your French speaking vacations as tasty as possible! You might also try the challenge of a workshop at the School of master Paul Bocuse… 

Gastronomic tour in French: the “Paul Bocuse” Halles 

portrait Paul Bocuse

Let’s stop at the halls of the Paul Bocuse market, which brings together some fifty high-end food shops. It is the meeting place for gourmets, and chefs who come to stock up on supplies. 

The more adventurous foreign travellers can be introduced to the workers’ snack early in the morning: the “mâchon”, made from cold meats and tripes, and a drop of Beaujolais! 

Or more soberly, prepare an authentic picnic with the many cold meats from Lyons or a local Saint Marcellin (a cheese).

At the table of a Lyons “bouchon”

bouchon lyonnais intérieur

The “bouchon” is anchored in popular imagery and has given all its character to the tables of French brasseries: a counter, red and white checked tablecloths, wooden furniture, adjoining tables, a decor of copper cookware and old posters… 

At noon, travellers will take advantage of this convivial moment to discuss their morning French lessons or visits, and to taste Lyon specialties in a good mood. Tablier de sapeur, Poulet Célestine, Quenelles de brochet, Cervelle de Canuts etc… so many specialties with incongruous names that call for curiosity, gluttony and storytelling at the table! You could finish off with a small slice of praline tart… 

spécialité lyonnaise - cervelle-de-canuts
machon lyonnais
spécialité lyonnaise - quenelle de brochet
spécialité lyonnaise - tarte aux pralines

When to go on a cultural trip to Lyons? For the Festival of Lights in December!

photo de femme - fete-des-lumieres

2020 did not totally turn off the city of Lyons on December 8. If the Festival of Lights has been cancelled, the inhabitants have maintained the tradition of placing or hanging tealights (short, fluted candles inserted into glasses) at their windows. This historic festival brings together millions of French and foreign visitors each year, one of the four largest festive gatherings in the world.

The entire ancient city dazzles the eyes during four days: heritage sites, river banks and hills, streets and neighbourhoods are illuminated and sound and light shows are given every evening for an impressive technical and artistic festival. 

December 8, a date to remember for all our groups of French learners curious to visit Lyons in a magical atmosphere !

lumignons de la fete de Lyon
décor de la fête des lumières de Lyon
fete-des-lumieres de Lyon

Learn French with… GUIGNOL

théâtre de Guignol de Lyon

Perhaps the reputation of Guignol has won over European countries and even across the Atlantic … A visit to the Guignol Museum will introduce our students in French to this fantastic character, emblem of the city of Lyons. This hand puppet created around 1808 by Laurent Mourguet is a silk worker, talkative and exuberant. He speaks the Lyons dialect and uses earthy expressions to evoke funny scenes of life, during performances in small theaters, sometimes mobile and improvised throughout France. So beware of Guignol’s little chastened vocabulary, it is not necessarily an example to follow for our learners of the language of Molière… 

Are you a French language teacher or a travel agent? Do you want to organize a language stay in Lyons?  

Vacances Actives Linguistiques, your travel language agency in France, organizes the entire trip and French courses in Lyons and in the area, through a tourist circuit between bouchons, art workshops and national museums! Vacances Actives Linguistiques offers you the “EXCEPTION FRANÇAISE” stay organized around the icons of the Lyons area : gastronomy, craftmanship, fashion, luxury products, history, tableware, entertainment, unusual things… Discover and prepare now! 

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