Lyon or Cannes – Which French City to Visit?

Lyon or Cannes

Which city is for you? Lyon or Cannes

When it comes to French cities, making a choice between Lyon or Cannes is never an easy one. Lyon is known for its rich gastronomic history. Whilst Cannes is known for the glitz and glamour of its world-famous film festival and seaside location. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about both cities so you can decide which one to visit.


A beautiful city located in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, Lyon is the third largest city in France. Once known for its role in the production and weaving of silk. It is known as the gastronomic capital of France


Located on the world-famous Côte d’Azur, Cannes is known for its yearly film festival. But there’s so much more to this city than just the red carpet. Beautiful beaches, luxury shopping and delicious food all await. If you like the finer things in life, Cannes is the place for you.

Pros and Cons of Lyon and Cannes



  • Gastronomy – Lyon is known for its world-renowned cuisine, with many Michelin-starred restaurants and local specialities like sausages and quenelles.
  • Cultural attractions – Lyon is home to a number of museums, galleries, and historic landmarks, including the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Vieux Lyon neighbourhood.
  • Festivals and events – Lyon hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Festival of Lights, which attracts millions of visitors.
  • Affordable accommodation – Compared to Cannes, Lyon offers more affordable accommodation options, making it a great budget-friendly destination.
  • Proximity to the Alps – Lyon is located near the French Alps, making it an ideal base for skiing and other outdoor activities.
  • Not a tourist hotspot – Lyon doesn’t suffer from the same level of over tourism as Cannes making it a much more relaxed destination.


  • No beach – Unlike Cannes, Lyon is a landlocked city, so there are no beaches or seaside activities.
  • Weather – Lyon has a continental climate, which can be quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • Less glamorous – While Lyon is a beautiful city, it doesn’t have the same level of glitz and glamour as Cannes or other French Riviera destinations.
  • Limited nightlife – While Lyon does have some nightlife options, it’s not as vibrant as in other French cities like Paris or Marseille.

Best for: Lyon is best for foodies and culture lovers, as well as those looking to explore the French Alps.



  • Glamorous vibe – Cannes is known for its glitz and glamour, with plenty of high-end shops, restaurants, and hotels.
  • Beautiful beaches – Cannes has several stunning beaches, including the famous Promenade de la Croisette, which stretches for two kilometres along the waterfront.
  • Great weather – Cannes enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
  • Cultural attractions – Cannes is home to several museums and art galleries, including the Musée de la Castre and the Musée de la Mer.
  • Proximity to other destinations – Cannes is an ideal base for exploring other parts of the French Riviera, with easy access to nearby towns like Antibes, Nice, and Monaco.


  • Expensive – Cannes is known for being an expensive destination, with high-end hotels, restaurants, and shops.
  • Crowded in peak season – Like Nice, Cannes can get very crowded in the summer months, making it difficult to find a quiet spot on the beach or in the town centre.
  • Limited nightlife – While Cannes does have some bars and clubs, the nightlife scene is not as vibrant as in other destinations like Nice.

Best for: Cannes is best for travellers looking for a glamorous and upscale destination with beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and exclusive events.

How long to stay in Lyon

With Lyon being the third largest city in France, there’s plenty to see and do. We’d recommend staying for at least two to three days, but you wouldn’t get bored if you stayed for a bit longer. There are plenty of museums, parks and landmarks to see. There are also plenty of interesting places to visit nearby. You could even visit Geneva, which is only two hours away by train.

How long to stay in Cannes

Cannes isn’t a big city, so you could comfortably see most of the main attractions in two to three days. But, there are plenty of tourist hot spots nearby like Saint-Tropez and Nice to visit if you want a longer break. You could even do a road along the French Riviera!

How much is food and drink in Lyon or Cannes?

Item Lyon Cannes
Beer €5 – €7 €6 – €8
Glass of wine €3 – €10 €5 – €12
Coffee €1.50 – €3 €2 – €4
Meal at a midrange restaurant €20 – €40 €25 – €50

How much is it to stay in Lyon and Cannes?

Accommodation Type Lyon Cannes
Luxury hotel €150 – €500 or higher per night €300 – €1000 or higher per night
Midrange hotel €70 – €150 per night €100 – €300 per night
Budget hotel €40 – €70 per night €60 – €100 per night
Hostel €20 – €40 per night €20 – €40 per night

When is the best time to visit Lyon?

Lyon has mild weather year-round, making it a great destination to visit at any time of the year. Here are some things to consider:

Weather: The weather in Lyon is pretty mild throughout the year. Summers can be dry and hot, luckily there’s plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the weather. Lyon does get colder in winter than other French cities like Bordeaux or Toulouse. It regularly drops below freezing and does snow on occasion. Luckily Lyon is famous for hot chocolate so make sure you warm up with one on a cold day.

Festivals: Lyon hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Festival of Lights in December, which is a must-see. The locals light candles in their windows in homage to the Virgin Mary and there are light installations throughout the city, it’s pretty spectacular.

Crowds: As with most European cities peak time in Lyon is during the summer. But it doesn’t suffer from the over-tourism as much as other better-known European cities like Paris or Barcelona. Spring is a good time to visit, as the weather is nice but the city isn’t too busy.

When is the best time to visit Cannes?

Cannes is great to visit all year round. But it gets extremely busy during summer and the Cannes Film Festival. Here are a few things to consider before booking:

Weather: Cannes has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. So mild winters and hot summers, you’ll rarely see freezing temperatures here, even in winter. It can get very hot in summer, so don’t forget your sun cream!

Festivals: Cannes is world famous for its film festival. But there, are other festivals like the Cannes Dance Festival held in December and the Cannes Yachting Festival in September.

Crowds: The summer months of July and August are peak tourist season in Cannes, which means the city can be very busy if you prefer a more relaxed visit, consider travelling during the off-season when the crowds have thinned out.

Average Monthly Temperatures in Lyon and Cannes


Month Lyon Average Temperature (Celsius) Lyon Average Rainfall (mm) Cannes Average Temperature (Celsius) Cannes Average Rainfall (mm)
January 3.3 42.8 9.4 61.4
February 5.3 41.9 9.9 51.9
March 9.7 47.1 11.7 49.6
April 13.1 66.5 14.4 69.3
May 17.2 99.2 17.6 51.8
June 21.1 77.7 21.1 28.8
July 24.1 52.4 23.6 13.1
August 23.3 67.4 23.4 22.6
September 19.4 87.9 21.1 64.8
October 13.9 86.5 17.0 101.3
November 8.2 65.6 13.1 87.1
December 4.6 53.7 10.0 72.6

Getting around

Getting around Lyon:

Lyon has a great public transport system. With buses, trams and a metro system it’s very easy to get around the city. If you’re planning on making the most of the public transport here, make sure you get a City Card they’re great for saving money. Walking is always a good option, it is a big city but it doesn’t take hours to walk between attractions like Paris can do.

Taxis are readily available but not particularly cheap.

Getting around Cannes:

Cannes is a small city, that’s very easy to walk around. There are regular buses that are cheap and easy to use. But, on a nice day why wouldn’t you walk?

There are plenty of bike hires available if you want to cover a bit more ground.

Top things to do in Lyon

Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière: This hilltop basilica is very impressive, and the unique architecture is very beautiful. Due to its location at the top of a hill, it offers amazing views of the city and river.

Explore the historic Vieux Lyon: Wander through the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon, the city’s beautiful old town. This area is full of charming old houses, traditional restaurants and secret passageways called (les Traboules).

Check out the Musée des Beaux-Arts: This art museum in a former 17th century Abbey features an expansive collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. It’s definitely worth visiting!

Visit the Parc de la Tête d’Or: With an area of approximately 117 hectares, this is Lyon’s largest urban park and a great place to relax and unwind on a nice day. There’s a botanical garden, a boating lake and even a zoo. Take a picnic on a warm day, you won’t regret it!

Taste the local cuisine: World-renowned for its cuisine, there are more restaurants per head here than anywhere in France! Ensure you allow plenty of time to try local specialities like quenelle de brochet or poulet de Bresse.

See the Hôtel de Ville: This Renaissance building is the third building that has stood there, the last building was burned down in 1871. The current building played an important role during the liberation of the city from German occupation in 1944

Take a river tour: There are plenty of tour operators on the river, tours generally take about an hour and are an interesting way to see the city and learn about its history.

Visit the Musée des Confluences: This modern science and anthropology museum is located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. It features interactive exhibits and a stunning architectural design.

Wander around the Croix-Rousse district: Formerly the location of Lyon’s silk industry, this area is now known for its street art and lively nightlife.

See the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste: Home to Lyon’s own astronomical clock, this cathedral is located in Vieux Lyon and is famous for its stunning architecture. Built on the ruins of a 6th-century church, it was finished in 1476.

Top things to do in Cannes

La Croisette: Take a stroll along the famous promenade, La Croisette. This palm-lined boulevard runs parallel to the sea and is home to designer boutiques, upscale hotels, and glamorous restaurants. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a spot of people-watching.

Le Suquet: Visit Cannes’ charming Old Town. There are plenty of narrow streets to wander through, colourful houses to look at and cute little squares to sit in. Make sure to visit the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance church, too.

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès: This convention centre is where the world-famous film festival is held! Go and take a picture on the red carpet, or you could even go and see a show.

Îles de Lérins: Go on a boat trip to Îles de Lérins, these four islands are just off the coast of Cannes. Only two are inhabited, one is home to an 11th-century monastery and the other is home to a 14th-century castle. The islands are seriously beautiful, make sure they go on your must-see list!

Rue d’Antibes: If you’re fancying a bit of retail therapy head to Rue d’Antibes, one of the main shopping streets in Cannes. You’ll find plenty of boutique shops and high-end fashion stores here.

Musée de la Castre: Sitting at the top of a hill in Le Suquet, this medieval castle is home to a museum featuring a variety of art and artefacts. The views over Cannes and Îles de Lérins is incredible. Even if you’re not into art, just go for the view!

Le Marché Forville: This daily marketing has amazing fresh produce on offer, cheeses, meats, vegetables and anything else you can think of. If you’re into cooking or food you have to go! It’s perfect for finding ingredients for a picnic or just grazing.

Villa Rothschild: Built in 1881 for Baroness Betty Rothschild, this beautiful mansion is definitely worth visiting. The manicured gardens are great for relaxing in, it’s location also offers amazing views of the city and the sea.

Plage du Midi: This beach is a short walk away from the city centre. It’s a bit quieter than Croisette Beach located in the centre. Great for a relaxing afternoon sunbathing or swimming in the sea.

Iron Mask and Fort Royal Museum: Located on Ile Sainte Marguerite, part of the Îles de Lérins. This fort contains the prison cell of the legendary man in the Iron Mask. The museum isn’t big but it’s got some great views and it’s nice to wander around the island.

How to spend three days in Lyon

Day 1:

Morning: Begin the day with a coffee and a croissant in Lyon’s beautiful old town, Vieux Lyon. Spend the morning wandering around admiring medieval architecture whilst the city wakes up. Stop off and see Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste which has its own astronomical clock.

Afternoon: Take the funicular to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière to see the amazing views of the city. Have a look inside the Basilique for an interesting mix of Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque inspiration. The stained glass windows are especially impressive.

Evening: Try some typical Lyonnaise dishes at a local restaurant make sure you try some local wines too. After dinner take a walk along the Rhône River and enjoy the beautiful views of the city and its skyline.

Day 2:

Morning: Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the country’s most impressive art museums. You can see works by world-renowned artists such as Rubens, Monet and Picasso.

Afternoon: Spend a relaxing afternoon at Parc de la Tête d’Or. Take in the scenery and see the botanical gardens, you could even rent a boat out on the boating lake!

Evening: Spend the evening getting a feel for the Croix-Rousse, this trendy district used to be known for its silk production but now it’s full of great restaurants and cool bars. It’s a bit hilly, so take some comfortable shoes!

Day 3:

Morning: One for the history buffs. Visit the Musée Gallo-Romain, this museum shows Lyon’s Roman past. Entry is pretty cheap and there’s plenty of mosaics, sculptures and other artefacts to see.

Afternoon: Take a guided tour of the city’s traboules. There are as many as 400 of these hidden passageways throughout the city. A guided tour is definitely the best way to find and learn about them!

Evening: End your trip with dinner in the old town, this beautiful area is fantastic to visit at night. Make sure you go and try some local wines afterwards at a bar.

How to spend three days in Cannes

Day 1:

Morning: Begin the day with nice coffee and some pastries from a local bakery, then head to Plage du Midi beach. Soak up a bit of sun and relax on the sand. Maybe go for a quick dip to wake yourself up!

Afternoon: Treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy on Rue d’Antibes. This street is full of chic boutiques and high-end shops, perfect for shopaholics! After you’ve worked up an appetite head to Le Suquet, Cannes’ charming old town. Grab a traditional French lunch at a cosy bistro, and don’t forget to try some local specialities like a Nicoise Salad with a nice glass of rose.

Evening: Head to Quai Saint-Pierre to see the huge yachts and watch the sun go down. There are plenty of restaurants offering beautifully fresh seafood dishes. Have a few drinks and head back to the hotel.

Day 2:

Morning: Get the ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite and discover the island’s hidden gems. Have a wander around the Iron Mask and Fort Royal Museum and see the cell where the island’s most famous prisoner was imprisoned. There are plenty of lush forests to explore, maybe take a picnic and have an alfresco lunch whilst looking out over Cannes and the Côte d’Azur.

Afternoon: Get a boat over to Abbaye de Lérins. An ancient monastery on Île Saint-Honorat, the second largest of the Lérins Islands. The island is still inhabited and managed by the monks that live at the monastery!

Evening: Make your way back to the mainland and visit the Musée de la Castre. A medieval castle sat on a hill overlooking the Riviera. There are plenty of exhibits to look at, the views are incredible too.

Day 3:

Morning: Spend the morning wandering around Le Marché Forville. This bustling market offers amazing local produce like cheeses, meats and pretty much anything else you can think of! Grab some street food for lunch or buy some local produce for a picnic.

Afternoon: See how the other half used to live at The Villa Rothschild, a stunning 18th-century mansion. This impressive villa is surrounded by well-kept gardens. Not to be confused with Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Nice.

Evening: Head over to Palais des Festivals et des Congrès to get some photos on the red carpet. You could do a tour or catch a show if there’s one on. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting at the same time as the film festival you might even catch a glimpse of some world-famous actors and celebrities.

Our ratings for Lyon and Cannes:

Category Lyon Rating Cannes Rating
Attractions 8 8
Accommodation 7 8
Food and drink 9 9
Safety 8 9
Transportation 7 7
Shopping 8 7
Culture and history 9 6
Nightlife 7 8
Total score 63 62
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