Lyon or Lille – Which French City to Visit?

Lyon or LIlle

Which city is for you? Lyon or Lille

Ready to explore Lyon or Lille? But can’t decide which one to visit? In this blog post, we’ll help you decide by comparing everything both of these cities have to offer. So, which one will it be? The gastronomic capital of France, Lyon? Or the Flemish-influenced city of Lille?


A beautiful city located in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, Lyon is the third largest city in France. Once know for its role in the production and weaving of silk. It is no known as the gastronomic capital of France


Located in northern France, Lille has a great mix of French and Flemish cultures. Its unique character gives it real charm. It’s probably a bit underrated in comparison to other cities in France if we’re being honest.

Pros and Cons of Bordeaux and Lille



  • 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 some other French cities, such as Paris or Nice, 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 – Considering it’s Frances’s third biggest city, Lyon isn’t visited as much as other places Like Paris or Nice. Giving it a much more relaxed vibe.


  • 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.



  • Culture – Lille is a city rich in culture, with a vibrant arts scene, several museums, and historic landmarks like the Citadel of Lille.
  • Architecture – Lille boasts a variety of architectural styles, from Flemish to Art Deco, with some of the most notable examples being the Old Stock Exchange and the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
  • Shopping – Lille is a great destination for shoppers, with plenty of designer boutiques, trendy concept stores, and open-air markets.
  • Affordability – Compared to some other French cities, such as Paris or Cannes, Lille offers more affordable accommodation and dining options. It’s a great choice for budget-conscious travellers who want to explore northern France and nearby European cities.
  • Location – Lille’s location in Northern France makes it a great place to visit other French and Belgian cities like Paris, Brussels and Bruges.


  • Weather – Lille has a continental climate, which can be quite cold and rainy in the winter.
  • Limited outdoor activities – Unlike Lyon, Lille is not located near the mountains or the coast, so there are fewer opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking or swimming.
  • Language – While English is widely spoken in tourist areas, French is the main language in Lille and some locals may not speak English fluently.
  • Crowded in peak season – Like many French cities, Lille can get crowded with tourists in the summer months.

Best for: Lille is best for travellers looking to experience a vibrant cultural scene, unique architecture, and affordable shopping and dining options in northern France.

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 Lille

Lille is the fourth largest city in France so there’s plenty to do. Three days are probably enough to see everything it has to offer. But, if you want to extend your break and do some city hopping, Brussels, Ghent, Bruges and Dunkirk aren’t far at all!

How much is food and drink in Lyon or Lille?

Item Lyon Lille
Beer €5 – €7 €5 – €7
Glass of wine €3 – €10 €3 – €10
Coffee €1.50 – €3 €1.50 – €3
Meal at a midrange restaurant €20 – €40 €20 – €40

How much is it to stay in Lyon or Lille?

Accommodation Type Lyon Lille
Luxury hotel €150 – €500 €150 – €500
Midrange hotel €70 – €150 €70 – €150
Budget hotel €40 – €70 €40 – €70
Hostel €20 – €40 €20 – €40

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 Lille?

Lille’s location means the weather is never too extreme, so it’s definitely a year-round destination. Here are a few things to consider before booking.

Weather: Lille’s climate can be pretty unpredictable, it’s prone to rain all year round. Summers are warm and sunny. Winters can get very cold with temperatures as low as -5°C. If you want to avoid rain and crowds, visiting in April would be a good happy medium.

Festivals: Lille has plenty of festivals to attend throughout the year. But its biggest festival is the Braderie de Lille, a huge festival held every September. For the first week in November, the city turns into the biggest flea market in Europe. If you like shopping for antiques and other random things, this may be for you! Lille’s Christmas Markets are also worth a visit in the lead-up to Christmas.

Crowds: Lille can get busy during the summer and during Braderie de Lille. If you want to avoid the crowds don’t travel in the summer months or the first week in September.

Average Monthly Temperatures for Lyon and Lille

Month Lyon Temp (°C) Lyon Rainfall (mm) Lille Temp (°C) Lille Rainfall (mm)
January 3 53 3 50
February 4 50 4 39
March 8 51 6 43
April 11 60 8 42
May 15 76 11 51
June 19 72 14 58
July 22 57 16 63
August 21 67 16 59
September 18 75 13 49
October 13 78 10 57
November 7 63 6 56
December 4 55 4 55

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 Lille:

Lille is easy to get around due to its buses, trams and metro system. City passes are a good way to save money if you plan on making the most of public transport. Lille’s city centre is quite compact so it’s very walkable. You could hire a bike too if you wanted.

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 Lille

Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts: One of the largest art museums in France, there’s an impressive collection from artists like Rubens, Delacroix and Monet. It’s definitely worth going if you’re an art lover.

Stroll through Vieux-Lille: Lille’s old town, Vieux-Lille is filled with colourful buildings and cobbled streets. There are lots of boutique shops, great restaurants and nice cafes if you fancy a coffee whilst people watching.

Explore La Citadelle de Lille: The shape of this 17th-century pentagonal fortress is fascinating. It’s still a working military base so you can’t enter but you can walk around its walls and the surrounding grounds.

Visit the Lille Cathedral: In comparison to most European cathedrals Lille’s feels very different. It was built between 1856 and 1975, so there are parts of it that don’t have the same old-weathered look you expect with cathedrals. It’s still impressive though.

Check out the Wazemmes Market: Open every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday there’s loads of fresh produce like cheese, vegetables and sausages sold. It’s a must-visit for foodies. There are even little food stalls so you can get a pizza or some oysters if you’re hungry!

Take a Chocolate Tour: Lille has a reputation for its chocolate. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a chocolate tour might be a good idea. The tours take you around some of the city’s best chocolatiers, learning about the history of chocolate along the way.

Explore the Hospice Comtesse Museum: Housed in a 17th-century hospital, this museum is only small but has exhibits of art and artefacts from the 16th to the 20th century. Entry is free on the first Sunday of every month.

Check out the Saint Maurice Church: This 14th-century Gothic church is definitely worth a visit. It’s quite an unusual shape and is seriously impressive from all angles. The stained glass windows are really beautiful too.

Take a Beer Tasting Tour: Beer-tasting tours are a fantastic way to sample some local beers and learn more about the city. The tours last about 3 hours and make a fun afternoon!

Visit Lille Zoo: Home to over 450 animals, this zoo is relatively compact but it’s worth a visit. It’s quite cheap so it’s good if you’re wanting a low-cost activity.

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 Lille

Day 1:

Morning: Begin your trip with a visit to Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Allocate about three hours for this huge art gallery, there are over 72,430 sculptures, paintings and ceramics!

Afternoon: Have a wander around Lille’s beautiful old town. It’s a great place to just get lost and explore all the little shops and cafes. Make sure you try some good local food like Carbonnade Flamande or la tarte au Maroilles.

Evening: Go and see a show at Opéra de Lille. This building is spectacular inside and out. Plus tickets to the shows are very reasonable!

Day 2:

Morning: Get an early start and head to the Citadel of Lille. This impressive fortress looks amazing in the early morning light. It’s lovely to stroll around its grounds too.

Afternoon: Head over to La Piscine, a museum housed in a former art deco swimming pool! It’s a very cool building, I can imagine it would have been really cool to swim here when it was still a pool. There’s a great art collection of paintings, sculptures and textiles.

Evening: Spend your evening at the Rue de Gand. This famous street is filled with bars and restaurants so make sure you take an appetite and make the most of the amazing local foods.

Day 3:

Morning: Start your day with a visit to Wazemmes Market, there is loads of regional produce to try and buy. You could even get lunch at one of the stalls.

Afternoon: Make a choice between visiting Lille Cathedral or Saint Maurice Church. Saint Maurice Church is a little bit further out of the centre but is really beautiful. Lille Cathedral is very centrally located, it’s not quite as pretty as Saint Maurice but its size is very impressive.

Evening: Find a beer tour to go on before dinner then spend the evening sampling local foods.

Our ratings

Category Lyon Rating Lille Rating
Attractions 8 7
Accommodation 7 8
Food and drink 9 9
Safety 8 8
Transportation 7 7
Shopping 8 7
Culture & History 9 9
Nightlife 7 7
Total score 63 62

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