Do you hibernate in winter or do you still want to make the most of your time?
Winter in Lyon… I give you my Lyon off-the-beaten-tracks things to do as the locals do!
I share with you daily activities available in Lyon out of the mainstream touristic offers. I hope you will find some inspiration for your next visit…Or new activities and discoveries if you live in Lyon.
Table of Contents
Lyon off the beaten track activities & visits
Visit an authentic still in-function silk-weaving workshop
Lyon has been famous for silk production since the Renaissance. The silk industry became the main economic resource in the 17th and 18th centuries. Lyon counted about 15,000 silk pieces of machinery and 28,000 people working in the silk industry.
The silk workers (called Les Canuts in Lyon) were situated in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. They worked from home. The silk pieces of machinery were so tall that the Croix-Rousse buildings have extraordinarily high ceilings (4m or more) to fit the machines!
TSD silk workshop has been a family-owned business for generations. They are the last silk workers of Lyon as their workshop still produces and exports silk. Their workshop used to be located in the Croix-Rousse area.
They moved to a non-touristic area, due to the gentrification of the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. They are now in Vaulx-en-Velin near Lyon, near the metro station ” La soie” (silk in French).
TSD organises visits upon prior booking. They also have a shop where you can find the best quality silk products at a better price than the tourist shops in the Vieux Lyon area!
Off the beaten track Lyon museums
Lyon has a lot to offer in terms of museums. You will easily find the biggest ones mentioned on many different touristic guides and websites.
These 2 Lyon off-the-beaten-track museums trace an important part of Lyon’s history.
If you like fashion and quality fabric (like the local silk), the Musée des Tissus is for you! From historical French fashion history to local production explanation, you will discover both the history and the future of textiles and fashion.
The museum also has a fabric restoration workshop and works with students, and artists via their FabLab and research work.
Another important part of Lyon’s History is Lyon’s participation in the French resistance during WWII. From June 1940 when the Armistice was signed with Germany until November 1942, Lyon was in the free zone, unoccupied by the Nazi regime.
It quickly became the French capital of the resistance as Paris was occupied. You will discover this side of French and Lyon’s History at the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation.
If you are interested in this part of History and like French movies, you will like the movie Lucie Aubrac.
Indoor animated miniature park
Mini World is the French largest indoor animated miniature park. Everything is 87 times smaller than the natural size! There are several mini-worlds in the park and also one dedicated to Lyon and the Festival of Lights! This park has been created for both children and adults to discover the French countryside, the mountain and the city in a different way.
Relax at the hammam & the heated swimming pool
Open-air Tony Bertrand swimming pool
This open-air city centre swimming pool is commonly called by the Lyonnais “Piscine du Rhône”. You will have an unmissable view of the Rhône river and Lyon city centre!
Yes, it is open in winter and heated at 27ºC. A special swimming corridor gives access to the outside Olympic swimming pool without having to walk in the cold in a bathing suit!
It is ideal if you are an addicted swimmer! You will enjoy the fresh air, warm water and great view of Lyon Hôtel-Dieu!
Bring a robe or towels to avoid the cold when entering the water.Centre Nautique Tony Bertrand
Relax at the hammam
This is definitely something I love doing in winter! It is not specific to Lyon or even France, but there are many hammams in France thanks to the Maghreb community!
If you like humid heat (as opposed to the dry heat of the sauna), you will like the hammams, the Maghreb version of the Turkish baths. Most hammams have different opening hours for men and women. The baths are not mixed.
The Bain de l’Opera is exclusively for women. It has two late-night openings on Tuesdays and Fridays, a great way to chill out after work! I love to end the experience with some mint hot tea and Maghreb pastries! It is recommended to book in advance. They offer traditional Arabic scrubbing, a very dynamic and invigorating experience! If you prefer, most hammams also offer more international massages and care.
This is a Lyon off-the-beaten-track activity I like doing! I often give it as a present for my friends’ and relatives’ birthdays! It is a great way to catch up with your friend and relax on a cold winter day!
Just make sure you don’t plan much afterwards, as you will only want to chill!
I also liked the Spa des Canuts if you are in the Croix-Rousse area. It used to be a traditional hammam, now transformed into a Spa to accept a mixed clientele. You will still find an Oriental influence in the decoration.
Lyon off-the-beaten-track markets
The flea market
I love going early (before 8h30) on Sundays to take the time to wander around. I usually have lunch there. It is a good idea to go as soon as the restaurant of your choice opens to book a table or have an early lunch as it will get packed.
The flea market is divided into 4 areas:
- Louis La Brocante (also known as “Les tôles”): It is an authentic flea market, with second-hand products to be found and bargained.
- Les Traboules: This is an enormous depot considered the prestigious quarter of the flea market with renowned local vendors and antiquaries. A great place to wander around and take your time to find your treasure. A dream place for bargain hunters!
- The container village: It is the most recent area of the market where you will find upcycled treasures, quirky discoveries and vintage pieces assembled by artists.
- The school (l’école): This is a section dedicated to decoration with a more modern twist.
Sundays are the best day to go to the Puces du Canal as most vendors will be open. About 70% of the boutiques are open on Thursdays and only 50% on Saturdays. The professionals are sourcing the best treasures for their clients.
- Thursday: 7:00-13:00
- Saturday: 7:00-13:00
- Sunday: 7:00-15:00
The Charpennes market
If you like the French outdoor market, the Charpennes market, located at Place Wilson in Villeurbanne is one for the adventurer inside you. It is the biggest market on the Lyon Metropole.
It is a very lively market, definitely not as posh as Lyon’s market. There, the sellers stir up the crowd and make demonstrations of their products.
You will find many products from the Mediterranean at the best price in the city.
You will find a very large offer of cheap clothes and everything you need for your house at bargain prices!
The atmosphere is family-friendly. You can have your French breakfast at the bakery on Wilson square or choose to go for a glass of red at the buvette! You won’t find many tourists here! Definitely, a Lyon off-the-beaten-track gen to explore!
Address: Place Wilson (are the surrounding streets), metro Charpennes, line A, 69100 Villeurbanne
Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 8h30 to 12h30
My favourite cosy Cafés
Going to a warm and cosy café is an easy way to leave home and still be in a homey atmosphere! Luminarium makes you feel at home. It is super cosy with soft lighting and comfy armchairs!
You will find a large variety of organic teas but also Mokxa coffee! A very peaceful and nice atmosphere for a cold day!
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Café Sofffa is also a homey coworking space. It has a very nice and welcoming decoration. They have 2 addresses, one in Guillotière and the other one in Hôtel de Ville.
If you come just to have a drink, you can choose the 5 EUR hourly rate that gives you access to the buffet of cakes, biscuits and unlimited refills of coffee and tea.
It is a great space if you are a freelancer and don’t want to stay all the time at home. Check out their offer if you want to escape your living room!
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Le Desjeuneur is my favourite brunch place in Lyon. They have great American pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup!
I fell in love with this typical North American breakfast when I did an exchange in Canada, Ontario! It was so hard to find good ones after that!
Le Desjeuneur also offers a European Brunch and a vegetarian option. All are very generous and tasty! The café itself is very nice. In normal circumstances, it is a victim of your own success. Better going early than avoiding the 11h to 14h rush hour.
They offer takeaway and deliveries on the weekends from 10h to 15h.Les dejeuneurs – La Croix-rousse – Lyon
To wrap up
Winter doesn’t necessarily mean hibernating unless we are obliged to… Most of the 10 options I have listed are functioning or will open soon! There are many other possible activities in the city such as ice skating or doing an escape game!
I hope you have discovered some new possibilities or maybe rediscovered old ones! What will be your next discovery?