Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lyon with kids: fun and free

Can't afford Paris? Go to Lyon, and enjoy history, culture, French flair and excellent cuisine for half the price. Is it a kid-friendly destination? Absolutely, I bet your children will love it. We stopped for a few days in Lyon during our mini road trip through France, and discovered a city that offers lots of fun for families.

Ideas of free and fun activities in Lyon:

- Put on good hiking shoes and roam through the old city. In particular, explore the "traboules": those narrow passages, hidden behind secret doors, connect larger city streets. Children love the mystery of those secret passages and parents might discover along the most astonishing Renaissance architecture. 

- Spend at least half a day, if not more, in the Parc de la Tete d'Or. The park is huge, and most activities are completely free of charge. Visit the zoo, the greenhouses and the rose garden, play on the yard, all without spending a cent. (If little feet grow tired, you can still rent a funny family bike, or a boats the large lake, against a small fee.) 

- Climb the Fourviere hill, by foot or by cable-car (it's fun with the funicular, and there's no extra charge to your transportation day pass). Visit the roman theater ruins along the way and the basilique on the hilltop and descend through the steep but beautiful parks.

- Go to a museum. Entrance to the national museums is free for children below 18. Parents of large families get a discount. There's certainly no shortage of culture in Lyon. We picked the Musee Gadagne, which is a great choice for kids.

How to get around?

Lyon has an excellent, modern network of public transportation. For your peace of mind, and the fun of boarding the funicular, forget about driving and parking in the city center. A day pass to access all public transportation costs 5 Euro per person, children under the age of 4 ride for free.

Where to stay?

The Ibis Lyon Perrache is great for large families. It is quite centrally located, near a metro station. The family room is simply huge, with the charms of an old building. Book online for the best deal and skip the breakfast offer: the suite has a dining room with table and chairs to let you have breakfast like home. We ordered a deli meal (from a sushi shop) in the evening and picked up our croissants from a nearby bakery the next morning.