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Founded in 43 BC Lugdunum became an important city in the Roman Empire, and the birthplace of two emperors. Once known for the production and weaving of silk, now France’s second largest city, Lyon is a financial powerhouse and friendly to innovative technology start-ups. It's also respected as a capital of gastronomy, and an important international center for film. Vieux Lyon, the old city, is a United Nations World Heritage Site.
Historically French and Swiss, Lyon has become home for many Vietnamese, Algerian, and Spanish immigrants. In 2009 the French became a minority of 48 percent of the population, and the city is also second only to Paris for numbers of British and American expats. More than a few bars, stores and associations cater to these thousands of English speakers, and many websites have pages in English as well as French.
Most of Lyon's gay scene is found in Vieux Lyon, on the presqu'isle bounded by Le Rhone and La Saone, and almost all gay points of interest are within an easy ten-minute walk of each other. Fierté is the city’s annual gay pride festival, held every June.
Aéroport de Lyon-Saint Exupéry is about 13 miles east of the city center. Lyon is approximately two hours by TGV (the amazing trains which travel at tres grande vitesse) from Paris.
Lyon has an impressive public transportation system of buses, trams, and trains. Getting just about anywhere is quick and cheap. For information see the TCL SYTRAL website.
Vélo'v provides bikes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at locations all over Lyon and Villeurbanne, at intervals of 300 meters or so.
The Rhône and Saône rivers form a peninsula, the Presqu'île to the south of the historic city center, with two large hills and a large plain to the east. Place Bellecour, in Presqu'île, is the third largest public square in France, from which the broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north, among fine old buildings.
The original medieval city, Vieux Lyon, is on the the Saône river west bank below Fourvière hill. The area, along with parts of Presqu'île and Croix-Rousse are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Most modern gay points of interest are to be found in the area.
Fourvière, or "the hill that prays" for the basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière here, is crowned by the Tour métallique a TV tower looking like the top of the Eiffel Tower. A funicular railway ascends the steep hill.
Croix-Rousse, to the south, called "the hill that works" was home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was famous.
Currency and Money
France is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. There are plenty of ATMs in the downtown area.
Media & Resources
Heteroclyte is an excellent local sources of gay information online for Lyon and surrounding areas.
The Tourist Office guide lists places that cater to Lyon’s gay community as well as their general information for visitors.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Lyon listings pages.
À Chacun Sa Tasse (2 rue du Griffon), tea and coffee house/cafe, shop, world-wide selections, cocktails, juices, art exhibits
Broc Bar (20 rue Lanterne), great sidewalk terrace cafe, casual vibe, deco colors, morning coffee from 7:30am, afternoon and evening cocktails until 10pm.
Bull Café (24 place de la Croix-Rousse), former Bar du Gymnase, easy-going mix of all types at the center, playful cocktails.
Drôle de Zèbre (6 rue de Cuire), gay/lesbian and friends, do-it-yourself music bar, internet and CD libraries.
It Bar (20 bis Montée Saint-Sebastien), friendly locals' neighborhood music bar, gay/straight men/women mix.
L'Etoile Opera (26, rue de l'Arbre Sec), cocktail bar and restaurant, mixed clientele, delicious light lunch.
La Cours des Grands (60 Montée de Choulans), bistro/restaurant, tapas bar, gay/mixed nightclub dancing, large green and tranquil terrace.
La Ruche (22, rue Gentil), local institution, popular with fun crowd, international ambience, warm-weather terrace, Sunday 6pm buffet spreads.
Le L Bar (9 rue du Garet), Lyon's lesbian party bar, cocktails, terrace, Wii games.
CLOSED: Le Cap Opera (2, place Louis Pradel), young, sophisticated crowd, theme parties, tasty munchies, sidewalk terrace; Matinée Bar (2-4 rue Bellecordière), electronic evenings, DJ sets, terrace gay crowd, theme parties, light lunch.
Impérial Discothèque (24 rue Royale), Thurday-Saturday gay-friendly electronic dance club, open until 5am.
Le Marais (3, rue Terme), re-opened in old Mix location, piano and karaoke bar, dancing from midnight.
L'United Cafe (Impasse de la Pecherie), aka L'UC, the club in town for young, cool mostly male crowd until 5am, seven nights. Karaoke and game nights, drag Wednesdays, "Black-Out Zone" Sundays.
CLOSED: Le Crazy (24 rue Royale), LGBT dance club; Le Pop (12 quai Maréchal Joffre), monthly Fever gay dance party beside the river.
Grenoble, to the southeast of Lyon, has one gay, lesbian and friends dance club, George V (124 cours Berriat); open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30pm, with Saturday theme parties.
At Tignes Ski Resort, to the east of Lyon near the Italian border, European Snow Pride takes place in March. This winter sports and music festival features skiing, snowboarding, aprés-ski hot tubs, a gay film festival, DJs/ dance parties and after hours, cabaret/ piano bar and games evenings, cocktail parties, a pool party in "Le Lagon" and more.
Men Club (2, cours d'Herbouville), hard-sex club bar, bondage, fetish, water-sports, slings, cage, cabins, dark back room.
Le Premier Sous-Sol (7, rue Puits Gaillot), sex club in quartier des Terreau, two levels of fun and fantasy, videos, back-room, mazes, private cabins; seven days a week until 5am, weekends 8am.
Le Trou (6, rue Romarin), open seven days, 2pm to 3am (to 6am Fridays and Saturdays), full agenda of fetish/leather, fisting, naked, jack-off, cockring, bear, black out, piss parties -- men only.
CLOSED: BoxBoys (30 rue Burdeau), fetish and bondage bar, fisting, slings, g-holes, black-outs, naked/underwear nights, cabins, showers, fetish parties.
This city boasts a good selection of four saunas, with all the facilities you'd expect.
Le Double Side (8, rue Constantine), open daily noon to 3am -until 5am Friday/Saturday, younger crowd than most, naked nights, buffets.
L'Oasis Club (2, rue Coustou), hot local steam and sauna options for men with cruising and videos.
Le Sauna Bellecour (4, rue Simon Maupin), full men's sauna/hammam facilities, backroom & videos, "relax room" and bar.
Le Sun (3, rue Ste Marie des Terreaux) - CLOSED - sibling to big stylish club in Marais gay district of Paris - a modern steam/sauna/cruise heaven for men Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, largest of it's kind in France. Wednesday through Saturday it's Sun Libertine club, with a mix of men and women.
DOGklub (12, rue du Romarin), local outlet for DVD retail and rentals, fetish gadgets, lubes, toys, etc. Saturday night 11pm-3am la Krypte sex club nights: 1st Sat XXXFetish; 2nd Sat BDSM Mixte; 3rd Sat Orgy; plus 4th Sat OASIS Gang Bangs - Gay, Bi + Mixte Sex Parties.
Oft' called the gastronomic capital of France, and so the world, the food and wine of Lyon is good anytime, and lunch menus are surprisingly inexpensive. The famous chef Paul Bocuse left a legacy of restaurants and cooking schools, and there are plenty of classic Lyonnais bouchons and comptoirs, and typical French bistros and brasseries to explore. See our map & listings page for two dozen suggestions, including these gay favorites:
Athina Restaurant (3 rue Romarin), lunch and dinner hours, traditional Greek pita bread sandwiches, souvlaki, side and salads.
Casa Lola (5 rue Pizay), Spanish deli and restaurant, paella, tapas, wine bar, tea house.
Hänsel & Gretel (17 rue Hippolyte Flandrin), beers and fast food of Germany.
La Bouteillerie (9 rue de la Martinière), intimate bouteillerie cellar and wine bar, a hundred wine varieties, mostly Rhone Valley and Burgundy small vineyards; wine tastings, small plates charcuterie, foie gras and cheese.
Le Jean Moulin (22 rue Gentil), gay-favored local bistro, late service hours until midnight.
Les Chats Siamois (4, rue des Feuillants), traditional Thai soups, curries, rice dishes, meat & veggie
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (31 rue René Leynaud), unpretentious fine dining, good wines, pleasant and convivial ambience.
Oh! Paradis (13 rue Sainte-Catherine), dinner club, tapas or full meal menus, drag cabaret shows at 10pm on week days, 10:30pm Friday/Saturday.
Pain & Cie (13 rue des Quatre Chapeaux), country-style bread, rustic atmosphere, breakfast, lunch and dinner, Saturday/Sunday brunch, fresh juices.
Hotel Le patio des Terreaux (9, rue Sainte-Catherine; 04-7828-1101), renovated historic building from silk ateliers days (Lyon was once world leader in silk production). Comfortable rooms, private baths, sexy TV after 1am.
The Hotel Iris (36, rue de l'Arbre Sec; 04-7839-9380), good local lodgings, mixed clientele.
For more a dozen more hotels and guesthouses in Lyon see our maps and listings tab above.
English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary Thomas Paine was arrested, imprisoned, and narrowly escaped death in Lyon in 1793 as the Girondist faction was suppressed by the Montagnards during the French Revolution. His associates Jacques Pierre Brissot and Madame Roland, along with over 2,000 others, were executed when the city surrendered after a siege of two months. Jean Marie Roland, friend and ally to Paine, committed suicide soon after.