Things to do on a rainy day in Lyon

The clouds have rolled in, the rain drops are falling steadily, and the weather report shows no sign of it letting up anytime soon. What to do on your rainy day in Lyon? No worries, though it may be wet and gray out, Lyon offers many great things to do when the sky opens up! Let me share a few of my favorite ideas with you for when it rains in Lyon…

Start off the day warm and cozy

Take it easy and linger over an excellent cup of coffee and the delectable treats at Kitchen Café. Their decor is simple but cozy and full of interesting details that vary from antique sewing machines to handmade pottery made by local artists. Dig into a bowl of their original recipe granola layered with fresh fruit, honey and faisselle (a creamy whole-milk cheese, similar to yogurt) and nibble on their delicately delicious financiers as you sip your coffee. Wonderful original menu too ! The perfect place to hide out on a rainy morning !

Undercover Foodie

A rainy day in Lyon is the perfect time to visit Les Halles Paul Bocuse, Lyon’s must-see covered food market. If you love French food, this is your paradise! Take in the sights and smells of 50 stands selling the very best in French cuisine. Stop and taste a few things as you stroll through this mythic foodie treasure trove. Try a tasting platter at Fromagerie Mons and discover the rich and varied world of French cheese, sample myriad sausages and charcuteries at Maison Sibilia, or pull up a stool and sip a glass of wine with the locals at the Bar Fer à Cheval.

Lyon’s Covered Passages

Pass entre les gouttes (between the raindrops) as the French say and check out Lyon’s passageways. Stroll through the Passage de l’Argue and discover a fragment of 19th century France and take your time browsing in the old-fashioned French specialty shops that still line the passage: hats, stockings, knives, pipes, and even umbrellas ! We really recommend Violette & Berlingot for candies !
Or journey even further back in time and stay dry as you explore the extensive network of Traboules in two of Lyon’s most historic neighborhoods, Le Vieux Lyon and La Croix Rousse. Traboules are passages, architectural details that are specific to Lyon, that connect parallel streets and invite us to take a peek at the interior courtyards of the historic buildings around us. Only Lyon’s Traboule map will help you trace your marathon of Traboule discovery.

Long Lunch à la Française

After your morning activities, settle into a bouchon or a bistro for a long lunch à la française. Most French workers enjoy a two hour lunch break and it isn’t uncommon to take advantage of a long break mid-day. Pull up a chair at the red-checkered table clothes of the Café des Fédérations, or Chez Mounier, Lyon’s most famous bouchons and take your time savoring the authentic Lyonnaise cuisine: salade lyonnaise, andouillette, civet de joue de porc, quenelle sauce Nantua… not to mention their selection of regional wines “en pot” (excellent and affordable house wines).

Greenhouses at the Lyon Botanical Gardens

If you were really hoping to get an outdoor experience but the rain is getting you down, no worries! Grab your umbrella and head to the Parc Tête d’Or where you can take cover in the greenhouses at the Lyon Botanical Gardens. Certain greenhouses date back to the creation of the park in 1857, but the magnificent central Greenhouse was built a bit later, in 1880. Wander the collections of carnivorous plants, the camellia collection, and travel through the climates of the world all under the cover of these historic structures.

Parc de la Tête d'Or Lyon greenhouse botanical garden
Crédits : Thomas Bresson

Museums, our favorites off the beaten track

Museums have always been a classic fall-back for travelers on rainy days and in Lyon, you’ll have your choice of many that offer great collections in amazing spaces. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée des Confluences (natural history), and the Musée Gadagne (Lyon history) are most often talked about on most Lyon tourist information sites, but we have a few favorites that we think are worth going out of your way for…

  • Musée Lumière

Soak in the fascinating story of the birth of cinema and the ever-inventive Lumière brothers at the Musée Lumière. Set in the Lumière family’s gorgeous art nouveau villa, the museum will walk you through the evolution of photography and the moving image as well as many other inventions of Auguste and Louis Lumière. My favorite part: early footage filmed by the Lumière agents dispatched all over the world that will transport you back in time, before anyone in the street even knew what a camera looked like. After you’ve explored the museum in the villa, check out the hanger next door, where the famous first film “workers leaving the factory” was shot and an incredible relic of this neighborhood’s industrial past.

Credits : Marko Kudjerski
Credits : Marko Kudjerski

  • Musée des Miniatures

Step in off the rainy streets of the Vieux Lyon to discover a small world of wonders at the Musée des Miniatures. I did so myself on a rainy day and much to my surprise, fell in love with this often overlooked museum located in a 16th century building in the heart of Lyon’s Old Town. Once you go beyond the showy entry hall, you’ll dive into the world of miniatures and specifically those that are created for the film industry to serve as sets. Be sure not to miss the artists’ studio at the end of your visit where miniature artist Dan Ohlmann and his team work their magic recreating the world in miniature.

  • Centre Historique de La Résistance et de La Deportation

Explore the complex history the French experience of the Second World War at the Centre Historique de La Résistance et de La Deportation. The permanent exhibition retraces the history of the war, specifically as it affected Lyon, and allows the visitor to step back into time through the door of a 1940s French home. The museum takes advantage of temporary exhibitions to explore other topics related to the period.
Before you know it, you’ll have spent yourrainy day discovering the fascinating interiors of Lyon and it will soon be time to decide where to head for drinks and dinner…

  • Musée des Tissus

The textile museum has the largest collection of fabrics in the world ! Discover there the silk that made Lyon famous because it used to be the main industry during 3 centuries. 
Before you know it, you’ll have spent yourrainy day discovering the fascinating interiors of Lyon and it will soon be time to decide where to head for drinks and dinner…

Address book:

  • Kitchen Café 34 Rue Chevreul, 69007 Lyon
  • Les Halles Paul Bocuse 102 Cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon
  • Passage de l’Argue between rue de Brest and rue de La République near place des Jacobins
  • Café des Fédérations 9 Rue Major Martin, 69001 Lyon
  • Mounier 3 Rue des Marronniers, 69002 Lyon
  • Lyon Botanical Gardens – Parc Tête d’Or 69006 Lyon
  • Musée Lumière 25 rue du Premier-Film 69008 Lyon
  • Musée des Miniatures 60, rue Saint Jean 69005 Lyon
  • Centre Historique de La Résistance et de La Deportation 14 avenue Berthelot 69007 Lyon
  • Musée des Tissus 34 Rue de la Charité 69002 Lyon