Lyon or Biarritz – Which City Will You Visit?

Which city is for you? Lyon or Biarritz

If you’ve landed on this page, we’re assuming you’re thinking about a trip to Lyon or Biarritz. Whether you’re planning a holiday or looking for a new destination to explore, both cities have a lot to offer. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the unique aspects, attractions, and features of both cities to help you decide which one suits your preferences.


Lyon might not have the worldwide fame of Paris or the glamorous beaches of the Riviera, but boy, does it have charm! Set between two rivers, Lyon is like a treasure chest for history buffs. It’s crammed full of Renaissance-era architecture, with the old town, Vieux Lyon, being a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But that’s just scratching the surface. Lyon’s also known as France’s ‘culinary capital’, and once you’ve tried a local bouchon restaurant, you’ll see why. The city is also famed for its vibrant cultural scene, with a host of museums, theatres, and festivals that keep the city lively throughout the year. If you love good food, rich history, and a city that pulses with life, Lyon’s got you covered.


Often referred to as the ‘surfing capital of Europe’, Biarritz is a stunning seaside city located on France’s Basque coast. It’s a place where the glamour of the old world seamlessly blends with the laid-back vibes of a surf town. Known for its grand, Belle Époque architecture, pristine beaches, and world-class surfing conditions, Biarritz is truly an ocean lover’s paradise.

Not to forget the city’s vibrant food scene that boasts a unique mix of traditional Basque specialities and innovative fusion cuisine. And if that wasn’t enough, the city also offers plenty of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and historic sites. In short, Biarritz is a delightful mix of elegance, culture, and adventure – an ideal destination for any traveller!

While we’re comparing Lyon and Biarritz in this post, we’ve also looked at how Lyon stacks up against other cities like Cannes, Montpellier and Marseille. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Lyon or Cannes

Lyon or Marseille

Lyon or Montpellier

Pros and Cons of Lyon and Biarritz

Lyon pros:

  • 🥐 Gastronomic Paradise: Lyon is renowned as the food capital of France, offering a delightful culinary experience with its vibrant food markets, traditional bouchons, and Michelin-starred restaurants.
  • 🏛 Rich Cultural Heritage: Lyon boasts a fascinating blend of history and culture, from its UNESCO-listed Old Town to its impressive Renaissance architecture and ancient Roman ruins.
  • 🎨 Vibrant Arts Scene: The city is a hub for arts and culture, with numerous museums, galleries, and theatres showcasing a wide range of artistic expressions.
  • 🌳 Ideal Location: Lyon’s central location in France makes it a perfect base for exploring the surrounding regions, including the picturesque countryside, charming villages, and renowned wine regions like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône.

Lyon cons:

  • 👫 Crowded Streets: Lyon’s popularity as a tourist destination can sometimes lead to crowded streets and attractions, especially during peak seasons.
  • 💶 Higher Prices: As a major city and tourist hotspot, Lyon can be relatively more expensive compared to smaller towns and rural areas in France.

Biarritz pros:

  • 🏖 Stunning Beaches: Biarritz boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, making it a haven for sun-seekers, surfers, and beach lovers.
  • 🏄‍♀️ Surfing Paradise: With its ideal coastal location, Biarritz offers excellent waves for surfing, attracting surfers from around the world.
  • 🏛 Elegant Architecture: The city showcases elegant and Belle Époque architecture, with its iconic Hôtel du Palais and charming waterfront promenades.
  • 🍷 Basque Culture: Biarritz provides a unique blend of French and Basque culture, offering visitors a chance to experience the vibrant traditions, cuisine, and festivals of the region.

Biarritz cons:

  • 🏛 Limited Size: Biarritz is relatively smaller compared to Lyon, offering fewer attractions and cultural landmarks.
  • 👫 Seasonal Crowds: During the summer months, Biarritz can become quite crowded with tourists, particularly on the beaches and in popular areas.

Which City Has Better Food? Lyon or Biarritz?

Lyon, known as the gastronomic capital of France, is a food lover’s paradise. From traditional Lyonnais dishes served in cosy bouchons to Michelin-starred restaurants, Lyon is a haven for food enthusiasts. The city’s vibrant food markets, such as Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, offer a feast for the senses with an array of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and mouthwatering pastries. Lyon’s rich culinary heritage and dedication to quality ingredients make it an excellent choice for foodies.

On the other hand, Biarritz showcases a different culinary experience with its coastal charm. As a seaside destination, Biarritz boasts an abundance of seafood delicacies. From fresh oysters to grilled fish, you can savour the flavours of the ocean in charming seaside restaurants.

Biarritz is also known for its Basque cuisine, blending French and Spanish influences. You can indulge in traditional Basque dishes like hearty stews and succulent pintxos while enjoying the laid-back beach atmosphere. The city’s vibrant farmers’ markets, such as Les Halles de Biarritz, offer a fantastic selection of local produce, allowing you to taste the region’s finest flavours.

When it comes to food, both Lyon and Biarritz offer amazing culinary experiences. Lyon’s gastronomic reputation and emphasis on traditional French cuisine make it an exceptional destination for those seeking a refined dining experience. Meanwhile, Biarritz’s coastal charm and focus on fresh seafood and Basque flavours provide a delightful culinary adventure. Whether you’re a lover of classic French dishes or craving coastal specialities, Lyon and Biarritz are sure to satisfy your taste buds.

How long to stay in Lyon

Deciding how long to stay in Lyon truly depends on your personal interests and the pace at which you prefer to travel. Known as the gastronomical capital of France, with its rich history and vibrant cultural scene, Lyon offers a wide variety of experiences for every type of traveller.

If you’re mainly keen to absorb the unique vibe of the city, enjoy its amazing food, and stroll through its historical streets, a weekend getaway of 2-3 days might be sufficient. This gives you time to explore Vieux Lyon (Old Town), visit a traditional “bouchon” for some authentic Lyonnaise cuisine, and perhaps enjoy a relaxing evening walk along the Rhône River.

However, if you have a passion for art, history, or culture, I’d recommend staying in Lyon for around 4-5 days. This allows enough time to discover the city’s key cultural landmarks, including the Musée des Confluences, the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, and the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, without feeling rushed.

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace or wish to delve deeper into what Lyon and its surroundings have to offer, consider a week-long stay. This provides ample opportunity to fully appreciate the city’s charm, take day trips to the nearby vineyards or beautiful towns in the region like Annecy or Perouges, and truly immerse yourself in the Lyonnaise lifestyle.

How long to stay in Biarritz

Three to Four Days: A 3-4 day trip can cover the highlights of Biarritz. You’ll have enough time to stroll around the city centre, visit the main landmarks such as the Rocher de la Vierge and the Biarritz Lighthouse, and soak in the atmosphere of the Les Halles market. Of course, don’t forget to spend some quality time at the Grand Plage, the city’s famous beach. You may also squeeze in a visit to the Aquarium de Biarritz or the Asiatica Museum if you’re interested.

Five to Seven Days: If you’ve got a week in Biarritz, that’s even better! You can take your time exploring the city at a leisurely pace, trying out various water sports, or indulging in the renowned thalassotherapy for which Biarritz is famous. With a few extra days on your hands, consider making day trips to nearby locations like the charming town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz or even cross the border into Spain to explore San Sebastian.

Of course, the length of stay in Biarritz depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re seeking a relaxed beach holiday with a sprinkling of city exploration, a longer stay would be suitable. However, if you’re on a whirlwind tour of France or trying to cover multiple cities, a shorter stay would work too. Regardless, Biarritz promises an amazing holiday.

How much is food and drink in Lyon and Biarritz?

Food and Drink Prices Lyon Biarritz
Beer €5-€7 €4-€7
Glass of Wine €3-€10 €4-€10
Coffee €1.50-€3 €2-€4
Midrange Restaurant €20-€40 €20-€40

How much is it to stay in Lyon or Biarritz?

Accommodation Type Lyon Average Price Range (€) Biarritz Average Price Range (€)
Luxury Hotel €150 – €500+ €200 – €600+
Midrange Hotel €70 – €150 €80 – €200
Budget Hotel €40 – €70 €50 – €80
Hostel €20 – €40 €20 – €40

When is the best time to visit Lyon?

Spring: Awakening of the City
In Lyon, springtime (March to May) marks the city’s awakening post-winter. The temperatures are pleasant, and the city’s parks and gardens come alive with blooming flowers. If you appreciate outdoor activities and want to avoid the summer rush, this is an ideal time to visit.

Summer: A Bustling Period
Summers (June to August) in Lyon are warm and energetic, making it an excellent time for exploring the city’s historical old town and lively food markets. The city comes alive with numerous festivals, such as the Fête de la Musique, a nationwide music festival celebrating the summer solstice.

Autumn: A Visual Treat
Autumn (September to November) in Lyon brings mild weather and a change of colours, painting the city in vibrant hues. The falling leaves in the city parks offer a delightful visual treat, creating an ideal environment for photography enthusiasts.

Winter: A Time of Celebration
Winter (December to February) in Lyon can be quite chilly, but it’s also when the city exudes a festive charm. The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières), one of Lyon’s most renowned events, transforms the city into a mesmerizing display of light, offering a unique experience despite the cold weather.

When is the best time to visit Biarritz?

Deciding on the perfect time to visit Biarritz can be as vital as choosing what activities you want to do. The city, known for its beautiful beaches and surf culture, has a temperate oceanic climate, which means it can be visited throughout the year, though some seasons offer unique experiences.

Spring: Surf’s Up
Spring (March to May) in Biarritz is an ideal time for surfers as the waves are just right and the weather is becoming warmer. It’s also less crowded, offering you an intimate experience with the city. This is a great time to learn surfing if you’re new to the sport as many surf schools open their doors for the season.

Summer: Sun, Sea, and Sand
Summers (June to August) in Biarritz are vibrant and sunny, making it the perfect season for beach activities, from sunbathing to swimming. The city buzzes with tourists and locals alike, creating a lively atmosphere. Keep in mind, this is also peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.

Autumn: Tranquil Beauty
Autumn (September to November) brings a peaceful charm to Biarritz. The summer crowds thin, and the city regains its tranquillity. The weather remains pleasant, and the Atlantic Ocean is still warm enough for swimming and surfing. This season is also ideal for leisurely walks to appreciate the changing colours of nature.

Winter: Serene Solitude
Winter (December to February) in Biarritz is relatively mild and quieter, with fewer tourists. It’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, like the Biarritz History Museum or the Asiatica Museum, without the crowds. You could also take this time to enjoy the city’s renowned thalassotherapy centres for a relaxing spa experience.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Month Lyon (High / Low °C) Rain (Days) Biarritz (High / Low °C) Rain (Days)
January 6° / 0° 9 days 13° / 5° 13 days
February 8° / 1° 8 days 14° / 5° 12 days
March 13° / 4° 9 days 16° / 7° 12 days
April 16° / 6° 8 days 17° / 9° 13 days
May 20° / 10° 10 days 20° / 12° 11 days
June 24° / 14° 8 days 23° / 15° 10 days
July 27° / 16° 6 days 25° / 17° 8 days
August 27° / 15° 7 days 25° / 17° 9 days
September 22° / 12° 7 days 24° / 15° 9 days
October 17° / 9° 9 days 21° / 12° 10 days
November 11° / 4° 8 days 16° / 8° 12 days
December 7° / 1° 9 days 14° / 6° 11 days

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 Biarritz:

Biarritz, being a compact town, offers multiple easy travel options. The local bus system, Chronoplus, provides regular services around town and to nearby areas.

For those wishing to venture further, car rentals are available, although parking can be tricky during peak season. Within the city, walking is a popular choice due to the town’s small size, allowing you to reach most places on foot.

Bike rentals offer an active alternative for getting around, and of course, taxis and rideshare services like Uber are always at your disposal for convenient, direct transport. However, these might come with a higher cost compared to public transportation.

Top things to do in Lyon

Visit Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière: Perched on the top of Fourvière Hill, this magnificent basilica offers breathtaking panoramic views over Lyon. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or just looking for a great view, this is a must-visit.

Stroll Through Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon): This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest Renaissance neighbourhoods in Europe. Its narrow, cobbled streets, charming courtyards, and historic “traboules” (hidden passageways) are super cool!

Explore Parc de la Tête d’Or: This expansive urban park is perfect for a leisurely day out. It houses a zoo, botanical gardens, and a beautiful large lake. Whether you want to picnic, boat, or just relax, this park has something for everyone.

Discover Lyon’s Culinary Scene: Lyon is often referred to as the gastronomic capital of France. Try local specialities at a traditional “bouchon,” visit a local market like Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, or take a cooking class.

Visit the Musée des Confluences: This science and anthropology museum is renowned for its modern architecture. It’s located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, thus the name. The exhibitions are as impressive as the building itself.

Top things to do in Biarritz

Biarritz’s Beaches: Famed for their beauty and surf-friendly waves, Biarritz’s beaches are the heart of the town. Grande Plage, the largest beach, offers plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming, while Côte des Basques is the surfers’ choice.

Musée de la Mer: This sea museum offers insight into marine life with numerous aquariums housing everything from sharks to sea urchins. It’s an ideal destination for families and marine enthusiasts.

Phare de Biarritz: The Biarritz Lighthouse stands tall on the town’s northern cliff. You can climb the 248 steps to the top for a panoramic view of Biarritz and its surrounding areas.

Rocher de la Vierge: This iconic rock formation is accessed by a bridge and offers stunning views over Biarritz. Named for the statue of Virgin Mary placed on top of it, it’s a picturesque spot worth visiting.

Les Halles de Biarritz: To taste the flavours of Biarritz, visit Les Halles, the town’s vibrant food market. Here, you’ll find a fantastic assortment of regional produce, cheeses, pastries, and seafood to savour.

How to spend three days in Lyon

Day 1: Introduction to Lyon and Its Historical Centre

Start your Lyon journey by wandering the streets of Vieux Lyon, the city’s old quarter. Appreciate the charm of Renaissance architecture, visit the majestic Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and perhaps engage in a little retail therapy at some chic boutiques. After lunch, make your way over to the Place Bellecour, one of the largest open squares in Europe, where you can admire the statue of Louis XIV and the stunning surrounding buildings. Finish off your day with a delightful meal at one of the local ‘bouchon’ restaurants in the area, savouring Lyon’s unique culinary heritage.

Day 2: Delve into Lyon’s Cultural Riches and Parks

Start your second day by immersing yourself in some of Lyon’s renowned museums. Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts to appreciate masterpieces from artists like Rubens, Monet, and Picasso. After lunch, take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic in the Parc de la Tête d’Or, home to a zoo and a beautiful lake. In the evening, venture back to Vieux Lyon for dinner, opting for a cosy bistro to experience the enchanting nighttime atmosphere of this historic district.

Day 3: Embrace the Local Atmosphere and Farewell Meal

On your final day, delve into the local vibe at Lyon’s Croix-Rousse district in the morning. Known for its history of silk production, the area is now teeming with local markets and boutique shops. Consider having lunch at one of the quaint cafes in the area, sampling some more Lyonnaise delicacies. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, offering breathtaking views over the city. To wrap up your Lyon trip, enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.”

How to spend three days in Biarritz

Day 1: Embrace the Ocean’s Call

Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the Grande Plage, Biarritz’s main beach, perhaps even braving a morning dip. Later, explore the marine life at the Musée de la Mer Aquarium, where the seal feeding sessions are a highlight. As the day mellows, find a cosy spot in the Old Port area to enjoy some local pintxos and a picturesque sunset.

Day 2: Ride the Waves and Revel in the Views

Kick off your second day by diving into Biarritz’s renowned surf culture with a lesson at a local surf school. In the afternoon, wind down with a scenic walk along Rocher de la Vierge, an iconic rock formation offering breathtaking views. Cap off your day with a fresh seafood dinner at the charming Port des Pêcheurs.

Day 3: Explore Local Flavours and Neighboring Charm

Start your final day early at Les Halles de Biarritz, sampling fresh local produce from the bustling market. Later, venture out on a short bus ride to the neighbouring town of Bayonne. Absorb its picturesque streets, try the famous Bayonne ham, and let the city’s Basque charm captivate you. Finish your trip back to Biarritz with a farewell drink overlooking the ocean.




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