It was built on the riches of the silk trade, but now the French city of Lyon is ruled by restaurateurs. Go on - you know you want to!
WHY GO NOW?

Lyon's Mayor, Raymond Barre, proudly announced that Unesco has put the city on to the World Heritage List - the cultural equivalent of getting the Olympic Games. Celebrate in the bouchons (bars) and the traboules (alleyways) with lots of beaujolais; produced by the surrounding vineyards.

BEAM DOWN

Lyon is easy to reach from London and the South-east, less so from elsewhere. If you call Rail Europe (the French Railways outlet in Britain, 0990 848 848), you may eventually get through and be able to book a return ticket from London Waterloo via either Lille or Paris to Lyon for pounds 99. Beware that there are two stations in the city.

By air, British Airways (0345 222111) flies from London Heathrow and Birmingham, while Air France (0181-742 6600) flies only from London Heathrow.

CHECK IN

La Tour Rose (00 33 4 78 37 25 90), Vieux-Lyon, at 22 rue Boeuf, has been transformed from a 17th-century chapel, jeu de paume court and the former house of Moliere into the most happening hotel/ jazz-bar in town. Suites cost from FF1,200 (about pounds 120). Close to Satolas airport (1) is Les Sequoias (00 33 4 74 93 78 00), 54 Vie de Bouissieu, Bourgoin Jaillieu, the converted former home of a wealthy silk merchant. Rooms here cost from FF550 (pounds 55). Alternatively, contact the Tourist Office (00 33 4 72 77 69 69).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Take a funicular ride, from Pont Bonaparte (2), to the cliff-top of the Roman city. At Notre-Dame-de-Fourviere (3) the snow-capped alps are a breathtaking backdrop to the city skyline, a blend of old and new: red tile roofs against the steel-and-glass dome of the controversial Opera House (4).

TAKE A HIKE

Ten kilometres from Lyon is the 13th-century Chateau de Bagnols (5), set among vineyards (00 33 4 74 71 40 00). Lunch on the terrace beneath lime trees then follow the wine trail that begins at Beaujeu or, zoom across the Saone in a water taxi. For something more sedate, take a day or night boat-trip (00 33 4 78 42 96 81) or, watch "Plan Lumiere" at dusk, a colourful hommage to Louis and August Lumiere, who shot the first-ever movie in Lyon. The Lumiere chateau is a cult pilgrimage spot for film fanatics (00 33 4 78 78 18 95).

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Take bus No.3 to Les Halles de Lyon (6), a sprawling covered market. Tuck into hearty local fare in the market's brasserie booths: cervelle de canut (fromage blanc and herbs) and jesus (dry pork sausage, swaddled in its wrapping) at Chez Antonin (00 33 4 78 62 39 10). Or try Paul Bocuse's brasserie Le Nord, 18 rue Neuve (00 33 4 78 28 24 54) for classic, cheap onion soup and snails in parsley butter.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

There are 27 museums, the opera and the ballet, and several car parks. "Town, Art and the Car, a New Meaning to Urbanity", is a project to put art in public spaces. Sixteen car parks are participating, all themed by different architects, designers and artists - putting their mark on the town, for the town. At Parc-Celestins (7), Daniel Buren's Sens Dessus (Upside-Down) can be seen from the outside through a black-and-white-striped periscope, providing a voyeur's view of the underground park from Celestins Square. At Parc Berthelot, the Israeli artist Dror Endeweld plays with words in black and red granite. Pick up a free copy (in English) of "Towns, Art and the Car" at the Lyon Parc Auto Carparks.

SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP

Rue Edouard Herriot is the place to go. It's lined with designer boutiques such as Hermes at No 95, home of the famous scarves that are printed, woven and engraved in Lyon. Rue Emile Zola is better for hip styles and August-Comte for antiques. And, on Sunday afternoons, the bouquinistes (second-hand booksellers) erect their stands along the quai de la Pecherie (8).

AN APERITIF

La Villa Florentine, at 25 montee Saint Barthelemy, (00 33 4 72 56 56 56), is perched on a hilltop above the old town. View the city's Roman ruins (9) from the panoramic terrace while you sip a sophisticated house cocktail (creme de peche, port and champagne) for FF85 (pounds 8.50) or order wines of the region by the glass.

DEMURE DINNER

Lyon is a foodie's city; there are about 900 restaurants to choose from. Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or (00 33 4 72 10 11 12), three-star Michelin, needs no introduction. Lunch costs about FF480 (pounds 50), dinner FF540-FF780 (pounds 50- pounds 80) and children's meals FF110 (about pounds 10). For something really different, try Les Muses (04 72 00 45 58) on the seventh floor of Jean Nouvel's Opera House (4), at place Comedie, overlooking the handsome Hotel de Ville. Ethnic menus highlight the Opera's programmes, and prices range from FF105F to FF169 (pounds 10-pounds 20).

TUNE IN, TURN ON

The Ampere and Electricity Museum (13) - towards Neuville/ Saone - at 69250 Poleymieux-au-Mont-d'Or (04 78 91 90 77) is located in the house where Andre-Marie Ampere spent his youth. Original documents relating to the scientist and his family and instruments used by him are all on display. Alternatively, try your hand at basic experiments in electromagnetism - everything you wanted to know about electricity but were afraid to ask.

SUNDAY MORNING...GO TO CHURCH

Cathedral St-Jean (10) (00 33 4 78 42 28 25), near Metro Vieux Lyon, is an architectural hodgepodge, originally built between 1180 and 1480. The basilica's 16th-century mechanical marvel chimes the hour at 3pm. If you are inspired, carry on to quai Tilsitt Synagogue (11) (00 33 4 78 37 13 43) at Metro Bellecour or the Mosque (12) (04 78 76 00 23) at 146 Boulevard Pinel (Metro Laennec).

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