Lyon, France's second biggest city and capital of the Rhône-Alpes region, is situated at the crossroads of Europe's major lines of transport, at the heart of France between Paris and the French Riviera. This city is constantly on the move and today has the most beautiful and attractive urban destinations in Europe, bringing in more than 6 million visitors every year. Combining an exceptional historic heritage with a natural liking for good food, Lyon is the ideal city for discovering all the charm of the French way of life.
Lyon has been the ultimate gastronomic city for centuries, reputed around the world thanks to Chef Paul Bocuse. It now boasts more than 2000 restaurants, including the famous bouchons (typical local eateries) to Michelin star-awarded establishments. From traditional Mères Lyonnaises (19th century cooks for the bourgeoisie) to inspired and innovative young chefs, Lyon is a place for culinary experimentation with new tastes and concepts to be savoured.
A stage for more than 2000 years of history, the city has a remarkable architectural heritage. Expanding towards the east throughout the centuries, without destroying the existing areas, 500 hectares of its city centre became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998. Wandering around Lyon is like embarking on a fascinating journey through time. In each district Lyon displays an astonishing variety of architecture, from the ancient Fourvière cathedral to the traboules (passageways from the Renaissance in Old Lyon), via the elegant peninsula situated between the Rhône and the Saone, to the new and contemporary district of Confluence.
As for culture, Lyon celebrated the opening of its brand new Museum of Confluences in December 2014. With a very modern architecture, this museum presents the story of the earth itself from its earliest days and humanity through its history and geography. The National Opera and the Célestins Theatre offer an ambitious programme all year round. Furthermore, the city has museums that exist nowhere else in the world, such as the Lumière Institute - in Lyon – on the invention of cinematography and the Fabric Museum tracing two thousand years of the history of textile and silk weaving. Within this wonderful Renaissance building, the Lyon History Museum and the Puppets of the World Museum have formed the Gadagne Museums in the Old district of Lyon. As for the Fine Arts Museum, one of the biggest museums in France and Europe, its collections spread out over 70 rooms giving visitors an exceptional journey from Antiquity to Modern Art.
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The International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO), initially created under the name International Bureau for Social Tourism (B.I.T.S.) in 1963, is an international non-profit making organization whose mission is to promote access to leisure, holidays and tourism for all i.e. young people, families, senior citizens and disabled people. It also wishes to promote sustainable and solidarity tourism to the benefit of the local population and with respect for natural and cultural heritage.