Moving to Lyon: A 10 Step Guide
Lyon is a great place to live in! It is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region and the urban region of Lyon has more than 2,6 million inhabitants. Landscapes, food, culture, architecture, and climate make the 3rd largest city of France an enjoyable place to move to. The area where Lyon is implemented is attractive, thanks to the growing economic activity and the power of the region.
Step 1: Visa & Legal Information
Before moving to France you’d better to get some information about visa obligation, since not to be surprised.
So, nationals of EU Member States, the EEA or Switzerland are not subject to the entry and stay visa requirement. As a rule, unless you are exempt, you are required to have a visa.
If you have realised that you need a visa, then as a next step, you can apply for it from the French embassy or consulate in your country where you are resident.
There are several types of visas defined by the French diplomacy:
- Short-stay visa: less than 90 days
- Long-stay visa: if you plan to move to Lyon for work or for your studies – more than 90 days – this is the visa you will apply for. Then to apply for a residence card, you need to contact a “prefecture”
We recommend to you to visit the official website to get the global and accurate information according to your specific situation: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/getting-a-visa/article/general-information-for-foreign
Link of the official government board to apply for a visa: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/getting-a-visa/
Step 2: Accommodation
Living in Lyon will be a great experience thanks to the different atmospheres of its neighborhoods. From the Vieux Lyon through Presqu’Ile to Croix-Rousse neighborhood, each area has its charm and can offer you an enjoyable living time in the city. The city is composed of 9 districts.
Here is a non-exhaustive overview of the different areas of Lyon where you can live and an average price of flat rents (updated the 1st May 2014, reference: http://www.lacoteimmo.com/):
- Vieux Lyon
It is composed of 3 old areas Saint Jean, Saint Paul, Saint Georges and is almost a pedestrian area. There are a lot of old buildings in the historical area of Vieux Lyon.
Pentes de la colline de Fourvière. It’s not the best area to live in if you need to use your car. Moreover, rents price are quite high.
Average rent price: 14,30€ / m²
The area is between the “Pentes de la Croix-Rousse” and the plateau “Le Village”. There are a large number of students living there. This area looks like a village with all its advantages. There are a large number of shops in this area and families set up here thanks to the easier access to the area.
Average rent price: 13,95€ / m²
Located at the south of the Presqu’Ile, this area is modern and a large number of companies set up here. It can be considered as the business area of Lyon. If you are planning on moving to Lyon for work, it can be the area where you are going to work in. There are large buildings and parking.
Average rent price: 13,13€ / m²
The Presqu’Ile is the city centre of Lyon. It is composed of beautiful buildings from the 19th century. Famous places make this area living such as the “place Bellecour”, “place des Terreaux” or the Jacobins area.
Average rent price: 13,80€ / m²
Located at the south of the Presqu’Ile, Confluence is currently a rehabilitating area. This historical industrial area is now becoming a hub next to the city centre with companies’ buildings, shopping centre and residences. The original architecture in this area is cool.
Average rent price: 13,61€ / m²
- Les Brotteaux
In the 6th district of Lyon, this area is quite important with a lot of shops, beautiful buildings and big streets such as the Boulevard des Belges. It’s one of the most expensive areas to live in. Monchat area is a great place to live in if you have children; a lot of families are settled there. The average rent price is also important here.
Average rent price Les Brotteaux: 14,34€ / m²
Average rent price Monchat: 12,79€ / m²
- Gerland and La Guillotière
These two areas are part of the 7th district. The first one is quite high-tech oriented and has a large number of residences whereas the second one is a commercial area and quite popular. Several student campuses are located in the Guillotière area so if you are planning on moving to Lyon for your studies, it can be a good option.
Average rent price La Guillotière: 15,26€ / m²
Even if it is not part of the city Lyon, Villeurbanne is really close to Lyon and the Tête d’Or park. This area is a good option for you if you need to find affordable accommodation. Moreover, the area is well-deserved by public transport and it is not far from the city centre.
Average rent price: 12,84€ / m²
Here, you can find some information about the quarters of Lyon: http://www.en.lyon-france.com/Discover-Lyon/Quarters
Whether you move to Lyon to live/work or to study, there are several accommodation options, each with their own advantages. According to your budget, you won’t select the same option. Below, you will find a selection of accommodation options:
- Flat share/colocation: LIVE and STUDY
Flat shares or house shares present the advantage of being cheaper: you share common parts (kitchen, bathroom, toilets, living room) and you have your own room. Moreover, it allows you to make friends, to have contacts in the city you live. You will find more flat shares than house shares in Lyon.
Websites helping you to find a flat share:
- single apartment/studio: LIVE or STUDY
This option seems to be better if you plan to live in Lyon and work there. Indeed, the rental price is quite expensive in Lyon and you have to include bills, food and other things necessary to live.
On a legal point, 3 months before you leave the flat, you need to send a letter to the landlord.
- CROUS: accommodation for students: STUDY
You have to comply with some rules to pretend beneficiate of a university residence. If you are a student moving to France, you need to be in an exchange program or to be a foreign government-grant recipient to have the possibility to choose this option.
Advantage: price, meet other students
See further information here: http://www.crous-lyon.fr/html/spip.php?page=sommaire_en
- “Maid room”/“chambre de bonne”: STUDY
They are located in the top of buildings, under the “roofs”. The room is generally around 10m2 with most of the time a shower/lavabo/toilets, little kitchen and a place to sleep (bed or sofa). The specificity of this kind of accommodation is that you don’t have much space but it is enough if you are single. People coming to France with their family won’t choose this option. It can be enough if you come to study or start a work.
Advantage: price, proximity to transports
For more information about finding an accommodation in Lyon, please visit these websites:
Step 3: Transport
There are several efficient ways to travel within Lyon. You can rely on this website to plan your journey in Lyon and for a daily use: http://www.tcl.fr/en
TCL (Transports en Commun Lyonnais) is the name of the company that manages the transportation network in the city of Lyon.
- Subway: 4 lines
The starting-ending hours depend according to the line but the 1st departure is in general about 4h50am and the last departure is around 00h10am. The subway serves 43 stations. The 5 lines are called: MA, MB, MC, MD and ME.
- Funicular: 2 lines called F1 and F2. Both link the Vieux Lyon area to Saint Just and Fourvière.
- Tram: 5 lines
The 1st tram starts at about 4h50am and ends at 00h10am. It depends according to the line you take and the day (week or week-end) you travel. The 5 lines are called: T1, T2, T3, T4 and T5.
- Bus: 120 lines
There are 26 lines (called from C1 to C26) which are very important and which connect strategic places of Lyon. The other lines are working inside the Urban Community (Rhône network).
There are also shuttles between neighborhoods.
Pleine lune night buses: 4 lines called PL1, PL2, PL3 and PL4 working on Fridays and or Saturdays, Sundays with several departures between 1am and 4am.
Saint Exupéry airport: it is the airport that serves the city of Lyon. You access the airport by car, bus, and tram. Rhônexpress is the name of the tram that link Part Dieu Villette train station to the Saint Exupéry airport.
More information here: http://www.lyonaeroports.com/eng/Access-maps-car-parks/To-come-to-leave-from-the-Airport
- Vélo’v: it is the bike service for the city of Lyon. Open 24h/24, 7d/7, you can hire a bike in a Vélo’v station through 2 ways: by subscribing yearly (between 15 and 25€) or buying a short-term ticket (1 day, 3 days or 7 days between 1,50 and 5€). How does it work? There are 3 steps:
- You hire a bicycle: you have to pay the rent
- You have a free period of use (depends on your subscription)
- You pay per 1/2h
- Car: if you need to rent a car for occasional use, you can choose between Autolib’, Bluely (100% electrical cars).
- Autolib’: you need to have your driving license, a proof of address and an IBAN to register in one of the offices (it’s better to book an appointment before). Then you can book a car by Internet or by phone. In Lyon and Villeurbanne, there are 34 stations and you can choose the type of car you want. For more information about autolib’, see: http://www.autolib.fr/autolib/
- Bluely: you need to register with your driving license, a proof of identity and a credit card. Then you will get a badge to use at self-service stations. There are 3 types of subscriptions (yearly, monthly or weekly). More information here: https://www.bluely.eu/en/
Where to buy?
It is really easy to find a point of sale to buy a transport fare. You can choose between:
- Distributors where you can buy tickets in stations and top up your subscription
- Commercial agencies for fares and payments and to get information, advice
- Service centre to top up your subscription
- Automatic teller machines
According to your needs and your age, you have the choice to select between those options. You can choose the one which fits with your use (length of stay…). Here is a selection of the most used fares you will be willing to use:
- City pass for at least 12 month, 55€/month. You can buy it in an agency or on e-tecetely.tlc.fr. The benefit is that once you are registered, everything is done automatically (bank direct debit)
- Pass partout for 57,60€/month is a monthly subscription.
- Pass hebdo is a weekly subscription: 17,40€/month
- Pass partout jeunes for those under 21. It’s a monthly subscription costing 39,60€/month
You have other specific fares for families or seniors.
You have a large number of tickets to travel in Lyon and the urban community. Here is a selection of the ones you are willing to use:
- Ticket which is a single ticket for 1,70€ lasting for 1 hour after the first validation
- Liberté 1 jour ticket, 5€20 allows you to travel on TCL network for a whole day
- Liberté 2 heures ticket for 2,80€ allows you to travel during 2 hours
For further information about all the fares and payments to travel in Lyon, please visit: http://www.tcl.fr/en/Fares/Fares
Step 4: Working in Lyon
In order to work in France and have access to government programs and benefits, you have to register through the French administration.
- Citizen from the EEE or if you come from Switzerland
You can work in France as you don’t need any visa or work permit. You need to provide several forms information.
- For employees: you need to have a work contract or a statement written by your employer stating that you will be hired
- For nonemployees: an official document proving that you have a long-term activity
- For service providers: a commercial document like a service contract
- Citizen from Croatia
You need a residence permit (except for Croatians who have an equivalent Master degree).
- For employees: you have to apply for a work permit (your employer does it).
- For nonemployees: before starting your activity, you need to get a specific document: a residence permit called UE – toutes activités professionnelles sauf salariées.
- For service providers: you need to get a residence permit called UE – prestataire de services.
- Non-European people
If you want to work as an employee in France and so in Lyon, you need to get a work permit. It can be a visa, a residence permit that allows you to work or a specific document which is not related to residence.
For further information, please visit http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F2739.xhtml
Once you have the right to work in France, there are several options:
You may have found a job before moving to France so everything is done by your company in order to give you the right and the means to work in France.
- You can register to the French Pôle Emploi, a kind of national job bank: you need to have a work and residence permit, declare being actively looking for a job, to justify your identity, to attend personally.
- People use, in major part, websites to apply for a position as professionals, this is what the team recommends you to do:
On a legal point, the minimum wage in France is currently 9.53€/h (called SMIC).
Lyon is the 2nd largest job market in France so there are numerous opportunities to find a job there. The city is famous for hosting international institutions such as Interpol, WHO or decision making centres for companies like; Sanofi Aventis or Renault Trucks.
The catering sector is one of the most important recruiting sectors in the region of Lyon. The large number of hotels, restaurants and bars need workforce, in particular, in spring and summer seasons.
If you are planning on moving to Lyon and want to experiment with something really different, the agricultural and viticulture sector are recruiting a large number of people to collect fruits or for the grape harvest. Engineering and IT sectors recruit also.
Step 5: Health care in Lyon
The French health coverage is called social security. It reimburses a part of your medical spending.
- You are not European
People who come to France to study need to register for Student Social Security Regime: to beneficiate social security, you have to be less than 28 years old, to be registered in a higher education establishment who’s affiliated to Social security and have a residence permit.
Ex of Student Social Security: LMDE, SMEREP
- You are European
You have a European Health Insurance Card so you are covered by the Sickness Insurance Primary Fund.
- You have a private insurance certificate so you are covered by this insurance
Student Social Security Regimes:
To benefit from health coverage, if you are an employee in France, your employer needs to register you on the CPAM which is the Sickness Insurance Primary Fund.
There are two options: you can call a doctor and check an appointment. There also a large number of doctors for whom there is no need to have an appointment. Doctors are settled in each borough of Lyon. You can find a specific doctor on this website: http://ameli-direct.ameli.fr/ or this one http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/ . Normally, French people are registered and have their specific doctor, but if you need to see a doctor, you can go and see another doctor, for example if you are travelling and so not in Lyon or if your doctor is not available. The general conventional tariff is 23€.
In Lyon, the HCL which means Hospices Civils de Lyon is the 2nd largest CHU (University Hospital Centre) of France. There are 14 hospitals spread throughout 6 global centers:
- Hôpitaux Nord”: Hôpital de la Croix-Rousse et Service de consultations et de traitement dentaires
- Hôpitaux Sud: Centre hospitalier Lyon sud and Hôpital Henry Gabrielle
- Hôpitaux Est : Hôpital Femme Mère Enfant, Hôpital Louis Pradel, Hôpital Pierre Wertheimer et Institut d’Hématologie et d’Oncologie Pédiatrique
- Hôpital Edouard Herriot
- Hôpitaux de gériatrie : Hôpitaux gériatriques Dr Frédéric Dugoujon, Antoine Charial, des Charpennes, Pierre Garraud
Emergency – useful phone numbers
15: SAMU which is the Emergency medical assistance service in France
112: European emergency phone number
18: Fire Brigade
17: Police Emergency
Step 6: Money and Bills
The currency used in France is Euro. There is a variety of coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 euro, 2 euros and a large number of banknotes: 5€, 10€, 20€, 50€, 100€, 200€, 500€.
Means of payment/ type of purchase: you can use your credit card almost everywhere, cash is more for small expenses. You can also use cheques but it’s more for important expenses such as the payment of rent.
Average costs in Lyon:
- Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: 11.00 €
- Cappuccino (regular): 1.96 €
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle): 1.92 €
- Water (0.33 liter bottle): 1.10 €
- Milk (regular), (1 litre): 0.87 €
- Rice (white), (1kg): 1.92 €
- Tomato (1kg): 2.83 €
- Potato (1kg): 0.85 €
- Water (1.5 litre bottle): 0.70 €
- One-way Ticket (Local Transport): 1.70 €
- Taxi Start (Normal Tariff): 3.00 €
- Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff): 2.00 €
- Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff): 37.50 €
- Gasoline (1 litre): 1.51 €
- Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat: 9.00 €
Clothing and Shoes
- Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 or Similar): 80.00 €
- 1 Pair of Nike Shoes: 93.33 €
Rent Per Month
- Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: 608.33 €
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: 440.00 €
Buy Apartment Price
- Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre: 3933.33 €
- Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre: 2900.00 €
If you come to France for more than 3 months, you are allowed to open a bank account in France. You need to have a passport, a proof of address (a document where your address is mentioned) and a residence card. Once you have undertaken all the administrative formalities, you will pay a certain amount for using your credit card and you will receive a cheque book, which is free most of the time,
Here is a non-exhaustive of Banks in France: Société Générale, BNP Paribas, LCL, HSBC, Barclays, Crédit Agricole, CIC, Banque Populaire, La Banque Postale, Caisse d’Epargne…
Step 7: Food
Lyon is undoubtedly a gastronomic city. The city is full of restaurants and the region offers a qualitative variety of products. If you are moving to Lyon, you will enjoy wine, food and typical restaurants called “bouchons”.
Some culinary specialties built the reputation of the city and tend to be common in restaurants: quenelle, grattons, deli meat with saucisson/ sausage, abats/offals, cervelas/saveloy, foie gras, gras double, cheese “cervelle de canut”, saint-marcellin, les bugnes. There are also some famous dishes you can find in bouchons or restaurant like the Poularde de Bresse Demi-Deuil, les œufs meurette, l’artichaut foie gras, le pâté en croûte. Andouillettes lyonnaises, gâteau de foie de volailles, gratin de cardons à la moelle…
The bouchon is a typical restaurant which you can find in Lyon and the name as its origins in the history of the city with the “canuts” which were silk weavers in the Croix-Rousse area (19th century). It is a tasty mix of a friendly atmosphere, good wine and simple and typical dishes of Lyon. Please find here a great website to help you finding a bouchon: http://www.lyonresto.com/restaurant-lyon/Authentique-bouchon-lyonnais/restaurant-lyon-Authentique-bouchon-lyonnais.htm
A large number of chefs established in Lyon and helped building the gastronomic reputation of the city such as the Mère Brazier or Paul Bocuse. Other names: Mathieu Vianney, Christian Tête d’Oie or David Tissot.
Links to websites are below to find a restaurant:
Lyon and its region are famous for the wine also. You can enjoy some varieties such as Bourgogne, Beaujolais and Côte du Rhône.
Step 8: Social
Lyon is a lively city with a large number of places to spend time with friends, family and to meet new people. The City of Light has many places to go in the night if you want to socialise and meet new people or just to party! Between tapas bars, concert bars, party bars, wine bars, cocktail bars, lounge bars with terraces, live music, aperitif and the many areas of the city, you have the choice.
Great idea if you are moving to Lyon and want to explore the city with a local: the website www.lyoncitygreeter.com allows people to connect and to discover the city in another way.
This website is also a cool way to find ideas to know what to do during the week-end for example, when moving to Lyon: http://lyon.citycrunch.fr/ou-habiter-a-lyon/2011/09/14/
How to meet people if you are a foreigner? The best thing is to go out in bars, clubs, parks and other places. If you are a student, the parties organised by schools are really important to socialise and to enter in groups to make friends. Another great way to make friends is to spend time with unknown people for culinary activities since Lyon is famous for the gastronomy: for example it can be cooking classes, wine-tasting workshop, wineries excursions…
One thing you need to remember, it is common to give a few tips to the waiter when you are in a restaurant or in a coffee shop, even if it is not mandatory.
Usually, people appreciate spending time with friends or family. It can be in parks with the Tête d’Or park, Gerland or the “Hauteurs”. You can also have a walk on the Rhône banks. A lot of Lyonnais as the French people in general, like to spend time on terraces in bars, cafés in large places or small streets, hidden, depending on your mood.
Shopping can be cool as well and there are many places to do it such as Part-Dieu shopping centre or in Galeries de Bron. But in all the city, you will find cool shops.
You can also go to the cinema, to see exhibitions or do sport activities…
Step 9: Sightseeing
There are lots of places to see in Lyon. Lyon was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city which a mix between Gallo-Roman architecture, industrial and a recent modernity offers great sightseeing for people who move to the city and is really enjoyable for people living in the city.
One of the best places to see the Lyon is the Fourvière hill. It offers a large panorama of the city.
The Crayon is a building located in Part-Dieu area and it can be a good idea for you to got there to see the city. Some restaurants and bars in Lyon can be awesome to see the city. Monuments such as the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière located in the Vieux-Lyon.
The “traboules” are also good to visit, they are small paths to discover the secret of the city and to enjoy another form of sightseeing in the Vieux-Lyon or the Croix-Rousse area.
The other point that underlines the benefit from living in Lyon is the landscape and sightseeing around the city of Lights. Indeed, the position of Lyon between mountains with the Alps or beautiful countryside.
Step 10: Culture & Language
You will find below a non-exhaustive list of the cultural places in Lyon (museums, art galleries…):
Museums: Musée des Beaux-Arts (Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum), Musée d’Art Contemporain (Museum of Contemporary Art), Musée des Confluences, Musée gallo-romain de Fourvière (Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière), Musées Gadagne, Lumière Institute…
Art galleries: Françoise Besson gallery, Roger Tator gallery, Regard Sud, Geneviève Mathieu gallery….
Exhibition places: Espace Bullukian, BF 15, FLAC, MAPRA, the Stand, Néon…
Cinemas and Arthouse cinemas
Concert halls: Le Marché Gare, Le Transbordeur, La Halle Tony Garnier…
The cultural heritage of the city of Lyon is strong. With some Roman theatres, basilicas, architecture (Bartholdi fountain, traboules, the Opera…), Lyon is full of beautiful sites that underline the cultural specificity of the city. The Festival of Lights is an amazing event in Lyon.
You can find more information about the culture in Lyon and cultural activities to do here: