Lyons is the third largest town in France, the main center of the departement of Rhone, and economic center of the Rhone-Alps region. It has always been the second most important town because of its communication links with Paris. With the ‘TGV' one of the fastest railways in the world the 480 kilometers from Paris to Lyons can be made in two hours. The city lies on the confluent of the Rhone and the Saone and has 420, 000 inhabitants and 1.2 million if one includes the suburbs.
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It is the most important industrial and trading city and educational center (university city). It is reckoned to be the ‘World City of Gastronomy' as the center of gourmet French cooking. Lyons used to be renowned for its silk industry but after its decline it developed in other areas, for example, printed textiles.
Lyons has the largest pedestrian precinct in Europe (3 kilometers) and on the right bank of the river Saone is the Old Town with its Renaissance buildings that reflect Florentine charm. In the Park La Tete d'Or the visitor is delighted by the thousands of roses on view. The bistros here are called ‘bouchons'.