Within easy reach of some of the great Medieval architecture in the region, here are six inspiring ideas for a great day out - 

  • Geneva
  • Avignon
  • Vienne
  • Beaujolais
  • Dijon
  • Annecy

Read on to discover what's in store at each of these great day-trip destinations.

1. Lyon to Geneva

It’s always exciting to say you’ve gone abroad for the day, and it’s entirely possible with a Lyon to Geneva day trip. If you’re a foodie then you’ve come to the right place, as this Swiss city is the home of luxury chocolate. A visit to the Stettler Chocolate Workshop is a delicious way to spend the morning. Follow this with a gentle walk in the Palais des Nations - the home of the United Nations and symbol of peace. If you’ve got ‘time’, there’s plenty of watchmaking classes that can be pre-booked too. But this friendly city is best experienced outdoors, so why not rent a bike for free and cycle your way around its beautiful pathways. A favourite is the Lac Léman circuit (aka Lake Geneva), or the less demanding route of Jardin Anglais. There’s no rush in this city though, where you can’t help but go with the flow!

Getting there – the train from Lyon Part-Dieu to Geneva takes 1h 45m.

2. Lyon to Avignon

Enjoy a day out filled with culture and historical sights, with a day trip from Lyon to Avignon. With gothic ruins galore, you will want to dedicate a whole day to scaling the city and its impressive medieval buildings dating back to the 14th century. Start with Palais de Papes - the world’s largest gothic medieval palace and former symbol of Christianity, fascinating for visitors of all ages. Continue to the Pont du Gard – another UNESCO World Heritage site, listed as Roman aqueduct that still impresses to this day. While on your cultural day of discovery, be sure to take time to view the iconic Cathedral Notre-Dame des Doms, which has a rich history dating back to the 12th century. 

Getting there – the train from Lyon Part-Dieu to Avignon takes 1h 25m.

3. Lyon to Vienne

Step back in time on a day trip from Lyon to the neighbouring city of Vienne. Unsuspecting it may be, but this used to be a former hub during the Roman empire, remnants which can still be seen to this day. The best place to learn more about its history is at the Gallo-Roman Museum, also an archaeological site that transports you back to Roman times, with an amphitheatre still intact. If you came here to soak up the views, then a climb to the top of Mont Pipet gives the greatest vantage point over the city. Here you can see the famous River Rhône and the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Salette, which is worth a visit in its own right. Before you go, swing by the area between the river and La Scarpetta for a bite to eat in many of its bars and cafes.

Getting there – the train from Lyon to Vienne takes just 22m.

4. Lyon to Beaujolais

If you have a nose for grapes and a palette for fine food, the region of Beaujolais is highly recommended on a day trip from Lyon. Its picturesque vineyards are everything you’d hope for in this famous wine-country. Come by train and you can sample the local delights – take your pick from the well-travelled 140-km wine route, with nearly 200 cellars open to the public. Bring your bike and you can enjoy country rides throughout the villages and chateaux’s lining its quiet streets. As you’d expect from a region that puts gastronomy on the map, there’s a number of Michelin-starred restaurants to ponder over for a spot of lunch, including the divine grounds of Chateau Pizay. 

Getting there – take the train from Lyon Part Dieu to Belleville-sur-Saona which takes 35m, followed by a five-mile taxi journey to Beaujolais.

5. Lyon to Dijon

It might be famous for its mustard, but Dijon cuts it in so many other ways! For starters, it’s home to the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, one of the oldest museums in the country. Its impressive collection contains some of the finest works of art, that it attracts those from afar. Much like most of the area, its bygone medieval influence still stands, best experienced at ‘The Well of Moses’ - a stone sculpture erected at the start of the 14th century. Many critics consider it to be a modern masterpiece. Finally, on one of its many of its sunny days, a visit to the Côte de Nuits vineyards shouldn’t be missed. This prominent wine region is a destination in itself, allowing you to take in blissful views over a glass of Pinot Noir, or two. Dijon is indeed a spectacular cultural melting pot that should be visited at least once on a day trip from Lyon.

Getting there – take the fast train from Lyon Part-Dieu to Dijon Ville in 1h 22m.

6. Lyon to Annecy

For a complete change of scenery, head to the alpine town of Annecy which brings; fresh crisp air, breath-taking lakes and a medieval heritage spilling out of every cobbled street you wander down.

The glorious waters of Lac d’Annecy are what most people come for. This tranquil setting caters to tourists well, with nearby blue flag beaches in Plage la Brune and Veyrier-du-Lac – ideal for the kids. On a Lyon to Annecy day trip look out for Vieille Ville. This waterside walkway dangles on the edge of the Thiou River with pretty passageways hidden throughout. Dating back to the 1100s, the mini fortress of Pont Perrière is a point of interest, with an interesting history as a former prison. As you walk through this city it’s hard not to be charmed by its 17th-century buildings, painted in pastel colours.

Getting there – the train from Lyon Part-Dieu to Annecy Station takes 2h. Alternatively, for a scenic drive, it’s 1h 30m by car.