Lyon is located in a verdant alpine region of eastern France which is geographically closer to Geneva in Switzerland than it is to the French capital, Paris. Verdant usually only means one thing and that's regular rainfall.
While it doesn't rain there every day of the year month-in month-out, Lyon is a city that receives its fair share of H₂O droplets throughout the four seasons. Surprisingly the times of the year when the most precipitations drench the city is not in the winter but in springtime and in the fall.
During those drier spells of the year, namely summer and winter, Lyon puts on its festival face. Thousands of visitors flock to the city to join in with massive outdoor celebrations of art, music, and food. The chill of the alpine winter nights doesn't deter hundreds of thousands of people from flooding into Lyon at the beginning of December to be wowed by the annual spectacular of the city's Festival of Lights either. That all happens before the Christmas illuminations and festivities take over the city.
Whatever time of the year you eventually make it to Lyon, your stay won't have that ooh la la factor if you have to cart your bags around with you. If you find yourself standing in the Place Bellecour looking like the human version of a luggage rack, head for the nearest Bounce luggage storage facility in Lyon and drop your stuff off there. Bounce luggage lockers are super economical to hire, are individually security tagged, and are all fully insured. Once you're bag-free you'll be ready to find a restaurant and get stuck into some of the fabulous Lyonnaise cuisine the city is famous for.
So When Is The Best Time To Visit Lyon?
There's no arguing that Lyon will make a great base if you're hoping to get in some skiing at the nearby ski resorts when there's snow on the slopes. You'll get the best of both worlds on a winter trip: excellent sport and a fascinating city to stay in. If you're not a skier or into large crowd-pleasing festivals you may well be wondering when the best time to visit Lyon actually is.
Check out the breakdowns of each of the seasons below and you'll soon discover when there's pleasant weather, when the peak season in Lyon is, and be able to decide for yourself when the best time of the year to visit Lyon is for you.
Summer in Lyon
Summer is a peak travel season for Lyon and the main reason for that is not just because the average temperatures are on the warm side, but because of everything that takes place in the city. From early June onwards the festivities in Lyon are pretty nonstop.
Les Nuits de Fourvière, the Nights of Fourviére, is a two-month-long celebration of the arts, which begins on the 2nd of June and continues all the way through to the end of July. There are almost endless performances of music, theater, and dance from just about every genre imaginable. It's a festival that attracts visitors to Lyon in the thousands, so if you're looking for a quiet time to go sightseeing this is definitely not it.
The warm summer month of June in Lyon isn't only about impromptu music and the arts, but also about cuisine. Late June is when you'll be able to try the best street food in Lyon at the city's annual Street Food Festival. The food festival is held inside and out of what was once the Fagor production plant which is now an events space. The festival is held over four consecutive days and attended by over a hundred chefs. There's also live music and lots of food-related workshops to participate in.
As if that wasn't enough summer entertainment, mid-June is also when Music Day takes place in Lyon. A six-and-a-half-kilometer-long line of musicians connect Lyon with the neighboring town of Villeurbanne and play to their heart’s content. Escaping the cacophony is practically impossible as they're followed by a get-together of hundreds of school children participating in an organized noise concert. Yes, you may well need to invest in ear plugs if you visit Lyon in June.
It may seem quite a strange subject for a French city to be presenting, but if you visit Lyon before the end of August you'll be able to catch an unusual exhibition in one of the best museums in Lyon, the Musée des Confluences. The exhibition called On The Trail Of The Sioux examines how the culture of Native Americans is seen in Europe and how reality has often been changed because of film and literary works.
Why Not To Go To Lyon In Summer
While it may seem like a good time to visit Lyon, the summer months are high season so the city can be teeming with people. Unless you're really into nonstop festivals then this is the season to avoid.
Average High Temperature in Summer In Lyon
June– 75°F (24°C) July - 81°F (27°C) August - 81°F (27°C)
Average Low Temperature in Summer In Lyon
June– 57°F (14°C) July - 61°F (16°C) August - 59°F (15°C)
Fall in Lyon
Plan a trip during the fall months of September, October, or November and you'll almost certainly be looking for things to do on a rainy day in Lyon. Those three months are when the French city experiences the most rainfall. October is usually the wettest, averaging around ten or more days out of the 31 with downpours accounting for cumulative precipitation of about four inches of rain.
While it may rain more often, that's not to say it's not a good time of the year to visit Lyon. While it's not blazing hot, in general, the average temperature is quite mild. Learn to dodge the showers and it's an ideal time of the year to visit France when you can go sightseeing without getting worked up into a sweat.
You'll still have plenty of light for outdoor activities in early fall too. Until the clocks go back an hour for daylight saving time at the end of October, it doesn't start to get dark so soon. That all changes in November though and the evenings creep in pretty quickly once the sun has set at around 4:30 or 5 pm.
If you’re hoping for a romantic winter break, November might well be the best time to visit Lyon as you could find yourself dining by candlelight and cuddling up in front of an open fire, neither of which is a bad way to spend an evening.
The fall months are not the busiest time so, from mid to late September onwards you'll find you won't have to line up to get in or near any of the major attractions. Many travel agents offer Lyon packages for this time of the year at bargain prices so they're well worth keeping an eye out for. The absence of tourists doesn't last for long though, so if you want to avoid the crowds make sure you depart before December is ready to make its appearance on the calendar.
Why Not To Go To Lyon In Fall
It rains more than any other time of the year and by the end of the season, it's getting dark earlier and earlier. There's not a great deal of anything very exciting happening in the city.
Average High Temperature in Fall In Lyon
September – 72°F (22°C) October - 63°F (17°C) November - 52°F (11°C)
Average Low Temperature in Fall In Lyon
September – 54°F (12°C) October - 48°F (9°C) November - 39°F (4°C)
Winter in Lyon
When December, January, and February come around, the chill in the air in Lyon is definitely noticeable even though the average temperature might not reach sub-zero levels. The weather statistics will tell you that while December may be one of the driest months of the year, it's when the relative humidity creeps up the scale.
The wintery cold winds that can blow hard enough to knock your hat off and the fact that December is the most humid month doesn't keep people off the streets of Lyon. The start of the month is absolute magic once the Festival of Lights gets underway. This annual celebration takes place over four nights from the 8th of the month onwards and is truly spectacular to witness firsthand.
During the Festival of Light, all the main buildings of the city are illuminated with digital art and everyone places candles in the windows and at the front of their homes. There's a nightly light show in the Place des Terreaux too, and even though this square is huge, you won't find a lot of elbow room as this festival really draws the masses.
As soon as the light festival is over, Lyon gets decked out for December's next big event. Traditional French Christmas markets take over the city's plazas, there are funfairs and ice skating rinks, and the smell of chestnuts roasting fills the air. If you enjoy the Christmas festivities, then you'll love Lyon at this time of year.
New Year's is often celebrated on the streets too. People gather in the plazas waiting for the proverbial chimes, then jump up and down to stay warm as the massive fireworks display lights up the skies. After the excesses of Christmas and New Year's, Lyon tends to fall into a state of semi-hibernation until spring is around the corner. There's only so much partying even French folks can take.
Why Not To Go To Lyon In Winter
The weather might be chilly, but December is one of the more popular months to go to Lyon because of the Festival of Lights and the Christmas festivities. There's no avoiding crowds of tourists no matter how hard you try. If you want a quiet winter visit, opt for January or February when there are fewer people.
Average High Temperature in Winter In Lyon
December– 45°F (7°C) January - 43°F (6°C) February - 46°F (8°C)
Average Low Temperature in Winter In Lyon
December– 34°F (1°C) January - 32°F (0°C) February - 34°F (1°C)
Spring in Lyon
While you can't guarantee getting good weather all of the time throughout the months of March, April, and May, when it's not raining, it will generally be pleasant. Spring, as in most European countries, is a time when every bush, tree, and plant starts to sprout and Mother Nature begins her cycle of renewal.
March is the month when the citizens of Lyon get their running shoes out of the closet and warm up ready to participate in the annual Lyon Urban Trail. The running event consists of four races through the city streets of differing lengths. The races attract around 9,000 participants from all over France and around the world, and as they all need somewhere to rest, finding reasonably priced accommodation in March can be difficult.
In comparison to other European cities that have a tendency to go overboard with Easter pageants, Lyon plays it pretty cool. You're not likely to run across a dramatic fake crucifixion here, unlike you would in some cities in neighboring Spain.
Why Not To Go To Lyon In Spring
The pollen count in Lyon in spring can be high because of all those beautifully verdant terrains that surround it. If you're a hayfever sufferer then you may want to consider avoiding this time of the year.
Average High Temperature in Spring In Lyon
March– 55°F (13°C) April - 61°F (16°C) May - 68°F (10°C)
Average Low Temperature in Spring In Lyon
March– 39°F (4°C) April - 43°F (6°C) May - 50°F (10°C)
When Is The Best Time To Visit Lyon For You?
If you've chosen Lyon as your next holiday destination and you don't care too much about the average temperature, what the coldest month is, or when the least humid month is, then go in summer. Forget listening to what travel agents are recommending, they'll probably try to tell you to take your trip in the most expensive month anyway. Summer is when all the best things are happening in Lyon so why miss out on all of those?