Nightlife in Lyon: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Nightlife in Lyon is laid-back and varied.


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As one of France's largest cities, history and culture-drenched Lyon harbors a nightlife scene that's laid-back, varied, and elegant. While the former Gallo-Roman capital has a bit of a reputation for being staid and conservative, it's become more dynamic and open in the 21st century—and this is reflected in the current nightlife offering. Whether your idea of a perfect night out involves sipping expertly-mixed cocktails on a river boat, sampling choice wines paired with cheese or charcuterie boards in an underground cellar, or dancing 'til the wee hours of the morning in one of the best clubs in town, there's something for everyone in Lyon. Keep reading for our suggestions on how and where to spend your night out, and how to make the most of it.

Bars

In Lyon, you'll find an impressive variety of bars, from old-fashioned neighborhood watering holes serving a small selection of wines and beers, to high-end cocktail bars concocting creative drinks, to péniches (boat bars) moored on the river. In the warmer months, it's common to see packed tables spilling out from popular bars around large squares like the Place des Terreaux, where locals often assemble for before-dinner drinks (aperitifs). And in the colder periods, a glass of wine in an intimate, low-lit cellar can be cozy and memorable.

In the past couple of decades, Lyon's bar scene has expanded further to add more conceptual nightlife spots with contemporary flair. Care for a speakeasy-style bar hidden behind a secret door in a restaurant? How about a drink on a rooftop bar where top DJs set the mood with their sets? The city has certainly transcended its former reputation as a starchy capital of business and banking.

Here are just a few places we recommend for a drink, whether before or after dinner:

  • The Monkey Club: This coveted cocktail bar located above Place des Terreaux styles itself as a mix between a Victorian boudoir and curiosity cabinet. The drinks are eye-catching and surprising, too.
  • Les Valseuses: One of the best spots for a drink and casual meal in the bohemian Croix-Rousse district, this neighborhood bar is gritty, intimate, and beloved by locals. It's especially noted for its selection of rums. Live music and DJ sets are also a regular feature here.
  • Bistrot Têtedoie: Perched high on Fourvière hill, the sweeping panoramic terrace at this restaurant and bar offers some of the best views of the city, as well as a large variety of drinks.
  • Le Bootlegger: This speakeasy-style joint in the upper reaches of Vieux Lyon has a "Prohibition era-chic" vibe, with wide leather armchairs, wine barrels for tables, and low lighting. The soundtrack is pure rock.

Nightclubs

Lyon's nightclub scene hasn't historically been much to write home about, but in recent years, a new generation of local owners and DJs have changed all that. From gritty, underground cellars where experimental jazz and hip-hop sets are followed by moody electro, to enormous clubs housed in defunct factories, clubs in the city are increasingly diverse, eclectic, and inspiring. Cover charges are generally reasonable, with the exception of the higher-end venues.

  • Le Sucre: Built in a former sugar factory near the contemporary Confluences district, Le Sucre is one of the more avant-garde spots for a night of dancing to international DJ sets (mostly electro). The rooftop terrace bar boasts excellent views and drinks.
  • La Maison: If you're looking for a more laid-back club vibe where you can nurse stylish cocktails, La Maison has it all. Sets from house DJs and themed parties focus on house, disco, and funk. Enjoy a sit-down dinner at the adjoining restaurant before the dance party.
  • Le Petit Salon: This club and cultural center in Lyon's University district is one of the coolest venues in town for dancing and drinking, all to bold sets from a revolving roster of DJs. Techno, rap, house, trance, funk, and other genres draw hundreds of locals every weekend.
  • The United Cafe (UC): This LGBT-friendly nightclub in the city center is Lyon's oldest, and hosts lively electro parties on its enormous dance floors, as well as drag and karaoke shows.

Live Music

It's easy to enjoy an evening of live music in Lyon, whether you're in the mood for jazz, opera, rock, or a dance-till-you-drop electro set. A variety of venues, from riverboats to lavish amphitheaters, host performances year-round in the city. Some are budget-friendly, too, with entry prices amounting to a small cover charge or nothing at all.

  • Le Transbordeur: This longstanding concert venue is one of the city's coolest, staging a steady stream of live performances from international musicians. Rock, hip-hop, electronic music, and indie all feature in the program.
  • Le Sirius: This péniche is one of Lyon's most popular: a boat bar and café moored on the Rhône and staging regular live music performances, from jazz and hip-hop to swing. Go in late spring to early fall, if you can.
  • The Periscope: Jazz enthusiasts flock to this experimental performance café for regular concerts from local and international performers. The vibe is arty and a bit bohemian.
  • Lyon Opera: Grab a seat for opera or classical music performance at this impressive city monument, with its bold domed rooftop designed by architect Jean Nouvel.

Late-Night Restaurants

While Lyon is a global culinary capital, it's not especially noteworthy for its late-night dining options. Still, these days you can usually find something to nosh on late into the evening as you roam from one club to the next.

Here are a few we especially recommend:

  • Mama Shelter Lyon: With its brightly colored and graffitied walls, small but charming rooftop bar area, and kitchen serving food until midnight, this is one of Lyon's most popular spots for late-night dining. Burgers and veggie burgers, salads, wraps, and sharing platters pair well with house cocktails. DJ sets play Thursday through Sunday, too.
  • La Gratinée: Open until 7 a.m., this steak-centric restaurant near the Fine Arts Museum and Place des Terreaux is ideal for all-night dining. Steak and fries, potatoes au gratin, and other French staples feature on the menu. Vegetarians can choose from a range of pasta and salad dishes.
  • Le P'tit Cass de Nuit: This snack bar on the banks of the Saône river is open until 3:30 a.m. (closed on Mondays), and is a favorite spot for snagging decent tacos and other post-clubbing fare. It's a good port of call when you're out and about in Vieux Lyon or the central "Presqu'Île" area.

Festivals

Particularly in the late spring through early autumn, Lyon is a great place to enjoy after-dark festivals and events. In the summer, make sure to experience open-air concerts or theater in the city's ancient Gallo-Roman arenas during the annual Les Nuits de Fourvière. Summer is also time for popular events like the Eté en Cinemascope, an outdoor cinema festival that sees dozens of free outdoor movie screenings. And every June 21, the Fête de la Musique sees free musical performances take over the streets of Lyon (and around France).

If you're visiting in the fall, the Lyon Beer Festival and Beaujolais Nouveau wine harvest celebrations (generally starting in the third week of November) keep the celebratory mood alive.

See more about annual festivals and after-dark events on the Lyon tourism board website.

Tips for Going Out in Lyon

  • Lyon's metro and tram lines run until 12 a.m or 12:30 a.m. seven days a week, while the main bus lines run until around 10:30 p.m. (with earlier service end times on Sundays and public holidays). After these times, taking the night bus is an option, although it can be a bit tricky for visitors to use. We recommend staying at a hotel close to the center of town so you can easily walk or take a short taxi ride, if need be.
  • It's always possible to take a taxi if you miss the last metro or bus, and Uber is available in Lyon. Taxi stations can be found around the city center, including around Place Bellecour, near Hôtel de Ville/Place des Terreaux, and in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). Around the time bars close (about 2 a.m.), taxis are often in high demand.
  • Bars and cafés that sell alcohol are generally permitted to stay open until 2 a.m., while most nightclubs have separate licenses permitting them to remain open until early morning.
  • In France, you're not generally expected to tip staff at the bar. However, you can always round up your bill to the next Euro as a small gesture for excellent service. If you're served at a table, leaving a tip of five to 10 percent of the total bill is customary if service is good.
  • In late autumn and winter, evening temperatures can be bracing, with temps dropping below freezing at times in January and February. During the colder months, make sure to wear or bring along a warm coat, gloves, scarf, and warm socks for your night out, especially if it may involve walking around. See our full-length guide to weather in Lyon to learn more.
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