Jon Chinn from Birkenhead in England fell in love with the French way of life when he studied French in Amiens, Picardy, north of Paris whilst at University.
We talk to Jon about what life is like for expats in Lyon and why it’s a great place to live…
What inspired you to move to Lyon?
I married a French girl and we moved to Lyon for my job. I first arrived in Paris which is great when you are young and don’t mind living in a very small apartment but once you have a family and a decent job, it just becomes too expensive. We were based in Strasbourg for my job for a while, it’s a beautiful place, with a very strong identity and very different from the rest of France. We moved to Lyon in 2007 and we love it here, it’s a good compromise between Paris and a small town like Strasbourg. It’s big enough not to get bored and have plenty of choice for restaurants, cinemas, day trips etc but small enough to walk everywhere. We have a 2 bedroom apartment with a balcony and garage. We’re in the city centre but not right in the centre, so it’s not noisy and we can still walk everywhere.
What do you love about Lyon?
Lyon has such a great quality of life it’s surprising when you first arrive here. There are two rivers, a huge park (the largest urban park in France), several different districts which are very interesting, fantastic food and wine and a nice climate. If you ever want to get out into the countryside the Beaujolais and Ardeche areas are close by. There are beautiful lakes such as Annecy, Aix les Bains and Aigebuelette to the East, volcanic scenery in the Puy de Dome area to the West and Roman towns South of Lyon such as Vienne and Avignon.
What makes Lyon special as a place to live
We are very lucky to have a beautiful city, listed as UNESCO World Heritage, in such a convenient location, close to mountains, the sea and Paris and so well connected to the rest of Europe (4 hours 40 by Eurostar to London for example and direct flights to 3 of London’s 4 airports. There are lots of amazing festivals such as the Fête des Lumières (sound and light show attracting 3 million people every year) and the Nuits de Fourvière (summer concerts in the Roman amphitheatre). The city is constantly being improved too – Gérard Collomb, now Interior Minister, was mayor of Lyon for 16 years and had a policy of dynamic urban development. Bridges have been built, car parks turned into jogging and cycle paths, an old military barracks has been converted into a great park near where we live, an old city centre hospital is currently being transformed into a luxury hotel, shopping gallery and the Cité de la Gastronomie, the long awaited food museum of one of the best places in the world for food! It’s not surprising that Lyon was voted Best Weekend Destination in Europe at the World Travel Awards in 2016.
What are the must see places in Lyon?
The Confluence area of Lyon is a bit special so I like to go there. It’s the area of Lyon where the Rhône and Saône Rivers meet. The land used to be industrialised, with port and wholesale activity but is now being developed into a trendy, residential and cultural area with riverside bars, clubs and restaurants as well as green areas and an upmarket shopping centre. It’s like an open-air laboratory for architecture with a green cube (Euronews HQ), an orange cube (Cardinal Property Development Group), a former sugar factory and positive energy apartment blocks. It’s an eco-district and a WWF sustainable area. There is a driver-less electric shuttle bus and even a small harbour with pleasure boats. You can travel to the other main areas of Lyon by “Vaporetto” boat from here. The new Confluence Museum, complete with futuristic architecture (think Millenium Falcon meets Transformers) is also here and is highly recommended.
Life for expats in Lyon
As a Leggett Immobilier agent there are two sides to my job: finding property and helping clients. Finding property in a city is hard work and requires extensive networking. Helping clients is what I like best as it’s great to be able to pass on local knowledge and advice. Every client is different and has various needs so it’s important to adapt, listen and understand. It’s a huge advantage being an expat myself as I’ve been through everything that foreign clients are facing when they are looking to buy and move to Lyon.
The market in Lyon is very fast-moving so you need to be sure of what you want and ready to make an offer as soon as you visit a property that matches your requirements.
Jon’s top tips for home hunters in Lyon
- When deciding where to live don’t underestimate the travelling time in a city. It can double during rush hour. Car parking can also be a problem. Lyon has a very good public transport not to mention the famous Velo’v bicycle rental system, introduced 2 years before Paris, and 5 years before Boris bikes in London. So think green and walk, cycle or use public transport.
- If you want to make the most of what the city has to offer, the closer you are to the centre the easier it is to do so, although there are often excellent transport links for those that live further out. Lyon is a small city, just the right size: it’s possible to walk anywhere in the centre within half an hour.
- Whilst older apartments have many benefits including plenty of character it is well worth considering off-plan accommodation. There are a lot of fantastic new developments in Lyon as there is still some land available. Brand new apartments have many advantages over ones already built: no maintenance for 10 years, bright, reduced legal fees (about 3% compared to about 8% for re-sale), reduced energy bills, increased security, choice of orientation and decoration, no problems with noise pollution, guaranteed car parking.