Lyon is the capital of the region Rhône-Alpes and the Département Rhône in south-east Franceand has a population of 1.2 million making it the second largest conurbation in France.

The city is steeped in history, its heritage was formally recognised in 1995 when UNESCO designated the Vieux Lyon quarter of the town a world heritage centre. Lyon also boasts a vibrant cultural life: it hosts the Biennial Modern Art Festival and the Biennial Dance Festival, can claim to be the home of cinema (its Lumière brothers invented the cinema projector), and is arguably the capital of French gastronomy with the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in France.

In business terms the city’s key clusters are biotechnologies, new technologies and the creative industries. Lyon has a strong scientific research capability with over 10,000 researchers working in 275 private and public laboratories.

Moreover, Lyon is home to renowned research institutions and also known for its famous light festival Fête des Lumières’.

In the recent years, the regeneration of the Part Dieu district and the extension of the rail system are some of the most relevant actions of urban renovation in the city.

Lyon is the headquarters of many companies such as the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, the software company Cegid Group, the TV channel Euronews, the copper manufacturer Gindre Duchavany and intergovernmental agencies IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) and Interpol.

Birmingham/Lyon relationship

Lyon and Birmingham have been partner cities since 1951 and this is our longest standing partnership. Previous and current activities include:

  • Founding members of the Eurocities network of major European cities.
  • Founding members of the LUCI urban lighting network.
  • Tenants’ exchange examining social housing and estate management issues.
  • Both members of the EU REGENERA network exchanging good practice on regeneration matters.
  • Founding members of the Delice network of good food cities. (UCB now lead on this, but BCC remains on the board of the local network) (Délice network set up by Lyon to promote co-operation in the food and drink sector.)
  • Exchanges of jewellery designer-makers.
  • Professional development visits for Birmingham primary school teachers piloting the teaching of French.
  • Work placements hosted in Birmingham for Lyon students.
  • Link between bilingual nursery in Lyon and students studying nursery nursing at University College Birmingham.
  • Birmingham community arts organisations participated in a festival to celebrate migrant cultures.
  • Schools partnerships.
  • Lyon’s renowned Fête des Lumières festival worked with EC Arts and Bournville College to support their public arts strategy in Longbridge, initially providing consultancy and idea sharing for Bournville College’s centenary celebrations which will include three light installations from Lyonnais artists, with a view to creating an annual lighting festival in Longbridge and a sustainable partnership from 2014 onwards with opportunities for artistic exchange with Lyon. This partnership was announced at Bournville College’s centenary event held on 30 October 2013.
  • Birmingham contributed to the discussion on mobility and transport at the World Summit on Climate and Territories, Lyon 1-2 July 2015. Since then, the two cities have strengthened their collaboration on the issue of transport infrastructure, particularly  with exchanges of best practices in the strategy to improve flow around the city.
  • OPTICITIES EU funded research project on intelligent transport systems.
  • Expo Real is a property fair held in Munich each year. Marketing Birmingham collaborated with Lyon and Gothenburg (Lyon is a partner city of both and they initiated this project. This is done within an overarching theme of these being ‘challenger cities’ in other words major second cities in their countries.
  • Birmingham was represented at Expo Real on 4-6 October 2016 in Munich by Emma Gray (MB), MB’s Commercial Director and Richard Cowell from BCC.
  • There is an Avenue de Birmingham in Lyon, opened in 1955 to celebrate our twinning and then renovated and reopened by Sir Albert Bore in 2013
  • Lyon and Birmingham are involved with the other twin city of Frankfurt in the project Europod, a sportive exchange for young people. The following video shows some of the activities that took place in Frankfurt for Europod 2017:



Further information on Lyon (in English) is available here: City of Lyon
Lyon tourism office
Greater Lyon business website