Expats in Lyon: why live in France’s most enterprising city?
With an urban population in the greater Lyon area of over 2.6 million, there are an estimated 50,000 expats in Lyon, according to Aderly Lyon Area Economic Development Agency. Alongside professionals working in Lyon, the city welcomes around 16,000 Erasmus and international students every year within a student population of around 120,000 according to My French Lifeguard.
So why do expats in Lyon choose the city to live, study and work? And what services are available for expats in Lyon to help make the city feel like home?
Expats in Lyon: why choose France’s most enterprising city?
1. Competitive Job Opportunities
Lyon’s thriving economic activity revolves mainly around competitive industry clusters in biotech, cleantech, urban transport, digital entertainment and technical textiles. Lyon is home to internationally recognised brands such as Sanofi Pasteur, Lafarge, Atari, Renault Trucks, Rhodia and Group Seb. The Lyon area is also home to the nation’s second largest digital hub with over 4,000 digital companies providing 34,000 jobs and 3.5 billion euros in sales.
As many as 900 foreign capital companies have a presence in the Rhone-Alpes region, including renowned international organisations Interpol, Euronews, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), European Center for Humanitarian Health (CESH), European Center for Virology and Immunology (CERVI) and Handicap International.
Lyon is also a hub of entrepreneurship, with the city’s entrepreneurial roots dating back to the silk trade in the early 19th century. With 10,000 new businesses started in 2006, local policies providing support to 20,000 new business projects every year, as well as leading business incubators in the region such as Crealys, Novacité and The Entrepreneurship Centre located at EMLYON & Ecole Centrale’s campuses, Lyon is France’s most enterprising city.
2. Optimum location with strong transportation links
Located on the main north-south and east-west axes of Europe, close to both the Mediterranean and the Alps, Lyon has developed strong transportation links to support its strategic European location. 1,101 European and international locations are accessible from Lyon St Exupery airport, with the TGV high-speed train taking 1hr 55 from Paris and 1 hr 40 from Marseille.
3. Quality of life
As the second largest urban site on the UNESCO World Heritage list, 2000 years of history with Gallo-Roman heritage and the sensational annual “Fête des Lumières”, the city of Lyon attracts up to 6 million visitors per year.
Its proximity to the Alps – only 1 1/2 hours from the largest ski area in the world, the largest number of national and regional nature parks as well as 50 lakes including France’s largest lake Lac de Bourget provide a huge range of recreational activities, making Lyon Rhone-Alpes among the top 5 tourist destinations in Europe.
Lyon also boasts a reputation as France’s gastronomic capital, with over 2,000 restaurants to choose from, including 14 Michelin starred restaurants – the highest in Europe according to the Michelin Guide.
Which services are available to support expats in Lyon?
Only Lyon Tourist Office
OnlyLyon offers a vast amount of information on Lyon’s tourist activities and events, business services and trade fairs, as well as information about the city and its surroundings for expats in Lyon. Through the organisation, Lyon became the first French city to develop a regional marketing strategy, with the objective to develop the image and reputation of Lyon in Europe through international institutional and economic partnerships.
A great way for expats in Lyon to discover more about the city is through a Lyon City Card – choose from 1,2 or 3 days, with the price including access to 22 museums, a boat trip on the Saone, unlimited travel via metro, bus, tram and funicular, guided tours and more.
There are many language schools and organisations providing regular or flexible French lessons for expats in Lyon to improve their language skills, including:
Plus there’s the opportunity to improve your English skills (or find a job teaching English as an expat) including the following institutions:
- Franglish (French / English language exchange event, once a week in Lyon)
- Polyglot Club (free international language exchange event, twice a week in Lyon)
Associations and Agencies to help Expats get set up in Lyon
- My French Lifeguard – an organisation set up in 2012 to assist and welcome the 300,000 students that study at French universities each year, as well as interns, professionals and other expats in Lyon
- Expat Agency France – organising expatriation, national and international mobility in Lyon, including relocation services and homestays
Expat groups and associations
There a numerous organisations, events and associations that have been set up to welcome expats in Lyon and facilitate their experience of living and working in the city. Some are focused around family life, some are language based, others are social in nature and some are specific to industries and interests, but they are all helpful and welcoming. Some examples include:
- Anglo Info (also offers job alerts for expats in Lyon)
- Lyon A La Carte
- Internations (offer business networking events)
- Lyon International Meetup Association
- Lyon International Families Network
- English Speaking Families Group
Professional networking groups and associations
- Women’s Professional Networking Group – WPNG (also offers job alerts for expats in Lyon)
- The American Club of Lyon
- Franco-British International Business Association (FIBA)
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