Living in Lyon

What you need to know when arriving in Lyon as an Aerospace Engineering student

When we welcome our new students in September, we will of course organize a day of orientation to provide the students with all information that is necessary to complete the administrative procedures and to begin their coursework. We have collected some of this information here for reference and also to give prospective students an impression of what they can expect. If you should have any further questions or suggestions for improvement, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Lyon city near confluence district with Rhone river, France

Location of the Campus

The École centrale de Lyon is located in Ecully, a western suburb of Lyon. The ECL campus has its own bus stop, « Campus Lyon Ouest, » which is served by four bus lines:

  • Bus 3 connects the campus to “Gorge de Loup” station (subway line #D [Green Line])
  • bus 4 shuttles between “Gare de Vaise” station (subway line #D [Green Line]) and ECL campus during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays
  • bus 55 links ECL to “Perrache” station (subway line #A [Red Line])
  • bus PL3 (« pleine lune » = « full moon ») is a night bus that takes you from the city center of Lyon (“Hôtel de Ville” station) to École Centrale. It runs at 1, 2, 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning during nights from Thursday to Friday, Friday to Saturday, and Saturday to Sunday, as well as in the nights before public holidays.

You can find further travel information and campus maps on the website of the ECL.

Arriving in Lyon

Lyon has an extended network of public transportation that will take your from the airport or the main trains station to your accommodation; see the TCL website for further information.

How to get from airport to ECL campus

The rhônexpress is a high-speed tram line connecting Lyon’s Saint Exupéry airport to the city. The “rhônexpress” station can be reached via a footbridge located between terminals 1 and 2; follow the red signs with the white « rhônexpress » label into the railway station. Leave the station by the main exit and take the stairs or escalators that are on the outside right next on the left and right side of the doors. It takes about 7 minutes walking from terminals 1 and 2 to get to the rhônexpress platform and 10 minutes from terminal 3. Tickets for the rhônexpress can be bought at vending machines in the airport or via the rhônexpress website.

Take the rhônexpress until « Vaulx-en-Velin – La Soie », and then change to metro line #A [Red Line], direction « Perrache ».

Metro tickets can be bought at the vending machines in the metro stations. These tickets are valid for all means of public transport in the greater Lyon area (metro, tramway, bus) for the duration of 1 hour after they have first been validated; during that time you can change lines as many times as you want, but you are required to re-validate the ticket each time you change transport (except when changing from one metro line to another). Tickets are validated by inserting them into the small slots at the metro entry barriers or the boxes close to the doors of buses and trams.

Stay in metro line #A [Red Line] until the « Bellecour » stop, then change to metro line #D [Green Line], direction « Gare de Vaise », to get to « Gorge de Loup » station. Once you are in “Gorge de Loup” station, follow the signs « bus – gare routière » and turn right immediately after you leave the building. Go up the stairs outside to find bus #3, direction « Dardilly le Jubin / Limonest Le Puy d’Or », which will take you directly to « Campus Lyon Ouest ».

How to get from “Part-Dieu” railway station to ECL campus

Take metro line #B [Blue Line], direction « Gare d’Oullins », until the stop « Saxe-Gambetta ». Change to metro line #D [Green Line], direction « Gare de Vaise », to get to the station « Gorge de Loup ». Then, take bus #3, direction « Dardilly le Jubin / Limonest Le Puy d’Or », which will take you directly to « Campus Lyon Ouest ».

Further Information

Tourist Office of Lyon
Le Petit Paumé
Le Petit Bulletin


If you are thinking about joining the Master of Aerospace Engineering program then you are probably also interested in knowing a bit more about Lyon itself. We have collected some information on this page to give you a first impression.

Lyon, France’s second largest metropolis, offers students an exceptional quality of life with a highly-developed transportation network, shopping centers, plenty of green spaces, a renowned gastronomy and history, active research centers and more!

Geography and History

The city of Lyon is situated in east-central France in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, at a distance of about 470 km from Paris. Two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, flow through the city and merge south of the historic city center, which derives its nickname, the peninsula (Presqu’île), from this fact. Two large hills dominate the topography of the city, one west of the center on the other side of the Saône (Fourvière) and the other one (Croix-Rousse) in the north. A large plain, which is the location of the modern part of Lyon including its urban center with the Part-Dieu railway station, lies across the Rhône in the east and is home to most of the city’s population. Lyon itself has about half a million inhabitants; the greater Lyon area, which includes Ecully (where École central is located), has a total population of around 2.2 million.

Lyon was founded as a Roman colony on the Fourvière hill in 43 BC, with its original name Lugdunum being derived from a Gaulish settlement in the same area. The village quickly gained importance due its trade-friendly location on two navigable rivers and the main land route from south-eastern to northern France. Lyon became a major economic center in the late middle ages and started to develop the silk trade during the renaissance, which continued to be a major industrial factor well into the nineteenth century. Today Lyon is the second-largest economic center in France (chemical and biotechnological industry, banking,…) and an innovation city, but it has also preserved its historical charm and architectural landmarks; its districts Fourvière, Vieux-Lyon (the renaissance quarter), Croix-Rousse, and the Presqu’île together form since 1998 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is the second biggest economic region in France and is one of the most important economic regions in Europe. It shares a border with Switzerland and Italy. The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region has a remarkable, and protected, natural heritage thanks to the diversity of its climate and the natural sites it contains: the Massif Central to the west, the Rhône valley in the centre and the Alpes to the east. Natural parks cover 10% of the region.

Academic Institutions

The Université de Lyon is the main French higher-education and scientific center outside the Paris metropolitan area, composed of 4 public universities, 7 grandes écoles and the CNRS (the French National Center for Scientific Research), forming a group of 12 member institutions. The Université de Lyon also assembles 19 associated institutions, offering specific disciplinary training programs. Altogether, the Université de Lyon regroups 137,600 students (13% of whom are international students) and 168 public laboratories.

The Université de Lyon implements and manages large strategic projects with the regional authorities (Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Métropole de Lyon, Saint-Étienne Métropole), as well as a large network of public and private companies.

The Université de Lyon builds its international recognition on the great quality of its faculty members, research teams and teaching departments in all fields of knowledge, and more particularly in three strategic domains:

  • Bio Health and Society
  • Science and Engineering for Sustainable Society
  • Urbanity and Humanities

In cooperation with its network of member and associated institutions, the Université de Lyon implements joint research centers, offers high-quality targeted internship programs and organizes scientific and academic symposiums. It also coordinates PhD programs for the 17 Doctoral Schools and fosters strategic international partnerships.

The Université de Lyon works as a powerful brand promoting its institutions, academic communities, institutional partners, as well as the Lyon Saint-Étienne area, in the same way as renowned international university brands.

Culture and Leisure

Performing Arts

Lyon has a large variety of theaters, concert halls and smaller venues for performances, covering everything from classical theater and ballet to modern/experimental pieces and comedy, from symphonic orchestra and opera to modern forms of music. Many establishments offer tickets at reduced prices for students.


Lyon boasts about 100 different museums dedicated to art, science and technology, culture or -history.


Two famous inhabitants of Lyon were the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, pioneers of cinema who made major contributions to the technology of recording, developing and projecting moving images. The Lumière Institute commemorates their legacy with a museum of their inventions, by organizing original programs and tributes, and furthermore with the Lumière festival in October, which pays homage to films, actors and directors from different periods.
In total, there are about 30 cinemas in the greater Lyon area, which offer the full selection from Hollywood blockbusters and popular French films to art house programs and specialized festivals. A number of cinemas show movies in their original versions with French subtitles.
Tickets at reduced prices for students!


Lyon has a rich gastronomical tradition and has gained the reputation of being the culinary capital of France. The greater Lyon area is home to the famous French chef Paul Bocuse, the only chef ever to have held three stars from the Michelin restaurant guide for over 40 years in a row. The traditional cuisine of Lyon is known, among others, for its rich meat dishes and sausages, as well as for its delicious sweets and pastries. Besides that, chefs from Lyon have also been driving forces in the development of the nouvelle cuisine. The Beaujolais and the Côtes du Rhône wine-growing regions are located close to Lyon (about 30 to 60 minutes per car ride).

You can sample typical Lyon cuisine (traditional dishes based on cured meats), along with regional wines (Beaujolais, Côte du Rhône), in traditional restaurants called « bouchons ».


The greater Lyon area is home to numerous festivals celebrating music, visual arts and culture. You can, for example, stroll through the streets of the city and enjoy all sorts of music during the “Fête de la Musique”, listen to electronic music during “Les Nuits Sonores” or go to the jazz festivals in Vaulx-en-Velin and in the roman theater of Vienne.
All summer long, the “Tout l’monde dehors” festival offers free cinema, music and theater in outdoor venues, and “Les Nuits de Fourvière” allow you to enjoy theater and other performing arts in the magnificent setting of the antique roman theater of Fourvière. The “Biennale d’art contemporain” is a bi-annual festival of modern art. The most widely-known event in Lyon is the “Fête des Lumières”, the festival of lights, during which the buildings, fountains and streets of Lyon are turned into stunning light installations (see picture above); the “Fête des Lumières” attracts more than 2 million visitors to Lyon every December.


Lyon is close to the Provence and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as to the Alps and to key wine-growing regions, so there are many possibilities for interesting excursions, sports trips and gastronomical tours. At about 30-45 minutes by car from Lyon, it is possible to go hiking in the surrounding mountains or visit many castles and villages, for example the Lac des Sapins, Village des Pierres Dorées in the Beaujolais mountains, and the bird park of Villars-les-Dombes. Pilat Nature Park is a bit further away (about one hour).
Excursions to Marseille and the Mediterranean (two and a half to three hours) and skiing trips in the resorts of the Alps (one and a half hour) are very attractive as well.

French habits

How the French eat

In general, the French eat three meals a day: breakfast in the morning, lunch around noon or one p.m. and dinner at seven or eight p.m.

Breakfast most often includes a warm drink (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and bread with butter or jam. Sometimes, there will be croissants and pains au chocolat (especially on Sunday).

The meals at noon (lunch) and in the evening (dinner) often include a starter (raw vegetables, soup), a warm main dish (meat or fish, vegetables or cereals), cheese and dessert (fruit, pastry, ice cream, etc.).
The usual drinks for lunch and dinner are water and sometimes wine or beer. Except for fast food outlets, restaurants do not serve meals between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.


  • Hypermarkets and supermarkets offer a vast choice of items and are generally open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (sometimes later and on a few Sundays during the year). The greatest drawback to these stores is the fact that they are often located on the outskirts of the city. You can also order using the Internet, with home delivery in 48 to 72 hours.
  • Smaller stores are located in the city center. They are frequently a bit more expensive. There are also many small neighborhood businesses, such as pork butchers, bakeries, delicatessens and grocery stores.
    Sometimes located in the city, the least expensive supermarkets are the discounters (Leader Price, Lidl, etc.).
  • See also the articles on the Resto U  and Eating at home 
  • You can also take a moment to purchase fresh produce in the morning, in particular on weekends, at the numerous Lyon markets. This is where you will find local products (cheese, cold cuts, vegetables, fruit, etc.).
    It won’t cost you more and has the advantage of freshness!