Let’s start by locating these two French cities: Nantes is located in the north-west of France, in the Pays de la Loire region, more precisely in the Loire-Atlantique department, while Lyon is located in the south-east. of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, in the department of the Circonscription du Rhône. Nantes is the smaller of the two, but has more303,000 inhabitants, while Lyon is considered a metropolis with nearly 513,000 inhabitants. Both share the characteristic of being river cities, Nantes being crossed by the Loire and Lyon by the Rhône. Now that we have located the two cities, we can begin to compare them from their different aspects:    


As far as Nantes is concerned, it is a city full of young people and students, and therefore of nightlife. It is one of the French cities with the most bars in relation to the number of inhabitants and there are many places or events to visit at night. For example, you can visit Les Machines de l’île, which are giant animal-shaped robots that move around a giant square filled with tourists and visitors from all over the world, but if you want to relax at sunset , you can for example take a cruise on the Loire which will allow you to observe many works of contemporary artists as well as the local fauna and flora, all in the company of a glass of wine and a jazz band . For those who prefer to spend the evening in good company in a quiet bar, I recommend the “Banana Hangar” area, which is an old warehouse transformed into a vast nightlife area where bars, discos and theaters mingle. You can listen to Irish rock or sing karaoke at the top of your lungs. Art lovers can visit the magnificent art museum until 9 p.m. In Nantes, there is also a magnificent neoclassical theater where fans can attend beautiful performances of classical music and more. Lyon defends itself well by presenting just as many nocturnal activities: the bars of the beautiful Place des Terreaux which has a magnificent fountain which lights up at night, the two large theaters (Théâtre des Célestins and L’Opéra national de Lyon) in which you can attend many shows of all possible genres. Lyon is also home to the famous Lyon Vert Casino, which offers many games of chance (digital or not) in a very luxurious setting, that of a five-star hotel.


Nantes has an extensive public transport network managed by TAN. Many lines allow you to move quickly around the city. On weekdays, the most common buses run approximately every 7 minutes. A single ticket costs between 1.70 and 2 euros and allows you to travel for one hour from the stamping time. This applies to all buses, trams and ferries operated by this network. On weekends, transport is free for everyone and for Pass Nantes holders, it is free every day. It is almost always possible to bring a bicycle. In addition, for those who use several means of transport during a travel day, a ticket for 5.80 euros is recommended, which allows unlimited use of the service. Many taxis are also available in the city, all of very high standard and therefore more expensive than a normal taxi. For airport transfers there are several private and non-private options and you can also use the UBER app to book a private transfer which is not too expensive. Before talking about transport in Lyon, it is necessary to divide the city into four different parts due to its size: the hills of Fourvière and Croix-Rousse, the old town and the peninsula between the Rhône and the Saône . The first means of transport that we will see today is the urban tourist bus, which allows people with little time to cover the entire metropolis in record time. Lyon, like Nantes for that matter, is very favorable to bicycles, which allows you to move around the city comfortably, without any particular risk or problem: 100 bus lines, 4 metro lines, 5 tram lines, 2 funiculars and a cycle network with fixed stations scattered throughout the metropolis. Taxis are again discouraged and private rides are best arranged through Uber or through local contacts. For those who come from further afield, there is no problem since both cities have an airport.


Nantes has become in recent years the economic center of the North-West, with a balanced economic fabric and a wide range of tertiary and industrial activities. It is here that the largest ocean-going ships in the world and the most advanced biotechnology technologies are built.Nantes has established itself as a leading industrial centre, with shipbuilding (first center in the country), aeronautics (second center for Airbus) and agri-food. Large industrial companies such as Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Airbus, Alstom or Eurofins are developing at the same time as an innovative and creative sector, represented by numerous start-ups in the digital sector and in the cultural and creative industries. “There is an effective network here that opens doors,” say start-up and SME entrepreneurs who have left Paris to settle and develop in Nantes. “Two hours from Paris, with less cost and more beaches”. Each year, more and more entrepreneurs are plunging into the Land of Audacity. Lyon, in terms of economic environment, has almost no competitor, except Paris since it is in second position after it to have the most flourishing economy in France with more than 123,000 companies in increase of nearly 10,000 each year. Greater Lyon has nearly 650. The sectors that are developing the most in this large city are: health, with Lyonbiopôle, which concentrates universities, research and development centers and the pharmaceutical giants Sanofi Pasteur, BioMérieux and Merial in the Gerland district. But other activities are also booming: mobility, around the “urban experimentation tube”, chemicals and biotechnologies, where more than 2 billion euros have been invested, and the technical textiles industry. Unsurprisingly, the region’s unemployment rate (6.4%) is lower than the French average.


Lyon and Nantes have two very important university centers which bear the name of the city. In Nantes, there is the University of Nantes, which integrates the École centrale de Nantes, ENSA Nantes and the school of fine arts of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire and has more than 43,000 students. Since 2017, the University of Nantes has been planning to build a unique establishment in France, located in Nantes. This is how the Nantes University project was born. Its objective is to bring together schools, research centers and expert institutes in their field to build a recognized brand in France and internationally. Thus, on January 1, 2022

the University of Nantes is becoming a public institution of higher education that respects everyone and their territory. Contrary to the ideas of its genesis, the members were not absorbed, but retained their moral and managerial independence. The University of Lyon, for its part, is a community of universities and establishments which brings together eleven higher education and research establishments in Lyon and Saint-Étienne, as well as the CNRS, and aims to promote the quality teaching and research provided there. The University of Lyon has taken charge of many “extra-university” missions, for example, it coordinates the training offer and the research and technology transfer strategy of its members and is now authorized to issue the title of doctorate “University of Lyon” and entrusts the identification and marketing of innovations from the laboratories of its establishments to its technology transfer accelerator. In addition, it works to improve the quality of life of students and ensures the national and international promotion of the university sites of Lyon and Saint-Etienne. Finally, it facilitates public access to university research through cultural and scientific events and collaboration agreements.


The two cities in question are places of art and culture. For example, in Nantes, there are museums: Nantes History Museum, Arts Museum, Jules Verne Museum, Natural History Museum and the Chronograph. These five museums are free on the first Sunday of each month, except in July and August. The art museum houses works by Monet and Picasso. In Lyon, on the other hand, there are more than 20 museums, among which: The museum built by the Austrian agency Coop Himmelb(l)au, which opened in 2014 and offers a journey through the history of Humanity through its 4 permanent rooms, the Tissus Museum (the first collection of textiles in the world illustrates 4,500 years of textile production and keeps 3 million samples of fabrics in storage) and the Lumière Museum (this museum located in the Lumière family mansion built in 1899 traces the stages of the invention of the cinematograph).

I hope this comparison between 2 French cities has been useful to you and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on the subject or if you wish to do an internship in one of these 2 cities.