Lyon – the City of Lights (la Ville des Lumières)
Lyon is the largest and capital city of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of east-central France and boasts the second-largest metropolitan area in the country. Situated between Paris and Marseille, the city covers an area of some 47.87 km2 (18.48 sq mi). The urban area covers an area of around 1,171.1 km2 (452.2 sq mi). The metro region covers an area of about 6,011.9 km2 (2,321.2 sq mi).
The city is home to 522,969 people (est. 2019), ranking on the 3rd spot in France, with a density of 11,000/km2 (28,000/sq mi). The urban population is estimated at 1,659,001 people (est. 2017), with a density of 1,400/km2 (3,700/sq mi). The metro population is estimated at 2,323,221 people, with a density of population of 390/km2 (1,000/sq mi).
Not only one of France’s major economic powerhouses, Lyon, with its long and rich 2,000-year history, also enjoys a reputation as one of its most important cultural centers. The city is home to numerous architectural gems and landmarks that have been recognized by UNESCO and many of which have become listed as a World Heritage Site.
Lyon is divided into nine municipal districts or arrondissements, each of which has its council, town hall, and Mayor. The district councils manage many local facilities, including daycare and nursery schools, stadiums, gymnasiums, and parks. The City Council comprises 73 members, each elected for six-year terms and presided over by the Mayor. Currently, the Mayor is Grégory Doucet (member of the Europe Ecology – The Greens). He was elected on 4 July 2020, and he was preceded by Gérard Collomb (member of the French Socialist Party), who was the Mayor of Lyon in the 25 March 2001 – 17 July 2017 period.
Economy of Lyon
Lyon is France’s second-largest business center after Paris and one of France’s most important economic powerhouses. According to Adderly (the Lyon area economic agency), in 2018, the Lyon metropolitan area GDP was estimated at €89.5 billion. Across the wider Rhône-Alpes region (€270 billion), the GDP was 3 times higher than other European areas. The Rhône-Alpes regional GDP is also the 5th highest in Europe.
Lyon’s tertiary sector is its most prominent, followed by industry and agriculture. The city’s primary industries are consumer services, finance, real estate, business services, tourism, and retail. Notable sectors of excellence include the Bio-industry, Cleantech, Information Technology, and Fashion and Design. High Tech industries, in particular, are all experiencing rapid growth, with the city becoming a burgeoning center for software development, game design,
The city is home to not only the worldwide headquarters of companies such as Sanofi Aventis, bioMérieux, Groupe Seb, and Renault Trucks but also several international institutions including Interpol, Euronews, the International Cancer Research Center, the WHO, and one of only two bio-safety level-4 laboratories in Europe.
As the second touristic destination city, after Paris, Lyon’s tourism also plays a vital role in the local economy. The city attracts around 6 million of visitors per year (primarily for business purposes). There is also the leading international train station in France: Part-Dieu train station: 125,000 daily passengers (2018) and over 28 million passengers annually (est. 2019).
Infrastructure of Lyon
Strategically situated at an important international crossroads, Lyon has a modern infrastructure that links to other major cities and neighboring countries via well-maintained, toll-free motorways and railways.
The city is located at the convergence of three major motorways, including the A6, A7, A42, and A43 allowing for rapid access to all major conurbations in the country.
Downtown Lyon operates a fast and efficient public transport system that consists of a metro system, tramways, and buses. The city has two major railway stations, the Gare de Perrache, which handles regional rail services, and the Gare de la Part-Dieu, which handles France’s high-speed rail service – the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). Operated by SNCF Voyages, the service maintains railways stretching for around 4000 kilometers in the region and some 1000 daily trains that run to major domestic and international destinations.
The metro system has four main lines that link 39 stations with trains running as frequently as every two minutes, while the tram system boasts four lines that take passengers around the city center and surrounding suburbs.
Lyon is served by Saint Exupéry Airport, located some 25 kilometers east of the city center, and is France’s fourth busiest airport. The airport operates international flights all over Europe and beyond, moving an estimated 11,739,450 passengers per year and over 30, 120 tonnes of freight.
Workforce in Lyon
Lyon enjoys the second largest labor pool in France, with the latest figures estimating that the wider Rhône-Alpes region had a workforce of around 2.5 million. Three-quarters of the working population is employed by the tertiary sector, while a quarter is in the public sector. The most significant proportion (35%) of workers are in the consumer services, including health, education, social services, and administration, followed by 21% in business services, 17% in industry, 14% in commerce, and 6% in construction.
The city benefits from a highly skilled and educated workforce that results from an excellent education system, which the government invests a significant proportion of its GDP into each year. Schooling is compulsory and accessible to all children from 6 through to 16 years old. The system is financed through taxation and is divided into four levels, Preschool, Primary, Secondary and Higher education.
As the second-largest education hub in the country, Lyon is home to around 30 universities and higher education institutions that educate an estimated 10% of France’s higher education students (including some 15,000 international students). Lyon’s renowned institutes and research facilities turn out countless qualified students, researchers, and employees each year. The most known university is the University of Lyon, founded in 1896. There are more than 120,000 enrolled students, and over 16, 000 academic & administrative staff.
Business Costs in Lyon
From 2022, the standard corporate tax rate is 25% on all profits. Individual taxes are based on both a progressive and share system, from 0% to 45%. The amount payable depends on the amount earned and the number of people part of the family (living in the same household).
The value-added tax rate in France is 20%.
A wage pact is known as the Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance (SMIC), which ensures workers are paid at least €10.52 per hour, or €1.539,42 EUR a month on the standard 35-hour workweek. Labor costs are relatively high for a European country – even higher than the United Kingdom’s minimum wage of £5.80 per hour, which converts to €6.63 per hour.
Lyon offered competitive location costs versus other major European cities, with an average office rental cost of €260/sq.m per year. Both Paris CBD and Paris La Defence have significantly higher rental costs at €700/sq.m and €550/sq.m per year, respectively.