A car is highly recommended if you want to visit the vineyards, châteaux and historic towns scattered throughout Beaujolais and Burgundy; a 30-minute drive from Lyon takes you into the heart of the region.
Lyon Saint-Exupery airport (www.lyonairport.com) sees plenty of short-haul action from across Europe and North Africa; fly to Paris or Nice for long-haul connections.
High-speed TGV trains connect Lyon to the rest of France. High-speed TGVs connect Lyon to the rest of France and Europe. The station isn't central, but an efficient tram network will get you there. London to Lyon takes four to six hours by Eurostar, via Lille or Paris (www.eurostar.com).
Country code for France: 33. Beaujolais and Lyon: (0)4.
French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano (for the non-runners among you); Bocuse's Regional French Cooking, a culinary must-read by one of the country's foremost chefs; Tracy Chevalier's beautifully woven tale of tapestry, The Lady and the Unicorn.
Do go / Don't Go
Visit in May to see cherry blossom in bloom, or during the autumn harvest when turning leaves give the region a spectacular colour. Summer in the city can be hot and humid, but never overwhelmingly so. The third Wednesday of November sees the town of Beaujeu come together to get a first taste of the year's Beaujolais Nouveau. The winter months can be rainy.
Haute! Haute! Haute! This patch of French soil has more (Michelin) stars than the Milky Way. Highly prized local ingredients include tender Charolais beef and excellent wines, including Chablis, Burgundy and, of course, Beaujolais.
In towns, pick one up from a taxi rank or hail one on the street. If you're travelling in more remote areas, try to book a car in advance - or prepare for a long walk.
Restaurant and café bills usually include a service charge (service compris) but it's customary to leave a small tip. For taxi drivers, add 10 per cent to the metered charge.
Credit cards, for gourmet treats and shopping sprees in Lyon. A notebook for jotting down recipe ideas. Running shoes - the food is so good that you'll have to up your fitness regime to cope.
Cultured Lyon will keep arts buffs bamboozled with its bounty: the striking opera house on Place de la Comédie (www.opera-lyon.com) offers artistic excellence inside and out; and the masterpiece-packed Musée des Beaux-Arts (www.mba-lyon.fr) is Lyon's answer to the Louvre. Aspiring designers will love the Musées des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs (www.musee-des-tissus), where displays include everything from ancient Egyptian tunics to Zaha Hadid silverware, via Marie-Antoinette's bedroom wall hangings.
The Pierres Dorées area of southern Beaujolais is named after the golden stone that gives the region's farmhouses and castles their distinctive charm.
There's a daily food market on Place aux Herbes in Mâcon (except Mondays), and on Saturday morning at Quai Lamartine. There's also a huge covered market in Villefranche on Sundays. Open-air markets on Croix-Rousse hill and Quai St-Antoine in Lyon are where you'll pick up local specialities like Saint-Marcellin cheese ad boudin noir (black pudding). Historic master pâtissier Pignol (04 78 37 39 61) on Rue Emile Zola sells delicate confections. The city rivals Paris for chic designer boutiques, particularly between Place Bellecour and Cordeliers in the Carré d'Or district; Lyon's famous silk scarves are a top buy.
Look out across 'la Terrasse' on the climb to the Col du Fût d'Avenas for spectacular views over Beaujolais and, on a clear day, Mont Blanc. Beaujolais Vert's conifer-sprinkled hillsides have earned it the moniker Little Switzerland. Drive on to Juliénas for rewarding valley vistas. In the heart of the Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards, the Rock of Solutré overlooks the entire Bresse region; President Mitterrand used to climb this limestone escarpment once a year.
The cellars of Francisque Rivière in Bagnols are free to visit. At nightfall, 300 of Lyon's landmarks and monuments are illuminated by thousands of lights, creating a magical setting for an evening stroll. For countryside lovers, there's excellent cycling through peaceful villages between Cluny monastery and Juliénas. There are a few hills, but also some wonderful views.
June-July Lyon's Roman amphitheatre hosts Les Nuits de Fourvière (www.nuitsdefourviere.fr), a month-long performing arts festival. November The third Thursday of the month sees Beaujeu's townsfolk flock to taste the year's Beaujolais Nouveau; the first barrel is pierced at midnight, after a procession of burning torches made from the dead vines - known as the Fête des Sarmentelles (www.rhonealpes-tourism.co.uk). December The Festival of Light is held just before New Year in Lyon, when windows are lit with candles and there is a lantern procession through the city. Concerts and operas are held at the same time (www.lyon-france.com).