Out and about A journey in the metropolitan area

Charbonnières-les Bains, a leafy town

By Florence
Published on 17/02/2023

Charbonnières-les-Bains is a historical spa town that was once located along France’s well-known N7 trunk road. It is a little green paradise to the west of Lyon, which has lost none of its former charm, making it the perfect destination for weekend breaks.

At the place known as ‘Les Verrières’, a Michelin milestone is a relic of the famous Nationale 7 that used to run by Charbonnières-les-Bains, the second to last town before Lyon for motorists arriving from the north. The city is named in part after its old charcoal industry (‘charbonnier’ means ‘charcoal manufacturer’), which drew resources from the many surrounding woods. In the late eighteenth century, the town’s priest discovered a health-giving spring here. It did not take long before people began flocking to the town to drink its iron-rich mineral water. In 1845, two pools were built to treat people suffering from serious burns and rheumatism. They would come here for hydropathy until the spa resort was finally closed down in 1992. It was during this period that the town added ‘Les-Bains’ (‘bain’ meaning ‘bath’) to its name, in 1897, and a dispute began with the neighbouring town: La Tour-de-Salvagny. In 1881, the casino Le Lyon Vert was built in La Tour-de-Salvagny, while, legally speaking, only Charbonnières-les Bains should have benefited from the gambling revenues because of its status as a spa town. This was the beginning of a long squabble and several attempts to have the town’s boundaries moved! Thanks to the tram-train line (TER line 22), which was inaugurated just over ten years ago, the town’s two stations Le Méridien and Charbonnières-les-Bains, can be reached in just over 15 minutes from two stations in Lyon: Gorge-de-Loup and Saint-Paul. This is the perfect place to come for a day out this spring, to discover the festival Carnaval des Animaux, which sees sculptures (of lions, bears, bulls and more) placed in various locations around the town, and then sold at an auction, in June, for a charitable cause.

A walk in the woods

From Parc Paradon, you can follow a discovery trail of remarkable and ornamental trees. Thanks to the displays dotted along the way, you can learn more about several very special species, which are not commonly found in France. This is the perfect way to enjoy some ‘sylvotherapy’ (or “forest bathing”) surrounded by giant redwoods, Japanese pagoda tree and ginkgos.

Accessible for all
Distance: 1.5 km
Duration: about 1 hour

Where to eat?

What better place for a picnic? For some bread, cheese, charcuterie, fruit and even wine, you will find everything you need at Les Halles de l’Ouest, an indoor food hall with eight stalls. Open all week, including Sunday!

Les Halles de l'Ouest

Les Halles de l'Ouest


100 route de Paris - 69260 Charbonnières-les-Bains
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A relaxing green setting

A five-star hotel nestled in leafy surroundings, La Rotonde boasts a huge spa with heated pool, Jacuzzi, hammam and sauna, all with a view over the wooded grounds. Treat yourself or a friend: a facial or body treatment followed by lunch at the gastronomic restaurant (1 Michelin star) run by Chef Jean-François Malle.

Reminiscent of Regent's Park

Familles en promenade au Parc de Lacroix-Laval © Laurence Danière

Popular with families, the park of Lacroix-Laval is comprised of woods, prairies and clearings, as well as French and English-style gardens. Don’t miss the kitchen garden conservatory, where old local varieties are grown, and the rose garden, where pruning techniques have been passed down from the gardeners of Versailles. It’s also interesting to note that the park is home to 17 bat species. The entrance ‘Château-Potager’ is only a ten minute walk from the station of Charbonnières-les-Bains. Another attraction is the training restaurant at the château, Le Potager, dedicated to bistronomic cuisine. Run by apprentices studying at CFA de la Gastronomie, it will soon be joined by a second establishment devoted to gastronomic cuisine. 

Château de Lacroix Laval
1171 Avenue de Lacroix-Laval
69280 Marcy-l'Étoile 

Need for speed

Now in its 75th year, the Rhône-Charbonnières (known as ‘le Charbo’) is one of the oldest races in the French car rally championship. Created in 1947, it covers more than 250 kilometres of road throughout the surrounding area. Make your way to the square of Place Sainte-Luce to admire the vintage models in the ‘Historical Vehicles’ category, or see competitors arrive at the finish line.

Rallye Rhône-Charbonnières, from 20 to 22 April 2023.