Parc de la Tête d’Or is a large urban park located on the north bank of the Rhône river in Lyon. With a total area covering 117 hectares, it is regarded as the largest urban park in France.

The Facts

Upon hearing about the park, the main question many people have is ‘why the name Parc de la Tête d’Or (Park of the Golden Head)? The name in fact originates from a legend claiming that a golden statue of the head of Christ is buried somewhere in the park.

The park was created in 1856 to give the growing population of Lyon somewhere to go to unwind and experience nature.

At the centre of Parc de la Tête d’Or is a large lake where visitors can borrow boats in the summer to explore the park further. The large paths around the circumference of the park also attracts many joggers and cyclists.

Also present in the park is a small zoo, which contains exotic animals such as giraffes, zebras, primates, lions and more. In 2006, La Plaine Africaine was opened in the park to resemble an African plane, the natural habitat of many of the animals in the zoo. This allows these animals to live in the freedom of 2.5 acres of terrain.

The park also contains four rose gardens, many large greenhouses and even a veledrome.

How to get there

Parc de la Tête d’Or is located in the 6th arrondissement, in the north of Lyon. Perhaps the easiest way to get to the park is to get the metro as far as Masséna. From there, it is only an approximate 5-minute walk to the park.

If convenient, it is worth walking through the main entrance located at the southeast corner of the park. By taking this route, you can admire the enormous iron gate which is called Porte des enfants du Rhône. This gate is the same one that was put in place when the park was first fenced off in 1901.

If you are planning to visit the park on a nice summer’s day, be prepared for large crowds. It is arguably Lyon local’s favourite location to spend time at on a sunny day.

The Experience

This park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. From taking a paddleboat out onto the lake, to exploring all the exotic animals in the zoo, to playing a bit of mini-golf – it is almost impossible to be bored!

If you are a fitness fanatic, the park is a great place to go for a run. The running track which goes around the circumference of the park is 4km in length, which is more than enough for me! I particularly enjoy it as a place for jogging as there is so much to see and take in on your jog.

The park is also a great place for a family to spend a day wandering around. You and your kids can escape into nature for a few hours, exploring the various gardens and of course all the exotic animals at the zoo.