Island walks between the Saône and Rhône
Today, we set off for Lyon’s islands. You will find no white sand or turquoise waters, but spots of greenery, some still wild, where fauna and flora live peacefully, far from the bustle of the city.
On the Saône
In the town of Quincieux, discover Île Beyne, one of three islets that are protected as areas of ecological interest for their fauna and flora (Île du Roquet, Île de la Pradelle and Île Beyne). Here, you will find carnivorous fish (including pike and catfish), zanders, beavers and herons. In terms of the flora, willows, alders, osiers, plane trees and medlars paint the scenery with their magnificent colours, particularly in autumn.
While the hiking route "Les 3 îles" will not take you onto the islets themselves, you can admire them from the right bank of the Saône.
How to get close to Île Beyne: Take the 40 bus from Bellecour-Le Viste, get off at the stop ‘Neuville’, and then take the 96 bus and get off at the stop ‘Jérusalem’.
Ile du Rontant
In the town of Albigny-sur-Saône, Île du Rontant, a protected natural site, can be accessed via its trees... Amazing, but true! Parc City Aventures in Albigny, on the right bank of the Saône, provides access to the island by zip line or canoe, allowing visitors to discover the bird nature reserve of Île du Rontant.
How to get close to l’île du Rontant: Take the Bus 43 from Gare de Vaise, get off at the stop Centre hospitalier Mont d’Or.
Straddling the border between the towns of Fontaines-sur-Saône and Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, Île Roy is a rich ecological haven. The local biodiversity includes three remarkable species: the European beaver, the common kingfisher and the stock dove.
How to get close to Île Roy : This island can only be accessed by boat.
Departing from Place Nautique in Lyon’s Confluence district, Cap Confluent offers no-licence-required boat rentals with capacity for up to 7 people, for 3 or 4 hours, to freely explore the river Saône at your own pace all the way to Île Roy.
If you’re starting out to the north of Lyon, you can hire a boat with no licence required or a canoe at Go Captain, departing from Rochetaillée-sur-Saône.
How to get close to Île Roy: Take the Bus 40 from Bellecour-Le Viste, get off at the stop Ile Roy.
This is Lyon’s most well-known island. Île Barbe, or Insula Barbarica (the wild island), was once the home of druids and Christians. In the fifth century, one of Lyon’s most powerful abbeys was founded here, the remains of which can be seen in the hamlet today. A place of local legend and a very pleasant spot for a stroll, Île Barbe welcomes curious visitors in a green, medieval setting.
Popular with both painters and joggers, the island is also a privileged place of residence for certain locals. It is divided between a public section, with pétanque pitches, a vast lawn and a children’s play area, and a private section that is closed to the public. Make sure you don’t miss the suspended bridge that links Île Barbe with the right bank of the Saône, which is Lyon’s oldest bridge remaining in service!
Are you looking for an original place to stay not too far from home? Spend a night (or more) in one of the apartments at Suites de l'île Barbe.
Each summer Les Dimanches de l'île Barbe (Sundays on Île Barbe) offer the general public a chance to discover this site with street theatre performances, as well as jazz, classical and world music concerts.
How to get to Île Barbe: Take the 40 bus from Bellecour-Le Viste and get off at the stop ‘Ile Barbe’.
There is also a Vélo’V self-service bicycle rental station at Île Barbe.
At Cap Confluent, you can hire a boat with no licence required, for up to seven people, and set off from Place Nautique in the Confluence district for three or four hours, and make your way up the Saône to Île Barbe at your own pace.
Les bateaux lyonnais offers a one-hour guided riverboat tour, leaving from Quai des Célestins, to Île Barbe. It is a great opportunity to discover this little gem on the river Saône.
On the Rhône
Ile de la Table Ronde and Ile de la chèvre
To the south of the Édouard-Herriot river port, Île de la Table Ronde is the northern part of a huge island, which is merged to the south with Île de la Chèvre (or ‘Goat Isle’, except there are no goats!). These wooded islands are linked to the left bank of the Rhône, at the northern tip, by Pierre-Bénite dam. 2 km wide from Pierre-Bénite to Ternay, they stretch along 5 km of the Rhône. They are a protected biotope zone where you will find rare plant species, including orchids. Many ducks, herons and even a family of beavers have made their home here.
How to get close to l’île de la Table Ronde and l’île de la Chèvre: Take the Bus 64 from Gerland, and get off at the stop Quai Aulagne. Forbidden to cars, these islands can only be accessed on foot or by bicycle.
And that’s not all…
Île du Souvenir in Tête d’Or Park
Île du souvenir or ‘île aux cygnes’ (swan island) is located in the lake of Tête d'Or Park. Created and developed between 1924 and 1930, it is home to a monument that honours victims of the First World War, designed by local architect Tony Garnier.