Lyon, Boston, San Francisco: A tale of three cities

Last year, I spend 2 months living abroad in Lyon, France. I found it to be a very livable, easy to get around type of city. Here's a comparison between that city, and cities I've lived in previously. All maps are presented with the same scale.


The main city of Lyon is set in a peninsula sandwiched between two rivers — the Saône (on the western side) and the Rhône (on the eastern side). I've also highlighted the areas of interest here.

Lyon-Highlights -fullwidth

On the western bank of the Saône is the old town of Lyon (Vieux Lyon). It's a picturesque hill full of old buildings, churches, shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. It's connected to the main modern city center with beautiful foot bridges.




On the eastern side is the wider Rhône river, with additional neighborhoods, residential and commercial buildings, all connected again with several bridges for cars & pedestrians.


Along the Rhône is a wide pathway, where multitudes of people can be found on a nice day out for a walk, run, bike ride, or enjoying a beer at one of the many boat bars lining the river.

In general, the main areas of interest are concentrated within easy walking/biking distance of each other. There are a few metro lines running North/South and East/West that further make it easier to get from one place to another in this city.

San Francisco

Although only 7x7 square miles, San Francisco feels comparitively much larger. Again I've highlighted the areas of interest, which are scattered through the city with largely residential spaces taking up most of the space between.

To give a sense for size, the main central peninsula of Lyon could basically fit inside Golden Gate Park. Getting around in SF means taking an ~$4 uber/lyft to get from one spot to another, since the bus/muni is usually much more inconvenient for only a slightly cheaper price ~$2.75.

Sf-Highlights -fullwidth

The most enjoyable aspects of this city for me are the beach, the land's end area, the burritos, the golden gate bridge, the startup culture and it's proximity to great hiking, surf, skiing, all within 5 hours.


I lived in Boston for 2 years, during which one of the worst winter storms in the city's history hit. It was my first time living in the snow, and I enjoyed the mounds of snow everywhere and spontaneous snowball fights :)

Boston (by which I include Cambridge and Somerville, the northern neighboring cities) is a made up of squares. Harvard Square, Central Sq, Kendall, Davis, Porter, etc. Each has it's own personality and vibe. The Charles River divides the main city of Boston with it's northern neighbor Cambridge.


On the river during warm months, there are plenty of sailboats out to enjoy the weather. Along the south side is the Esplanade, a river-side park where people enjoy picnics and activities. The riverside pathway in Lyon was remniscent of this feature.

These three cities, while similar in some aspects, have their own unique personalities. I've enjoyed my time in each and found a diffrent rythm of life.

Shridhar Gupta

I make web apps.

Brooklyn, New York