YOU think of a trip to France and you automatically believe that you must start and finish in Paris.

Yes, Paris is an amazing place to visit, but the lure of Gay Paree is not quite as strong as it used to be.

The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe are on everyone's bucket lists and so they should be, but on the blindside are the Paris street fraudsters, the long queues and the hustle and bustle of the crowded and dirty sidewalks.

After a recent three-week trip to France my suggestion is by all means dip your toe into Paris life, but instead of paying a motza for accommodation in the capital, stay in and explore beautiful cities such as Lyon.

Lyon mightn't have the amazing icons, but it is much more reasonable to stay at, it's safer and the restaurants are just as good and in many cases better than Paris.

Foodies from throughout the world have already discovered that Lyon is a must visit when in France.

The city of 500,000 has 14 Michelin-starred restaurants. Only Paris, London and Brussels have more.

Even at these high class restaurants you can expect to pay only about $100 a head for a two-course meal, although if you want to try the very best on the menu you may have to take out a small mortgage to get you through your holiday.

Sitting just under these world-renowned eateries are hundreds of quality restaurants and the good news is that because there are so many the prices are very competitive.

It's not just the food that wins your heart and stomach in Lyon. You'll soon discover this is a beautiful city to explore.

As usual the hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus is the best way to tour.

There are two must stops on the tour and they clearly reflect the new and the old of the city.

The first is the Musée des Confluences, a science centre and anthropology museum which cost $300 million to build in 2014. It's an amazing architectural design resembling a floating crystal cloud of stainless steel and glass.

The second must see is the La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière.

Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to whom is attributed the salvation of the city of Lyon from the bubonic plague, the Black Death, that was sweeping Europe in 1643.

Each year in early December Lyon thanks the Virgin Mary by lighting candles throughout the city, in what is called the Fête des Lumières or the Festival of Lights.

The real beauty of Lyon is the quiet pace of the city and the warm welcome you will receive.

Now you can't say that for Paris.

Lyon accommodation

The Accor group operates more than 60 hotels in Lyon.

If you want to go upmarket, stay at the Mercure Grand Hotel Château Perrache. It's housed in a listed Art Nouveau building in downtown Lyon. Renovated in last year, its interior is a blend of elegance and modernity, with stylish and contemporary furnishings.

Rooms from $102 a night.

For the more budget conscious look to the Ibis Styles Confluence ideally located 10 minutes from the city centre.

Rooms from $92 a night.

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