Universities in Lyon - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities

Study in Lyon

By Niamh O

Updated June 30, 2022 Updated June 30, 2022

The birthplace of modern cinema, a thriving start-up scene and the capitale mondiale de la gastronomie of France are just some of the reasons why students choose Lyon for their studies.

Lyon for students

Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of France and is positioned at the of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and is one of the oldest cities in the country.

Lyon is home one of the nation's top institutions, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ranked fifth in France and 111th in the world), plus four others included in the QS World University Rankings® 2023.

When asked to name the best things about Lyon, one respondent to our student survey said the city has a “great diversity of students from all over the world, [and] exciting nightlife.” 

Another commented, “It's a small city but a big European hub, full of great industry, great culture, great music...”

Best universities in Lyon - QS Best Student Cities ranking: =45th

Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (111th); Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA) (=457th); Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (601-650); Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (1201-1400); Université Lumière Lyon 2 (1001-1200)

More about Lyon

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (111th)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student Voice rank


Student Mix rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Why study in Lyon

It’s affordable

Ranking 36th for affordability this year, Lyon offers low tuition fees for international students and low living costs.

Cultural attractions

The city offers a plenty of museums and festivals, art galleries and theatres for students to enjoy. 

Tasty food

Lyon is considered the capitale mondiale de la gastronomie and contains over 4000 restaurants, which is a record in France! 

Great transport links

With four metro lines, six tram lines and two railways, Lyon’s public transport network makes it easy to get around the city.

Find out why students love studying in Lyon.

Cost of studying in Lyon

As you would expect, Lyon has a buzzing student scene, and it’s also known for offering a very high quality of life, but with significantly lower living costs than the French capital, Paris. The city has landed in the top 20 most affordable cities for students in the world at 36th.

With relatively low tuition fees at French universities, Lyon is one of the best value destinations in the QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking. Tuition fees will cost international students an average of around US$300 per year.

Life and culture in Lyon

The third-largest city in France, Lyon is known for its magnificent architecture. Bordered by mountains on one side and the sea on the other, the city has a charming medieval centre that is beautifully illuminated after dark.

Often referred to as the gourmet capital of France, Lyon has a wide selection of great restaurants, including several Michelin starred establishments. If fancy food isn't for you, the city also offers plenty of traditional bistros and smaller restaurants for you to enjoy.

While studying in Lyon, you should take a trip to the medieval town, Pérouges, and visit the town of Vienne, which houses a well-preserved Roman temple and a Roman pyramid.

A lesser-known fact about Lyon is that it was the birthplace of modern cinema. The first-ever motion picture was created in Lyon in 1895 by the Lumiere brothers.

Career in Lyon

Lyon is known for its prosperous start-up scene, as well as its successful banking, pharmaceutical, engineering, and manufacturing industries.

Graduates are highly in demand in Lyon, with the city ranking 81st in the world for employability this year. 

There are plenty of large companies that regularly employ graduates, including the world leader in vaccines, Sanofi-Pasteur; Renault Trucks; phone network, O2; and events company, GL Events.

This article was originally published in July 2021 . It was last updated in June 2022

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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