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Visiting Lyon on an Electric Taxi Tricycle

May 7, 2014
Our chariot: An electric taxi tricycle

In Lyon and elsewhere, electric taxi tricycles are a great option for seeing city sights.

Our electric taxi tricycle driver, Clement, met us outside the tourist office at Place Bellecour, the large public square in Lyon, France (which also happens to be the largest open square in Europe). A commanding statue of Louis the XIV on a horse sits at the center of the square. Oddly, our three-wheeled chariot was more like a carriage of that era than a modern vehicle.

Statue of Louis XIV at Place Bellecour

Statue of Louis XIV at Place Bellecour

Place Bellcour

Gracious Place Bellcour

Lyon, France has no shortage of transportation options but here, as well as many other cities, electric taxi tricycles are catching on as a way for visitors to travel slowly and see city sights with a local. Cosmopolitain is the company that rents the eco-friendly vehicles in Lyon as well as in Paris, Reims, Tours, and Nice. (Similar vehicles in Asia are referred to as electric rickshaws.)

We wanted to visit the Confluence, an ambitious multi-phase urban renewal project in Lyon that is using sustainable building practices to transform an area once dominated by warehouses and prisons. Now–housing, businesses, and a museum designed by Gehry are sprouting up on this southern tip of land between the Rhone and Saone Rivers.

Our trip to the Confluence was at a speed like a slow bicycle ride with our 20-year-old driver pointing out landmarks along the way. The major advantages of this type of tour are that it is private, individualized and can take you over distances that may be somewhat long to walk. Clement was happy to stop so we could hop off at a monument or take photographs. We even stopped to recharge the SIM card on our cell phone when we spotted an Orange store along the way.

Our driver Clement

Our driver Clement in front of a modern building

Contemporary architecture at The Confluence

Contemporary architecture at The Confluence

Although our vehicle only could fit two passengers behind the pedaling driver, larger electric taxi tricycles are available to accommodate families and they can also be rented in caravans for groups. Passengers can choose one of several set tour itineraries but can modify them to suit their interests.


IF YOU GO

  • The ride can be a bit bumpy along cobblestone streets. Although generally relaxing on pedestrian streets and narrow alleys, it can be a bit more adventurous when you hit more trafficked parts of town. Bring a sweater because the drive can be breezy.
  • The drivers are enthusiastic locals but not trained guides so their knowledge of history and culture may be limited. You can request an English-speaking driver.
  • Reservations need to be made in advance. They can be made online from home or at the Tourist Office. With a Lyon City Card, you can obtain a 10 Euro discount off the advertised price. The cost of our two-hour tour (including the discount was 50 Euros.)
Group caravan along the river (Credit: Cyclopolitain)

Group caravan along the river (Credit: Cyclopolitain)


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  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    May 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

    What a great story! And your photos brought back such wonderful memories!!

  • Reply
    Len D.
    May 7, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Wow! That looks like such a cool way to explore the city!
    I’m sure they will be catching on all over Europe soon!
    Eileen, is the visibility obstructed at all in the back seat?

    Len

    • Reply
      Len D.
      May 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      I’m sorry Irene 🙂 Eileen is a relative, force of habit! 🙂

      Len

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      May 8, 2014 at 3:39 am

      There are clear plastic sides to the vehicle that help catch the wind but provide good visibility. You can also look straight ahead without any obstruction!

  • Reply
    Nancie
    May 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    What a great way to see a city. In Thailand they have the tuk-tuks. While a novelty, a lot of the drivers are notorious for ripping people off. It would be great if the Thai Tourism Authority got involved/subsidized to set up similar programs around Thailand.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      May 12, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Nancie,

      I can see how it would feel like the Wild West to get into a vehicle like that that wasn’t regulated. This company in Lyon operates in cooperation with the Tourist Bureau.

      Best, Irene

  • Reply
    Corinne
    May 14, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Irene, These look like a fun way to see a city…especially if it’s raining? Do you think you would get wet?

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      May 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      There is a canvas and plastic covering on top and on the sides, so you would get less wet than walking—but if the wind was blowing, you would probably get wet. No worse than walking with an umbrella:-)

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