In a nutshell: France's gourmet capital likes to think itself superior to Paris. It might be.

Don't miss: Fourviere amphitheatre, Vieux Lyon, Rue Merciere restaurants

You don't have to spend long in Lyon to realise that it is in long-standing competition with Paris – and that it is pretty sure it is winning. Here, it says, is a city with a greater and a more visible history than its much-praised rival; a hotspot of fine cuisine that offers better restaurants than the capital. Why, it is even a superior option when it comes to the basics of geography, sitting on the banks of two major rivers – the Rhone and the Saone – where the metropolis up north can only manage one (the Seine). You don't even need to bother with Paris, some of the locals may try to tell you. Lyon has everything you require.

Amid this hyperbole and regional chest-puffing, they have something of a point. You can, pretty much, find everything in Lyon for which Paris is celebrated – but in a city that is much more compact, and easier to explore. Certainly, if your only experience of France during the World Cup is a trip to Lyon, you won't go home feeling that you've missed out.

Let's start with that visible history. Lyon began life as a Roman settlement (Lugdunum) – and still wears this chapter of its story openly. The evidence is up on Fourviere hill, in a vast amphitheatre, constructed around 15BC, which is so well preserved that it still used as a venue (notably for the Nuits de Fourviere festival of music and film, staged throughout the summer). Even at first glance, it looks impressive, slanting down the slope. For good measure, the hilltop also throws in Notre-Dame de Fourviere, a 19th century basilica which, although considerably younger than its Parisian near-namesake, is just as striking.

A different era waits at the heart of the matter. Vieux (Old) Lyon is still, in essence, a medieval district of narrow streets, small courtyards and historic houses, whose architecture has been under legal protection since 1954. You find some of the city's best eateries here – although, in truth, you can barely walk a metre in Lyon without passing somewhere tempting to eat. Some of France's most respected chefs (Christian Tetedoie, Mathieu Viannay, Paul Bocuse) have restaurants in the city – and if Michelin-starred fare is not your thing, you will find endless options, for various budgets, on Rue Merciere and Rue Palais Grillet. There are plenty of possibilities for a drink as well – the bars along Rue de la Monnaie tend to be lively whether or not there is sporting action on the screens.

The twin rivers are a constant factor, shaping the Presqu'ile area that sits between them. If you fancy wandering further, the Confluence district – which, as its name suggests, lies where the Rhone and Saone meet – has become one of the rising quarters of the city in the last decade, with new buildings popping up across what used to be an industrial zone. Opened in 2014, the Musée des Confluences stands at the exact point where the currents merge. Even if its science exhibits don't attract you, its modern architecture surely might.

Content supplied by the Telegraph’s travel expert Chris Leadbetter