Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Lyon Over Paris For Your MBA

While Paris is long been considered the business hub of France, Lyon offers an attractive alternative for MBA students to big city life in the French capital


Tue Jul 23 2019

When talking about France’s growing business economy, it’s easy to focus on Paris. With a population of 2.1 million, and an economy worth over $700 billion, Paris is often seen as the focal point of mainland Europe’s market.

But the big city life isn’t for everyone. Less than 300 miles southeast of the French capital lies the historic city of Lyon.

A burgeoning merchant town during the 15th century silk trade, and the birthplace of cinema, Lyon is nowadays the second biggest French city. It is becoming known for its tech scene, its pharmaceuticals and biotech industries, as well as being an exciting hotspot for startups.  

For MBA students, Lyon is an increasingly attractive offer. We spoke to MBA students from EMLYON Business School, Lyon's leading business school, to come up with five reasons why you should choose Lyon:

1. A relaxed alternative to city life


With a quarter of Paris’ population, Lyon offers a considerably smaller and more relaxed pace of life than the French capital.

Having moved from Rio de Janeiro, Pedro Souza (pictured) was looking to escape the city. The city’s relative tranquility and lack of congestion was a big factor when he enrolled at EMLYON Business School in Lyon.

“On a personal level, I wasn’t willing to move to a super crowded city like Paris. I wanted a space where I could focus all of my energy on the MBA rather than the distractions of the big city,” Pedro remembers.

“Lyon has a small town feeling but with a lot to offer.”

2. Join the latest innovations in pharmaceuticals and biotech


While Lyon’s economy is significantly smaller than Paris’, it attracts large, dynamic businesses which are at the forefront of their respective industries.

Pharmaceuticals and biotech companies have long had a base in Lyon, with giants like Sanofi Pasteur holding their headquarters there.

EMLYON MBA graduate Emmanuel Hatt (pictured) was brought to Lyon for that very reason, working for specialty chemicals company Solvay. With Lyon as his base, the industry catered for him to explore further.

“In terms of internationality, the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries are at the top,” Emmanuel notes.

3. Thrive in an entrepreneurship ecosystem

0827b970a2de6c4c134efbb47ad5f6bfb22a6362.jpg ©EMLYON Business School

With over 350 startups within its city limits, Lyon has much to offer MBA students with ambitions to start their own business.

Some of Lyon’s most exciting startups include Urbee, GPS software offering real-time updates about your surroundings, as well as Lili Smart, a groundbreaking Alzheimer’s support product and app.

“There is a very strong startup movement here, and I saw EMLYON taking an important role in the ecosystem in a way that is really being pushed forward,” Pedro notes.

EMLYON has its own incubator, which currently houses around 40 startups, having been responsible for over 1200 projects since its initiation. The success of the incubator—with an 85% survival rate and generating around 20,000 jobs—speaks for itself.

During his MBA, Pedro worked on a consulting project to set up a new incubator, working with students and entrepreneurs at the EMLYON incubator to understand the lifecycle of startups in an incubator.

4. A thriving cultural scene to rival Paris

60d55cbc6dd5c6b7119d87ecdba24474e9ff80ce.jpg ©eddygaleotti, used under this licence

An MBA isn’t all about the classroom experience—and the cultural buffet in Lyon has much to offer students to keep them busy.

Lyon is famed for world-renowned cultural events all year round, including the Fête des Lumières (“Festival of Lights”), which lights up the whole city by night, and the Nuits Sonores, an electronic music festival.

For Pedro, coming from one of the world’s best soccer nations, a chance to watch top quality sport was high on the menu when choosing to study at EMLYON—an opportunity he didn’t always find back in Brazil.

“There is the possibility of doing the things I love without being stressed and concerned for my safety. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve been able to attend a lot more sports events that I couldn’t have in Brazil, which would have been either too expensive or too dangerous,” Pedro notes.

5. Affordable quality of life

1aedb51affe490a867cfeacf5178d20eda3805af.jpg ©ventdusud, used under this licence

Lyon offers a more affordable lifestyle compared to Paris, particularly for students already forking out the tuition fees of an MBA program.

For Emmanuel and his family, accommodation in Lyon was significantly more attractive than flats for the same price in Paris. Rent is on average just more than half the price of a flat in Paris; buying property, meanwhile, can be up to 60% cheaper.

Emmanuel fondly refers to Lyon as a compromise, or a middle ground—but in the best sort of way.

“It’s a middle ground between quality of life and a dynamic economy,” Emmanuel emphasizes. “It is relaxing but big enough to have a good network and a good job market.”

*Featured image used under this licence

Student Reviews

emlyon business school




On Campus

Intense courses, helpful professors

I am an international student in my 3rd year and I love going to this school and do not regret chosing it for my BBA. The classes are helpful, professors are always there to help as well and we have a very understanding administration.




On Campus

Leadership in an amazing city

I decided to do my exchange in Emlyon because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and I found a space with very capable People.. participatory, empathetic and full of leadership. I will never forget Lyon, apart from giving me an unforgettable experience, he gave me great friends




On Campus

A lot of opportunities professionally and socially. A unique program in France.

You can choose your courses and do your internship, exchange whenever you want. It's flexible and adapted to the needs of each student. A great program and a great city! Professionally, it opens a lot of doors for you to find internships or jobs in France or abroad thanks to the network and career events.




MSc in Digital Marketing

Combining both worlds into one, this course gave me all the on-demand technical skills in data science while maintaining a business-oriented approach. Thanks to the strong academic profile of this university I was able to secure an internship and full-time job at Amazon.




Top Business School fostering innovative entrepreneurs

EMLyon is one of the best business schools. The campuses, associations and courses offered provide the students with the best options to build the future they have chosen. The various opportunities to study and work abroad also offer a deeper understanding of the world, not only economy-wise but social, which helps the student become as well a better individual and not only a pre-formated business school student.




Emlyon campus in Paris

It has a great international community and you have access to many international tools, courses and professors. I had many networking events and workshops for students. Campus and some details of the program could have been improved or need to be bigger in order to have a better student life.




On Campus


Overall good content and good activities. Lack of administration but still ok. Good flexibility and liberty offered to the students. Finally, the amount of internship is also a good way to improve qualifications.




Good Reputation and International Business School

The course was not well adapted but it was up to the mark. The professors are very well experienced and their experience comes in handy while working on assignments. The facilities on the campus are top class. Truly professional. I really like spending time in the learning hub and using all the available resources. Lyon is an amazing city. You will never get bored.




On Campus

MSc International Hospitality Management

The best educational experience of my life so far! It’s been full of exposure and great connections. From Lyon to London, Paris, Los Angeles and Las Vegas! Truly an exceptional way to discover the world of hospitality.




On Campus

Real networking opportunities

- meeting new people, specially professionals during seminars or evening meeting at school. - going abroad to study luxury - being involved as an ambassador to promote the school and the program I was into (MSc LMM) - having such a great professional core




On Campus

white baccalaureate in the world of work

I really appreciated the MS SDAI as a whole. The teaching staff, the different subjects, the university exchange, TEM... I started my internship in a consulting firm having acquired a solid foundation. Downside for CentraleSupélec, which I found far too academic for a program such as this.