The proposed route crosses the historic center of Lyon to discover its architectural and historical riches. It begins and ends in front of the Tourist Office, Place Bellecour, on the Presqu'ile District. Follow the guide.
The huge Place Bellecour extends on 6 hectares, making it the third biggest square in France after the Esplanade Quinconces in Bordeaux and the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It was transformed into a parade ground in the 16th century. In 1658 Louis XIV had an equestrian statue erected in its center in his honor. It would be destroyed during the Revolution and rebuilt in bronze in 1825 by Lemot. At his feet, the two statues drawn by the Costou brothers in 1720 represent the Saône and the Rhône. Louis de Cotte, the first royal architect, designed the eastern and western facades of the square. They were created between 1807 and 1813.
The pavilion, which now houses the Tourist Office, dates back to 1852. The square also features a small park for children. Next to the square, there is a statue representing the Little Prince and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, created at the occasion of the centennial of the birth of the famous Lyonnais.
Today, Place Bellecour is the largest pedestrian square in Europe. It is also the point zero in Lyon, from which all the regional distances are calculated.
Clocher de l’Ancien Hôpital de la Charité
Place Antonin Poncet, 69002 Lyon
Can not be visited.
The belltower was part of the Charity Hospital, established in 1633. In 1804, the belltower was designed to allow mothers in distress to leave their babies. The system, anonymous, was very simple: the mothers placed their baby in a wooden cylinder, which turned on itself, and pulled a bell to warn the sisters. This system was stopped in 1843 and the hospital, abandoned, was destroyed in 1934. The open space allowed for the creation of Place Antonin Poncet.
Musée du Tissu et des Arts Décoratifs
34 Rue de la Charité, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 38 42 00.
Full price / reduced price: €10 / €7.50. Free for children under 12 years old.
Open daily except Mondays and public holidays:
Musée des Tissus: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs : 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The collections of the Textile Museum come mainly from Europe (Sicily, Italy, France) and the East. The Oriental fabrics tapestries come from Persia, Asia Minor or Byzantium. Collections from Lyon are also featured.
The Museum of Decorative Arts presents silk products woven by the textile manufacturers of Lyon and its region. This comprehensive museum also displays porcelain, silver pieces, a collection of clocks, pendulums, pieces of woodwork, paintings, and tapestries from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The museum also features contemporary works, and has modern silver pieces.
For children : many cultural and educational activities.
Basilique Saint Martin d’Ainay
Place d'Ainay, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 40 02 50.
Open daily from 8:30 a.m to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Sunday afternoon.
Guided tour available.
The Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay is one of the few Romanesque churches of the city. It dates from the 11th century. Previously, this location was the site of a Carolingian church dedicated to Saint Martin and Mary in the 9th century. In the 13th century, the abbey was one of the most powerful in the kingdom of France, and here developed the cult of the martyrs of Lyon.
But the church was greatly damaged during the Religious Wars (16th century). The basilica lost its title of abbey in 1780, and was used as a fodder attic during the Revolution. Neglected, it was threatened with destruction in the early 19th century, but would be saved and eventually renovated in a neo-Romanesque style, which greatly transformed the original church. It was elevated to a basilica by Pope Pius X in 1905.
The four columns which surround the choir date from the year 12 BC. They come from the sanctuary of Rome and Augustus, which was on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse (see "Amphitheater of the 3 Gauls").
It retains much of its structure from the Romaneque period : the bell tower surmounted by an arrow, as well as the capitals from the 12th century. There's even a pre-Romanesque architecture in the Sainte Blandine Chapel. Many mosaics, paintings and sculptures also date from this period.
Eglise Saint Georges
Quai Fulchiron, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 77 07 90
The present neo-Gothic church dates back to 1844. It is the work of Pierre Bossan. But many buildings have succeeded one another over the centuries on this site, the first of which was a college of canons, founded in 802. Then it was occupied by the Knights of the Order of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 14th century.
On the front, Saint George is represented slaying the dragon, surrounded by Saint Peter and Saint John. The interior and its decorations respect the neo-Gothic architecture desired by Bossan.
Montée du Gourguillon, 69005 Lyon
This rising street, the oldest of Vieux Lyon, is one of the most picturesque. A semi-pedestrian street with irregular cobblestones, it connects Place de la Trinité to Place des Minimes, which in turn opens toward the Fourvière district.
The Fourvière district has two types of architecture : ancient and religious. This heritage is composed of the Basilica of Fourvière, the ancient archaeological park with the Roman theater and the Odéon, the Gallo-Roman Museum, the remains of the public baths, the Rosary Gardens and the Parc des Hauteurs (hilltop park) ... Visitors will discover an exceptional panorama overlooking the city, tracing the evolution of urban Lyon.
Fourvière is accessible from Vieux Lyon by winding streets or steep stairways, the oldest and most interesting of which is Gourguillon. It is also accessible via funicular.
6 Rue de l'Antiquaille, 69005 Lyon
Tel: 04 72 38 49 30.
Open daily: mid-April to mid-September: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ; mid-September to mid-April: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Grand Theater is the oldest in France. It was built by Emperor Augustus in 15 BC and hosted tragic and comedic performances. Expanded during the reign of Hadrian, its capacity increased from 4,700 to 10,700 people. It consisted of three main parts, the cavea (the stands), the orchestra (semi-circle in front of the stage) and the stage. Like most Roman theaters, it was built into the hill. The upper stands were supported by vaulted galleries in wood and stone. Spectators in the stands were divided according to their social status. Notable members of society sat near the stage, and the poorest citizens sat towards the top of the stands.
The stage wall was sumptuously decorated, composed of columns, niches and statues. A sloping roof protected the stage and pulled in sound. The system was completed with a canvas canopy fixed to masts to protect the actors and spectators from the sun.
The Odeon (a Roman theater) was dedicated to music and reading, political orators, philosophers or poets. Its construction came after that of the great theater. It dates back to the 2nd century. The Odeon of Fourvière is considered one of the largest in the Roman Empire, alongside that of Vienna. Based on the same model as the nearby theater, it was constructed on a hillside and the top of the stands was supported by arches. Accessible by 5 gates, it measured 73 meters in diameter and consisted of 23 steps. Today only the 16 lower rows remain.
The stage of the Odeon is paved with colorful geometric designs: diamonds, squares, rectangles, circles highlighted bands. The floor was made with the finest marble of the empire: green porphyry from Greece, red porphyry and granite from Egypt, yellow marble from Africa, purple and red marble from Asia ... The presence of such materials reveals the prestigious character of the monument and allows visitors to imagine the luxury offered by the building.
17 Rue Cléberg, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 38 49 30.
Full price / reduced price: €7 / €4.50. Free for those under 18 years old. Free on Thursdays. Free with the Lyon City Card.
Open Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Guided tours in 5 languages. Wheelchair accessible.
Brochure guide in several languages. Workshops and activities for young people. Library, boutique and bookshop.
The archaeological museum is a complement to the other archaeological sites such as the ancient theater and the Odeon. The museum traces the history of Lyon from late prehistoric times to the 7th century. Opened in 1975, it is a true architectural achievement, the work of Bernard Zehrfuss. Though discreet from the outside, it highlights the exhibits inside.
An amazing underground circuit takes visitors through time with the richness of its collections. The masterpieces of the museum include in particular:
La Table Claudienne (the Claudian Table): speech of the Emperor Claudius, engraved in bronze (225 kg)
Le sarcophage du triomphe de Bacchus (the sarcophagus of the triumph of Baccus) in carved white marble,
Le calendrier gaulois (Gallic calendar) engraved in bronze, which has 2,000 words engraved in letters and Roman numerals
Les mosaïques (the mosaics) address diverse topics of Roman life.
The 17 thematic areas are also home to sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, amphorae, weapons and Gallo-Roman tools, as well as models of monuments as they would have looked in ancient times.
Many cultural activities and recreational programs are offered throughout the year.
Basilique de Fourvière
8 Esplanade de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 25 86 19.
Open daily : 7 a.m to 7 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible. Audio guide
Many types of guided tours (in French): discovery, thematic or more unusual. Visits and games available for children.
Guided tours are organized daily. The Treasury of the Basilica is exposed at the Musée d’Art Sacré.
In 1894, the construction of the Basilica of Fourvière represented a tribute to the more than 1,500 years of spiritual and cultural life at the site. But this construction project began in the 17th century, when the hill took on a new importance. While a plague ravaged the region, in 1643 the aldermen of the city vowed to go on pilgrimage to the Fourvière every year if the epidemic stopped. Their wish was granted. Since that day, Fourvière has been a place of pilgrimage and each year, the blessing of the city takes place on September 8th, in the presence of the Mayor of Lyon, who gives the archbishop a symbolic golden crown. The blessing is completed by three shots of the canon. The construction of the basilica began in 1872 after the Franco-Prussian war.
Inspired by Byzantine art, the architect Pierre Bossan wanted a building that expressed the greatness of faith. The exterior is clean and simple with its four towers and crenellated walls that express unfailing faith in the Virgin Mary. The interior is lavishly decorated with mosaics and flooded with light, constructed in honor of the Virgin Mary. Symbolically, the architect meant to lead pilgrims from the shadows to the light of faith.
On this site Pierre Bossan constructed a unique and original piece of architecture influenced by Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic styles. It would be dedicated in 1896 and established as a basilica the following year. The Basilica measures 86 meters long and 35 meters wide.
The four octagonal towers with battlements are 48 meters high. They feature the four cardinal virtues: Fortitude, Justice, Prudence and Temperance. The triangular pediment evokes the vow of aldermen to stop the plague in 1643. On the front visitors will note in particular the frieze located just above the portal as well as David and Goliath and the Judgment of Solomon on the tower of Justice, to the right. From this tower, 287 steps lead to the Saint-Michel terrace, which offers an impressive view over the city and toward the Alps.
At the top of the steps, the bronze door hosts a representation of Noah's Ark and the Arch of the Covenant.
Upon entering the basilica one is struck by the light caught on the gold mosaics, which tell the story of the Virgin in the history of France and in the history of the Church. The entire interior is ornamented by high-quality decorations. The three naves, topped with three domes supported by 16 colored columns are impressive in their majesty. Eight chapels are richly decorated with a great artistic diversity. The six wall mosaics are beautifully executed, and in particular feature Joan of Arc delivering Orléans, and the arrival of Saint Pothin in Lyon. The floor is also covered with a mosaic.
The great organ was built in 1896 by Michel Merklin.
The upper church opens to the crypt (or the lower church) via an exceptional red marble staircase. The first chapel is adorned with a Madonna and Child, a second is devoted to Joseph, symbolizing the Old Testament. Above the altar stands the statue of Saint Joseph holding the infant Jesus. The surrounding pavement consists of medallions depicting the seven deadly sins.
Place de Fourvière (on the right side of the Basilica), 69005 Lyon
The first traces of a chapel on the site date back to 1168. At that time, the canon of Saint-Jean, Olivier de Chavannes, erected a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 10 years later, a second chapel was established at the initiative of the bishop of Lyon in honor of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been murdered (the chapel is located behind the chapel of the Virgin). Over the centuries, the chapels were repeatedly destroyed and renovated. Among the furniture of the chapel of the Virgin, we note in particular the altarpiece with two angels presenting the crown of the Virgin to God. Above the altar, a stained glass by Bégule represents the wish of the Aldermen.
In 1852, the small bell of the chapel of the Virgin was replaced by the monumental statue of the Golden Virgin (5.5 meters tall, weighing 3 tons), which rises to 56 meters above ground. That evening, the people of Lyon spontaneously decided to put lanterns in their windows. This is the origin of the illuminations on December 8th and the Festival of Lights (see "Events").
Musée d’Art Sacré
8 Place de Fourvière (to the right of the basilica) 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 25 13 01.
Open every day from April to December: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed on Sunday morning.
Brochure guide available in 5 languages. Hosts temporary exhibitions.
This museum of religious art displays the treasure of Fourvière. Collections are composed of religious goldworks, liturgical vestments, objects of devotion ... Fun adaptations for young people (games, booklets).
The Parc des Hauteurs and the Jardin du Rosaire
The Parc des Hauteurs (hilltop park) connects Fourvière Basilica to the Loyasse Cemetery. It gives access to the Saint Jean district down through the Rosary garden. The park is reserved for pedestrians and richly vegetated, dotted with recreational facilities and themed gardens. It offers magnificent views of the city, especially since the construction of the suspension bridge "The Four Winds."
Jardin du Rosaire
Accessible via the Esplanade de Fourvière or the Montée Saint Barthélémy
Playground for children.
The Rosary Garden links Vieux Lyon and the Fourvière district. It was established at the same time as the construction of the basilica to allow the passage of processions in honor of the Virgin Mary. Each station is marked on the ground by small bronze roses. The current garden was created in the 1990s, and covers over 2 acres. It features beautiful botanical compositions and several gardens: Rose garden, Chinese garden, garden of colors, flower garden ... At the bottom of an esplanade, a decorated fountain with a cast iron mask depicts a dolphin and aquatic plants, dating back to 1730. This fountain was previously on the Place des Terreaux, and people came there to get water. Then it was moved in 1850 to the Esplanade de Fourvière before being placed in the garden in 1996.
The Roman city of Lugdunum was created on the Fourvière hill two thousand years ago, and at its feet, caught between the Saône and Fourvière, the city grew from the early Middle Ages (from the year 800). Vieux Lyon, comprising the neighborhoods of Saint George, Saint John and Saint Paul, offers visitors an architectural patchwork of nearly 2000 years of history. From its winding streets, sometimes thousands of years old, to its rich historical and religious heritage, a walk in the historic center of Lyon is a constant delight.
Place Saint Jean
This pleasant square is a bustling place at which many events and festivals are held throughout the year. The fountain that stands in the center was done in a Renaissance style by Dardel and Bonassieux. It depicts a small antique temple in which Saint John baptizes Jesus.
Saint John Cathedral
8 Place Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 42 11 04
Open daily : Monday to Friday : 8:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. ; Saturday : 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; Sunday : 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wheelchairs accessible. Guided tours possible.
Saint John's Cathedral was built starting from the 12th century and was completed three centuries later, even using blocks of stone from the Roman buildings nearby. Inside the cathedral, the chronology and different architectural styles are evident. The marriage between the Romanesque and Gothic styles reflects this long period of construction. The eastern parts of the cathedral are Romanesque : the apse, the choir, the walls of the apsidal chapels, the lower parts of the chevet and transept, the two eastern towers and the first four bays of the nave are from the 12th century. The Gothic style (it appeared in the second half of the 13th century) is hinted at in the vaults of the chevet, the windows of the choir, the last bays of the nave and the west facade, completed in the early 14th century. The bell tower, two rosettas of the transept and the rosetta window of the facade were completed at the end of the 14th century. The front towers were added at the end of the 15th century. In 1562, during the Religious Wars, the cathedral was damaged extensively, including statuary.
The cathedral is under renovation until 2018.
This cathedral is also known as the Primate. It owes this distinction of “Primate of the Gauls” to Pope Gregory VII in memory of the martyrs of the first church founded in Lyon by Saint Pothin around160 AD. It is a place steeped in history that has hosted the remains of Louis IX (1271), the coronation of Pope John XXII (1316) and the royal marriage of Henri IV to Marie de Medici in 1600.
The three portals of the facade are framed by 280 medallions relating biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament.
The rosettas of the transept depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The magnificent rosetta window of the facade (8 meters in diameter) recounts the life of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Stephen around the story of the Passover lamb.
The Astronomical Clock
The astronomical clock was created in the 14th century. Its mechanism, decoration and movement have all been reworked over the centuries. Its automations are activated four times a day at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., indicating the date, the position of the sun, moon and Earth.
The Manécanterie and the Musée du Trésor de la Cathédrale
Place Saint Jean (entry into the cathedral, right), 69005 Lyon
Visits from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m to noon and 2 p.m to 6 p.m.
A “manécanterie” (a choir school) is primarily a boys’ vocal choir attached to a parish, but in the 16th century, they became real prestigious schools where musical education was associated with religious education. These schools trained students for the most important positions in the Church.
The Romanesque facade dates back to the 11th century. At that time the building served as a refectory to the canons of Saint Jean, it was not until the 18th century that it became a real choir school. Meanwhile the building was extensively remodeled and transformed.
The Treasury of the Cathedral was placed within these walls in 1930. Created from liturgical objects, antique silverware and books, it was restored in the 19th century because the original Treasury had completely disappeared.
The Palais Saint Jean
Place Saint Jean, 69005 Lyon
Cannot be visited.
The Palace of Saint John is a former archdiocese that unveils a Gothic architecture. It now houses a library.
Located north of Saint John’s Cathedral
Open access, open daily 24h/24
It was during archaeological excavations that remains from the 1st to the 16th centuries were discovered in the early 1970s. The city of Lyon then decided to buy the land on which these findings occurred in order to expose them to the public. This ensemble corresponds to the Primitive Episcopal city consisting of three churches : Saint John, Saint Stephen and Holy Cross. Also clearly identified are the Baptistery, the room of the bishop and the church of Saint John the Baptist. The site also features older remains from antiquity, but because they are located beneath the medieval buildings, they couldn’t be completely cleared.
Palais de Justice
Rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon
Tel: 04 72 77 30 30.
Can only be visited on guided tour.
The courthouse has a beautiful neo-classical architecture composed of 24 Corinthian columns in front, on the side of the river. The building dates back to 1847. Inside, the concourse is exceptional by its volume, which rises to a height of 17 meters. It now houses the Court of the Rhone and the Court of Appeal of Lyon. Other courts were transferred to a new courthouse in 1995.
Musée Miniature et des décors de cinéma
60 Rue Saint Jean, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 00 24 77.
Full price / reduced price: €9 / €6.50 / 4 to 15 years: €6.50. Free for children under 4 years old. Free with the Lyon City Card.
Open daily : Monday to Friday : 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; Saturday and Sunday : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This original and unique museum of miniatures and film sets, founded by Dan Olhmann, is housed in the "Maison des Avocats", a beautiful 16th century building.
The museum features a hundred reproductions of extremely realistic miniaturized scenes of daily life by international artists.
The film sets
The second part of the museum explains the techniques of special effects in film. The circuit, illustrated by 300 objects from real movie sets, reveals the secrets of contemporary cinema studios and pays tribute to the talent of these artists.
A living museum as well, artists work daily on the 3rd floor of the building, creating miniatures or restoring objects from film sets.
Rue Saint Jean
A must-see during your visit, this street is lined with medieval houses with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. But it is especially known for its numerous traboules (No. 27, 40, 54) and beautiful courtyards (No. 18, 26, 28, 33, 42, 50, 58).
Rue du Bœuf
Parallel to the Rue Saint Jean, it is probably one of the oldest and most picturesque streets of Vieux Lyon. It is lined with opulent homes and opens onto hillside gardens. The peacefulness of this pedestrian street allows visitors time to appreciate the facades and their architectural and artistic treasures. At No. 16, in the courtyard behind the facade of this 17th century house, the Rose Tower, symbol of the area, is exceptional for its size and height. At No. 27, a long traboule runs through four houses to fall out onto Rue Saint Jean. Another, at No. 7, connects the two streets.
Place du Gouvernement
Located at the end of Rue Saint-Jean, the square owes its name to the governors of Lyon who had a mansion there between the 15th and 18th centuries, but was demolished in the following one. The buildings around the square are built on four levels, but each has its specificities. At No. 2, the Government Bureau (15th century) is remarkable for its fine windows. This building actually housed the Saint Christophe hotel, which welcomed travelers. The building still retains some of its original Gothic decor. From here we can go through a beautiful traboule (passage) through two courtyards, coming out onto quai Romain Rolland.
Musées Gadagne (for the family)
1 Place du Petit Collège, 69005 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 42 03 61
Full price / reduced price for one museum: €6 / €4. Free for those under 26 years old.
Full price / reduced price for both museums: €9 / €6. Free for those under 26 years old. Free with th Lyon City Card.
Open Wednesday to Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Free audio guides and multimedia devices. Educational workshops and performances for children and adults. Guided tours possible.
Wheelchair accessible. Bar, boutique and restaurant.
This magnificent Renaissance mansion houses two museums: the Museum of Lyon History and International Puppet Museum. It owes its name to the Gadagne family, owner of the building in the 16th century.
Museum of Lyon History
This museum is an ideal introduction to the history of the city for new visitors. 30 showrooms open to the public include some 80,000 objects, crossing 20 centuries of history.
The visit begins with the "Museum of construction", which tells the story of this magnificent Renaissance building, before following a chronological circuit, from antiquity to the present day.
Museum of world puppets
Dedicated to this living art and unique in France, this museum is composed of more than 2,000 puppets.
Lodge or Temple du Change
2 Rue de la Loge, 69005 Lyon
During the Renaissance period (16th century), Lyon was the leading financial center of Europe. Moneychangers had occupied the same area since the 13th century but it was not until 1653 that the first "Loge des Changes" (Exchange Bureau) was built. Become too small, it was enlarged in 1750. It would retain this function until the Revolution. Later the building was entrusted to the Protestant community of the city. The former "Loge du Change" became the “Temple du Change”, dedicated to Protestant worship. It was here that the merger of the four Protestant churches took place in 1938, which allowed the creation of the Reformed Church of France.
The current building has hardly changed since its expansion. The first level consists of five regular bays organized by Doric pillars. The second level, added in 1750, is composed of alternating bays with 12 Ionic columns. At the top of the facade are two clocks. The right one is original. The left, more surprisingly, was recently completed on plans from the period (but that were never used). It represents an ideal clock, showing the days, months and years.
Rue de la Juiverie
As its name suggests, the Rue de la Juiverie was mainly inhabited by Jews during the 13th and 14th century. The name stuck. Thereafter, the street was modernized and embellished. Notable and wealthy merchants settled there and built beautiful Renaissance houses on older foundations. It is one of several streets whose visit is a must along with Rue du Boeuf or Rue Saint John for their outstanding Renaissance heritage.
No. 4: Hotel Paterin, also called Maison Henry IV thanks to the sculpted bust in the courtyard, visible when the door is open. Beautiful architecture.
No. 8: The Maison Bullioud, composed of seven main buildings and two courtyards, was the home of the Finance General of Brittany in 1536. It now bears his name. If the door is open, you will notice the beautiful covered porch by the Lyon architect Philibert de l'Orme.
No. 23: The Maison Dugas dates back to the 17th century. Its facade, which has five levels, presents a classic, typically Florentine style.
Eglise Saint Paul
3 Place Gerson, 69005 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 69 89 14.
The first Church of Saint Paul was built around 549 in order to found a monastery. During the 11th and 12th centuries, it was rebuilt and became a parish church. Some architectural vestiges remain from this period: the lantern tower, apse, choir, transept and a part of the nave. In the following century, the bell tower was rebuilt and Gothic additions begin to appear, such as the main nave or the ribbed vaults. The side chapels were added in the 15th century.
Over the following centuries the church deteriorated. After the Revolution it was used as a saltpeter store before being returned to worship and significantly renovated in the 19th century. The neo-Gohic portal was modified in 1877. The conversion of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus is shown on the tympanum.
Croix Rousse District
The people of Lyon say that the Fourvière is where you pray, the Croix-Rousse is where you work. The district of Croix-Rousse extends the Presqu’Ile (the peninsula) northward between the Saône and Rhône, the slopes of the Croix-Rousse on the plateau of the same name defines the perimeter of the World Heritage site to the north. The name of the neighborhood supposedly comes from a cross erected in 1560 in tones red.
The painted wall : La Fresque des Lyonnais
At the corner of quai Saint Vincent and Rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon
This 800 m2 painted wall represents 30 famous figures of Lyon evoking history, humanism, technology and research: the Emperor Claudius, Pauline Jaricot, Abbé Pierre, Paul Bocuse, Saint Exupéry, Jacquard, Claude Bernard, the Lumière brothers, Ampère, Marcel Mérieux, ...
Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules
Rue Lucien Sportisse, 69001 Lyon
At the time of construction of the Amphitheater of the 3 Gauls in 19 AD, a Gallic oppidum named Condate existed close by but it was far from Lugdunum, the Roman city of Fourvière. Under the reign of Hadrian, in the following century, the amphitheater was enlarged and could accommodate nearly 20,000 people who attended shows and circuses. Every year, 60 Gallic nations gathered there to renew their allegiance to Rome. Saint Pothin, first bishop of Lyon and a pioneer in spreading the Christian ideas of the time, died a martyr in this amphitheater with 47 other people.
The few remnants that still exist today (the retaining walls) are integrated in the Jardin des Plantes.
Montée de la Grande Côte
The Rise of the Grande Côte is one of the first inhabited areas of the Croix-Rousse, from the 16th century. Some of the facades have mullioned windows, typical of this period. Apart from some religious communities that invested in the hill, the rest of the neighborhood was essentially urbanized from the 18th century. At the end of this century, the neighborhood already had more than 700 looms and the Rise of the Grande Côte, called the Grand'Côte at the time, was then an axis of passage for silk workers on the road to the trading district (Capuchin). At the top of the climb, there is a beautiful panorama of the city from the esplanade, as well as landscaped gardens created in the late 20th century. Today the street is exclusively pedestrian for the delight of visitors who can stroll along the art boutiques or take a break in the many cafés and restaurants that open onto the street. Warning: it is easy to fall under the spell of the street and this district.
La Cour des Voraces
9 Place Colbert, 69004 Lyon
The Courtyard of Voraces is accessed by the building at No. 9 Place Colbert, built in 1840. A workshop of weavers, grouped into a cooperative, nicknamed Voraces, was located on the ground floor.
It would seem that the revolt of the silk workers of 1848-1849 was organized from this courtyard, one of the largest revolts in the 19th century. A plaque on the site states that "In the Courtyard of Voraces, hub of silk work, the silk workers fought for their lives and their dignity." This courtyard alone symbolizes the history of the area, its businesses and its people.
This is undoubtedly the most famous and most beautiful traboule (passageway) with its courtyard and grand staircase. This traboule leads to the Saint Sebastien Rise at No. 14 bis or to the Rue Imbert-Colomès at No. 29.
There is also a second traboule adjacent to No. 20 on Rue Imbert-Colomès that emerges at No. 55 Rue des Tables Claudiennes. This traboule is a continuation of the previous one. By taking the stone staircase, you are led to a small courtyard before reaching the Rue des Tables Claudiennes.
Eglise Saint Polycarpe
25 Rue René Leynaud, 69001 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 39 01 06.
Visits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings.
The Church of Saint Polycarp (17th century) is surprising, it is both dug into the hill and enclosed by houses. From the outside you will notice that its monumental facade (18th century) is surmounted by a triangular pediment. In the early 19th century the church was enlarged; the transept, dome and choir date back to period. The jewel of the church is its organ, created by Lyon resident Augustin Zeiger in 1841.
Result of the expansion of the city during the second part of the Middle Ages, the district of the Presqu’Ile (the peninsula) is part of the area classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The area has a beautiful architecture from its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries. This area is the administrative and commercial center of the city.
Place des Terreaux
In ancient times, the location of the current district was a muddy ditch, and the name stuck, with “terreau” meaning mud or earth fill. In the 14th century, the Terreaux district was already a small, fortified town. The square was built in 1625, and hosted public executions, as well as a pig market. At that time the area was popular, and daily life was punctuated by the markets. From the 18th century onward the district experienced many improvements and became the center of administrative and economic life. The old Saint Peter's Abbey, founded in the 7th century, was enlarged and became the Saint-Pierre Palace. The Museum of Fine Arts moved there in 1803. The Bartholdi fountain that sits in the center dates back to 1892.
Place des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon
In 1888, Bartholdi created the "Chariot of Freedom." This fountain was originally intended for the city of Bordeaux. But Bordeaux found it too expensive, and it was the city of Lyon who ended up buying it in 1889. It represents France on a chariot, pulled by four horses that represent the French rivers. Its creator, Frédéric Bartholdi, was also the creator of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Hôtel de Ville
Place de la Comédie (entrance) and Place des Terreaux (facade), 69001 Lyon
Tours organized by the Tourist Office.
First built in the mid-17th century by Simon Maupin (architect of the city), the City Hall was destroyed by fire in 1674. It was rebuilt by Jules Hardouin Mansart (architect of the king) in 1703. Place des Terreaux became the administrative center of the city. Previously, the City Hall building occupied the current printing museum, Rue de la Poulaillerie. The building was damaged during the Revolution, when it served as the revolutionary tribunal. It was not until 1827 that the reconstruction of the facade was undertaken. The equestrian sculpture of Henri IV that dominates the facade dates from this period, and replaced the statue of Louis XIV that was destroyed during the Revolution. The building is organized around two courtyards, one of which is raised, and four angled pavilions with a belfry enclosing the courtyard. The interior is exceptionally ornate. These beautiful painted Baroque decorations are the work of Thomas Blanchet from 1655.
Musée des Beaux-Arts
20 Place des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 10 17 40.
Full price / reduced price: €8 / €4. Free for those under 26 years old. Free with the Lyon City Card.
Open daily except Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On friday from 10:30 a.m.
Wheelchair accessible. Multi-media library. Tea room and restaurant.
Located in the former royal abbey of the 17th century, the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is exceptional, the largest in France after the Louvre. Its major collections are divided into 70 rooms, over 7,000 m². It houses works of art from ancient Egyptian to modern art. It has one of the most important collections of European works of art, whether sculpture, painting, objets d'art ...
The museum includes, in particular, the department of Antiquity that retraces 3,000 years of history from the great civilizations of the Mediterranean, the department of art and sculptures that houses works from the Middle Ages to the Art Deco period (early 20th century), the médailler (medal display) that includes an impressive collection of over 50,000 coins and medals, as well as collections of European paintings from the 14th century to the present day.
For children, the museum features workshops, entertainment and cultural activities.
Opéra de Lyon
Place de la Comédie, 69001 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 69 85 54 54.
Guided tours on request. Wheelchair accessible.
The first building was built in 1756 by Jacques Germain Soufflot, then called the Grand Theatre. Destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt in 1831 and took the name Opéra. But this was not the current National Opera, which was rebuilt in the walls of the first opera in 1993. Today the building retains only the four facades from the 19th century. The interior was completely redesigned to triple the surface area on several levels.
Eight Muses, daughters of Zeus, were installed on the facade in 1862.
Rue de la République
69001 et 69002 Lyon
The Rue de la République was created in 1868 to connect Place Bellecour to Place Louis Pradel and the City Hall. Along this journey of more than a kilometer were also created two squares: Place de la République and Place des Cordeliers. A major historical event happened in this street in 1894: the French President Sadi Carnot was assassinated there at Place des Cordeliers.
Visitors can admire the typical 19th century facades, in the style of Haussmann. The southern part of the street has been pedestrianized.
Musée de l’Imprimerie et de la communication graphique
13 rue de la Poulaillerie, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 78 37 65 98.
Full price / reduced price: €6 / €4.
Open Wednesday to Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays.
It was the old Hôtel de la Couronne (15th century) that held the first City Hall before moving to the Place des Terreaux.
The Printing Museum helps visitors relive the history of books, printing and graphics technology since the time of Gutenberg. Its collections are some of the richest among European museums specialized in this field. It owes much to the print collections of Maurice Audin.
The museum is organized around four rooms devoted to the history of printed illustration. It also includes, in addition to printed materials, objects and vintage machinery.
Eglise Saint Nizier
Place Saint Nizier, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 41 18 05.
Open daily excepted on Monday: Tuesday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ; Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Church of Saint Nizier was named after the bishop who was buried there in 579. Subsequently destroyed, it was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries in a Gothic style. The portal was built in the following century in a Renaissance style.
Must see : the crypt decorated with mosaics from the 19th century, the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace (statue of the Virgin and Coysevox Child), the Chapel of Saint François de Sales and the painting of the bishop Saint Nizier (1813).
The name of the street comes from the word merchant. This trading street already existed in the first millennium and was, during the Middle Ages, the main axis of communication of the Presqu’Ile (the peninsula). In the 16th century it was essentially a printing street. The magnificent Renaissance facades date back to this golden age. In the mid-20th century, the street was modified as part of an urban redevelopment. It became exclusively pedestrian in the 1980s and is now home to a friendly and festive atmosphere, numerous restaurants, including many typical “bouchons” (local specialty restaurants).
Place des Jacobins
The Place des Jacobins was created in 1557 on the site of the cemetery of the Jacobins. It was surrounded by a convent and a church destroyed in 1808. After changing its name several times, today it pays tribute to the preachers of the Order of Saint Dominic.
The fountain was completed in December 1885 by Gaspard André (1840-1896), to whom we also owe the Celestine Theater. In white marble, it represents Philibert Delorme (or de l’Orme), Guillaume Coustou, Gérard Audran and Hippolyte Flandrin.
Place des Célestins
The first traces of this pleasant square date from the 12th century, when the Templars had a commandery. When they were driven out, the Celestines established a monastery there from 1407 to 1778, when it was demolished. At this vacated location, the Celestine Theater was erected, one of the oldest in France.
Théâtre des Célestins
Place des Célestins, 69002 Lyon
Website - tel : 04 72 77 40 00.
To visit the theater, please contact the Tourist Office at 04 72 77 69 69. Wheelchair accessible.
The first dramatic performance at the Celestine Theater dates back to April 6th, 1792. The building would be rebuilt, however, during the 19th century. The current building is the work of architect Gaspard André, who created this theater in a typical Italian style with its horseshoe galleries and red and gold colors.