Lyon – a long walk in Vieux Lyon

From my apartment in the 2nd Arrondissement, it was a short walk over the Saône on the Passerelle St Georges footbridge to Vieux Lyon in the 5th Arrondissement.

Vieux Lyon is the oldest part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it being one of Europe’s largest surviving Renaissance neighbourhoods.

My Google map is here.

Once over the footbridge I turned east towards the old town. Immediately you come to the Catholic church; La Église Saint Georges.

Walking along Place Benoît Crepu you can see some nice buildings.

Also on Avenue du Doyenné.

After this at 3 Avenue Adolphe Max you will see the Palais St Jean, the former episcopal palace. It was built at the end of the fifteenth century in a Gothic style.

Then you come to the cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Place Saint-Jean.

The Gothic cathedral was completed in 1476.

Due to the high state of emergency, there was a squad of soldiers guarding the cathedral when I went.

I like the water spouts on the fountain in the middle of the square.

The streets east of here are the most touristy.

As you’d expect there are lots of nice looking old restaurants around.

I love the look of Bouchon Lyonnais at Place du Change. (Can’t vouch for their grub though).

There are lots of interesting shops around as well.

The only purchases I made were from this one…

Ambassade Bonnat & Crozet (Advanced A), 12 Rue de Boeuf,

A beautiful shop in the old town specialising in liqueurs and chocolats.

I got a bottle of Orgeat almond syrup for my cocktail cabinet and another of Elixir Bon Secours, a herbal liqueur with medicinal properties.

The assistant also helped me choose a couple of bars from the bewildering range of chocolates on display. He directed me towards the Selva Maya and the Hacienda el Rosario.

Vieux Lyon is known for its Traboules, narrow passageways that pass through buildings and link streets on either side. The first traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century.

Some are open to the public, just go to the following addresses and try the doors. If they are closed, press the button next to the door code keyboard. If you are still unable to enter from one side, try the entrance at the opposite end.

The traboule at 2 Place du Gouvernement arrives at a small courtyard containing some houses with nice facades. If you’re on a PC, click on the photos to enlarge them.

The longest traboule is between 54 Rue St Jean and 27 Rue du Boeuf. Click the pics to go big.

Another nice traboule is between 27 Rue St Jean and 6 Rue des Trois Maries.

At 16 Rue du Bœuf you can see La Tour Rose (the pink tower) which I’m told is an example of a Venetian staircase.

The courtyard it’s in is very pleasant with another lovely open staircase going to a lower floor.

I’d love to have a look inside this quirky building on Rue Lainerie.

Not sure what the purpose was of the lion heads on the façade of 1 Rue Juiverie.

There’s a nice staircase in the building at the end of Montée Saint-Barthélémy, where it bends round to meet Rue Juiverie.

The back streets also have a lot of atmosphere.

Eventually you start heading upwards. I love this switchback in Place de la Trinité.

I also love the guttering on this house at the bottom of Montée du Chemin Neuf.

A more direct way to go uphill from here is via the stairs Montée des Chazeaux Sendero de Ascenso, one of a few long staircases going up Fourvière Hill.

At the top you’ll find La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Built between 1872 and 1884, the design draws on Romanesque and Byzantine architecture rather than Gothic, which was unusual for the times.

The carved stonework seems very fresh to me.

You can get some fantastic views of the town from here.

The church was built on the site of the former Roman forum. Beyond the church you come to the Roman area where two amphitheatres. Both are still in use. Videos here and here.

And that’s enough walking for one day. It’s time for some food…

2 thoughts on “Lyon – a long walk in Vieux Lyon”

  1. Allegedly the traboules were either built for or, at least, used by people working in the silk industry (what Lyon depended on/was famous for from the Middle Ages until quite recently). The weaving was done in people’s homes but the finished pieces had to be transported to other places (e.g. dyers or to be made up into things). The traboules were a) useful as a short cut and b) sheltered people doing this from the rain which could spoil the cloth. Again supposedly the traboules were used by members of the Resistance during WWII to evade German patrols. Lyon suffered especially badly during the this time as the local Gestapo commander was the infamous Klaus Barbie aka ‘The Butcher of Lyon’. His HQ was at the Hotel Terminus on the Cours de Verdun Rambaud which runs across the top of the Prequ’isle peninsula. Among those who died there was Jean Moulin the overall head of the Resistance. There are two very good films about this time:a documentary ‘Hotel Terminus’ by Marcel Ophuls and a fictional drama “L’Armeé des Ombres” by Jean-Pierre Melville. The latter contains what must be the greatest performance ever by that wonderful French actor Lino Ventura.

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