Lyons Tourist Attractions


Lyons (in French spelling Lyon), France's second largest industrial and commercial city, is well situated at the junction of the navigable Rhône and Saône. It is the chief town of the département of Rhône and the see of an archbishop, with a university and a college of technology.

Lyons has long been the principal center of the French textile industry, and in particular of silk production, but it also has a variety of other industries, notably the chemical and metalworking industries.

The Lyons Trade Fair, held annually in spring, provides a general survey of the city's industry and commerce.

Place Bellecour

Lyons's finest square is Place Bellecour, situated between the Rhône and the Saône, with an equestrian statue of Louis XIV by the Lyons sculptor F. Lemot (1775-1827). The buildings on the east and west sides of the square were erected around 1800. To the southeast, near the Head Post Office, is a 17th C. tower. From the north side of the square there is a view of the hill of Fourvière.
From the square Rue Victor-Hugo runs south by way of Place Ampère (monument) to the attractive Place Carnot, which has a large monument to the Republic erected in 1890.

St Martin-d'Ainay

In Lyons, to the west of Place Ampère, on the site of a Roman temple, is the church of St-Martin-d'Ainay, which originally belonged to a Benedictine abbey founded in the sixth C. The present church, built in the 11th C., is the city's oldest. It contains four antique columns, a 12th C. mosaic pavement in the choir and paintings on a gold ground by the Lyons artist Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) in the apses.


In Lyons, east of Place Ampère, in a mansion built in 1739, is the Museum of Decorative Art (furniture, tapestries, coins, etc.). Adjoining, to the south, is the Musée Historique des Tissus (Museum of Woven Fabrics), with displays illustrating the development of weaving techniques and a very fine collection of Oriental (particularly Persian) carpets.

Hôtel Dieu

Lyon's two principal streets radiate from Place Bellecour, Rue de la République to the east and Rue du Président-Herriot to the west. To the east of Rue de la République, extending to the banks of the Rhône, is the Hôtel-Dieu, a hospital built in the 17th and 18th centuries. The main front looking on to the river, was begun in 1741 by Soufflot (architect of the Panthéon in Paris) but completed only in 1842. It now houses, among other things, the Musée des Hospices Civils (faience, furniture, etc.; medicine in Lyons).

Palais de la Bourse

In Lyons, in Rue de la République, on the right, is the Renaissance-style Palais de la Bourse et du Commerce (by René Dardel, 1855-1860). To the south is the former Franciscan church of St-Bonaventure (14th-15th C.). Rue du Président-Herriot leads to Place des Jacobins, with a monumental fountain. Rue Mercière, which leaves its northwest corner, is flanked by numerous houses of the Gothic and Renaissance periods.

St Nizier

On the Rue du Président-Herriot in Lyons, on the left, is the church of St-Nizier, once the city's cathedral, which was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 15th C. and has a handsome Renaissance doorway (16th C.) and a beautiful interior. Under the choir is a sixth C. crypt decorated with modern mosaics.

Place des Terreaux

In Lyons, the Place des Terreaux is built over a Roman canal, and gets its name from the earth (terre) used to fill it up. In the square is a monumental fountain by F.-A. Bartholdi (1834-1904) representing the rivers flowing into the ocean. During the French Revolution the guillotine was set up in this square. On its east side is the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), built between 1646 and 1672 and rebuilt in Baroque style by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1700 after a fire. It has a main front richly decorated with sculpture, two courtyards separated by a graceful intermediate wing with three arches, and a 50 m/165ft high tower. The rear of the building looks on to the Place de la Comédie, in which is the Grand Théâtre (19th C.).

Musée des Beaux-Arts

In Lyons, on the south side of the Place des Terreaux is the Palais St-Pierre, a former Benedictine convent (1659-1685) which now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts, with a rich collection of pictures, sculpture and decorative art; the modern period is particularly well represented.
Address: Palais St Pierre, 20 place des Terreaux, F-69001 Lyon, France

St Jean Cathedral

In Lyons, from the northwest corner of Place Bellecour, Rue Chambonnet and the Pont Bonaparte lead west to the right bank of the Saône; from the embankment before the bridge there is a fine view, to the right, of the choir of the cathedral, the Palais de Justice and the hill of Fourvière. A little to the north is the Romanesque Cathedral of St-Jean (12th-15th C.), with a Late Gothic facade and a rose window of 1393. The most notable features of the interior are the 13th-14th C. stained glass and an astronomical clock by the Basle craftsman N. Lippius (1598) in the Romanesque transept.

Old Town

To the north of the cathedral is old town of Lyons, which has been carefully restored and contains many fine old houses. In Rue St-Jean, on right, is the neo-classical Palais de Justice (Law Courts; by Baltard, 1832-1842). In the Quartier St-Georges is the well known Cafe du Soleil, originally a religious house and later used for performances of the Théâtre Guignol. In the same street are two interesting museums, the Musée Historique de Lyon (history of the city) and the Musée de la Marionnette (Puppet Museum), housed in the 15th C. Hôtel de Gadagne.

Esplanade de Fourvière

Esplanade de Fourvière provides one of the best panoramic views of the city of Lyon. Located on the left side of the Basilica of Fourvière, views include the Croix-Rousse and the Terreaux district, Saint Jean lower down the hill and the place Bellecour to your right.

Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Above Lyons old town, to the west, is the hill of Fourvière (from Latin Forum Vetus, the "Old Forum"), rising to a height of 130m/425ft above the Saone, with two funiculars running up the hill. On the summit is the basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (1872-1896), with an interior richly decorated with mosaics and paintings; under the church is a crypt, similarly decorated. From the northeast tower, there is a magnificent view of the city and surrounding area.
Some 500m/550yd south, in a park, are two Roman theaters (excavated since 1933) and a Gallo-Roman Museum (vases, gravestones, coins and fine mosaic pavements).

Parc de la Tête d'Or

The newer parts of the city of Lyons are on the left bank of the Rhône. On the Boulevard des Belges is the large and beautiful Parc de la Tête d'Or (area 105 hectares/260 acres), within which are a Zoo, a Botanical Garden, a rose-garden and a small lake.
The district of Les Brotteaux has many Art Nouveau houses. Adjoining this is the modern district of La Part-Dieu, with many administrative offices, a railroad station, multi-story parking lots and a huge shopping center, in which is the 142 m/465ft high Crédit Lyonnais Tower.
East of the Gare des Brotteaux (railroad station) is Villeurbanne, with a Media Library built in 1988 by the Swiss architect Mario Botta (b. 1943).

Ile Barbe

Ile Barbe was the site of a monastery as early as the 5th century. Building the monastery on an island was perfect for the monks to become self-sufficient and lead a life of meditation. Nothing remains of the monastery aside from some bas-reliefs displayed in the Musee Gadagne in Lyons.
The Norman abbey church of Notre Dame, from the early 12th century, still remains on Ile Barbe along with private homes. Visitors will enoy the trip to this island with its medieval atmosphere.

Theâtre de Guignol

Theâtre de Guignol was recently taken over by the Zonzon Theatre Company, who has maintained as much of the original spirit of the theatre as they could. The Zonzons present numerous family plays with marionettes featuring new sets, a new musical production and some new themes.
Address: 2, Rue Louis Carrand, F-69005 Lyon, France

Biennale d'Art Contemporain

The Biennale d'Art Contemporain brings together international artists who gather to display under one chosen theme. The modern art exhibits include conceptual art, photography, sculpture, painting, and video to name a few.
Address: 3 rue du Président Edouard Herriot, F-69001 Lyon, France

Music of Old Lyon

This two-week festival takes place in late September on odd-numbered years. It includes over twenty events ranging from large-scale operas and classical concerts to smaller solo performances. The concerts take place in a number of venues including the Maurice Rave Auditorium.
Address: Société de Musique du Lyonnais, BP 5064, F-69245 Lyon, France

Trésor de la Cathédrale Saint-Jean

The magnificent Saint-John cathedral in Lyon is home to treasures of sacred objet d'art and stained-glass windows.

Berlioz Festival

This two-week festival takes place in late September on odd-numbered years. It includes over 20 afternoon and evening events ranging from large-scale operas and classical concerts to smaller solo performances. The concerts take place in a number of venues including the Maurice Rave Auditorium.
Address: Mayson de Lyon, F-69002 Lyon, France

Maison Thomassin

Maison Thomassin is a well-preserved 14th Century mansion that was built by the Thomassins, a family who gained wealth as cloth craftsmen. Located on the "Place du Change", the mansion has been restored with a facade featuring delicate sculptures and arches on the second floor.

Central Station

Great variations abound in the ironwork of the staircase, columns and supporting ribs.


The Societe Lyonnaise de Transport en Commun, the Lyons Metro was opened in 1978 and is made up of four lines with 25.5km of track, 20.6km of which are underground. It includes 2.3km of rack railway. There are 37 stations. The system has a flat fare structure.
The Lyons Metro serves about 200 million people yearly. During peak hours trains run every 2.5-4 minutes.
The stations are modern and trains run without drivers.


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