RSecrets are always fun, aren’t they? Well, I found the second biggest french city very mysterious. Between courtyards and through buildings, there are many secret alleyways and staircases once provided safe and efficient passage for silk workers to get their wares to and from market unmarred. Now partially open to the public, many of the traboules worm through several buildings forming a secret continuous covered passageway and showing the courtyard of beautiful renaissance houses of Lyon.

Typical merchant’s house from 15th century
Courtyard of the renaissance house in Lyon
Romantic corners of historic Lyon

The word traboule comes from the Latin trans ambulare, meaning ‘to cross’. Once inside, every traboule is different, but ist is worth to see some of them and imagine the history of its times. Charming! 🙂

Especially famous is Rue de Boeuf (beef street) as it used to be a long market area, vivid and dynamic.

Traboules at Rue de Boeuf

The Croix-Rousse district of Lyon was the heart of the 19th century silk trade and some porculain too.

The city is enclosed by two rivers: Rhône and Saône, creating the peninsula of the city or “Presqu’île“, where the city settled at first. This district is called Vieux Lyon – the original mediaeval city. I was impressed! 🙂

Vieux Lyon, old streets of renaissance
Renaissance galleries in the streets of Vieux Lyon

The historical centre is also the best place to eat local food. There are many small squares with typical bouchons (small lyonnaise restaurants) offering you a small folding table with carved rustic tablecloth and a romantic flower on it.

Bouchon – typical restaurant in Lyon

Lyon has a long and chronicled culinary arts tradition. On the menu are mostly offals as local specialty (not my favourite choose), like chicken liver or rinced meat and rinced pork heart in porks bowel. The dish is called ”mâchons,” as it was cooked for workers who ate a late-morning meal after they finished their shifts in the factories. A very well – known red wine comes to this from the valley of Rhone, Côtes du Rhône.

Usually, the aristocracy of later ages (18 century onwards) was living in big bourgeois houses with classical facades.

Vast Lyon old apartments

The main square Bellecour can be approached by Lafayette bridge. In the late 12th century, the archbishop of Lyon had a vineyard there called Bella curtis (Beau jardin in French or Beautiful garden in English). The statue of Louis XIV adorns the square.

King Louis XIV, Place Belle Cour

Notice the huge basilica on the Fourvière hill! It took me more then 300 steps and half an hour time through the Rosemary path while climbing up to see this 19 century Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. 

The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to whom is attributed the salvation of the city of Lyon from the bubonic plague, the Black Death, that swept Europe in 1643. The Virgin is also credited with saving the city a number of other times, such as from a Cholera epidemic in 1832, and from Prussian invasion in 1870.

Anyhow, I believe it s the most beautiful church I have seen from the inside, or at least comparable to the St John’s Co-Cathedral in Malta.

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
Main portal of basilica
Draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture

From the hill stretches beaautiful view on the city of Lyon, its rivers and far far away can be seen Alps as well.

View from Fourvière hill

The second important church is actually the Cathedrale St- Jean – Baptiste. The cathedral was founded by Saint Pothinus and Saint Irenaeus, the first two bishops of Lyon who are now saints patrons of the city. Firts construction started in 11th century.

Lyon Cathedral of St John Baptiste
Interior of the Cathedral – John’s Gospel

The cathedral also has the Astronomical Clock from the 14th century, which is the oldest in France and one of the oldest in the World. The clock indicates hours, minutes, dates, position of the Sun and the Moon relative to the Earth and also rising of the brightest stars above Lyons. The clock’s chime is accompanied by movements of figures situated in the upper part of the clock depicting scenes on religious themes.

Astronomical Clock from the 14th century

As I was walking down the promenade of the river Rhône, the sun was strolling down the river too, reflecting its rays of the water. There were bar-boats parked next to the jogging pathway with relaxed music on and people having cocktails.

Promenade of Rhône

I ended up to the Croix-Rousse district where the industrial revolution of 19th century was happening. There were many inventions and movements happening. Brothers’ Lumiere invented the first motioned picture, starting to manufacture the cinematograpy… Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote his short novel Little Prince… and all that and more is commemorated in great murals of this district, capturing the spirit of the epoche…

Famous Lyonnaise people


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  2. Wow! Interesting post! I loved your description and the fact that you’ve given a brief history of every place. Thank you for the post! I really wish I get to visit France some day! 🙂


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