Lyon Metro Map

Lyon Metro Map


Stacked against the Saone at the bottom of the Fourviere hill, the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon wind between lively cafes, tree-lined squares, and magnificent medieval and Renaissance houses. The colorful hotels particuliers, with their delicate carvings, shaded courtyards, and ornate turrets, sprang up between the 15th and 18th centuries when Lyon controlled Europe’s silk and publishing industries.

TRAB0ULES. The distinguishing features of Vieux Lyon townhouses are the tra-boules, tunnels leading from the street through a maze of courtyards, often with vaulted ceilings and statuary niches. Although their original purpose is still debated, later traboules were constructed to transport silk safely from looms to storage rooms. During WWII, the passageways proved invaluable as info-gathering and escape routes for the Resistance (though some resistants found their way blocked by Germans at the exits). Many are open to the public at specific hours, especially in the morning. A tour beginning near the Cathedrale is the ideal way to see them, or pick up a list of addresses from the tourist office. (Tours in summer daily at 2:30pm, hours vary off-season; consult tourist office. ‚9, students ‚5.)

CATHEDRALE ST-JEAN. The southern end of Vieux Lyon is dominated by the Cathedrale St-Jean, with its soaring columns and multicolored stained-glass windows, some of which are relatively new replacements, owing to the destruction caused by Lyon’s exploding bridges during the hasty Nazi retreat in 1944. Paris might have been worth a Mass, but Lyon got the wedding cake; it was here that Henri TV met and married Maria de Medici in 1600. Inside, every hour between noon and 4pm, automatons pop out of the 14th-century astronomical clock in a charming reenactment of the Annunciation. The clock can calculate Church feast days until 2019. (Open M-F8am-noon and 2-7:30pm, Sa-Su 8am-noon and 2-7pm.)

MUSEUMS IN VIEUX LYON. Down r. St-Jean, turn left at pi. du Change for the H6tel de Gadagne, a typical 16th-century Vieux Lyon building, and its relatively minor museums. The better of the two is the Musee de la Marionnette, which displays puppets from around the world, including models of Guignol, the famed local cynic, and his inebriated friend, Gnaffron. (PI. du Petit College, 5eme. M: Vieux Lyon. Open Su-M and W-Sa 10:45am-6pm. ‚3.80, students ‚2. Under-19 free.)

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