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The Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon)

The districts of Lyon

Last updated date : 11/05/2023

It is since 1964 the 1st conservation area of France and one of the vastest groups Renaissance of Europe, 24 ha. At the foot of the slopes of the hill of Fourvière since V °, there is of medieval period an archaeological garden towards the cathedral.

Croquis du quartier du Vieux Lyon © Emilie Ettori

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The Vieux-Lyon: a Renaissance-era heart

Built between the Fourvière hill and the River Saône, the Vieux-Lyon (old Lyon) district still possesses all the charm of its narrow Renaissance-era streets. Its 24 hectares of courtyards, staircase towers, Italian-style galleries, and famous traditional traboule passageways plunge you into the heart of one of Europe’s largest Renaissance-era sites. 

Travel back to when Lyon was a market town where traders from all over Europe came to do business.

Stop off in a traditional bouchon restaurant to enjoy Lyon’s local specialities, stroll down its traboules, and admire Cathédrale Saint Jean: these are just a few of the must-do activities to make the most of your stay in Lyon!

Exploring the district

Saint-Georges, Saint-Jean end Saint-Paul are the three districts that make up the Vieux-Lyon area. Travel back in time through more than 1,000 years of history, looking up to admire the frontages of the houses, then back down because the district is practically all paved… so it’s no place for high heels! Vieux-Lyon is secretive and mysterious: you need to get behind the scenes in its traboules (hidden passages cut straight through buildings to link two streets) and inner courtyards to discover the riches of their past owners. 

Top spots to stop off include:

Traboule du Vieux-Lyon © Tristan Deschamps
  • Église Saint-Georges church and its striking gargoyles,
  • A little further up, Soierie Saint-Georges, the last silk-making workshop still in business,
  • The Primatiale Cathédrale Saint-Jean and its incredible astronomical clock are no-brainers, as is the archaeological garden on the north side of the cathedral,
  • The Palais de Justice and its famous 24 columns. Did you know that were already law courts here back in the 10th century? 
  • The Musée Cinéma et Miniature, (i.e. cinema and miniature museum), which is one-of-a-kind in Europe, features a wide range of sets used on film shoots or donated by major European and American film studios. Finally, open your eyes wide to take in the 1000 masterpieces of patience created by Dan Ohlmann,
  • MAM (Musée des Arts de la Marionnettes, i.e., puppeteering museum) and MHL (Musée d'Histoire de Lyon, i.e., Lyon history museum) at Hôtel Gadagne teach you about the history of puppeteering and the history of the city respectively,
  • The Théâtre Guignol de Lyon, (i.e., Lyon Guignol theatre) welcomes audiences of all ages to shows that been a success ever since the creation of puppets.

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