If there is one thing not to miss out on it is the hidden passages in the old Lyon.
It is impossible to come to Lyon without strolling through Old Lyon and its traboules. These little passageways allow you to get from one street to another by traversing courtyards and buildings. Just look up to see a few architectural curiosities, such as spiral staircases that were a feature of the Renaissance or the galleries popular in the seventeenth century... For example, 27 rue du Boeuf features the longest traboule in Old Lyon, taking you through four courtyards and four buildings to emerge near la Place Saint-Jean which is home to the magnificent Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon Cathedral.
A few traboules to see in the district:
- 10 and 12 rue Saint-Georges
- 27 rue Saint-Jean and 6 rue des Trois Maries (notable for its completely restored sixteenth century gallery).
- 3 place du Gouvernement and its fifteenth century building. Note the decorative gothic elements.
- 7 et 31 rue Saint-Jean
The Lyon Tourist Office organises plenty of guided tours:
The Traboules of Old Lyon tour lasts one hour (the short version) allowing you to discover the winding Renaissance streets in the Saint-Jean district, exploring courtyards and traboules and to discover Lyon’s golden age. The guide will recount a few of the anecdotes and secrets that have made the reputation of this historic area, France’s first protected area, and one which is now inscribed on UNESCO’s world heritage list.
Price: 7€, free for children under 8 years old, and for Lyon City Card holders.
Renaissance Old Lyon, courtyards and traboules (2 hours). Wearing an audiophone, you follow a guide through the passageways (les traboules) linking one street to another to discover renovated architectural treasures: Italian galleries, inner courtyards, spiral staircases... Discover the famous monuments in the area such as the Maison du Chamarier, the Hôtel de Gadagne or the Loge du Change, and the remains of the churches of Sainte-Croix and Saint-Etienne.
Price: 11€, free for children under 8 years old and Lyon City Card holders.