The Labyrinths of Lyon, France

Wandering is the name of the game in Lyon. The labyrinths of traboules were the most memorable experience of all, making us feel like were were on a treasure hunt.

Here are the four areas of Lyon that we enjoyed exploring the most:

1. Vieux Lyon “Old Lyon”

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Traboules in Old Lyon

If you’ve read about the Lyon secret passageway “Traboules”, Old Lyon has the best ones to explore! Make sure to seek them out before about 5pm though when they lock the doors (I had a tenant literally kick the door in my face when I attempted to follow him through in the evening).  

Traboules were created as a workaround to the cities inefficient street planning in the 16th century.  They created more efficient passageways for traders, especially in the silk market.

During WWII the corridors served as an effective way to evade the Nazis and relay messages across the city.

Here are some addresses to help you locate a few of the 500+ traboules in Old Lyon.  This is also the most efficient order to find them in.   If you come to the door and it is locked, press the button on the keypad that is not next to someone’s apartment.  It should open  if you’re visiting during the day.

  • 2 Place du Gouvernement to 10 Quai Romain Rolland
  • 9 Rue des Trois Maries to 17 Quai Romain Rolland
  • 27 Rue St Jean to 6 Rue des Trois Maries
  • 1 Rue du Boeuf to 14 Rue de la Bombarde
  • 54 Rue St Jean to 27 Rue de Boeuf*
  • 52 Rue St Jean*

*Note:  These two were our favorites, we recommend saving them for last on your hunt!   There are traboules in many of the neighborhoods, but none as interesting as the ones I starred above. 

2. Fourvière 

Fourvière sits above the Old Lyon neighborhood at the top of a hill.  You can walk it or take a Funicular ride for less than 3€ each way.

Here you will find the Theatre Antique Romain and the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere. 

Theatre Antique Romain

There are two ancient theaters nestled side by side.  It is free to explore the ruins, but there’s also a paid Museum to learn more.

The Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere 

This had to be one of the most detailed works of art we have ever seen in a Church, and we’ve seen a lot of churches.  Photos were prohibited, but I highly recommend checking out the church’s website to get a glimpse of the mosaics within..  From behind the church, you can get a spectacular view of the city.    It is one Lyon’s most prominent landmarks (you can see it in the background of the sunset photo below).

3. Crois Rousse

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The hills of the 1st arrondissement will give you a workout while you explore the many boutique shops and restaurants.  Our favorite sunset spot was an outlook just above the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules.  There are many clubs as well if you’re seeking the night life scene.

4. Parc de la Tete D’or 

Give yourself a few hours to wander through this beautiful public park, warm up inside the botanical garden’s greenhouses, and observe the animals at the free zoo.   The zoo exceeded my expectations for being a free zoo.  They had monkeys, lions, giraffes, zebra, bears, and more.

Heaven for Foodies

This city is heaven for foodies.  There are over a dozen Michelin rated restaurants in the city. Some are quite affordable as well! The two of us dined at Cafe Terroir for about 60€.

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For a variety of lunch options, check out the Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse.  Paul Bocuse is a legendary chef in this city. The food in this “market” is top notch.  If you’re going to sit down for a meal though, expect to pay at least 20€ per person. 

If you’re staying in an AirBnb, pick up your fresh groceries (fruit, veggies, cheese, meats, seafood)  at the Saint-Antoine Market(Tues-Thurs, 6am to 12.30 pm and Fri-Sun 6am to 1.30pm). This is where many local chefs also come to stock their restaurants.

Arts Scene

We saw the Lyon Orchestra perform at the Lyon Auditorium. The Lyon National Opera is world-famous as well. There’s an incredible arts scene in Lyon.  You can find dance performances at The Maison de la Danse.   Don’t miss seeing this side of the city if you have more than 2-3 nights in town.

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