Guided tour in the 'Presqu'Ile' district, eastern part of the Unesco sector of Lyon, France.
LA PRESQU'ILE DE LYON
From the Gallo-Roman period and up until the XVIII century the Peninsula was limited in the south by the rue des Remparts d'Ainay and the rue Bourgelat and in the north by the Terreaux. Today, within the boundaries of the World Heritage site, from north to south, the Peninsula includes the districts of the Terreaux, Saint-Nizier, Cordeliers, Grolée, Jacobins, Bellecour, Ainay and Perrache. This sector of Lyons contains some of the most interesting architecture from the XVIII to the XIX centuries.
At the Renaissance, at the beginning of the XV century, and thanks to its fairs, Lyons progressively took on its European importance. The Italians, masters of new payment means (exchange letters), vitalised economic exchanges and activities of the city thus making it a cosmopolite centre which attracted large numbers of German and Spanish people.
From 1743 onwards, as a result of Barthélémy Buyer, the printing industry began to develop which also contributed to the Peninsula’s dynamics; in 1500 there were 50 printers in Lyons. In the XVI century the silk industry took off: on the Peninsula, at Saint-Georges on the right-hand banks of the Saône and then later on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse. This was the period known as the great textile age, the "Grande Fabrique", which lasted until 1880.
And the roads gradually became wider, radically transforming social life in the sector. These large works ended in the Second Empire with the urban planning of the Department chief VAÏSSE.
You are beside the Tourist Office of Grand Lyon, in the famous Place Bellecour, one of the largest squares in Europe (6 hectares). It was constructed in the early seventeenth century. This square, symbol of the “Old regime” was destroyed during the Revolution. This is the only example in France of the destruction of a public square. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who rejuvenated the city with his project to construct facades. The two pavilions of the Tourist Office date from the mid-nineteenth century. Throughout the tour you will discover places that feature between Bellecour and Les Terreaux.
PLACE ANTONIN PONCET
Facing you, east, is the Antonin Poncet square which is an extension of the Place Bellecour. It owes its name to the Lyon surgeon Antonin Poncet (1849-1913) who worked at the Hôtel-Dieu. The bell tower is from the old Charity Hospital which was built in 1622 and destroyed in 1934 for the construction of the Post Office, south of the square, and built to the plans of the architect Roux-Spitz. The Charity Hospital was the second most important hospital in the city after the Hôtel-Dieu and only the tower was preserved.
Now observe the lateral development of the eastern facade of the Immeuble Thibière. This facade is the work of the architect Thibière who realised it in 1814. It follows in the wake of Robert de Cotte’s monumental facades of Place Bellecour with four levels, the same rhythm and floor area ratio but without the curved windows, the composite order and the large triangular pediment.
RUE DES MARONNIERS
Head straight towards Rue des Maronniers , Chestnut Street. Built in the eighteenth century and pedestrian since the late twentieth century, this street is named after the chestnut trees bordering the east of Place Bellecour. Today the street is mainly dedicated to dining and you will find many traditional Lyon restaurants called “bouchons” where you will discover Lyon specialties.
RUE DE LA BARRE
You are here at Rue de la Barre. This large artery connects the Guillotière bridge to the Place Bellecour and terminates at Le Viste. It owes its name to the barrier that was placed here by King of France Philippe V called Philippe-le-Long in 1320 for levying taxes on goods that came into town from the bridge over the Rhône. Head to the east of the Rhône.
The monumental complex at the corner of the Rue de la Barre and Quai Jules Courmont is the Hôtel Dieu. It dates back to the twelfth century and lodged the urban poor and sick travellers in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Rabelais practiced medicine here from 1532 to 1534. It was enlargened in the seventeenth century by the town’s aldermen. The western facade and two towers were completed in 1655. In the eighteenth century, from 1741, the hospital was enlarged by the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot. We owe him the monumental façade on Quai Jules Courmont. His pupil, Toussaint Loyer, built the dome between 1757 and 1768. Today, the Hôtel Dieu is being reconverted. Now go back to Rue de la République in the West.
RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
Formerly Imperial Street, Rue de la République was built between 1853 and 1859. It’s the first example of a major artery construction between Place Bellecour and Place de la Comedie. During the Second Empire, cafes and department stores punctuated Imperial Street. The northern part was dedicated to banking institutions including the Bank of France. Ornate facades reflect the importance of the bourgeoisie at the time. Just like Haussmann in Paris, the prefect Claude-Marius Vaïsse in Lyon was appointed to reshape the city to be the capital of the South-East of France whilst at the same time combatting slums and unhealthy streets. He then set up a campaign to regenerate the city centre.
IMMEUBLE 68 RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
The building at No. 68, on the corner, is a building of Joseph Ricour and was completed in 1861. The cast iron elements boost the horizontal divisions and darken the white facades. On the street side facade, you can see the importance of the balcony. On the main floor, the balcony gives shape to the central part and, as a penthouse balcony, stresses the summit; it continues on the rounded corner on the top floor. Note the top of the facade extends the overall composition by the addition of a floor in the roof which becomes a full floor in itself (visible through the skylights).
PLACE DE L'HÔPITAL
You are in front of the monumental west-side entrance to the Hôtel-Dieu which dates from the beginning of the eighteenth century. On the right is the chapel of Our Lady of Pity. Take the street to the north, Rue Gabriel Riviere, which will take you in front of the 1884 auction houses of Nogaret and Ravier and to the Place de la République.
On your right to the east is the Grolée district, built between 1887 and 1896. It is a perfect example of a Haussmann unit although constructed during the Third Republic. The architects Delamarre and Ferrand adopted a monumental style which is visible in the importance given to the bases and the perspective. They also offered a new style with angles marked by rotundas at key points of President Carnot Street. The City had imposed an almost exclusive use of stone for decorating facades, hence the care given to the handling of the stone and the use of high relief sculpture for staples and masks, Atlanteans and caryatids.
PASSAGE DE L'ARGUE EST
You are at the entrance of a covered passage built in 1826 by architects Farge and Falconnet on a spot where houses and a former gold and silver spinning workshop stood. Look at the Rue de la République entrance and its majestic Palladian stone arch. The passage is covered with a metal canopy in the Parisian style and is lined with shops with floors above. In the central rotunda there used to be a winged Mercury, now disappeared, protector of merchants and travellers. It was a copy of a Renaissance sculpture by Giambologna.
IMMEUBLE 28 RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
This building is an example of the work of Fryderyk Giniez: one finds here the neo-Byzantine influence of the architect, an example of the Orientalist movement in Lyon instigated by the architect Pierre Bossan (Fourviere Basilica). This influence can be particularly seen in the bay frames. In Lyon, there are a lot of wall bays; it is a real feature of Lyon's architecture. There are more empty bays than full; decorations and framework break up the monotony of the bare walls. The abundance of bays had gradually faded out by the late nineteenth century.
IMMEUBLE 33 RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
This building, designed by the architect Baudet, is an example of the use of wrought iron that breaks the monotony of the stone façade. At the time, metal was the most modern material. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards industrial art enhanced the quality of buildings with its decorative modernity such as the ornamental cast iron which was used from the early nineteenth century. Iron work even incorporates the principles of hierarchy and the register of stone sculpture. You will find it here in the railing, pelmets and balconies.
IMMEUBLE 24 RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
Number 24 was created by Frédéric Giniez. He was the architect of nine other buildings in this street. Note the quality and care taken in the decoration and the choice of materials. For this building, the front door is particularly noteworthy for its decorations. The door is placed in an arcade recess with a semicircular entablature. The stone tympanum is decorated with two seated cherubs. The sculptures of cherubs, griffins or even faces are very common in Lyon private architecture. It is a real local particularism which attracted several sculptors to move to Lyon.
The building to your right with the glass facades in front of you was built in 2005 by architects JeanPierre Buffi and Philippe de Fouchier on the spot of Lyon’s first late nineteenth-century department store which has unfortunately been destroyed. It was first called “A la ville de Lyon” and was built in 1886. A more recent version of two storeys was completed in 1913.
PLACE DES CORDELIERS
You are now at the Place des Cordeliers which was created on Franciscan land s in 1557. Today, along with Grenette Street, it is the main artery connecting the Rhône and Saône. It is bordered by the Palais du Commerce, the new Grand Bazaar and the Church of St. Bonaventure. On the right of the Palais du Commerce facade, an allegorical sculptural group in white marble symbolises the Rhône and the Saône.
PALAIS DU COMMERCE
Built between 1855 and 1862 by the architect and sculptor René Dardel Gustave Bonnet at the request of the prefect Vaïsse, the Palais du Commerce is typical of the Second Empire. It was inaugurated in 1862 by Napoleon III. The building has a rich sculpted decoration dedicated to the economic and social life. The monumental achievements of Gustave Bonnet adorn the north and south facades. The Corbeille room is the highlight inside the building and is richly decorated with an ornate ceiling, an allegory of the City of Lyon. The four corner pavilions are organised around this room. The palace now houses the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lyon.
St. Bonaventure Church was built between 1327 and 1471 by the Cordeliers’ Franciscans order in a late Gothic style with an unusual north-south axis to protect it from the Rhône floods. Its name comes from a General of the Franciscan order who died in 1274 during the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyon. The transformation of the fifteenth-century façade was linked to a comprehensive renovation project in the area which no longer corresponded to the fourteenth-century sober facade; something that was much criticized in the nineteenth century.
ANCIENS GRANDS MAGASINS DES CORDELIERS
The triangular building is the former Cordeliers Department Stores built at the time of the Grolée district reconstruction in 1890. The three edifices together make a total of 2680 sq m. The original buildings were for bourgeois homes with shops on the ground floor. In 1895 a company was formed which evolved in 1899 to become the 'Department Stores des Cordeliers. In 1919, the store became Galeries Lafayette. For its present appearance, work began in 1924 under the direction of Georges Trévoux, architect of the City of Lyon, and Ferdinand Chanut architect Galeries Lafayette. Sculptors who participated are Bertola, Chorel, Larrivé and Renard.
The site of the present parking lot, between Bourse street and Claudia street, used to be the Cordeliers’ covered food halls until 1971. Dubbed the Crystal Palace, the food-halls were built by the architect Tony Desjardins in 1859. Of the stalls surrounding the original halls, there are still a few restaurants that occupy them.
RUE DE LA BOURSE
Take Rue de la Bourse which is named after the Lyon Stock Exchange that was active in the Corbeille room in the Palais du Commerce (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lyon), west side, from 1860 to 1983. On the same side, you will reach the Place de la Bourse, now the main entrance. On the east side there is the Ampere school, built in 1617, and its chapel with a sumptuous baroque interior, and the Passage Ménestrier which leads to the banks of the Rhône. Rue de la Bourse, flanked on both sides by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings, is parallel with Rue de la République and leads towards the Opera House.
IMMEUBLE 51 RUE DE LA BOURSE
At numbers 51 and 57, the building facades were designed between 1858 and 1859 by the architects C. Echernier and L.-Et. Journoud. They illustrate the principle of multiple storeys, rare in Lyon, where an additional floor is placed above the other and sticks out from under the roof awning.
PLACE DE LA BOURSE
Place de la Bourse is the setting for the Palais du Commerce, built during the Second Empire, and its northern entrance which opens onto the square. At the front of number 2, you can see two caryatids symbolizing Commerce and Arts. Made by the sculptor Guillaume Bonnet in 1857, they echo the decoration of the Palais du Commerce done by the same sculptor. Cross the square to admire the building 16 Rue de la République in the west.
IMMEUBLE 16 RUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
This building, formerly a grand hotel for foreigners, designed by Frédéric Giniez, is particularly impressive due to its axial span. On three floors, Corinthian or ringed columns frame the bays. Note also the wealth of carved decorations, such as the lions' heads on the consoles of the first floor balcony. The decorations on the wooden door are also interesting. Until very recently, this building housed the Bank of France. Now take Rue de la Poulaillerie to the left of the building.
MUSÉE DE L'IMPRIMERIE
The name of the street, Rue de la Poulaillerie, is related to the sales of poultry in the Middle Ages. At number 13, you will find the printing museum, a great testimony to the time when printing was one of the main activities of Lyon. It is located in the former Crown Hotel, the first City Hall of Lyon, which was built in the fifteenth century. Look at the driveway, the galleries and the Maurice Scève courtyard. It is possible to cut through to the Rue des Forces. Continue right, towards the north, on to Rue President Edouard Herriot.
RUE PRÉSIDENT EDOUARD HERRIOT
Formerly Empress Street, you are now standing on the second major breakthrough of the peninsula which began in 1860, after the Rue de la République. This artery doubled the Bellecour-Les Terreaux axis; it opened up the perspective on the west wing of the Town Hall and homogenised the adjacent urban area. Edouard Herriot (1882-1957) was mayor of Lyon from 1905 to 1957 and President of the National Assembly. Continue up Rue Neuve on the right.
Turn right and take Rue Neuve. This street, which dates back to the thirteenth century, reveals its ancient part in the west of the Rue de la République and its nineteenth-century part in the east. Go east towards the Passage Ménestrier to the Rhône. In the Middle-Ages, Rue Neuve had a door that opened on to a port on the Rhône.
The covered Claude-François Ménestrier Passage owes its name to a Jesuit and historian born in Lyon 10 March, 1631. Designed by the Jesuit architect, Father Martellange, it runs through the Ampere school buildings, formerly Trinity College founded in 1519, and connects Rue de la Bourse to the Quai Jean Moulin. The nearby Trinity Chapel was the site of the first Italian republic proclaimed by Napoleon on 18 January, 1802. Continue to Quai Jean Moulin.
QUAI JEAN MOULIN
Quai Jean Moulin stretches from the Place des Cordeliers to Tolozan Square. The name of Jean Moulin was awarded in 1946; before then the wharf was name Quai de Retz. Spanning the Rhône is the College which dates back to 1845. On the other side of the Rhône, many left-bank areas underwent several urban operations in the nineteenth century such as the establishment of the Brotteaux district, the Prefecture and the Universities. Go to the Rue de l'Arbre Sec.
RUE DE L'ARBRE SEC
Move along the dock and turn left at Rue de l’Arbre Sec. This paved street reminds you that all the peninsula streets were paved well before the great works of the nineteenth century. It dates from the Middle-Ages and it is assumed that it owes its name from a shop sign of the time. Continue up Rue de la République.
OPÉRA, PLACE DE LA COMÉDIE
Walk towards the Place de la Comédie. The Opera on your right is on the spot of the original theatre built by Jacques-Germain Soufflot in 1756 and renovated by A.-M. Chenavard between 1825 and 1831. An extension was completed in 1990 by the architect Jean Nouvel. Of neoclassical architecture, the facade has a ground floor arcade, a main floor and a penthouse strip with sphinx heads which are connected by garlands of foliage and antique theatre masks. The whole is surmounted by eight statues of muses. They are traditionally nine, but the need for a symmetric span meant the exclusion of Urania, the muse of astronomy.
HÔTEL DE VILLE
You are now facing the Town Hall. The construction and decorations started in 1646, according to the plans of Simon Maupin, and were completed in 1672. On 13 September, 1674, a fire destroyed the building. It was partially restored by Robert de Cotte in 1680. A new restoration was launched in 1700 and the Consulate called in Hardoin Jules Mansart, architect of the Château de Versailles. The main body facing the Place des Terreaux was raised, the roofs were changed and an almost horizontal perspective was established, in harmony with the Palace of Saint Peter. After 1793, new restorations were completed by the prefect Vaïsse. Note that the City Hall includes a beautiful suspended spiral staircase.
PLACE DES TERREAUX
You are now at the Place des Terreaux which has existed since the early seventeenth century. It derives its name from the time when it was surrounded by ditches as “Terreaux” refers to mud, from the Latin terralia. The square was a meeting place for strikes and demonstrations and a public square with its administrative headquarters: the Hotel de Ville. During the eighteenth century, the square became a fashionable bourgeois meeting place interspersed with cafes and shops. After the Revolution it became the Place of Freedom. From 1838, the Boucherie des Terreaux neighbourhood was redesigned and architects such as Desjardins, Dupasquier and René Dardel constructed residential buildings.
The former convent of the nuns of St. Peter became the Museum of Fine Arts in 1801. Inspired by Italian references, the building consists of four wings arranged around a cloister. In 1792, the abbey became a conservation centre of paintings, medals and other art objects. Throughout the nineteenth century, the building served several functions: art and archeology museum, School of Fine Arts, City Library, Stock Exchange, Chamber of Commerce, ... Today, Lyon’s Museum of Fine Arts of is one of the largest and finest in France and Europe and is open every day except Tuesdays and public holidays from 10am to 6pm. Walk in front of the building and turn left Rue Paul Chenavard.
JARDINS DU PALAIS SAINT-PIERRE
The cloister and its gardens were redesigned in 1884 to give them their present appearance, by the architects René Dardel and Abraham Hirsch. This islet of greenery, protected from urban noise by the secular walls, covers about 1,200 m2. The alleys of the garden are shaded by the large oak, birch trees and odorous lime trees.
RUE DE LA PLATIÈRE
Go right at the Place Meissonier, named after a Lyon painter of the nineteenth century, and to the Rue de la Platière, called Place Platière up until 1929. Changes to lane widths, reconstructions and demolitions of buildings in the nineteenth century meant that the square became a street. Continue towards the Quai de la Pêcherie.
Here you cross Lantern Street, a medieval path whose name comes from the fire that was lit every night on top of a tower to light up this part of Lyon. During the eighteenth century, a statue in the southern part of the street led it to be called the “the street of the child who pees”. It is even said that during some popular festivals the statue spouted not water but ... wine.
MUR PEINT, RUE DE LA PLATIÈRE
Facing you is the painted wall "The Library of the City." It was produced by the Cité de la Création and figures Lyon writers, such as Frédéric Dard, and excerpts from their writings. On the ground floor, three shops and a postman in trompe l'oeil are represented. Painted walls have become a symbol of the city and are the third reason why tourists visit Lyon after Fourvière and Old Lyon. Then take Quai de la Pêcherie on the left.
IMMEUBLE 7 RUE CHAVANNE
This 1851 building could be the work of the architect Claude-Anthelme Benoit. The composition is indeed reminiscent of 22 rue Constantine. The façade offers an abundance of carved decorations and ironwork (shells, lion’s muzzle, human head etc..). Everything is structured by a superposition of composite order columns.
Founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century, this square was first named the Place de l’Herberie and was dedicated to trade. It became the Place d’Albon in 1812 and witnessed many urban projects from the 1840s on; docks, piercing of Central Street. The site offers a beautiful view of Saint Nizier church especially as the stylistic duality of the church (facade with two construction periods) contrasts with two buildings on the square built by Desjardins and Farfouillon.
IMMEUBLE DESJARDINS, 13 RUE CHAVANNE
For this residential building, leased by AD Blanchon and built in 1850, the architect Tony Desjardins chose to apply the neo-Gothic style. The Gothic Revival (1830-1880) was denoted for its taste for medieval and romantic style. At the time there was a glorification of the Middle-Ages and Gothic architecture. Contrary to neoclassicism, neo-Gothic was the expression of feelings. Artists sought to revive medieval forms to compete with the dominant classical styles of the time. Here, you will find this style in the sculpture, the moldings and the ornamentation including flamboyant ogives, but there are also some classic mouldings such as rosettes.
IMMEUBLE FARFOUILLON, 1 RUE MERCIÈRE
This building was designed by François-Jacques Farfouillon in 1846 at the request of the merchant Jean-Pierre Lempereur. The architect referred to classic Renaissance architecture as witnessed by the Italian influences in the treatment of the bays, entablatures and inlay work: dentils, palmettes, rosettes. The three street façades were treated identically. At its completion, the building was considered one of the most remarkable of its time. It has even been compared to the work of the Italian architect Bramante.
Take the Street Bouquetiers to join Saint Nizier church. Known in 1740, this square is named after a flower market that was installed there. It was certainly created in the middle of the Middle-Ages and formed the front of the church however it was much smaller then. Indeed, the appearance of the square changed a lot in the nineteenth century due to expansions and new alignments, especially the alignment of the whole western part of the city on the right bank of the Saône.
Saint Nizier gave his name to the church at the end of the sixth century. The vaulting was carried out during the fifteenth century. The magnificent central half-rotunda gate by Jean Vallet is of the Renaissance (1579). Admire the spherical dome decorated with faces of angels and God the Father holding the globe. As for the central and southern parts of the facade, they were completed in the nineteenth century in a neo-Gothic style by Claude-Anthelme Benedict who undertook the restoration of the church. The triangular gable is inspired by St. John's Cathedral. The New flamboyant openwork spire was made according to the finest examples of architecture in northern France.
RUE DE BREST
With Chenavard street, Rue de Brest is a central street which, when created in 1850, was considered for many years the main artery of the city, well before the current Rue Edouard Herriot and Rue de la République. You will discover rich houses with wide alleys leading to large courtyards of beautiful dimensions. The facades are particularly ornate including stucco features. All the buildings were constructed after the breakthrough of the street which takes its current name from the city of Finistère – Brest – that Lyon sustained during the Second World War. Turn right at Rue Dubois then left at the intersection with Rue Mercière.
From the late Middle-Ages, Rue Mercière was the shopping street of Lyon. It was revamped in the nineteenth century but retains a Renaissance architecture typical of Lyon. The southern part of the street, near the Place des Jacobins, is the most remarkable and popular. You will find many restaurants that occupy the ground floors of buildings. Note: the number 56 has a “traboule” leading to 26 Quai Saint-Antoine and is a fine example of Renaissance architecture.
HÔTEL D'HORACE CARDON
Stop at 68 Rue Mercière and go into the courtyard, which opens on to the street, of the hotel Horace Cardon, treasurer of King Henry IV. Admire the beautiful Renaissance building: large arches on the ground floor, a three-storey bay to the right and four floors and windows whose mullions have disappeared.
PASSAGE DE L'ARGUE OUEST
Now turn left at the second part of Passage de l’Argue towards Rue President Edouard Herriot. Originally one passage, it was halved in 1863. Just like the eastern past, the western part of the passage is covered by a metal glass ceiling and comprises shops throughout its length. Turn right towards Rue Edouard Herriot then right again towards the Place des Jacobins in the south.
PLACE DES JACOBINS
Here you are at Place des Jacobins which takes its name from the former Jacobins convent site established here in 1218 and then sold in 1790 when the order was dissolved. This square was also the location of the Prefecture which was destroyed in 1858. The buildings surrounding the square were constructed at the time of the 'Haussmann' projects realised by the prefect Vaïsse in Lyon between 1853 and 1864.
IMMEUBLE 79 RUE PRÉSIDENT EDOUARD HERRIOT
Observe the composition of the facade of 79 Rue Edouard Herriot. The entrance porch is part of an axial span which dominates the entire facade. A porch occupies an important role in the work of architects and is therefore often profusely decorated to announce the identity of the building. Note that the two neighbouring buildings are symmetrical on either side of number 79 and have beautiful caryatids.
IMMEUBLE CHATRON, PLACE DES JACOBINS
On the other side of the square and designed by J. Chatron, this beautiful rotunda building with a slate roof is particularly ornate. A stone balcony is in front of the floors where the two central rectangular and arched windows are stacked in pairs and separated by Corinthian columns. This composition is repeated on the lateral facades. Admire the pink stone and the attention paid to the carved decorations. In the north-east of the square, take the Rue Jean Fabre to reach the Place des Célestins.
FONTAINE DES JACOBINS
The fountain in the centre of the square was constructed between 1878 and 1885 by Gaspard André. In an eclectic style, it represents the creative genius of the city of Lyon and honours four artists: Philibert de l'Orme (1510-1570 architect), Gérard Audran (1640-1703 engraver), Guillaume Coustou (1677 – 1746 sculptor) and Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864 painter).
IMMEUBLE 4 PLACE DES JACOBINS
This is the home of the painter Paul Borel built by Frédéric Borel Giniez and Pierre Bossan in 1863. Observe the treatment of stone and wood for the front door. As at 79 Rue Edouard Herriot, you can see how the system of the axial span organises the rest of the facade and admire the neo-Byzantine influences of both architects.
PLACE DES CÉLESTINS
This site was formerly occupied by the Celestine monastery. Buildings around the square were erected between 1791 and 1812 by the architect JA Morand. All the houses follow the same lines, with only a few exceptions: same height of bays, same spacing, even small quadrangular bays under the sometimes isolated attics, sometimes joined by a headband or even wooden cornices. The bareness is surprising; in fact there are few decorative details and the bays are frameless, perhaps a trompe-l'oeil should have been added. In the centre of the square, through a periscope, you can admire a helical underground parking designed by the architect Michel Targe and the artist Daniel Buren.
THÉÂTRE DES CÉLESTINS
The theatre was built between 1873 and 1877 by Gaspard André and was rebuilt identically after a fire in 1881. It has undergone some changes but its original machinery is intact (hangers, grills ...). The great Italian auditorium has a ceiling painted by Joanny Domer. In the early twentieth century comedies were held here and the Theatre des Celestins was the first comedy theatre after Paris, the capital. The Saône side of the former monastery façade was restored by JA Morand. The interiors were done by the painter Joanny Domer: the auditorium is decorated with a ceiling dedicated to Aristophanes, author of Greek comedies.
IMMEUBLES 9-10 PLACE DES CÉLESTINS
The building at N° 9 was executed by the business man R. Feuga and property owner P. Mathieu in 1822 and then sold to a merchant of Paris in 1827. The originality of the façade is in the French windows which are crowned with a frieze, decorated with a smooth table and a cornice, and supported by flat consoles that extend to reveal the window-frames in the eighteenth-century style. Built in 1811, N° 10 offers a smooth base and tall rectangular bays of the new style. On the upper floors, the link between the cornice ceiling and the bay supports accentuates the verticality fashionable in the eighteenth century.
QUAI DES CÉLESTINS
You are now at Quai des Celestins named after the Celestine monastery that was here from 1407 to 1779. A first version of the quay dates from the seventeenth century; its final configuration from 1818. To your right of the Saône, you will see the pedestrian passage leading to the Palace of Justice which connects the Quai des Celestins to the right bank of the Saône and is opposite the recently restored courthouse. Now walk along the quay to the Place Antonin Gourju.
PLACE ANTONIN GOURJU
Slightly behind the Quai des Celestins, this square is dedicated to Antonin Gourju (born 1847) who was lawyer, senator and councillor in 1900. This site provides a pleasant view of the Fourvière hill and the Saint-Georges and Saint John districts. You can reach these neighbourhoods by taking the Bonaparte bridge.
IMMEUBLE 8 RUE DU PLAT
This building, an example of many on the Rue du Plat, is a twin of N° 10. It has an oval courtyard like a private hotel. You are looking at the prestigious architecture of the eighteenth century, typical of the southern residential area of the Place Bellecour. Turn left at Rue Paul Lintier and regain the Place Bellecour.
IMMEUBLES OUEST PLACE BELLECOUR
On your left, you can see the monumental facades of west Bellecour. Destroyed in 1793, the east and west facades designed by Robert de Cotte had to be re-erected. The goal was to restore the setting of the equestrian statue of Louis XIV which had just been reinstalled. Thus, the reconstruction of the facades was done in a spirit of restoration of the eighteenth century. The two monumental facades cover ten buildings juxtaposed to form one unit, 150 meters long with five backyards. The architects, the brothers Hotelard, specialists of Neoclassicism, were responsible for the project.
STATUE DE LOUIS XIV, PLACE BELLECOUR
The statue in the centre of the square is an equestrian bronze statue of Louis XIV represented in the antique style (Louis XIV has no stirrups). The original was made in 1715 by Martin Desjardins but the current statue is of François-Frédéric Lemot, 1825. This work is the sole survivor of Desjardins’ work destroyed during the French Revolution. The statues on the bronze pedestal represent the Rhône and the Saône and were realized by Guillaume and Nicolas Coustou between 1719 and 1721. They were preserved during the Revolution and kept in safekeeping at the Hotel de Ville. Note that the Rhône is often represented by a bearded man. The tour is now over. Thank you.