Historical Cities

Guided tour in Croix-Rousse district on the top of the Croix-Rousse hill, outside the northern part of the Unesco sector of Lyon, France


The plateau of la Croix Rousse is not part of the Lyon UNESCO site but its proximity with it and its historical and touristic interest, especially for the silk production, made us add it to our guided tours. The Croix-Rousse district is nicknamed “the Village” for the quality of life it offers to its population. Attached to Lyon in 1852, this old faubourg has kept its authenticity and unique features. The main street and the busy shopping streets, two food markets opened 6 days a week, and many welcoming and quality restaurants definitely make this district a warmth place where it’s good to live. Transformed during the 19th century with the arrival of the “Canuts”, who were gold, silver and silk weavers, the hill remains deeply marked by the work of the Grande Fabrique. The habitat combined to an excellence pole of backstrap weaving show both the Canuts expertise and their crucial contribution to the social history. The Plateau de la Croix-Rousse also offers great views over the city of Lyon and the Rhone-Alpes region. This guided tour is organized by the Canuts and Bambanes guide in collaboration with Croix-Rousse Village association, la Maison des Canuts and Robert LUC.


Taking the subway from 'Hôtel de Ville' station on the Place de la Comédie, you’ll arrive Place de la Croix-Rousse, a large square split in two with one part adjacent to the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. It is named after a cross made of rose stone from Couzon which was removed in 1881. A statue of Jacquard, as a tribute to textile history, stands in the center of the square. The boulevard was named Rue de la Citadelle and Boulevard de l’Empereur before 1871. The boulevard delimited the perimeter of the city until 1852, and forms today the North limit of the UNESCO area. Head to the statue of Joseph Marie Jacquard in the centre of the square.


On August 16th 1840 was inaugurated a bronze statue in honor of Joseph Marie Jacquard. Moved in 1898 to Place de la Croix-Rousse, it was then melted in 1942, and replaced in 1947 by the actual one, made of stone. Born to a 'Canut' father, who was a master silk craftsman, Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) developed the loom named after him which was patented in 1801. He had worked before in various sectors like silk, printing, and studied mechanics on his own. The Jacquard mechanical loom is a tool made up in two parts: the backstrap loom, to manufacture the fabric, and the Jacquard head above. The Jacquard loom has been in use and improved since its creation. Now head to the beginning of the 'Esplanade du Gros Caillou' towards Rue Vaucauson on the east side.


On June 21st 1943, Jean Moulin, a French resistance leader, with Raymond Aubrac and Colonel Emile Schwarzfeld, went on their last journey as freemen. They took the Croix-Paquet funicular railway ('la Ficelle'), crossed the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse and took the tramway line 33 to Caluire where he was arrested by the Germans soldiers. A memorial plaque was inaugurated in 2011 and fixed to the wall on the first building of Rue Vaucanson. Go ahead to the east side of the esplanade and enjoy the view.


As an eastern extension of Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, this nice space was named after the big block of stone that you can see: the Gros Caillou was extracted during the Croix-Rousse funicular (Croix-Paquet) construction in 1862, today line C of the subway. This extremely hard and compact 'Triassic metaquartzite' rock was brought from the Alps Mountains by the Rhône glacier. It’s a symbol of Croix-Rousse. After admiring the panorama towards the Alps, go down to Place Bellevue and take the Rue Jeanne Marie Célu, at the lower left corner.


This 19th century street was attributed to a silk fabrics manufacturer from 18th century, who was a “Canuse”. All the houses have 1 to 3 floors. The street starts Place Bellevue, go up by stairs near number 13 and ends Rue Dumengue. In the middle of the stairs you can admire an ancient freemason lodge from 1884. Turn right to Rue Justin Godard to reach number 12 bis.


Created during the 19th century, the workshop has great historical interest because it’s the last family workshop of mechanical weaving in the Croix-Rousse district. Its intact interior architecture is the same as the ten thousand family workshops which occupied the neighborhood in the 19th century. The 65 square meters house is divided into two parts: on one side is the kitchen and a bedroom under the slope of the roof, and on the other the workshop itself, with its mechanical and backstrap looms. Visits from Tuesday to Saturday, 3pm and 5pm, no reservations needed. More information (in French) : Go back to Rue Justin Godart and turn right at the west end to Rue Belfort to then arrive Rue d’Austerlitz.


Its name celebrates the famous victory of Napoleon the 1st against the armies of the Russian Tsar and those of the Austrian Emperor at Slavkov village or Austerlitz, near Brno in Czech Republic. We can see in this street 3 or 4 floors buildings and single floor old houses. Look at the beautiful door frameworks. The Croix-Roussian self-taught painter Eugène Brouillard (1870-1950) lived from 1903 to 1950 at number 21/23. He painted more than 2000 paintings. Continue to the corner with Rue du Mail.


This slightly curved shopping street is parallel to the Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse, with houses of 1 to 3 floors. The “Mail” is the name of a 17th century game, similar to croquet, and also the name of the space between the bastion and the fortifications in the 19th century. At the corner with Rue d’Austerlitz, the “Voraces”, were meeting, from 1846. They were workshop leaders and they proclaimed the “République” in 1848 before being slaughtered in 1849. Continue walking in Rue du Mail to Rue d’Ivry.


Now turn right in Rue d’Ivry. It was before called Rue Henry IV, and its actual name come from the king’s victory at Ivry in 1590. Built at the time of the Fabrique’s great expansion, these houses are typical of Croix-Rousse district: high ceilings and big windows. Continue till the Maison des Canuts at number 10/12 on your right.


La Maison des Canuts invites you to discover the technical, social and creative influence of the Lyon silk making of the last 5 centuries. At the end of the 19th century, it was the silk workers’ union hall. La Maison des Canuts guarantee the conservation of the Lyon silk expertise for 5 centuries. During a commented visit, you will discover: the Jacquard loom with a weaving demonstration on a backstrap loom, the silkworm life cycle, the Canuts social contribution and the reality of textile industry in Rhone-Alpes region today. Exhibition of an “à la tire” loom from Philippe de Lasalle, velvet looms, Jacquard mechanics (19th century) and Verdol mechanics (20th century), ancient fabrics and trimmings, demonstration and a store. Commented visits from Monday to Saturday, 11am and 3.30pm. More information : . Then go to the intersection with Rue Belfort and turn left.


Dating from the end of 18th century, previously named Rue Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, its actual name is a tribute to Belfort city and its resistance to the Prussian army in 1870/1871. This street is as Rue du Mail parallel to the Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse. The houses are from the 19th and 20th centuries, with 1 to 4 floors. Several shops. Keep walking till place Bertone.


This nice square is surrounded by workshop buildings characterized by high windows and façades without decorations or balconies. Those buildings were designed to receive the 4 meters high looms with the Jacquard mechanics. The Croix-Rousse district was urbanized in the 19th century thanks to Lyon silk production development. Now continue to Place du Commandant Arnaud and turn right.


This square is named after a Canut who was murdered for refusing to take the lead of an anarchist uprising in 1870 orchestrated by men like Bakounine. On the south side, you can admire the beautiful façade from 1900 of the elementary school of Commandant Arnaud. On the other side of the square, you’ll find benches and a shrub row hiding the parking spots, and 4 floors buildings with shops. Then take the Rue Dumont d’Urville on your left to reach Place/Square Georges Mattelon.


This square is a little park with benches and children’s playground. Georges Mattelon was born in Savoie in 1913 and died in 2004. He was a weaver and a great pedagogue. He transmitted his passion to numerous visitors. His workshop was close to this square. Now go to the east part of Rue Richan, on your right, to reach number 21.


Go inside the 21 and then upstairs to the 1st floor. “Soirie Vivante”, association under French law (loi 1901), is the only association for the conservation of Lyon silk heritage. It ensures the conservation of technique, expertise and archive documents. The municipal trimming workshop at 21 Rue Richan presents three massive trimming looms made of walnut tree dating from 1880. They belong to Madame Létourneau, “meilleure ouvrière de France” (best craftswoman of France). You’ll also see a backstrap loom, in one of the really last workshop-house of Canuts in Croix-Rousse. Look at the demonstrations in front of you, understand the techniques of weaving and the amazing mechanical invention of Jacquard. Visits from Tuesday to Saturday, 2pm and 4pm, no reservation needed. More information (in French) : Continue the tour going back to where you came from. At the end of Rue Richan, go straight and slightly right to the Passage Claude Louis Perret.


This passage dated second half of 19th century leads to Place Joannès Ambre, bordered on your right (north) with individual houses with gardens and on your left with the USF pétanque club, some buildings and the side of the theatre. The passage ends with stairs going up to the square. Claude Louis Perret (1886-1945) was the lay patronage administrator in the district. He was a resistance fighter during World War 2 and was deported to Dachau where he died. At the end of the passage, go upstairs and observe the Théatre de la Croix-Rousse on your left.


You are now Place Joannès Ambre, a famous lawyer from Lyon. There is a Couzon stone cross, replica of the real Croix-Rousse that gave its name to the street and to the district. The theatre was constructed from 1924 to 1929 by the architect Michel Roux-Spitz. The inside was redesigned in 1980 by the architect Paul Bacconier. This building was first the festival hall of Croix-Rousse, then the Maison de la Danse (The Dance House) and finally the theatre in 1992. It was directed by Philippe Faure until 2010, and is now run by Jean Lacornerie. This pleasant theatre displays spectacles for family and friends, from theatre to music and opera. More information: Cross the Grande Rue to number 87.


This 'extraordinary' 400 sqm garden was created by Jules Cenis (1913-1983), mason and tile-layer, refugee from the Spanish civil war. After a throat cancer in 1952 and 3 years of medical care, he had a remission and wished to create a garden. The result of 20 years of work, it is dedicated to his mother Rosa Mir Mercader and to Virgin Maria. It’s located in an inner courtyard 83 Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse but you reach it by number 87. It has been a classified historical monument since 1987. Under renovation for 5 years, with the help of Frédéric Reynaud, landscape architect, it was re-opened to the public on June 25th 2016. It’s a juxtaposition of pillars and sleepers decorated with thousands of stones and shells. You will discover 750 species of perennials and 5000 Mediterranean plants. Open every Saturdays from April 1st to November 30th. More information: Continue the tour going up the Grand Rue de la Croix-Rousse in the south direction and turn right Rue Hénon.


This relatively narrow street is the main shopping street of the Croix-Rousse 'village', bordered by both single floor houses from the 16th century and small 3 floors buildings dating back to the 19th century. It was at the beginning a crossing point for travelers, traders and pilgrims coming from the north. The taverns, stables, hostels, hotelkeepers and traders have gradually settled since the 15th century until the 18th century when the street was totally urbanized. The main event of the year is a famous sell-out festival during 2 days in autumn. Turn right Rue Hénon.


First church of Croix-Rousse district (construction started in 1624), it is the Canuts church. Inside, a banner decorated with gold threads, gifted by the “corporation des Tisseurs de Lyon” (Lyon weavers corporation). The “ordre des Augustins” laid the foundation stone in 1629. The church was consecrated in 1714. The church is linked to the Canuts revolt events and has been sometimes occupied by the Canuts themselves or by the soldiers. With the population increasing, the church was redesigned and enlarged in 1832 and then in 1847. More information:!saint-denis/khgpc. Continue the tour walking Rue Hénon till Boulevard des Canuts going straight and right at number 65.


Enter number 65 to reach the « Ficelle » room and the theatre. The Daniel Streble company performs shows and offers visits of the puppets collection. Guignol, a very talkative character, and Gnafron, a playful shoemaker and Beaujolais drinker, were created respectively in 1808 and 1804 by Laurent Mourguet (1769-1844). He was a Canut and a tooth puller, and became puppet master to distract his patients. From father to son since 1929, the Streble family gives life to Lyonnaise tradition and to Guignol. After having interpreted Guignol and many other characters during ten years in collaboration with the Neichthauser family at the famous “Théatre Mourguet”, the company settled in Croix-Rousse in 1993. Guignol lives in the past (classic repertoire, parody, updated fairytales), but also in the present and the future, while staying the same traditional character. The company owns an extraordinary collection of more than 850 original texts from 1867 till today and 360 puppets between 80 and 200 years old that you can see after the show. Open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm. Shows for the whole family (kids from 2 years old). More information : Then go back to Boulevard des Canuts and go to the crossing with Rue Denfert Rochereau.


At the number 36 level, you can admire the big 1200 sqare meters mural sham, memory of the Croix-Rousse district. Dated 1987, it is updated every 10 years and records the neighborhood change: two buildings are surrounding a central stairway on typical Lyonnaises façades background. The scenes at the shop and house windows are the ones which are updated, as well as the characters too. It was realized by the Lyonnaise company CitéCréation and witnesses the transformations and the spirit of Croix-Rousse. From one side of the mural to another, the daily life of real Croix-Rousse residents, guarantors of the Canuts legacy and silk patrimony, is represented. Mural painting is a specificity of Lyon. As a pioneer town, Lyon expands its expertise: CitéCréation, a Lyonnaise artists cooperative created in 1978 realizes wall paintings and mural frescos in the whole world. More information : Now take the Rue Denfert Rochereau till Saint-Augustin church at the crossing with Rue Jacquard.


The first stone of the actual building was laid on August 28th 1910 and the church was consecrated on September 1st 1912. The mosaic above the gate describes a Canut workshop inside. The architect Augustin Chomel described the church: “The church of Saint-Augustin takes the same shapes as the Sicilian basilicas, which were inspired by the Benedictine abbeys of Normandie for their plans, by Romanesque basilicas for their height, and by the Byzantine style for their decorations. Choosing this style, the architect had two goals: first an economic construction and second to remind, by the basilicas shape, the primitive church of which he was the great doctor”. The big organs were entirely reconstructed by the manufacture Henry Saby (Drôme) in 1977: mechanical transmission, 80 pipes, an instrument of 9 registers, a Rückpositiv of 6, a pedal of 4, a console window with two 56-notes keyboards and a 32-notes pedal board.!saint-augustin/e8ji7. Continue on Rue Denfert Rochereau turning on your left Rue Grataloup.


This street is named after the owner of the lands where it was constructed at the end of the 19th century. We find here only relatively new buildings, and no shops. Join the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse at number 133 level, address of the City Hall of the 4th district of Lyon.


This edifice was built from 1867 to 1869, shortly after the ramparts demolition and Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse creation. The former city hall was located Place des Tapis. Two memorial plaques recall the “Voraces” action and the Canuts revolt from 1831 to 1834. The motto 'Vivre en travaillant ou mourir en combattant' (Live working or die fighting) appeared in 1831. Inside the City Hall is a loom with Jacquard mechanics. Going outside, take a look at Square Dejean with the sculpture of Salandre 'Le chant des Canuts' (song of the Canuts). Information City Hall : Go back west in direction of the Saone river.


In 1852, the ancient rampart of Croix-Rousse dated 1834, which had been constructed in place of a more ancient one dating from the 16th century, was finally destroyed to allow the construction of Boulevard de l’Empereur, then renamed Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. Admire the beautiful buildings from the late 19th century on this wide street. The mornings, except Monday, takes place one of the most famous food market of Lyon (with the market of Quai Saint-Antoine) since the old regime: year-round, up to 105 merchants and food producers come to sell fresh products, organic or local, on the boulevard. Go further on the boulevard towards west and admire the restored buildings of La Tourette college at number 78 level.


At number 78 level, the beautiful building of Collège de la Tourette has replaced the ancient house and garden de la Tourette, mentioned in documents from the 14th century: the gate was built around 1630 with its motto “MIHI NON SUM NATUS” (I’m not born for myself). From 1879, the new girl school is built on this area and inaugurated by President Sadi Carnot in 1888. This building appears in “la revue des constructeurs” (builders journal) as a model for articulating plans on a steep slope. The architect Philippe GENESTE managed to break the appearance of verticality: wide windows with curved lintels, cornices and false mullions lighten the façades. The originality comes from the semicircular peristyle which links the central building to the amphitheatre and closes the courtyard while opening it towards the city. In 2010 the Conseil Général du Rhone (Regional Council) decides to restructure the building and to transform it into a public secondary school (collège) for about 700 pupils. This work was assigned to the architectural firm PARIS from Vienne (38). The construction work took 3 years and the garden re-opening in September 2013 showed a successful rehabilitation, combining elegantly ancient and modern styles (Source: Continue on the other side of the street until Clos Jouve, at the crossing with Rue Chazière.


The Clos Jouve is a famous spot for pétanque (a French game with steel balls). In the city of Lyon, there is a specific pétanque with different rules called “pétanque à la lyonnaise” or “longue”. It’s one of the oldest pétanque fields in France. There are 16 tracks. You will find a spherical sculpture representing a French tradition: when you’re playing pétanque, if a player doesn’t score any point, he have to kiss the buttocks of a girl. This girl’s name is Fanny and she’s often represented on paintings, potteries or sculptures. It’s an iconic character of the pétanque clubs and is part of their tradition. Now take the Rue Chaziere and head to the Parc de la Cerisaie at number 25.


Former property of the dyer Gillet who discovered the chemical process to dye the viscose. La Rébublique des Canuts is cultivating 300 vine stocks in a corner of the park. Created in 1987, the Villa Gillet cares about every form of culture: literature, philosophy, history, human, political and social sciences. It offers a cultural approach of the knowledge through open meetings. Every year during the 'Assises Internationales du Roman' and 'festival Mode d’Emploi', the Villa Gillet gather thinkers, writers, artists, scientists… from the whole world. More information :, After your tour in the Parc de la Cerisaie, you can finish the guided tour going back Rue Chazière until number 34 level of Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, on the south side, to take the bus number 45 or C13.

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