Guided tour in Croix-Rousse district on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill, northern part of the Unesco sector of Lyon, France.
LES PENTES DE LA CROIX-ROUSSE
The Croix-Rousse prolongs the Peninsula to the north between the Saône and the Rhône and is composed of two distinctive quarters: the slopes and the plateau of the hill. According to literature, ths hill owes its name to a cross built in 1560 out of a yellow-purple stone from Couzon known at the time as 'pierre rousse'.
During the Restoration, from 1818 onwards, the silk industry and the large Jacquard looms transformed the economy. The silk-workers, known as the “canuts” and mainly installed at Saint-Georges or on the Peninsula, migrated to the Croix-Rousse which became 'the hill that works’ in contrast to Fourvière 'the hill that prays’. On this widely available land, buildings were constructed for the silk trade and new roads were laid; the number of inhabitants consequently jumped to 28,610 in 1852.
One cannot talk about the history of the Croix-Rousse without mentioning the Canut Revolt. In 1831, at a weak point in the textile industry, the workers demanded that their salaries, which were constantly being cut, be maintained. The Croix-Rousse weavers’ revolt, joined by weavers from the Brotteaux and the Guillotière districts, occurred from 21 to 24 November and was severely reprimanded. Another insurrection happened in April 1834, then another in 1848 called "des Voraces".
PLACE DE LA CROIX-ROUSSE
After having taken the subway from the Town Hall station 'Place de la Comedie’, you reach Place de la Croix Rousse, a large square in two parts one of which is adjacent to the eponymous boulevard. Its name comes from a cross built out of a yellow-purple stone from Couzon that was taken away in 1881. A statue of Jacquard, a testimony to the textile history, stands in the middle of the square. The boulevard was called Rue de la Citadelle and Boulevard of the Emperor before 1871. Until 1852 the Boulevard formed the city limits and is now the northern boundary of the Unesco sector. Head to the town hall of the 4th district in the west.
BOULEVARD DE LA CROIX-ROUSSE
Admire the beautiful buildings built from 1850 on the broad boulevard. On every morning except Monday, and ever since the “Ancien Régime”, the boulevard is home to one of Lyon’s most iconic food markets (along with the Quai Saint-Antoine). The big market is on Tuesdays. Stop at No. 133 at the town hall.
MAIRIE DE LYON 4E, 133 BD DE LA CROIX-ROUSSE
It was in 1867, just after the demolition of the ramparts and the creation of the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, that the town hall was built. Inside you will find a Jacquard loom. Two wall plates commemorate the weavers’ revolt. Walk away to the east, Rhône side, and head to the Gros Caillou at the end of the boulevard.
GROS CAILLOU, 180 BD DE LA CROIX-ROUSSE
The Gros Caillou (the large pebble) was extracted and conserved during the construction work of the Croix-Rousse funicular (Croix Paquet) in 1862. It is extremely hard and compact, formed of Triassic metamorphic quartzite rock deposited from the Alps by a Rhône Glacier. It is a symbol of the CroixRousse.
Below the Gros Caillou and beside the gardens, Bellevue Square, which dates from the Second Empire, offers a magnificent view over the east of Lyon and the banks of the Rhône. It is bordered to the south by nineteenth-century buildings, to the west by a landscaped garden - where stands the statue of the poet Sully Prudhomme (who received the Nobel Prize for Literature and lived in the Croix-Rousse) - and to the north by the Fort Saint-Laurent. This military building was part of the fortifications built in Lyon in 1830 and destroyed in 1852. The rest of Fort Saint-Laurent is now occupied by the Regional Directorate of the Health Services of Lyon. Now go back to the Gros Caillou and take a left up the Montée Saint-Sébastien.
The church was deconsecrated in 1999 and has been completely closed since March 2004. As the Church of St. Polycarp was too small, the silk workers asked the municipality for another church. It was designed in the Gothic style by Tony Desjardins, architect of the city, but was never completed: the square and the bell tower are missing. Several of its windows were made by Lucien Bégule. It was consecrated in 1866 but due to its instability, it was closed in 1891. Now turn right into Rue Général de Sève towards the Montée de la Grande Côte.
RUE GÉNÉRAL SÈVE
Take Rue Général Sève, which takes its name from Joseph Anthelme Sève, born in Lyon in 1788. He became commander-in-chief of Napoleon’s Egyptian army and died in Cairo under the name of Suleiman Pasha. Continue along Rue Jean-Baptiste Say, an economist and theoretician of free-trade born in Lyon in 1767. Admire the building facades including that of No. 30.
POINT DE VUE, 27 MONTÉE DE LA GRANDE CÔTE
The name 'Grand Côte' comes from Lyon vernacular and means 'Up' and in fact you are on the most important hill of Lyon. The plaza was built in 1975 and transformed and consolidated in 2004. The view of Lyon and the Peninsula is beautiful. Now go down the garden of the Grande Côte on the left to Rue Diderot.
After visiting the gardens of the Grande Côte, cross Rue Pouteau, named after a former surgeon of the Hotel-Dieu, to continue on Rue Diderot, named after the philosopher Denis Diderot, and look at the typical “croixroussien” nineteenth-century facades just before the Montée Saint-Sébastien.
COUR DES VORACES, 9 PLACE COLBERT
This famous courtyard, built in 1840, is known for its monumental floating staircase that serves six floors. The yard leads to 14a Montée Saint Sébastien and 29 Rue Imbert Colomès. The name 'Voraces’ comes from the canut weavers who held their meetings in the courtyard and were called the Voracious; they distinguished themselves by their republican insurrections in 1848 and 1849, the foundation of the first cooperatives, trade unions and mutual organisations. When you leave, go down Montée Saint Sébastien to the south.
Residence Villemanzy occupies a large white three-storey building, a former convent in the heart of the slopes of the Croix-Rousse, 21 Montée Saint-Sébastien. The convent of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, called the Colinettes, was built in 1665. In 1792, the army took possession of the premises for their barracks. Between 1859 and 1970, the barracks were a military hospital called after Count Pierre Jacques Orillard of Villemanzy, former general and quartermaster from 1753 to 1830. In 1988, the city bought the land and buildings. Now renovated, the residence Villemanzy (***) enjoys a convenient location and exceptional views. Continue along the Montée Saint-Sébastien and turn right, down to Rue des Tables Claudiennes.
Its name comes from Louis Marie Hilaire Bernigaud, count of Chardonnet de Grange, inventor of artificial silk, a former student of the Ecole Polytechnique, engineer of bridges and roads, an officer of the Legion of Honour. Go back on your tracks and enter No. 55 Rue des Tables Claudiennes.
TRABOULE 55 RUE DES TABLES CLAUDIENNES
Take the alley (a traboule) at 55 Rue des Tables Claudiennes which opens at 20 Rue Imbert Colomès. 'Traboule' comes from the Latin trabulare (cross) and designates a passage through courtyards to get from one street to another. There are 215 courtyards and alleyways in Old Lyon, 163 on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse and 130 in the Peninsula. At Rue Imbert Colomès, turn left.
AMPHITHÉÂTRE DES TROIS GAULES
The amphitheatre, which is the oldest in Gaul, was first built in 19 BC. It measured 68 x 42 meters and could hold 1,800 spectators. It was the Emperor Hadrian in the early second century who transformed it in to the largest amphitheatre in Gaul: 143 x 117 meters for 20,000 spectators. Notice the 'small' staircase on the eastern side of the amphitheatre which leads down to Rue Burdeau. Return to Rue des Tables Claudiennes counterclockwise to turn right at the Montée de la Grande Côte and go down.
Turn left onto Rue Burdeau. Before 1895 this street was called Commerce Street. It is now dedicated to Augustus Burdeau, born in Lyon in 1851 and died in 1894: Minister of Education and Finance and finally President of the National Assembly in 1894. Admire the facades especially at No. 11 and its door. Enter the alleyway at No. 30 bis Rue Burdeau to join the Passage Thiaffait.
PASSAGE THIAFFAIT, 19 RUE RENÉ LEYNAUD
The Passage Thiaffait was built in 1827 by François-Félix Thiaffait who built both the house and the passage. He was a member of the Board of Charities and president of the Elementary Education Company. He died in 1861. Some premises are now used as studios and workshops, mainly for young fashion designers making it the 'village des creators’. Come out at No. 19 Rue René Leynaud and admire the courtyard and its double staircase.
RUE RENÉ LEYNAUD
This ancient pathway of the Capuchin district (1520) has also been called Besson Street and Old Mint Street. Its present name comes from René Leynaud who was born in Lyon in 1910, poet and journalist at the newspaper Le Progress. His apartment was a Resistance centre and accommodated Albert Camus in 1943. Note No. 14 which links to 13 Rue des Capuchins. Continue on the road to the east.
On the left at No. 25, is the St. Polycarp church, recognizable from its classical and monumental facade with pilasters and Corinthian columns. It is the old church of the Oratorian order who settled on the slopes in 1642. The building was completed in 1670, with the exception of the façade which was designed by the architect Toussaint-Noël Loyer in 1756. The stone bell tower, planned for the northwest corner, was never built. In 1791, the church became a parish church and took the name of Saint Polycarp. It contains a large impressivesounding organ which was manufactured and installed by Augustin Zeiger in 1840; the walnut woodwork is by Bossan. Return to Rue Leynaud.
RUE RENÉ LEYNAUD
Continuing on Rue René Leynaud, you will see No. 33 (door and pilaster), No. 39 (house where Tony Garnier and Pierre Bourdeix taught architecture between 1908 and 1946) and No. 41 (internal staircase). Now continue towards the Montée Saint-Sébastien and turn right to reach Place Croix Paquet.
This square, that already existed in the seventeenth century, takes its name from the merchant Jean Paquet who erected a cross in 1628 to replace another, possibly the now disappeared Griffon cross. The subway that goes to the Croix Rousse, in replacement of the funicular tramway, has a stop at this square. Cross the square towards Rue Thou on the east. Note No. 11, the Ricard House, and the building at No. 5 for its entrance, its courtyard and the passage towards 3bis Petite Rue des Feuillants. Take this passage at No. 5 to go to Petite Rue des Feuillants.
PETITE RUE DES FEUILLANTS
Takes its name from the Feuillant order founded by Jean de la Barrière in the sixteenth century. The Feuillant monks had their monastery on the west of this street from 1619 to the Revolution. Stop at No. 5 (door and monumental seventeenth century staircase from the former Feuillant monastery, link to 4 rue de Thou) and No. 6 (which links to 19 Place Tolozan). Come back on your tracks to Place Tolozan in the South.
PLACE LOUIS PRADEL
This site is a recent creation within the urban fabric of the peninsula; it is an expansion of the Rue Puits-Gaillot done at the time of the construction of the subway in 1980. This enabled to build the underground Opera car park. The square hosts César’s famous sculpture, the Skater, a fountain and several sculptures by Jean-Robert Ipoustégy. Now climb right up to Rue du Griffon.
RUE DU GRIFFON
Take Rue du Griffon, then the Place du Griffon. The street was opened in 1353 and takes its name from the mythological animal with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. A Griffon cross existed in the fifteenth century at the top of the street. Place du Griffin takes its name from the eponymous street. Stop at No.5 on the square: the courtyard with balcony landings links to 3 Rue Romarin. Go past Rue de Lorette and Rue Romarin and turn left at Rue des Capuchins.
RUE DES CAPUCINS
The street has also been called Grande rue neuve des Capucins. It takes its name from the Capuchin order of monks founded in Pisa in 1525, which occupied the site from 1622 until the end of the eighteenth century. For the record, they were the firefighters of the city of Lyon. Stop at No. 22 which leads to 5 Rue Coustou. There are other alleyways at Nos. 3, 6, 7, 15 and 19.
CONDITIONS DES SOIES, 7 RUE SAINT-POLYCARPE
The Condition des soies, built between 1804 and 1814, was an institution which measured the dry weight of silk to determine its humidity level for commercial approval. This historical monument, of Florentine style, has a sumptuous door, a grand staircase and a beautiful row of arches on the first floor. A large mural in the reception shows the itinerary of the Silk Road. The building now houses associations and services of the first arrondissement.
RUE SAINTE-MARIE DES TERREAUX
Turn right on Rue Sainte-Marie Bellecour. The name of this street comes from the Virgin Mary. It was opened in 1600 and expanded in the nineteenth century. Linger at No. 5 (door and impost), No. 4 (door, impost and staircase), No. 3 (door, impost and stairs) and No. 1 (courtyard, link to 6 Rue des Capucins).
MAISON RICHARD, 2-4 RUE SAINTE-CATHERINE
Admire Richard House, also known as the golden house: its façade and ornaments (four ¾ heads views and four women in togas carrying engraved plates of artistic or religious names) the monumental courtyard and link to 21-23 Rue d’Algerie. In the early twentieth century, the radical party of Edouard Herriot and Louis Pradel had its headquarters here. Take the Place de la Paix then Rue Hippolyte Flandrin.
SALLE RAMEAU, 29 R. MARTINIÈRE
The Rameau hall was built in 1907-1908 by the architects François Clermont and Eugène Riboud. It was one of the first concert halls built in France for symphonic music with a capacity of 1535 places. It is decorated with mosaics, sculptures, flower motifs and has a coat of arms and a motto on its facade. It is still a theatre. Turn right rue Hippolyte Flandrin.
Continue along Rue Terme and turn left at the Montée de l’Amphitheatre. Note the building at No. 2 for its staircase and caretaker’s lodge, and then, after the bend in the hill, observe the Montée de la Ficelle which is a tunnel climbing to the top of the slopes on the route of the old funicular.
MONTÉE DE L'AMPHITHÉÂTRE
Was called Montée Sathonay until 1866. Its current name comes from the nearby Roman amphitheatre. During works in 1853, the remains of terraces and a statue-lined driveway were found on the site of Rue Terme. Go down the stairs and stop at No. 4 Place Sathonay that links to No. 4 Place Fernand Rey. Then turn right into Rue de Fargues.
FRESQUE DES LYONNAIS, 2 R. MARTINIÈRE
This mural frieze, the work of the Lyon company City Creation, a world leader in the field, dates from 1995, occupies an area of 800 sq m and includes 24 Lyon historical figures (including Saint Irenaeus, André-Marie Ampere, Laurent Mourguet, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, ...) and six contemporary characters: Bernard Pivot, Abbé Pierre, Bernard Lacombe, Paul Bocuse, Frédéric Dard and Bertrand Tavernier.
ÉGLISE NOTRE-DAME DE SAINT-VINCENT
At No. 60, you will find the church of Notre-Dame de Saint-Vincent, a great old Augustin church dating from the eighteenth century with its facade by the architect Charles Franchet, porch statues by Charles Dufraine, beautiful organ by the organ builders Freytag and Aubertin.
After admiring the beautiful building at No. 1 Quai de la Pêcherie, enter Rue d’Algérie by the left of the building. This street dates from 1850 and took its name at the time of the colonial conquest. Pay attention to the building facades and in particular that of the painter Fleury Richard at No. 11. Go right after Rue Lanterne.
This street was named after a city in Algeria at the time of the colonial conquest in 1844. Note the figurines of famous men on the building façade on the angle of Rue Constantine - Rue Paul Chenavard. Pay attention to the beautiful facades of the nineteenth-century buildings. Continue until the Place des Terreaux.
PLACE DES TERREAUX
You are now at Place des Terreaux which was landscaped in the early seventeenth century. Its name comes from the time when it was surrounded by ditches, or 'soils' which refer to mud, from the Latin terralia. The square was a meeting place for strikes and demonstrations and a public square with 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 influence, 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 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 along the building and continue to the Hotel de Ville.
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.
HÔTEL DE VILLE
This is the Town Hall, begun in 1646 according to Simon Maupin’s plans. The construction and decorations were completed in 1672. On 13 September, 1674, a fire destroyed the building which was partially restored by Robert de Cotte in 1680. A new restoration was launched in 1700 and the Consulate called upon 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. Go along Rue Joseph Serlin towards Place de la Comedie.
PLACE DE LA COMÉDIE
Terminus of the visit. This square takes its name from the opera before you which was originally 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. Thank you for your visit.