A Guided Tour of Fourvière and Saint-Just Neighborhoods in Lyon

Guided tour in Fourvière and Saint-Just neighborhoods within the Fourvière hill, western part of the Unesco sector of Lyon, France

Lyon Fourvière, Plan de Visite by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


The Hill of Fourvière, that is to say Saint-Irénée, Saint-Just, Fourvière and Montanban, contains antique ruins, the museum of the Gallo-roman civilisation, panoramic views across the city, religious establishments, ancient military buildings and fortifications. Of all the religious monuments, the most imposing is of course the Fourvière basilica (XIX century).

Other specific elements can be mentioned such as the Institut Franco-Chinois (XX century) within the Fort Saint-Irénée or the Tour Métallique (XIX century) and the montée Nicolas de Lange.


After having taken the funicular from Vieux Lyon station, you arrive at the Saint-Just station: you begin the tour by going down the right hand-side pavement of Rue de Trion towards its extension, Rue des Farges. This is the second 'high street' of Saint-Just and was thus named in 1763. It undoubtedly takes its path from the Gallo-Roman period.

The current name probably comes from the three Roman fountains located in the area. Now continue straight along the right hand-side pavement to Place abbé Larue.


On your right, you come first to Rue Saint-Alexandre, the name of a second-century Christian martyr. This street leads down towards Chemin de Choulans and Rue des Chevaucheurs which joins Saint-Irénée, now integrated into the medieval village of Saint-Just. Continue down Rue de Trion on the right.


Now you go past Rue des Macchabées (the seven Macchabées brothers were second century BC Jewish martyrs) which is one of the oldest roads in the neighbourhood. It has been officially called thus since 1854 but the name is much older. As you descend Rue de Trion it becomes Rue des Farges.


You are now at Place Abbé Larue, named after the French resistant who died in 1944. Enter the small square Jean Choux by the right hand-side : between the buildings there is a beautiful view towards the south of the Peninsula, the Confluence and the Rhone. Keep walking through the parking lot towards the east of Lyon to go to the Jardin des Curiosities.

Lyon Fourvière, Jardin des Curiosités by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


You go to the Jardin des Curiosités by the end of the Place Abbé Larue. It offers a beautiful view of Lyon. Offered by the City of Montreal, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of cooperative relations with Lyon, it offers other artistic curiosities, with its recent transformations : a gate, a wooded path that leads to a small bridge, engraved chairs scattered in space.

This park is open to the public since August 2001. Go back to Rue des Farges, stay on the right side towards the east and go towards the Parish House which is just in front of the church Saint-Just.

Lyon Fourvière, Église Saint-Just by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Admire the façade which was rebuilt in 1662 by the canons of Saint-Just after its demolition by the Protestant troops of Baron Adrets in 1562.


The church is only open for offices. Guided tours on request at the Tourist Office.
On leaving the church, now take the road downhill on your right to come to the Lycée Saint-Just.

Lyon Fourvière, Thermes romains by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Cross the street. At 12 Rue des Farges go under the porch towards the hill to see the remains of the Gallo-Roman baths in the backyard of the building. The construction of modern buildings, between 1975 and 1980, revealed the remains of a late first century AD Gallo-Roman neighbourhood: rich houses, shops, warehouses and baths. Now head towards the small circular intersection and Rue de l’Antiquaille slightly on the left.

Lyon Fourvière, Lycée Saint-Just by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


You are on the east side, facing the Lycée Saint-Just. The building has had several occupants. Originally a Ursuline convent, founded in 1633, the architect T. Desjardins built the Saint-Irénée grand seminary in 1855. It then became the dormitories for the boarding girls of the still existing Edouard Herriot secondary school and, in 1928, the Saint-Just school settled here.

Under the esplanade of the school is a large Gallo-Roman cistern, the 'Berelle Cave'. Now go up Place des Minimes / Rue de l’Antiquaille opposite you.


You are now on the edge of the cluster Place des Minimes / Rue de l’Antiquaille. The latter, which runs from Place des Minimes up to Montée Saint-Barthélémy, took its name from the former Antiquaille hospital.

On this street you will see the College Jean Moulin, the funicular station, the Roman theatre site and the entrance to the new Antiquaille residential neighbourhood. Carry on up the street and stop in front of the Collège Jean Moulin on your left.

Lyon Fourvière, Collège Jean Moulin by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


The College Jean Moulin at 1 Place des Minimes was a former convent and constitutes, with the Lycée Saint-Just, an element of vitality and youth in the neighborhood. Now continue the visit in the direction of the funicular station.


In front of the college is the tree-planted Place des Minimes. Go to the edge of the garden border to observe the full extent of Lyon in the east, between the buildings and the trees. Now go up to the top of Rue de l’Antiquaille to the level of the cable car station.

Lyon Fourvière, Funiculaire et Jardin André Malraux by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


On your right is the Minimes funicular sation. Five lines, that the Lyonnais call "strings" (for cable pulls), were built in Lyon. The first line, built in 1862, linked Rue Terme to Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. The first funicular on the Fourvière hill was inaugurated in 1878 and still runs between Saint-Jean and Saint-Just.

In 1900, two other lines were built to connect Saint Jean and the Saint-Paul station to Fourvière. You are here, at the so-called 'Minimes' funicular station on the Saint-Jean/Saint-Just line.
Just under the entrance of the funicular, admire the beautiful garden André Malraux.

Lyon Fourvière, Site de l'Antiquaille by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


You are at the entrance (rue du professeur Pierre Marion) of the new Antiquaille district. The first buildings of this former hospital site date back to 15 BC. The vineyards were acquired by Pierre SALA between 1506 and 1508. In the seventeenth century the site became a Trinitarian convent until the Revolution when it became national property and a hospital from 1804 to 2003.

The new neighbourhood project encompasses a cultural centre, a Christian centre around the so-called tomb of Saint Pothin to visit (antiquaille.fr), a ‘world-culture’ centre, shops, offices, a student residence, flats, a 5 star hotel and a gourmet restaurant. Retrace your steps and take the archaeological park entrance on your right.

Lyon Fourvière, Site Gallo-Romain by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


You are in the Fourvière Archaeological Park (open from 7am to 7pm). Thanks to the guidance of Philippe Fabia and Camille Germain de Montauzan, the existence of a large theatre near the Odeon was revealed. Year after year the excavations have revealed an archaeological park of three hectares including the theater, the Odeon, a large public building – considered as a sanctuary of Cybele – several road sections and a set of shops behind the Odeon.

The Museum of the Gallo-Roman civilisation was inaugurated in 1975. Start by visiting the Odeon which is a slightly above you when you take the first alley on your left.

Lyon Fourvière, Grand Théâtre romain by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Le Grand Théâtre considered the oldest in Gaul, and probably one of the oldest in the Roman world, this large theatre was built in the time of Augustus around 15 BC. Its capacity increased over time from 5,000 to 10,000 spectators. You can admire two models of it in the nearby archeological museum.

In its final state, the 108 m-diameter theatre was among the largest in Gaul, after that of Autun. The site has has been intensively restored for preservation but also for performances. In addition to this monumental archaeological site, you can admire the other remains of the Roman period which are over this great theatre.

Lyon Fourvière, Musée Gallo-Romain by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


The museum entrance is located at 17 Rue Kléberg above the Grand Theatre, near the esplanade where the view over the ruins and the rest of Lyon is outstanding. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 9.30am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm. There is an entrance fee. The museum is the work of the architect B. Zehrfuss and was inaugurated in 1975, a wonderful example of contemporary architecture.

Leaning against the Fourvière Hill, where it is partly buried, the museum overlooks the archaeological park. As you exit the museum, at the junction take the road opposite, Rue Roger Radisson, towards the Fourvière Basilica.


You are standing on one of the only antique highways whose trace has been maintained throughout the Middle-Ages up until now; it ends in the west at Trion, the starting points for the routes to Aquitaine and Narbonne, the Atlantic Ocean and the Rhine. At the end of the street, turn right towards Therese Couderc House.

Lyon Fourvière, Maison Thérèse Coudert by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


This house of Lyon called 'the Last Supper', is a beautiful building. Now a nursing home, it is home to a community of older sisters and some secular residents. This community is part of the tradition of the “hill that prays”. Go straight towards the religious museum of Fourvière.

Lyon Fourvière, Musée Religieux by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Open daily in season from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 5.30pm, the museum is open for tours conducted by volunteer guides. Established in 1960, its purpose is to help you discover the wealth of the art and culture of Christianity.

It is a useful addition to the basilica visit as it presents documents related to the construction of the sanctuary, commemorative plaques and a rich collection of religious gold and silverware. After the museum visit, you can go to the Fourvière chapel which is right next to the museum.

Lyon Fourvière, Chapelle de Fourvière by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Topped by a statue of the Virgin, the Fourvière chapel, called chapelle Saint-Thomas de Canterbury in all simplicity is more a place of prayer than a place to visit. There is a statue of the Black Virgin in the chancel.

This chapel was enlarged in the eighteenth century and, in 1852, it received a new steeple topped by a monumental golden virgin carved by sculptor Joseph Fabisch. On leaving the chapel, you will cross the basilica plaza.


From the esplanade, arrival place of the faithful, pilgrims and tourists, you can admire the facade of the basilica: built on the ancient site of the Trajan's Forum (Forum Vetus, hence the name Fourvière), its neo-Byzantine architecture and Roman-Byzantine style is the work of the architect Pierre Bossan. Go into the basilica to continue the tour.

Lyon Fourvière, Basilique by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Located on the site of the ancient Roman Forum, the church includes three buildings: the basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, the old chapel dedicated to the Virgin and a third chapel in patronage of St. Thomas of Canterbury.

The basilica was designed by the architect Pierre Bossan and completed by the architect Jean Sainte-Marie Perrin between 1872 and 1884. It is still one of the strongest images of Lyon and the goal of pilgrims coming from all over the world.


In Neo-Byzantine style, it has a luxurious interior with mosaics and paintings where the glitter of gold dominates. As you leave the basilica, take the Montée Nicolas de Lange on your right towards the north.


In front of you is the metal tower at the top of the Montée Nicolas de Lange, a track leading down to the Saint-Paul station near the river Saône. Nicolas de Lange was a learned Renaissance scholar, lieutenant and adviser to the king.

This is one of the steepest and oldest pedestrian routes in Lyon that is pedestrian for the most part. During the Middle-Ages, vines grew here; large estates and monasteries have been protected from rampant urbanisation. As you approach the tower, you pass the entrance to the park ‘des Hauteurs’ in the west.


The park before you is an urban park and connects the Fourvière Basilica to the Loyasse cemetery. Its path follows the old 800 meters long tramway from Fourvière - Cemetery Loyasse. From the Four Winds Viaduct, 80 meters long, the view is outstanding over Vaise (Lyon 9e), the valley of the Saône, the Croix-Rousse and the Mont d’Or. Looking up and right, northbound, you can see Lyon’s metal tower which is the culmination of the St. Paul neighborhood and the Montée Nicolas de Lange.

Lyon Fourvière, Tour Métallique by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


Nicknamed 'Lyon’s Eiffel Tower' and nearly 86 meters high, this metal tower was built at the time of the Universal and Colonial Exhibition in Lyon in 1894 by Eugène Collonge with the support of the City as a Republican monument: it exceeds the top of the basilica by 35 meters.

First a panoramic restaurant, it now serves as a radio and television relay satellite. To get a wide view of Lyon, turn around and cross the parking on the north side of the Basilica.

Lyon Fourvière, Point de vue de Fourvière by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


The esplanade offers a wide panoramic view of Lyon: the view is exceptional both over the city and the region as you can see the Mont Blanc and the Alps when the weather is favourable. From here you can access the Rosary Gardens located just below the point of view.

Lyon Fourvière, Jardin du Rosaire by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


These gardens belong to the Fourvière Commission and extend over four and a half hectares; they are open to the public. Accessible from the Fourvière plaza, they descend to the town in the direction of the Saône and, from various angles, offer beautiful views over the centre of Lyon in the east. From these gardens you can reach the top of the Montée Saint-Barthélémy.


You arrive at Montée Saint-Barthelemy: this mount follows the Roman road that ran north. Towards the end of the twentieth century, the street had essentially a teaching vocation due to the presence of religious congregations, Marists and Dominicans. Since then, a wave of renovation created hotels and individual accommodation. On going back up this route to the south, you can see the house of Pauline Jaricot.

Lyon Fourvière, Maison de Pauline Marie Jaricot by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


It is here, at 42 Montée Saint-Barthélémy, where Pauline-Marie Jaricot - founder of the Propagation of the Faith – died on the 9 January, 1862. This is an old property known as the ‘Clos Breda’ whose creation dates back to the sixteenth century. Pauline-Marie Jaricot nicknamed it "Lorette" in memory of the House of the Virgin when she bought it in 1832.

She then opened up a staircase with a direct access to the Rosary gardens. In order to pay off her debts, she levied a right of way from the pilgrims and visitors. To continue the tour, walk back down Montée Saint-Barthélémy to the Villa Florentine.

Lyon Fourvière, Villa Florentine by Historical-Cities.orgHistorical Cities


On your right-hand side going down, the Villa Florentine offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city from its terraces. The Villa Florentine was built around 1600. In 1707 it became a convent for a congregation of Trinitarian Sisters. In the twentieth century, the 'Villa' became a luxury hotel and restaurant.

It has 28 rooms including nine suites and a huge terrace with a swimming pool overlooking the city. The uniquely decorated rooms combine Renaissance and modern Italian design. To finish the tour head to the Montée des Chazeaux, just uphill of the Villa Florentine.


At the top of this mount is the Bellegrève Hotel where two kings lodged, Henry III and then Henry IV in 1595 when Mandelot was the owner. In 1623 the property was sold to a congregation of sisters, the Chazeaux Ladies.

To complete the tour, turn right on Montée des Chazeaux and take Rue Tramassac then turn left towards the Place Saint-Jean, the oldest square in Lyon, where you can visit the cathedral if you wish.

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