NileGuide Expert Says:
It's a must to get lost in Lyon's web of 'traboules'. You will find an abundance of hidden gems and experience the 'arteries' that give life to the UNESCO World Heritage zone of Old Lyon.
3 Place du Gouvernement, Lyon, France
04 72 41 99 58
NileGuide Expert tip:
For an MP3 guided tour around the 'traboules' of Old Lyon, visit the Tourist Information Office at Place Bellecour.
Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) is the largest Renaissance quarter in all of France, measuring 35 hectares in an area that comprises Saint Georges, Saint Jean and Saint Paul. Saint Jean includes the greatest number of tourist attractions, including the famous 'traboules' of Saint Jean. The word 'traboule' comes from the Latin meaning 'to go through', but the 'traboules' are more than just practical passageways connecting buildings together. The 'traboules' are unique architecturally in that their design was inspired by the romantic and artistic persuasions of the Renaissance period, and their romance can still be felt today while wandering - often getting lost - from one building to the next.
The 'traboules' of Saint Jean vary in length and interest. Some 'traboules' form one simple passageway from one road or square, to a parallel road on the other side of a building, while other 'traboules' have multiple passageways that connect internal courts of great Renaissance beauty. For example, the 'traboule' which connects 54 Rue Saint Jean to 27 Rue du Boeuf, passes by a number of cascading spiral staircases, through four buildings and crosses four beautifully designed and preserved courts. Additional 'traboules' of Saint Jean can be accessed at 2 place du Gouvernement, 3 place du Gouvernement, 10 Rue Saint Jean, 9 Rue des Trois Maries, 13 Rue des Trois Maries, 24 Rue Saint Jean and 40 Rue Saint Jean.
It's worth noting that, while the public are encouraged to access the 'traboules', the doorways are not always left open by the occupants of what is still a residential area. If you arrive at the entrance to a 'traboule' and find the door locked, try again later and chances are you will find it open. Visitors should also keep in mind that the 'traboules' are open to the public by virtue of the residents of Saint Jean, so do respect the space, keep the noise down and hopefully visitors won't find too many locked passageways in the future.