Head for the Croix-Rousse hill, or ‘la colline qui travaille’ (the hill that works) as it’s known in Lyon. Take the funicular up the hill (metro C) to Hénon station at the top of Lyon’s “other hill” (the city’s two main hills are Fourvière and Croix-Rousse). Admire the huge painted wall known as the ‘Mur des Canuts’ on the corner of Boulevard des Canuts and Rue Denfert-Rochereau. Did you know that this 1200 m² wall is updated every ten years to keep up with changes in the neighbourhood: children become adults and in turn have their own children, plants grow, vehicles evolve… The wall’s painters keep it alive! Next, head for the Maison des Canuts (included in the LyonCityCard) to learn about the history of Lyon’s silk-workers (known as ‘canuts’) and see a Jacquard loom in action. Nearby, the Soierie Vivante weaving workshop (also included in the LyonCityCard) shows another aspect of the painstaking work of silk-weaving and the daily life of the silk-workers. As you go, observe the characteristic architecture of the buildings on Croix-Rousse hill: they were specially built in the nineteenth century to house the silk-workers. Their ceilings, more than four metres in height, made it possible to accommodate the looms, and the high windows let in more daylight so the canuts could work longer hours. Many of the buildings were linked up by a network of hidden passageways – ‘traboules’ – so bundles of silk could be carried without getting wet in the rain.
Head for the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, at the end of which a large food market that covers most of the pavement, is held every morning from Wednesday to Sunday! The Croix-Rousse district is also a fun and lively place where you will find many restaurants, excellent food shops, bars with terraces, artists’ studios and workshops, and numerous schools for learning new skills. This part of town has its own character and identity, which is hard to miss!From the aptly named Place Bellevue (translates literally as ‘beautiful view’) or the Jardin des Chartreux, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lyon. Go back down the hill on foot to enjoy a walk through the traboules, stairways, passages and inner courtyards that offer a window into the past of Lyon’s famed silk industry. As you descend its slopes, stop off at the Jardin des Plantes where the ancient remains of the Amphithéâtre des Trois-Gaules stand. This is where Lyon’s first Christians are said to have been martyred.
Walk through Passage Thiaffait, which is home to the Village des Créateurs, the spot for Lyon’s latest generation of up-and-coming designers and creative artists to take up residence. It’s Lyon’s “little Soho”.
Lastly, at the bottom of the slopes, the Atelier de Soierie (included in the LyonCityCard), on Rue Romarin, explains the technique of painting on ‘panne de velours’ (silk velvet). You should now be well on your way to becoming an expert in silk!
At the foot of Croix-Rousse hill, you can have lunch in one of the many bouchons or restaurants in the northern section of the Presqu'île, around the Opera House. Or enjoy a peaceful moment picnicking on one of the benches in the Museum of Fine Art's cloistered garden.
The choice is yours for the afternoon:
Enjoy culture? You can visit the Museum of Fine Arts, whose collection of artworks is a close rival to that of the Louvre. The building itself, a former convent, is superb and the rich collections inside range from Ancient Egypt to contemporary art.
Or take a short trip on the metro and tramway to the Musée des Confluences, an absolute ‘must-visit’! Located in the modern district La Confluence, it reveals a totally new side to Lyon. You can also go by bike (with the Vélo’V shared bike rental scheme), down the banks of the Rhône, which have been redeveloped for pedestrians and non-motorised transport. The banks lead all the way to the tip of the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, where the museum stands. Its highly original architecture and exhibitions are really worth going out of your way to see!Its exhibitions are always enriching and accessible, bringing together various fields of knowledge, including science, humanities, beliefs and traditions. I am a big fan of this museum and I’m willing to bet you will be too! Take a walk through the district, with its modern buildings, many of which were designed by internationally renowned architects. This district has notably chosen a sustainable development model for its future development.
If you have decided (wisely) to extend your experience in Lyon for another day, here is my suggestion.