In the beginning: painted walls
In the 1980s, a group of students dissatisfied with the teaching of fine arts created its own organisation: CitéCréation was born! This cooperative has worked to beautify the city for the past 40 years. Lyon has long been its testing ground and is home to more than 100 painted walls!
Want to find out more? Discover Lyon’s main painted walls.
As the years pass, other visual signs appear, such as the famous birds by street artist Pec, which are now part of Lyon’s cityscape, or the famous carrots with big eyes.
Here are a few essential places to discover for those who appreciate street art.
Croix-Rousse – an experimental hill
Formerly the district of the canuts (silk workers), Croix-Rousse hill boasts a rich history of creativity and working class struggle, and has a strong sense of belonging. Like a village within the city, it jealously guards its identity and alternative character.
The first artworks flourished on the walls here, particularly on the slopes of the hill.
This form of expression, which previously remained underground, is now legally accepted with large format works. On Place des Tapis in Lyon’s 4th district, a wall features regularly updated ephemeral artworks. Recently, the talented artist Brusk created a wall painting as part of the international street art campaign “Paint (Red) Save Lives”, which raises awareness of the fight against AIDS.
Croix-Rousse hospital commissioned South African artist FAITH XLVII for a moving wall painting that depicts a mother and her child.
Overlooking the Rhône, Fort Saint-Laurent has been given a new lease of life with the Superposition project, which hosts urban artist residencies. Until the end of August, you can discover artworks, explore the site and enjoy a drink on the terrace, for a pleasant moment in an unusual setting.
Take a stroll through the streets of the slopes of Croix-Rousse hill to discover their ever-changing ephemeral artworks.If steps are no problem for you, take the colourfully decorated stairs on Rue Mermet. You are guaranteed some Instagram-worthy photos!
Look out for artworks by Kesa, made using old vinyl records, or by Georges de Loup, featuring old-school tattoo-style thorny roses.
When street art brightens up the city
Street art likes to play with traditional codes and often crops up in unexpected places!
Head for the temple of gastronomy that is the Halles Paul Bocuse indoor food market: when the shops close in the evening, the metal roller shutters come down to reveal colourful graffiti and illustrations. This meeting was born of the desire of shop owners to brighten up their premises. It features the work of artists from the collective Zoo Art Show.
Poetic and popular at once, street art can also be a way to cheer people up, such as the beautiful fox by Kalouf, which was painted at the Léon Bérard hospital facility.
Building on its success in 2019, the festival Peinture Fraiche is returning to the district of Gerland from 2 to 25 October 2020. It will be an opportunity to discover local and international artists driven by a shared passion.
Did you miss it in 2019? To catch up on what you missed, head to Halle Debourg where you will see the work of Chinese artist Daleast on the façade. The somewhat frightening eagle, with its wings spread, looks across at the splendid wall by the Chilean artist Inti.
But wait, there’s more!
If you visit the Puces du Canal flea market, make sure you don’t miss the wall paintings by local artist Jakè, with their curved lines and little characters.
Up for a treasure hunt through the city? Follow the tracks of Ememem’s “flacking”. This local street artist “repairs” potholes and other cracks in the urban space with his ceramic patchworks and inlays. The results are surprising! If you don’t want to go too far out of your way, you can begin by searching for the flacking on Place Bellecour, right in the city centre.
There are many possible routes to explore the rich variety of street art in Lyon. This is a non-exhaustive list of our personal picks – there are many other street artists for you to discover!