Living with the Rhône and the Saône

Against a backdrop of ecological challenges and a new appetite for urban living, the Lyon History Museum (LHM) proposes an exploration of the Saône and Rhône, the two rivers that flow through Lyon and form an integral part of its history and identity.

Last updated date : 23/09/2021
From 19/05 to 31/12/2021 between 10.30 am and 6 pm except on July 14th and December 25th. Closed on Monday.
Museum of the History of Lyon - Gadagne Museums 1 place du Petit Collège - 69005 Lyon 5ème

Ever since they settled on the banks of the Saône in ancient times, the people of Lyon have lived with the rivers that run through their city. And it's been something of a turbulent love story!

We live alongside them, cross them and they irrigate our land. They have shaped our history and identity...

The permanent exhibition Les pieds dans l’eau (On the waterfront), part of the Lyon History Museum’s ambitious overhaul, offers a chance to explore the rivers Saône and Rhône, against the backdrop of today’s environmental challenges.

This immersive exhibition has been designed with children in mind, for ages 5 and up. The fun exhibition trail (where children can touch, follow a story, watch videos and more) reveals how the people of Lyon have lived with their rivers and resources, controlling their dangers and even taming and exploiting them, before finally realising the importance of respecting nature, preserving it and finding a new balance.

The original story, which forms the common thread of the exhibition, guides children and adults through the three listening stations along the fun and dream-like trail, dotted with games where they can touch and observe.

A trail in three parts

The Saône and Rhône: sources of richness and the beating hearts of the city 

Over the centuries, Lyon has built a close relationship with its waterways, which are both tools and resources, for fishing, transport, bathing, washing, playing, leisure and more. The rivers have promoted exchanges and prosperity.

From mastering to over-exploitation of these two natural forces:

We learn how living near water can be dangerous. In winter and summer, these forces of nature dried out, swelled, roared, resisted and destroyed, making it difficult to cross them, navigate them and expand the city. In the nineteenth century, thanks to technological progress, their wrath and force were tamed and channelled. However, exploitation by their users led to serious deterioration of water quality. Humans do not always make the best neighbours…

A return to balance between humans and nature

Today, the Rhône and Saône have been tamed. The people of Lyon have been able to urbanize, navigate, produce energy and collect water. However, these pressures have deteriorated the rivers, leading to serious environmental and societal disruption. Over the past five decades, local and national initiatives have sprung up, to restore and preserve this precious natural resource, showing us the way towards a healthier balance between city and nature.

The showpiece of the exhibition, a sixteenth-century well-boat, symbolises the close relationship the people of Lyon had with their rivers five centuries ago.

See the exhibition now


Useful tips

  • From 19/05 to 31/12/2021 between 10.30 am and 6 pm except on July 14th and December 25th.
    Closed on Monday.
  • Full price: 8 €, Reduced price: 6 €.

    Free entry for children < 18 years, Job-seeker, disabled people and accompanying persons.
  • Included with the Lyon City Card


Museum of the History of Lyon - Gadagne Museums

1 place du Petit Collège - 69005 Lyon 5ème

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