Old Lyon, Witness to the Renaissance


LyonCultural HeritageCities

OnlyLyon - Maire Perrin
© OnlyLyon - Maire Perrin

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 1 February 2023, updated on 28 April 2024

With over a thousand years of history, Old Lyon has you in its sights! To walk through the historic areas of the 3rd largest city of France is to stroll through the centuries. Especially the Renaissance (in the15th century), from which it has kept its undeniable architectural footprint.

From this period, thanks to the establishment of the Lyon Fairs by the King of France, Lyon became an essential place in the heart of major European trade and gained new economic impetus.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic neighborhood in the renaissance style is a living testament to such a prosperous period. It is divided into three distinct neighbourhoods, hardly touched by the sands of time: Saint-Jean, Saint Georges and Saint-Paul.

Saint-Jean, the Heart and Soul of the Old City

It is in Saint-Jean that the heart of the old city of Lyon beats.

Surrounded by pink coloured renaissance apartment buildings with pastel tones, this former neighbourhood of the Lyon bourgeoisie, houses the main building of the place: the Saint-Jean cathedral, in the Gothic style, built between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Not far from there, it is impossible to miss one of the most prestigious residences of the neighbourhood, which houses the Gadagne museums, both a history museum of the city and an international world puppets museum.

Saint-Jean also consists of a succession of small cobblestone streets, housing galleries in Tuscan type courtyards, a vibrant testimony of the commercial relationship, forged over time, between France and Italy.

Saint-Georges, Hot Spot of Silk

Located at the foot of the Fourvière hill, this neighborhood reveals itself through little touches.

On a street corner, your gaze is inevitably drawn to the famous traboules. These hidden passages, able to link two streets via the apartments, were largely used by the shopkeepers of the period.

Take them and you will therefore be plunged right into the heart of the magical, medieval, trading Lyon! It is worth mentioning that Saint-Georges is the cradle of the silk industry, which has made Lyon renowned and rich.

Worth a visit: the Place de la Trinité and the Maison du soleil, the décor of which includes the first pieces by Guignol.

From there, take the Montée du Gourguillon which leads to the St-Just neighbourhood and that of Fourvière. As a reward for your efforts, admire the most beautiful view over Lyon and the Alps mountain range.

Festive Saint-Paul

The Saint-Paul neighborhood is renowned for its numerous cafés and theatres. The role of change occupies a central position as there, traders and bankers contributed to making the Capital of the Gauls the number one financial site of Europe (at the end of the 15th century).

By Rédaction France.fr

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…