Place Bellecour is the center of Lyon and one of the most famous sights in the city. The large square with red flooring is on the peninsula between the train station Lyon Perrache and the town hall. Place Bellecour is around 300 m long and 200 m wide. With an area of over 60,000 m², it is the third largest square in France, only surpassed by the Esplanade des Quinconces and the Place de la Concorde. On the square is a equestrian statue of Louis XIV, which was melted down after the French Revolution. François-Frédéric Lemot's "cheval" was re-erected in 1826. There is an underground car park and an underground junction under Place Bellecour.
The Rue Victor Hugo pedestrian zone leads from Gare Perrache to Place Bellecour. The large shopping street Rue de la République leads from the square towards the Hotel de Ville.
The Hôtel de Ville is located on the Place des Terreaux, at the northern end of the peninsula. The City Hall of Lyon was completed in 1672. It was a collaborative effort by architects Simon Maupin and Girard Desargues that started in 1646. After a fire in 1674, the Hôtel de Ville de Lyon was rebuilt by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The mansard roof was named after his great uncle François Mansart. A central bell tower rises over the City Hall. In the middle of the facade there is a relief depicting Louis XIV as a rider.
Another attraction of Lyon is the Fontaine Bartholdi, which stands on the square in front of the City Hall. It was designed by Auguste Bartholdi for the city of Bordeaux in 1857. Which, refrained from buying the sculpture for financial reasons. The Mayor of Lyon bought the fountain of the famous sculptor, who also designed the Statue of Liberty for New York City and placed it on the Place des Terreaux in 1892. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon is opposite the fountain.
From 43 BC there was a Roman settlement called Lugdunum on the hill west of the city center. The town was the administrative center of Gaul. Two amphitheaters were built in the slope. The Great Theater and the Odeon. The great theater has a diameter of 108 m and could accommodate 10,000 spectators. The Odeon is a bit smaller and measures around 70 m, and around 3,000 visitors were able to take part in events.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the two theaters were used as quarry. The excavation site was later partially reconstructed. There are also Roman baths and temples on the excavation ground. In the museum, the most important finds are shown and the history of Lugdunum is explained. The museum is partly built into the slope and offers spectacular views of the archaeological site. This is the place where the history of Lyon began.
The old town "Vieux Lyon" is on the west bank of the Saône between the bridges Passerelle Saint-Vincent and Passerelle Saint-Georges. In the Saint-Jean district there is a famous landmark of Lyon, the Tour Rose. The pink tower is located in an inner courtyard at 22 rue du Boeuf. Today there is a hotel and a restaurant in the historic building. As a result, the Tour Rose has lost much of its charm. These open stairwells, which can be seen in the roof landscape as round turrets, can be found in many courtyards of the old town.
Rue Saint-Jean is the main street of Lyon's old town. The pedestrian zone runs parallel to the Saône. Rue Saint-Jean begins at Place du Change in the north and ends at Place Saint-Jean in the south. Shops, cafés and restaurants are lined up along the 400 m long street. Here you will also find local specialties and souvenir shops. Since Lyon is not one of the tourist hotspots in France, the hype is limited.
Lyon Cathedral is located in the old town at Saint-Jean square. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste cathedral was built in 1165 and is the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon. The building looks strangely squat for a Gothic cathedral. This is because the cathedral was started in the Romanesque style and changed to the Gothic style in the course of the construction work. Notre Dame de Paris started 2 years earlier and was also converted into a Gothic church later on. In the capital, however, there was more money involved and components that were already built were broken off again. This makes the Paris Cathedral look much more elegant. The west facade of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was completed in 1481. The glare gable in the middle of the facade is even higher than the towers.
In the interior you can still imagine the Romanesque choir. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste cathedral has mighty pillars that let relatively little light shine into the nave. From the foot of the Saône you can see the choir and two other bell towers. The two towers on the east facade appear larger and taller than the towers in the west. This is partly because the choir is lower than the nave and the towers are actually wider. The Lyon Cathedral is not one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France, but it is the most important church in Lyon.
The Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière towers over the entire city. It is the most prominent church in Lyon. The name Fourvière comes from the Roman settlement Lugdunum and was derived from the Latin FORUM VETUS (old forum). Fourvière is the hill in the west of the city center on which the Roman Forum is located. In the photo, the basilica is on the top left, on the bottom right you can see the Saint-Jean cathedral.
Like Sacré-Coeur in Paris, the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière was built after the lost war against Germany in 1870. The Catholic Church blamed the republic's secularism for the defeat. France had to be more faithful to regain its old strength.
Notre Dame de Fourvière was completed in 1896. The church was designed in historicist style by architect Pierre Bossan. Romanesque and Byzantine forms dominate the white stone building. The interior is lavishly covered with gold, statues and mosaics. The visitor will not be disappointed, Notre Dame de Fourvière is the most beautiful church in Lyon.
The best panorama of Lyon is from the Esplanade de la Basilique, next to the church Notre Dame de Fourvière. The Fourvière hill rises over 100 m above the Saône and offers a magnificent view of the peninsula with the city center of Lyon and the plain beyond. You can see the 165 m high Tower Part-Dieu, which has now been surpassed by the 170 m high Tour Incity. Both towers are in the La Part-Dieu district.
The viewpoint can be reached via a staircase that leads up from the old town. To do this, follow the narrow staircase on Rue du Boeuf, which goes up just before Rue de la Bombarde. If you don't feel like climbing stairs, you can also take the funicular up to the top. The valley station is at Vieux Lyon metro station on Avenue du Doyenné.
Rue Mercière is a pedestrian zone in downtown Lyon. The restricted traffic area starts at Rue Grenette and ends at Place de Jacobins. Restaurants, cafes and small shops are lined up on the approximately 200 m long section of the street. In the evening the Rue Mercière is brightly lit and night owls populate the narrow alley. The prices are high, the upper-class of Lyon meets here for dinner. The most famous restaurants include Le Mercière, Les Enfants Terribles, Le Comptoir de L'atelier and Le Winch.
The Passerelle du Collège is a pedestrian bridge over the Rhône river. The narrow footbridge connects downtown Lyon with the 6th arrondissement east of the Rhône, called rive gauche or Brotteaux. The name of the bridge refers to the Collège de la Trinité, which used to be here long time ago. The bridge was built in 1845 to shorten the school trip to the center for the kids of Brotteaux. The suspension bridge stands on two pillars in the river. It is around 180 m long and 4 m wide. In the evening, the Passerelle du Collège is illuminated and is a popular photo motif of Lyon.
The Mairie du Villeurbanne (town hall) was designed by Robert Giroud. It was part of a new city in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne. The town hall was built in 1934 and stands in the middle of a street with modern high-rise buildings, that were revolutionary at the time. The Gratte-ciel district was an urban planning experiment with the participation of Tony Garnier, with exclusive high-rise residential buildings in the industrial area of Villeurbanne. The buildings are well maintained and the area looks very elegant. In the evening, the modern buildings are illuminated and a very nice atmosphere is created. Villeurbanne is around 4 kilometers from the center of Lyon and can easily reached by the underground line A.