FrenchToGo – Lyon – the Traboule Trail

frenchtogo Lyon

I had wanted to explore Lyon during a city-break for a long time but couldn’t decide between that or doing a French language course. When I found FrenchToGo with apha.b, I knew that I would get the best of both worlds of a private city tour and private on-the-go lessons. I would like to share with you one of the first things we did, I call it the Traboule Trail.

Before going to Lyon, I had never heard of traboules, but they form a very integral part of the historical old-town of Lyon. I learnt all that follows from our qualified teacher and tour guide who took us on a ‘traboule trail’ visiting beautiful sites in French.

Traboules are narrow, medieval, pedestrian passageways from the 4th century onwards that run between buildings and courtyards to allow quick access to other roads without going into the main streets. I felt like I should be part of the Da Vinci Code as I was disappearing into these narrow medieval alleyways and emerging in front of stunning buildings.

First up was the Cathédrale Saint-Jean in the UNESCO world heritage Place Saint-Jean. Apparently its clock is one of the oldest in Europe (1383) and will give the exact time until 2019.

Next was La Maison des Avocats, with its truly Florentine je ne sais quoi.

We then entered La Longue Traboule (it lived up to its name) which connects 4 buildings and 4 courtyards without going out to the main street : this is the miracle of the Traboules

La Maison du Crible and La Tour rose were next. This is a very sweet little courtyard with a magnificent 4-floored pink tower with its 6 levels of beautiful windows open to the elements. It was built in the 16th century and the lyonnais call it “the pencil”.

After yet more wandering we found the Palais du justice, the former courthouse. The Lyonnais calls it “the 24 columns” and by looking at the photo it is easy to see why. Apparently it was where Maurras and Klaus Barbie were judged in 1945 and 1987 and in the building that preceded it, hundreds of people were judged during the Terror, then guillotined in Place des Terreaux.

One of the highlights of our visit was the gallery Philibert Delorme. This beautifully constructed courtyard was designed by an architect returning from Italy which one can see from the  marvel of lightness and symbolism that unites the two houses.

Finally we ended up in Place Saint-Paul, the center of Old Lyon. This whole area has the café-theatre spirit of the 70’s when they started on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse.

It is easy to tell that I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration of Lyon and the fact that we did it all in French with our teacher just made it a hundred times better!

Sarah, 38 , Germany


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This post is also available in: deGerman

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