The Basilique Notre Dame which overlooks the entire city of Lyon on top of Fourvière hill is the city’s most famous landmark. Because of its position on this hill, the basilica is visible from almost anywhere in the city

The Facts

The Basilique Notre Dame was built at the end of the 19th century by French architect Pierre Bossan. The basilica’s design draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, which gives it an unusual look when compared to other basilicas built at the same time.

Inside the basilica there are two floors containing two separate churches. The upper floor is elaborately decorated with beautiful mosaics and stained glass. The lower floor is more subdued, with various statues of the Virgin Mary from different parts of the world placed around the circumference of the church.

The Basilique Notre Dame is estimated to welcome 2 million viewers to both the basilica and the accompanying museum each year.

How to get there

As previously mentioned, the basilica is positioned on top of Fourvière hill in Lyon. The easiest and most popular way to get to the top of Fourvière is through taking the funicular. The entrance to the funicular line is located in Vieux Lyon metro station. Tickets for the funicular cost €1.90, however you are free to use this service along with the trams, buses and metros around the city if you happened to get a day pass costing €6. This mode of transport is an experience in itself, with the steep climb made by the funicular through Fourvière hill it is a fun and unique way of getting there.

For the fit and energetic, there is the option of walking to the top of the hill starting at Vieux Lyon. If the weather is on your side, this can also be a worthwhile experience. However, my recommended method of getting to and from would be to experience the funicular on the way to the top and then strolling downhill after viewing the basilica. This way, you have a less strenuous walk and you can look through the gardens on your descent.

The Experience

Visiting the Basilique Notre Dame is without a doubt a worthwhile experience. Even viewing the basilica from the outside, you can admire its impressiveness. As a result of the two large floors within the basilica, there is rarely a queue to enter so there’s no excuse to not go inside for a closer look!

Once you step inside the main entrance on the upper level, you are immediately struck by the enormity of the basilica and its majestic décor. After taking time to walk around and take in the beauty of the design and visiting the various alters, I recommend going downstairs to view the lower church. This floor contrasts the top floor fantastically, as it is much simpler in design and dimly lit when compared to beautifully lit upper church with light shining through the stained-glass windows. Walking through the lower floor, it feels as though you are gently being brought back down to earth.

Once you are finished viewing the beautiful basilica, you can then walk around the left side of the church to take in the amazing panoramic views of the city of Lyon. Even if visiting old churches isn’t your cup of tea, I still recommend you make the trip to the top of Fourvière for this reason alone. The views are simply breath-taking, particularly if you are lucky enough to witness the sunset over the city.

Overall, the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière’s position as one of Lyon’s main attractions is justified, and is something that I recommend everyone to experience for themselves