Saint-Nizier church is found in Lyon’s Presqu’ile district,located between Place des Terreaux and Place des Jacobins in the second arrondissement. Named after Nicetius of Lyon, a 6th century bishop of the city, the ground on which the church stands is believed to have been a place of worship for almost two millennia. Although Lyon is more famed for its Basilicas and Cathedral, the beautiful and historic Saint-Nizier is equal to them. Since 1996, the church has been under the direction of the priests and laity of the Emmanuel Community.


It is believed that the first religious building on the site of the present day Église Saint-Nizier was a Roman temple of Attis, the worship of whom was probably the cause of the persecution of Christians in Lyon from 177. 

It is said that during the 5th century the 19th bishop of Lyon, Eucherius, built on the ruins of the site a basilica to hold and honour the relics of the martyrs in Lyon, who had been tortured in 177. This church was given the name “Church of Holy Apostles”. 

In the 6th century, a number of bishops were buried in the church, notably Nicetius, the 28th bishop of Lyon. His body attracted a large crowd and following a number of presumed miracles, the church was renamed in his honour.

Ravaged by the Saracens and by Charles Martel in the early part of the 8th century, Saint-Nizier was rebuilt in the 9th century at the behest of bishop Leidrade. Disciples of Peter Waldo, who were shocked and disgusted by the wealth of the church, set fire to it in 1253.

From some point in the 14th century until the late 16th century, the church was slowly rebuilt. Nonetheless, later damage was caused by several bands of Huguenot, who plundered the bishops’ tombs, and later still during the French Revolution.

Following the Revolution, the church served for a time as a flour warehouse. In the late eighteenth century, a plan to convert the church into a gallery was abandoned after a successful petition.

The present sacristy was constructed in 1816, and the church’s organ was installed in 1886.

A place of refuge

Saint-Nizier has long been considered as a place of refuge and charity by the Lyonnais. This was highlighted in 1975 when the church was briefly occupied by some local prostitutes as a way of expressing their anger towards perceived police and social harassment. 

In early 1968, renovations were undertaken under the management of French state and the city of Lyon given the church’s recognition as a monument historique, which finally ended in 1998.


Built in the Gothic style and featuring a Renaissance portal, Saint-Nizier church has the following particularities:

  • Crypt
  • Side chapels
  • Pauline-Marie Jaricot’s tomb
  • Mosaics representing the Virgin Mary and the martyrs of Lyon by Gaspard Poncet 
  • A statue of the Virgin by Antoine Coysevox
  • A neo-gothic pulpit designed by Benoît
  • Stained glass windows by Bégule, Gruber and Lavergne
  • A 17th-century clock
  • A plaque celebrating the marriage of Frederic Ozanam

A place of worship

Like most French churches, Saint-Nizier is open and welcoming to tourists. Please bear in mind that it is a place of worship and visitors are asked to behave respectfully and to keep noise to a minimum, particularly during the mass or other services. 


Saint Nizier church is located less than 250m from Cordeliers metro station (on Metro line A) via Rue du Président Édouard Herriot and Rue Henri Germain. 


1 Rue Saint-Nizier, 69002 Lyon


Open on Tuesday to Friday from 8:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 6:30pm and Sunday from 9:00am to 8:00pm.

Mass times:

  • Sunday  10:30am (Liturgy adapted for children) 
  • Sunday 6:30pm (Youth mass)
  • Saturday 12:15pm
  • Tuesday – Saturday 7:00pm
  • Wednesday 7:00am (excluding school holidays)

Entry Price

Entry to the church is free.