With its front facing the Opera house and its back overlooking the fabulous Place des Terreaux, Lyon’s Hôtel de ville, is one of the city’s most remarkable monuments.
The edifice, which was designed by the municipal architect Simon Maupin, was constructed between 1646 and 1672. This made Place des Terreaux the administrative centre of the city. The building is arranged around two main courtyards, one of which is raised, and four corner pavilions and a belfry enclosing the principle courtyard. The interior is richly decorated.
Partially destroyed by a fire in 1674, the king called upon Jules Hardouin-Mansart to reconstruct the Hôtel de Ville. During the French Revolution, the Consulate Room was transformed into that of the Revolutionary Tribunal.
In 1792, paintings representing the aldermen and the merchant Provost were destroyed by the new authorities in an effort to remove all traces of the former consulate.
Another fire destroyed the refurbished building on the 14th of July 1803. The building was entirely restored once more under the Second Empire.
On the 12th of July 1886, the French state recognised the Hôtel de Ville de Lyon as a Monument historique.
The Hôtel de Ville hosts the meetings of the city council ten times per year. Unfortunately for visitors to Lyon, the building is of course a living and active city hall, which means that it is not in a position to provide daily access to tourists.
Like other public buildings, the Hôtel de Ville is open to the public once a year, during the European Heritage Days which normally fall in the middle of September.
Nonetheless, the front and rear facades are spectacular. They can be viewed, respectively, from Place de la Comedie and Place des Terreaux.
The Fête des Lumières
During the Fête des Lumières, Place des Terreaux, which the rear facade of the Hôtel de Ville overlooks, is truly the heart of Lyon’s biggest annual event. The tall buildings on all four sides of the square particularly lend themselves to the light shows for which the festival is famed. Together with the Fine Arts Museum to the south, the gallery building to the west and the Bartholdi fountain and civilian buildings to the north, the Hôtel de Ville on the east side of the square together provide the stage for the beautiful performances.
Address: 1 Place de la Comédie, 69001 Lyon
Transport: As you might expect, the Hôtel de Ville is particularly well served by public transport. Stopping at the very appropriately named Station Hôtel de ville are metro lines A and C, and bus lines C3, C5, C13, C14, C18, 9, 19, s1, s6 and s12