Le Mur des Canuts, or Silk Workers’ Wall, is a trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) fresco which covers a 1200m2 (13,000 square foot) wall. The huge mural is, therefore, the largest in Europe.

Muralists CitéCréation, who would later be responsible for the Fresque des Lyonnais, first painted the Mur des canuts in 1987, and twice refreshed and updated it in 1997 and in 2013.

The fresque was designed not only as a more pleasant decoration of what had been a rather a ugly and characterless gable wall of a block of flats, but also to encourage the residents of the Croix-Rousse to rediscover their local identity and to celebrate the history of the canuts

Canut being the traditional nickname of a silkworker, the mural is a tribute to the neighborhood which was famed for its silk industry, and the 19th century revolt of the artisans employed in it. Both the present day life of Croix-Rousse inhabitants and the history of the quarter is celebrated in the artwork.

Features of the Fresque:

The Stairs

The centre of the painting features a long stairway street which is typical of the Croix-Rousse environment. Inspired by the fact that the Croix-Rousse quarter is built on the slopes (pentes) of a hill, the optical illusion gives the viewer the impression that the staircase rises up into the building’s façade.

Homes of the Croix-Rousse

Apartment buildings featuring tall windows that are characteristic of the homes of the canuts can be seen on either side of the central stairway. The time period represented is of the present day byt the viewer is reminded of the harsher conditions in which the 19th century silk workers lived. 

Reves de soie workshop

The depiction of the small “Reves de soie” workshop pays homage to the Croix Rousse’s proud Canut tradition.

The People

The people represent the residents of the Croix-Rousse, and interestingly, have been updated  with each subsequent revision of the fresco. The young man pushing his bike in the 1987 version, for example, is depicted as a father in 1997 with his young daughter.

Symbols of Lyon

The red Vélo’v bicycle, of Lyon’s bike sharing system, is represented in the mural. Indeed, the Vélo’v was a pioneer of the smart bicycle sharing system when it was first introduced to the city in 2005. It has proved so successful that similar systems have since been introduced in hundreds of cities around the world.

Habitat et Humanisme

A tribute to Habitat et Humanisme, a non-governmental organisation which helps people in difficulty to find refuge, is included in the mural in the form of a small plaque (NB the plaque is not real, it is part of the painting!) which is seen above the first flight of stairs on the right.


The Fresque is located just over 100m walk from the metro station Hénon (line C) along the Boulevard des Canuts.


The corner of Boulevard des Canuts and Rue Denfert Rochereau – 69004 Lyon