Place Sathonay is a public square located in Lyon’s 1st arrondissement. It is found at the bottom of La Croix-Rousse hill, in La Martinière quarter, a very brief walk from the grander Place de Terreaux. As a tribute to his achievements in office, the square was named after Nicolas-Marie-Jean-Claude Fay de Sathonay who was Lyon’s mayor from 1805 to 1812. 

The place is Lyon’s third largest and forms part of the zone classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite being only several minutes walk from Lyon’s city hall, Place Sathonay has a very relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, with visitors often remarking that it has the appearance and feel of a village square rather than that of the vibrant and busy city that Lyon is. 


Prior to August 1817, the square was named Place de la Déserte. The 1268 Tractatus de bellis states that Lyonnais built fortifications in the Déserte in order to defend themselves from the ecclesiastical authorities. From 1304 to 1791 an abbey or convent stood on what is now Place Bellecour, passing through the ownership or several religious orders. From 1791 onwards, property belonging to the religious congregations of Croix-Rousse were sold off and ultimately became largely state-owned. The former religious-owned buildings were destroyed in 1813, other than the building which today houses the Mairie (town hall) of the 1st arrondissement. The buildings were replaced by a square paved with both pebbles and flat stones.

The modern square

Architect Louis Flachéron in 1817 suggested an enlargement of the square in order to create an entry to the nearby Jardin des Planets (garden of plants). The new square, which at that time received its present name, was approved on the 10th of December 1817. 


On its northside, the square is opened by steps known as the Montée de l’Amphithéâtre. Two identical buildings flank the stairway. On both sides, there are two fountains featuring bronze lions, replicas of those adorning the Acqua Felice Fountain in Rome, which were erected in 1823. The streets on the sides of the square were constructed around 1820-1821. On both the east and west sides, there are four buildings of four storeys each.

Place Sathonay features a corner traboule which crosses a building constructed in 1822, but is unfortunately now closed. The Police station of the 1st arrondissement is located immediately to the left of the staircase.

Today the square features various cafés and restaurants with terraces that overlook it. Sur le bout de la langue is an excellent ice cream parlour, Dam’s Pub is a vibrant Dutch bar, Café de la place a classic French café, Bel Ami is a pleasant bistro, and Santosha a popular restaurant that specialises in Asian food.


The centre of the place features a 2.8m tall statue of Jean Pierre Hippolyte Blandan who was born in the neighborhood and killed in 1842 during the conquest of Algeria. 


Place Sathonay is one of the most popular spots in the 1st arrondissement for playing pétanque, which gives it the look and feel of a small village for which it is famed. Locals can be observed enjoying this traditional French passtime and anyone who wishes can bring their own set of boules and play. On sunny weekends space can be rather limited however!


Place Sathonay is 9 minutes walk from Hotel de Ville – Louis Pradel metro station (line A). Closer to the square, bus C3 stops at Terreaux la Feuillée and Bus S6 stops at Mairie du 1er


Place Sathonay, 69001 Lyon