The Traboules du Vieux Lyon are secret passageways connecting the building and courtyards of Vieux Lyon. There are rumoured to be as many as 400 traboules throughout the town, however only 40 of these are open to the public.
H2: The Facts
Traboules are the ideal way to explore the history of Vieux Lyon in a fun and exciting way. The first traboules in Lyon are believed to be built as far back as the 4th century. The original role of these passageways was to allow inhabitants of Lugdunum (old Celtic name of Lyon) to get to the River Saône from their homes quickly and efficiently.
The traboules use later changed in the 19th century to enable the Canut silk workers of Lyon to transport clothes and other textiles from their workshops in the Croix-Rousse to the textile merchants at the foot of Fourvière hill.
However, perhaps the most interesting use for the traboules came during World War II. At this time, the secret passageways were used as hidden meeting points for the resistance. The traboules ultimately played a huge role in the Nazis being unable to take control of the whole of Lyon.
H2: The Location
The large majority of the traboules can be found around Vieux Lyon and the Croix Rousse area. As mentioned previously, only 40 of the passageways are open to the public.
One option to visit the traboules would be to take a guided tour. These guided tours take place pretty regularly, the price for one is usually around €8-12 per person.
However, I would argue that the more interesting way to visit the traboules is through trying to find them for yourself. This way you’ve more time to explore and can move around at your leisure. If you are pushed for time, there are brochures available at the tourist office with the precise location of some of the traboules.
Tip if you choose to look yourself: the traboules in Croix Rousse are marked with a lion’s head, the ones in Vieux Lyon are marked with a bronze shield.
H2: The Experience
The Traboules du Vieux Lyon are a unique Lyon experience. You could spend hours exploring these secret passageways and never lose interest in it. It is a fantastic, interactive way to learn about the vast history of Lyon.
Another aspect of the traboules which I found astounding was the different colours and architecture of each one. Each passageway has different winds and curves, arches, staircases and pastel colour.
As you may find yourself walking for a while, it may be a good idea to bring a snack with you and take a break from exploring in one of the amazing courtyards the traboules will guide you to.
Here are a few traboules which I found to be worth visiting:
- 27 Rue St Jean connecting to 6 Rue des Trois Maries
- 54 Rue St Jean with 27 Rue de Boeuf
- 2 Place du Gouvernement with 10 Quai Romain Rolland