6 unusual things to do in Lyon
- Credit: SABINE SERRAD/MAM LYON
Looking for something a little out of the ordinary to do on a visit to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes capital? We’ve got you covered.
Admire the Fresque des Canuts
This enormous trompe-l'oeil mural, covering 1,200 m², is the largest of its kind in Europe. It was created back in 1987 by the Cité de la Création, a painting co-operative from nearby Oullins, and has been updated at various points since 1997. It depicts Lyon’s Croix-Rousse, the city’s former silk manufacturing district (a “canut” is a silk weaver), and you can even spot a silk shop among the illustrated buildings.
On the corner of Boulevard des Canuts et Rue Denfert Rochereau, 69004 Lyon
Indulge your inner child at the Musée des Arts de la Marionnette
Have you ever heard of Guignol? He’s a centuries-old puppet character intrinsically linked to Lyon. Created in the early 19th century by Laurent Mourguet, a dentist who pulled teeth for free and made money on selling pain relief afterwards! To attract customers, he set up a puppet show in front of his dentist’s chair and later Guignol was born. Guignol is the star of the show at the puppetry museum in Lyon’s Old Town, where some 300 marionettes and puppet paraphernalia are on display.
1 Place du Petit Collège, 69005 Lyon
Enjoy some nature at the Jardin Rosa Mir
In an unassuming stone courtyard you’ll find an urban oasis with a fascinating story to tell. Spaniard Jules Senis had fled to France to escape the Spanish Civil War, but was later unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. In his hospital bed, he pledged to himself that if he survived, he would create a beautiful garden. Thankfully, he pulled through and dedicated the last 25 years of his life to making the Jardin Rosa Mir (named after his mother). The centrepiece of this wild garden is a fountain designed by Senlis himself.
87 Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse, 69004 Lyon
Get lost in the traboules
Lyon’s (not-so-)secret covered passageways were once used by silk workers to swiftly travel between their hillside workshops in Croix-Rousse and the textile merchants near the river. There are said to be around 400 traboules, most of which are spread between the Old Town and Croix-Rousse, and only 40 or so are open to the public. They’re clearly marked, but the best way to explore them is on a guided tour with the Lyon Tourist Office.
See life in miniature at the Musée Miniature et Cinéma
If you like movies and model villages, this is the museum for you! Founded by miniaturist Dan Ohlmann, the Musée Miniature et Cinéma's top floor holds an exhibition dedicated to his intricate works of art. There are also plenty of props and costumes from both French and Hollywood films as part of the cinema aspect of the museum. It’s the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in Lyon with the family – and you’ll want to go back again and again.
60 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
Stroll along the Jardins Suspendus de Perrache
On top of a railway station is probably the last place you’d expect a serene garden, but Perrache’s hanging gardens are housed on a peaceful rooftop terrace. The world’s first depolluting plant wall was planted here in 2007 and it is hoped eventually all of the walls on the building will be covered by greenery. The best time to visit is between May and September when all the perennials will be in flower.
Centre d'Échanges de Lyon Perrache, Cours de Verdun-Perrache, 69002 Lyon