The Cultured Foodie : Walking Tour of Vieux Lyon

Lyon’s historic district, known as the Vieux Lyon (Old Town), is the first place we bring all our visitors for a walking tour. These cobblestone streets are home to Lyon’s most well-preserved Renaissance architecture, fascinating historic details, and some of Lyon’s best treats for foodies. It’s the perfect place to take walk and discover the rich history of Lyon.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing and fun aspects about this neighborhood is how so many of the most interesting things seem to be a bit hidden away, a bit secret. Vieux Lyon is impressive and dense and it’s easy to miss some of the most fascinating details of the neighborhood. That’s why we have come up with this walking tour, our guide to the Vieux Lyon, to help you get the most out of your visit and to share with you our very favorite things about this neighborhood.

St. Jean’s Cathedral

Old Lyon - photo by Clemence pornon

Recently renovated inside and out, St. Jean’s Cathedral is a natural place to begin any walking tour of the neighborhood. Have a look at the 320 square medallions carved on the façade.

One of our favorite things about the cathedral is the Jardin Archeologique a bit behind the main building on its left side. The ruins here that date back to Roman antiquity and reveal that this site has been an important religious place since the beginning of Lyon’s story. I love the juxtaposition of historical periods here, something very special to this area and that makes Lyon so rich. Also, this little spot is a bit off the beaten track and you can see locals here walking their dogs or just taking a break from the bustle of the crowded streets nearby.

Traboules

Perhaps one of the most unique and well-known architectural aspects of the Vieux Lyon, are the traboules (passages) that connect the parallel streets and invite us to take a peek at the interior courtyards of the historic buildings around us. Find a map of these secret passageways.

As you go between two traboules, you’ll come upon one of our very favorite places in Lyon: La Boulangerie du Palais. This postage-stamp sized bakery often has a line trailing out the door because everyone wants to get one of their famous brioches aux pralines! You’ll see this distinctive pink specialty all over the shops and bakeries in the neighborhood, which, contrary to appearances is only pink in color, not in taste. At La Boulangerie du Palais, a mix of caramelized nuts is gently folded into the succulent, fluffy crumb of a perfect French brioche. Trust us, it’s worth the wait ! You can also find delicious pralines at Pralus or Saint Jean Délices.

Brioche aux pralines

Rue des Trois Maries

As you walk through Vieux Lyon, you’ll realize that rue St. Jean and rue du Boeuf are the main arteries of the neighborhood. We invite you to go off the beaten track and soak up the Renaissance archtecture on rue des Trois Maries, where eveything feels much more calm. As you pass through Place de La Baleine, you’ll come across our favorite ice cream shop: Terre Adélice. Their list of flavors will make your head spin and its always a struggle for me to decide: a scoop of Valrhona dark chocolate sorbet and sweet creamy chestnut ice cream made from chestnuts sourced just beyond Lyon…. Local ingredients, many organic, and ingredible flavors! You’ll be finding excuses to come back throughout your whole trip to Lyon.

Rue Lainerie / Juiverie

old lyon cobble streets

After Place du Change, we will take you to see an amazing spiral staircase, tucked away in a Renaissance courtyard at 10 rue Lainerie, take your time to marvel at this beauty! Then we’ll guide you to rue Juiverie where you can visit the courtyard of Philibert Delorme on your own (n°8), you’ll see that texts on site point out the architectural details of this special place.

St. Paul and beyond

Our walking tour ends at St. Paul Train Station, just in front of the church of the same name. After you take a moment to admire this lovely church, you can pop into any number of bars and restaurants on Rue Octavio Mey for lunch or to grab a drink. Hungry? Grab an updated Croque Monsieur at the very hip, Croque ‘n Roll. If you’re a beer lover, check out La Mie Graine – its name is a play on words that suggests the “migrain” you’ll have after a night drinking all their amazing Belgian and craft beers.

If you decide to keep walking, wesuggest that you take the red passerelle Saint Vincent to see Lyon’s “wall” of fame, an incredible tromp l’oeil fresco featuring Lyon’s best-known personalities over time. Your can head to Place Sathonay next, it’s one of my favorite spots in the city, to enjoy a drink or a meal on a shady patio along the square.

Address book:

  • Jardin Archéologique Saint Jean Rue Mandelot, 69005 Lyon
  • La Boulangerie du Palais 8 Rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon
  • Terre Adélice 1 Place de la Baleine, 69005 Lyon
  • Les Ardoises de Lyon 3 Rue Soufflot, 69005 Lyon
  • Daughter Wine Bar 21 Quai de Bondy, 69005 Lyon
  • Croque n’ Roll 6 Rue Octavio Mey, 69005 Lyon
  • La Mie Graine 11 Place Saint-Paul, 69005 Lyon
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