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Best Free Sites in Lyon

By: Cityseeker
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Hotel de Ville de Lyon

In the 17th century the council held offices in the hôtel de la Couronne but a decision was made rapidly to construct a more suitable building. So, between 1646 and 1672, the architect S. Maupin was responsible for building a monument that reflected the ambitions of the city of Lyon: he imagined four buildings around an entrance courtyard (opposite today's Opéra house). In this courtyard, a portico and a grand staircase lead to the "cour d'honneur". This led to the construction of Hotel de Ville de Lyon. The building was barely finished in 1674 when it caught fire and further financing and extensive re-decoration were needed. All the pavilions and the belfry (containing 65 bells) resisted reasonably well until the restoration started in 1700 under the guidance of J.H.Mansart who also improved the outer decor. A magnificent hemicycle-shaped portico decorated with Gods of the sea and a Cyclops was added in the "cour d'honneur". Mansart completed his design with the ancient architecture he so admired. The decoration of the main rooms, such as "la grandeur consulaire de Lyon" painted by T.Blanchet in 1660, was a source of great pride for the city of Lyon and its councilors. With such an intriguing history and marvelous architecture, this city hall is a one breathtaking sight to behold.

Lyon, France
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Traboules St-Jean

As villages developed around the bottom of Fourvière hill in the 12th-13th centuries, another community grew up around Saint-Jean cathedral. The constructions here were practically all the same - a house overlooking the street and a house behind that overlooked inner courtyard, which were connected by loggias and spiral staircases. Passages were created to make it easier to get from the street to the house in the courtyard. There are quite a few of these passages, named "traboules", in the Vieux Lyon district, which give you access to the inner courtyards of Gothic and Renaissance houses. For some, an entry code is needed, but most home-owners let visitors walk around freely during the day. However, do remember that the "traboules" are private property, so respect them. Here are some ideas of "traboules" to try: Entrance (Exit) and vice-versa: 2 Place du Gouvernement (10 Quai R. Rolland); 3 Place du Gouvernement (11 Quai R. Rolland); 10 Rue Saint Jean (2 Place du Petit Collège); 9 Rue des Trois Maries (17 Quai R. Rolland); 13 Rue des Trois Maries (18 Quai R. Rolland); 24 Rue Saint Jean (1 Rue du Boeuf); 40 Rue Saint Jean (5 Place Neuve); 54 Rue Saint Jean (27 Rue du Boeuf).

Lyon, France
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Le Gros Caillou

This stone is more than just a curiosity, sitting as it does at the end of the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, just a stone's throw away from the Place Bellevue. There are two stories.... one is a legend and the other is the scientific explanation. Legend has it that the stone is the heart of a legal bailiff which was turned to stone as a form of vengeance on the part of people who had been wronged by him. Geologists believe that the stone is a rock fragment left over from the Jurassic period which must have been left there during the last ice age. Everyone has their own explanation but whatever it is, it must certainly have been a surprise when they tunneled into the hill in 1890 to make way for the railway and found this great big stone!

Lyon, France
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Rosa Mir Garden

The Rosa Mir Garden is a place where the marvelous and the artistic mingle into one. A mason, Jules Senis Mir, built this stunning place in honor of his mother. It is something in between a private garden and a small temple consisting of naturalistic art: there are concrete sculptures with shells pressed into them and untouched forests. The style employed in its construction shows heavy Catalonian influences, especially modernist in nature.

Lyon, France
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Parc de la Tête d'Or

Established in the 19th Century, Parc de la Tête d'Or is a cornucopia of entertainment, with its zoo, 5-hectare rose garden, an enormous greenhouse filled with exotic species, and a mysterious island. This lush green park is considered to be the lung of Lyon. With pony rides, jogging and cycling paths, a mini-golf course, a toy train track, and several sporting facilities, there is no shortage of entertainment here. There are also stalls for food and souvenirs. The Jardin Botanique de Lyon and the Statue which commemorates the twenty-second G7 conference are popular tourist attractions.

Lyon, France
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Cité des Gratte-Ciel

Skyscraper City is aptly named as the buildings here are tall enough to scrape the sky. It recalls the utopian city that Tony Garnier started to build some years ago (see: Quartier des Etats Unis). Mr. Leroux began his city by building two towers at the top of the avenue then added the two "bars" of apartment blocks (1931-34). The Hôtel de ville de Villeurbanne was built at the same time and completes this perspective. Leroux used an American method to build his skyscrapers - filling a metal skeleton with bricks, making them lighter and more flexible. Just like Tony Garnier's utopian city, Skyscraper City was innovative for its time as it provided modern amenities (running water, electricity, central heating) to low-rent housing.

Villeurbanne, France
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Miribel Jonage Park

Residents of Lyon in search of nature are more often than not found in either the Miribel-Jonage or the Parc de la Tête d'Or. Enjoy the many activities offered on the lakes in Miribel park such as sailing and swimming. Why not also try abseiling from the nearby climbing wall? Cyclists and walkers are not forgotten either; there are many tracks around the lake. Miribel is particularly popular with families who come here to stroll, picnic or play football on one of the many lawns around the water. Basically, you can come here and forget how far you really are from the coast. Various sports and cultural events are organized at this park from time to time. Check website for more details.

Vaulx-en-Velin, France
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