Lyon Hotel de Ville (City Hall), France
Ah Lyon, France’s second city. Most tourists flock to Paris or the French Riviera, but more people are starting to find their way to Lyon. Not really south, not really north, but not really the east either, Lyon sits on the banks of not one but two major rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, about 2/3 of the way to the Alps. Once the capital of Gaul during Roman times, Lyon has always played significance roles in French history. The city itself is a beautiful melange of Roman, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, 20th century utilitarianism, and of course, the bizarreness of modern architecture. At its heart is the Presqu’ile, the place between the two rivers, home to many of the city’s most important buildings, including the Hotel de Ville, the French name for the City Hall. Where once the church was the centre of any French village, town or city, in secular France, this is now the town hall. Built alongside the nearby magnificent Place des Terraux (location of the Musée des Beaux Arts), the Hotel de Ville was constructed between 1645 and 1651 in full Baroque style. Sadly, a fire in 1674 led to further restorations after the Great Hall, chapel, belfry, attic and roof were engulfed. There was once a statue of King Louis XIV but during the chaos of the French Revolution, this was torn down. Some 50 or so years later, the missing statue was replaced with one of Henry IV. Inside, as outside, is in full a decadent and extravagant style – great chandeliers, marble floors, gilded walls, beautiful crown moulding, Lyonnaise silk, vaulted ceilings, huge stairwells, and great halls abound in this amazing building.
Pro tip: Though not always open to the public, there are certain events during the year in which you can attend. You can also take guided tours of some of the rooms; more info here – note the visits are in French only.
More To See in Lyon
- Tunnel de Croix Rousse
- Ile Barbe
- Les Confluences Modern Architecture
- Vieux Lyon
- Roman Lyon – Theatre of Fourviere
- Parc Lacroix Laval