Trabouling Lyon

If you’ve ever wandered the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon or meandered up the Pentes de la Croix-Rousse, chances are you’ll have seen the odd person peel away from the crowds and disappear behind a heavy, oak door. Some of these people will have been doing just what you assumed: entering their home. Others, usually with a map in hand, will have been touring Lyon’s vast network of traboules.

A traboule – derived from the Latin verb transambulare, meaning to cross – is a small, narrow passageway, historically associated with the city of Lyon. Traboules run perpendicular to the streets that they cross, and were once used by the canuts (silk workers) to transport their wares down the hillside to the textile merchants. (The Cour des Voraces is a particularly famous traboule, whose history is entrenched in the Canuts Revolts.) During WW2, they served an entirely different purpose: helping Lyonnais citizens and members of the Resistance escape from the Gestapo. Nowadays, they’re open to tourists and a self-guided tour of them is a great way to explore another side of the city. (Check this website out for free, downloadable maps of the traboules.) While you’re trabouling, keep noise to a minimum, as many of the traboules pass through private properties. There are no hard and fast opening hours, but as a rule of thumb traboules are generally open between 10am and 6pm.

I’ve explored a number of traboules across Vieux-Lyon, Presqu’île and the Croix-Rousse, and these are some of my favourites . . .

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Happy trabouling!

 

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16 thoughts on “Trabouling Lyon

    1. It’s a great city for hidden gems, that’s for sure! Despite living there for almost a year, I never actually tried food at a bouchon. I couldn’t quite stomach the idea of eating innards! I enjoyed all the food I did try while I was there though, especially the produce from the local markets 🙂

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      1. I’d definitely recommend the Marché Quai St Antoine, which runs along the Saône, and the Marché de la Croix-Rousse, which is much larger and open every day bar Monday. Both have lots going on and plenty of tasty produce on offer 🙂 Les Halles is nice for a browse, but I could never justifying the prices there! I also used to go to the little local market on Rue Tête d’Or leading up to the park.

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      2. Awesomesauce. Thanks for all the great recommendations. We got married just outside of Lyon, in Bagnols, so we’ll definitely be back to Lyon at some point. Can’t wait to check the markets you mentioned out. 🙂

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      3. Thanks so much for asking, I’d be interested in discussing this more with you 🙂 Would you mind if I dropped you an email using the email on your contact page, rather than disclosing my personal email address on here? If that’s okay, I’ll drop you a line in the next couple of days 🙂

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  1. We took a walking tour of the Traboules, organised by the Office de Tourism – it was reasonably cheap, I think. Sadly they only had a French speaking tour available on our day, & the tour guide gave no quarter to our elementary French level (& wasn’t very sympa in any case) BUT we got to see some traboules that aren’t really open to the general public. I think it was better than a self guided tour – but only because we got a bit lost when we tried a self-guided one.

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    1. I guess there are pros and cons to each way of seeing the traboules, and even with the maps, it’s not always that easy to follow the self-guided routes! Lyon is one of those places where sometimes getting lost is half the fun, as you come across picturesque side streets, little cafés and such 🙂 A shame about your tour guide, though – hope it didn’t detract from the experience too much.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the site with the maps of traboules! I usually struggle to explain how people can find and explore them. I used to live on a traboule (I think it counts as a traboule – we just called it a “cour intérieure” but it looks just like other traboules) that looked like a pink Cour des Voraces (I shared a photo at the top of this post: https://lavieencrose.com/2016/08/27/goodbye-france-hello-california/#more-7884). I would love to explore more traboules the next time I’m in town!

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    1. They’re a funny thing to explain – I had a hard time explaining them to friends who visited, and in the end just decided that showing was easier than telling! I’m sure the traboules on those maps aren’t all the traboules in existence – your “cour intérieure” definitely looks like a traboule to me (not that I’m an expert in these things, by any stretch of the imagination). I loved exploring the traboules, and the fact they were unique to Lyon was pretty cool too!

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    1. Lyon’s a great city, and so versatile – you could easily spend a long weekend here and pack in the key sights, or a whole week and venture out to the surrounding area too 🙂

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