Get a bird's eye view of Lyon's Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica

Overlooking Lyon and welcoming more than two million visitors a year, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière and its hill of the same name are symbols of the city! Built in 1872 by Pierre Bossan and inaugurated in 1896, the basilica and its surrounding area are very important to the people of Lyon, especially during the Festival of Lights. Resembling an "upside-down white elephant", this basilica is a spectacular monument in an eclectic style. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the building is richly decorated inside and out, with marble, mosaics and stained glass windows. The basilica is already very attractive, and is surrounded by an exceptional environment: an esplanade offering a magnificent panorama of the city, as well as the surrounding gardens for relaxing strolls.

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The hill that prays

At 318 metres, the Colline de Fourvière is the highest point in Lyon. Accessible after a short stroll from Vieux Lyon or via the famous "ficelles lyonnaises", the view will soon make you forget the effort you've put in! Welcome to the hill that prays, opposite the hill that works. The distant horizon over the Alps will be available to travellers on fine days, but if the weather takes its toll, the panorama of Lyon remains unobstructed from Fourvière.

Fourvière hill in Lyon

- © Maxime Durand / Shutterstock

A little cultural background: Lugdunum, which translates as "hill of light", was the ancient name of the city of Lyon in 43 BC. The city, founded by a Roman legate named Lucius Munatius Plancus, was actually located on the hill of Fourvière. Since then, the city has been called Lyon and has changed a great deal, although a few vestiges remain.

The traditional Lyonnais strings

Although "ficelle" is generally associated with a thin rope or a variety of long, thin loaves of bread, this is not the case in Lyon. In fact, the people of Lyon tend to say that they go "la ficelle". Translation: they go to the Vieux Lyon district, to Saint-Jean, to visit the heights of the city via the funicular, one of Lyon's flagship means of transport. To take the funicular up to the heights of the city, go to Gare Vieux Lyon - Cathédrale Saint-Jean. The return ticket costs €3 and can be bought from a vending machine at the station.

Lyon Funicular, between Vieux-Lyon and Fourvière

- © Sander van der Werf / Shutterstock

Here's a little trivia: because of its rugged topography, the city of Lyon once had 5 funicular railways linking the lower districts to Fourvière and Croix-Rousse. Only 2 remain and are open to the public today.

The Basilica: the town's landmark building

With its unique architecture, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière is not associated with any particular style. Four corner towers enclose this stone structure overlooking Lyon, and as soon as you step into the porch, the decor becomes even more stunning! Profuse gilding, dazzling colours, omnipresent mosaics and dazzling stained glass windows immerse visitors in a unique atmosphere.

The luminous interior of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon

- © vichie81 / Shutterstock

The Basilica is divided between the upper church, which is highly decorated, and the lower church, the crypt, which is much more sober. Statues of Virgins from all over the world adorn this dark place, marked by its majestic vaults.

Crypt of the Fourvière basilica in Lyon

- © Aurelien KEMPF - PIKSL / Shutterstock

To get back into the swing of things in Old Lyon, a stroll in the fresh air of the Rosaire Gardens is a must, weather permitting. As far as Saint-Jean, lookouts, terraces and esplanades mean you won't miss a single snippet of the visual spectacle of Lyon.

© ONLY / Youtube

Dive into ancient history with a visit to the Gallo-Roman Museum

Take a trip back in time, two millennia, with a visit to the ancient theatre. With a capacity of 10,000, this venue for comedy and tragedy is the pride of the capital of Gaul. To understand its history, the Gallo-Roman Museum is located on the Fourvière hill on the site of the ancient theatre. It's an archaeological goldmine, and every child in Lyon has already been on a school trip there!

Practical info

📍 Location: 17 rue Cléberg, 69005 Lyon

Opening hours:

Museum:

  • Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm
  • Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm

Roman theatres

  • 2 May to 30 September, 7am to 9pm
  • 1 October to 30 April, 7am to 7pm

👛 Price: €7 (€4.50 concessions). More info on ticketing here

Where to stay in the hills above Lyon?

⭐ Apartment on the heights of Vieux Lyon

Flat in the heights of Vieux Lyon Lyon
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Flat in the heights of Vieux Lyon

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