The Opera

The Lyon Opera is located next to the River Rhone a few hundred metres from Place Terreaux and near Rue de République and the Musée des Beaux Arts.
It faces the town hall of Lyon “Hotel de Ville and is at the entrance to metro station “Hotel de Ville”.
Its very easy to find from anywhere in the city.

A striking cultural entertainment landmark

The Lyon Opera with its exciting and diverse program of events that appeal to all ages and tastes is an impressive space that successfully blends classical and contemporary culture. Free live jazz concerts outdoors in the summer, drinks and food available during shows.

  • History

The origins of the Lyon Opera date back to 1756 when Jacques-Germain Soufflot, architect of the Panthéon in Paris, created the first Lyon Opera. Almost a hundred years later it was deemed too small and Antoine-Marie Chenavard and Jean-Marie Pollet built the new Lyon Opera which opened in 1831.
Another hundred years later the city of Lyon decided the building was still not sufficient and using the original 1831 building, a collaboration between distinguished French architect Jean Nouvel and French scenography company Ducks Scéno along with acoustician Frits Peutz resulted in the present form of the Lyon Opera.
Work was completed in 1993 and Serge Dorny was appointed general director in 2003.

  • The Building

The style of the building is essential Italian with a horseshoe-shaped auditorium. The height of the building was effectively doubled by the creation of a striking steel and glass barrel vault which cleverly concealed the theatrical rigging system and provided additional space for the ballet company.
It is well considered an architectural tour de force with its use of traditional and modern styles.

  • A place for world premiers

The Lyon Opera has seen many significant world premiers of French operas including Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger in 1896 and Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung in 1967.
The principal conductor of the orchestra since 2008 is Kazushi Ono and two other notable French artists associated with the Opera are stage director Laurent Kelly and soprano Natalie Dessay.
The company maintains its own permanent orchestra, choir and ballet. The choir has been conducted since 1995 by Alan Woodbridge.

  • Lyon Opera Ballet

The Lyon Opera Ballet include 31 international dancers who, under the direction of Yorgos Loukos,  present an exciting postmodern and contemporary repertoire. The idea being to preserve a classical structure directed towards contemporary dance.

  • Le Péristyle Café-Jazz

Making the most of the beautiful outdoor covered terrace at the front of the building, the Opera of Lyon puts on a quality program of jazz beginning every year in June.
The concerts are everyday at 7pm, 8:15pm and 10pm and admission is free.

City hall



The city hall of Lyon is one of the largest historic buildings in the city, located between the Place des Terreaux and the Place de la Comédie, in front of the Opera Nouvel. Since 12 July 1886, the building has been classified as a Monument historique.

  • History

The City Hall of Lyon was built in the 17th century

Back in the 13th century, there was a lot of bickering going on between ecclesiastic powers and the Lyon bourgeois regarding tax on goods, so the latter came up with the revolutionary idea, ahem, of building a wall. In the 16th century, the wall was in ruin and in 1538 it was demolished. The pit was filled in and the stones of the wall used by nuns to renovate the St Pierre convent which has housed the Fine Arts Museum since 1803.

The first city hall used to be in a house called hôtel de la Couronne ("Crown's house"), located 13 rue de la Poulaillerie. A very narrow and uncomfortable place! So consuls needed to go elsewhere. In 1646, they raised a brand new city hall on the location of the old Terreaux moats. Simon Maupin designed plans with Gérard Désargues and the architect Jacques Le Mercier.

Between 1652 and 1672, Germain Panthot decorated it, while Martin Hendrecy, Jacques Mimerel, Nicolas Bidau and Nicolas Lefebvre made sculptures. This new city hall looked like a rectangular building flanked by 4 detached houses, all around a courtyard. The western façade, overlooking the place des Terreaux, was Renaissance style. But a terrible fire damaged everything in September 1674!

Only in 1699 the complete reconstruction, made by the famous Jules Hardouin-Mansart, took place: his brother-in-law Robert de Cotte continued the building site one year later. The site lasted from 1701 to 1706. Between 1854 and 1866, architect Tony Desjardins restored the city hall. Sculptures on the façade were re-carved by Guillaume Bonnet and Fabisch.

  • Sequence of events
  1. In the 17th century, Lyon was developed and the Presqu'île became the city center with the place of Terreaux, and the Lyon City Hall was built between 1645 and 1651 by Simon Maupin.
  2. Following a fire in 1674, the building was restored and modified, including its facade, designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and his pupil Robert de Cotte.
  3. In 1792 during the French Revolution, the half-relief of Louis XIV on horseback, in the middle of the facade was removed and replaced only during the Restoration by Henry IV of France, in the same posture.

Palais de la Bourse



The Palais de la Bourse or Palais du Commerce currently houses the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lyon.

It is bordered by the place des Cordeliers to the south, the place de la Bourse to the north, the Rue de la République to the west and Rue de la Bourse to the east.

In 1994, the building was classified as monument historique.

  • History

In 1853, the construction of the Palais du Commerce was decided, composing of a museum of art and industry, shops, the company of change agents and brokers in silk, the Chamber of Commerce and the Commercial Court. On 4 August 1854, René Dardel, architect of the Pont La Feuillée, the covered halles located Rue de la Martinière, and the creation of the Rue Victor Hugo, was chosen by prefect of the Rhône Claude-Marius Vaïsse for the construction of the building.

The construction started in 1856 and the first stone was laid on 15 March. The building was inaugurated by Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie on 25 August 1860.

  • An assassination

Do you know who was Marie François Sadi Carnot?

Marie François Sadi Carnot (11 August 1837 – 25 June 1894) was a French statesman, who served as the President of France from 1887 until 1894.

Carnot was reaching the zenith of his popularity, when, on 24 June 1894, after delivering a speech at a public banquet in Lyon in which he appeared to imply that he would not seek re-election, he was stabbed by an Italian anarchist named Sante Geronimo Caserio. Carnot died shortly after midnight on 25 June. The stabbing aroused widespread horror and grief, and the president was honoured with an elaborate funeral ceremony in the Panthéon on 1 July 1894.

Caserio called the assassination a political act, and was executed on 16 August 1894.

For this reason there is a commemorative plaque of Sadi Carnot in the Palais de la Bourse.

  • Architecture

The dimensions of the building are: 56.6 meters and 64.5 meters. It is composed of four corner pavilions and a central hall, called "Salle de la Corbeille".

The decoration of the building, both in its facades that its interior, reflects the destination of the building : the statues of Justice, the Temperance, Agriculture, Trade and Industry. The group around the clock on the facade is the work of Jean-Marie Bonnassieux. The exterior white marble statue, near the stairs and the Place des Cordeliers, is an allegory that personified Saône and Rhône joining their arms to point to the future. It was made in 1905 by sculptor Wermar.

The two fronts at north and south are richly decorated with many entablatures, balconies and columns. Most paintings of interior ceilings are the work of artists from Lyon such as Antoine Claude Ponthus-Cinier or Jean-Baptiste Beuchot.

A quizz

1. "Lyon is a city watered by three major rivers: the Rhône, the Saône and the Beaujolais. "Who is the author of this maxim?

a) Laurent Gerra
b) Léon Daudet
c) Bernard Pivot

2. Which French author mentioned in "Mémoires d'un touriste", the city of Lyon, describing the Rhône as impetuous and the Saône as lazy?

a) Stendhal
b) Jean-Jacques Rousseau
c) Victor Hugo

3. Which of these inventors is not from Lyon:

a) Niepce
b) Ampere
c) Lighting

4. The Bartholdi fountain, at Place des Terreaux, was bought at a discount by the city of Lyon because it had been refused by the city that was originally supposed to acquire it, namely:

a) Bordeaux
b) Le Mans
c) Lille

5. On the map of Lyon, the Saône is...
a) To the north
b) To the east
c) To the west



1. b); 2. a); 3. a); 4. a); 5. c)