LES PENTES DE LA CROIX ROUSSE

This page is a general presentation.

It is not a lesson.

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The traboules in the Croix-Rousse area

 

Please note that four itineraries are available at the bottom of this page :

  • Parcours Croix Rousse est : 1st & 2nd itinerary
  • Parcours Croix Rousse ouest : 1st & 2nd itinerary.

 

From the Croix-Rousse area to Place des Terreaux, it is possible to follow the paths or traboules of 19th century canuts.

Traboules are a type of passageway primarily associated with the city of Lyon, France, but also located in the French cities of Villefranche-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Saint-Étienne, along with a few in Chambéry. The word ‘traboules’ is a corruption of the Latin ‘trans-ambulare’, or ‘to pass through’, dating back to the 4th century, allowing folk more direct access to the town’s fresh water source than the winding streets provided. In Lyon, they were originally used by silk manufacturers and other merchants to transport their products.

These passageways are full of the eventful history of the 19th century silk industry, from the Revolution to the subsequent industrial period.

Every traboule is different though. Each has a unique pastel colour, a particular curve or spiral staircase, vaulted ceilings or Renaissance arches.

Some have counted as many as 400 traboules in Lyon, but just over 40 are open to the public, each clearly marked with a small identifying seal. It’s the atmospheric Vieux Lyon and the arty Croix Rousse.

The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century. Lacking water, the inhabitants moved to the banks of the Saône (in the 'lower town', at the foot of the Fourvière hill). The traboules thus allowed them to get from their homes to the river quickly and allowed the canuts on the La Croix-Rousse hill to get quickly from their workshops to the textile merchants at the foot of the hill. Thus the traboules of Lyon are located primarily in the 'old city' (5th arrondissement) and the Croix Rousse (1st and 4th arrondissements) and are often credited with helping prevent the occupying Germans from taking complete control of these areas during World War II. The "Traboule de la cour des Voraces" ("Traboule of the Voracious Court") is the most famous, located in the Croix-Rousse quarter. It is one of the landmarks of the Canut Revolts and it is also the oldest reinforced concrete stairwell in Lyon.

It is possible to discover more about the universe of the canuts, who were mainly in the area of Croix-Rousse in Lyon in the nineteenth century, through the following places and visits:

•The wall of canuts

 •Visiting aweaving workshop by pushing the door of the old workshop of the Ressicaud family, a family setting of the 19th century (kitchen andloft).

•The visit of “La Maisondes Canuts” with the history of the silk in Lyon and the life of silkworms.

•Walking down the hill of the Croix Rousse by the famous “Traboules” in the footsteps of silk workers.

The Traboules passageways allow people to enter the world of silk. In the 19th century 30,000 silk weavers lived in the hill of the Croix-Rousse.

 

Guided tours

For the Canut workshops and traboules, the meeting place is Place de la Croix-Rousse, in the 4th district of Lyon, outside the underground station Croix-Rousse. For navigating the traboules in the Croix-Rousse, one only need to follow the arrows accompanied by the lion’s head.

Croix-Rousse’s past is linked to the history of the silk weavers of Lyon and the inhabitants of this famous hill located between the Saône and Rhône rivers.
From the Plateau it is possible to reach the Place des Terreaux through the winding hills, around the famous Traboules or going down the stairs that characterise the Old Town of the Croix-Rousse.

These shortcuts, in the form of internal passage, allow to communicate from a street to the other one by crossing one or several buildings. Besides their picturesque aspect, they conceal architectural curiosities and often miracles.


In large numbers on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse, they were mainly used to bring back the silk traders down the hill without exposing them to the elements. They sheltered the secret comings and goings of Canuts during their great revolt in 1831 and Resistants of Lyon during the 2nd World War.

The main alleyways are:
- 9 place Colbert at 14a St Sebastian and climbing at 29 rue Imbert Colomès: the "Court of Voracious " or " House of the Republic" (place Colbert ) whose name comes from a group of the silk weavers (Canuts) which were very active especially revolutionary in 1848. Monumental six-story facades of stairs.

- from 20 rue Imbert Colomès to 55 rue des Tables Claudiennes
- from 30 rue Burdeau to 19 rue René Leynaud (passage Thiaffait)
- from 6 rue René Leynaud to 3 rue des Capucins
- from 6 rue des Capucins to rue Ste Marie des Terreaux
- from 2-4 rue Ste Catherine to 21 rue d'Algérie

The Croix-Rousse prolongs the Peninsula to the north between the Saône and the Rhône and is composed of two distinctive quarters: the slopes and the plateau of the hill. According to literature, ths hill owes its name to a cross built in 1560 out of a yellow-purple stone from Couzon known at the time as 'pierre rousse'.

Today, Croix-Rousse is a mixture of two vibrant quarters: a village atmosphere on the plateau, night-life and an atmosphere of festivity on the slopes.

 

Some history

In spite of the Roman ruins, and up until the XV century, little historical data has been available. The Croix-Rousse territory really came into being at the Renaissance. From 1512 Louis XII initiated the building of ramparts in the extreme southern end of the plateau where the slopes start. The triangles formed by these fortifications are still visible today and have shaped the topography of the roads and squares.

Between the XVII and XVIII centuries, agricultural activities (vegetables and livestock) took up most of the area but slowly trade took up more space on the Grande Rue and in the Serin quarter. Most of the first houses were built during the second half of the XVIII century: in 1795 there were 5,995 inhabitants. After the Revolution, from 1793 to 1852, the Croix-Rousse witnessed some very agitated moments before becoming part of the economic and political sphere of Lyon. This was a time of major building work and social unrest.

During the Restoration, from 1818 onwards, the silk industry and the large Jacquard looms transformed the economy. The silk-workers, mainly installed at Saint-Georges or on the Peninsula, migrated to the Croix-Rousse which became 'the hill that works’ in contrast to Fourvière 'the hill that prays’. On this widely available land, buildings were constructed for the silk trade and new roads were laid; the number of inhabitants consequently jumped to 28,610 in 1852.

One cannot talk about the history of the Croix-Rousse without mentioning the Canut Revolt. In 1831, at a weak point in the textile industry, the workers demanded their salaries, which were constantly being cut, to be maintained. The Croix-Rousse weavers’ revolt, joined by weavers from the Brotteaux and the Guillotière districts, occurred from 21 to 24 November and was severely reprimanded. Another insurrection happened in April 1834, then another in 1848 called "des Voraces".

Between 1852 and 1871, the Croix-Rousse became part of Lyons and could take advantage of its municipal services: hospitals, the funicular tram in 1863, railway lines in the north, distribution of water and lighting, schools.


Promenades in the Croix-Rousse

The Serin quarter and the view over the Saône: rue Bleton, view over Vaise and the Monts d'Or, petite plaine de Serin, chemin dit rue d'Ypres, plaine du Bois de la Caille and chemin du Vallon, Villa Gillet, parc de la Ceriseraie, rue des Villas, rue Chazière.
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On the Rhône side and montée de la Boucle: rue Louis Thévenet, old rue des Gloriettes, rue Joséphin Soulary, cours d'Herbouville and the Saint-Eucher quarter.
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The west plateau: rue Jean Chazière, old rue des Missionnaires, rue Philippe de la Salle, old path towards the north, rue Henri Gorjus, rue Denfert Rochereau and rue Hénon.
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The Grande-Rue quarter and the boulevard de la Croix-Rousse.

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Not to be missed

  • The Gros Caillou and the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse
  • The Maison des Canuts, 10 rue d'Ivry.
  • The Grande-Rue.
  • The Villa Gillet and the Parc de la Ceriseraie, 25 rue Chazière

 

 

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