Rue de la Poullairerie

The Rue de la Poulaillerie is a street located in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. It was first named rue Vaudran, and also rue Maudite in reference to Peter Waldo, who founded what was considered a heresy at the time, the street received its current name from the fact that people exchanged poultry until 1835, when part of this trade emigrated to the covered market of La Martinière.

At number 13, we access to Maurice Scève courtyard and the printing museum, a great testimony to the time when printing was one of the main activities of Lyon. It is located in the former Crown Hotel, the first City Hall of Lyon, which was built in the fifteenth century.

Maurice Scève courtyard (15th century) houses three long galleries with abundant green plants and an alley of ribbed ridges. It is a small sized and harmonious courtyard, with wonderful doors, carved mullioned windows, and leaded glass.  The copy of the Claudian Tables is no doubt there to draw attention to the purity of Roman epigraphy. A spiral staircase serves the (private) levels of the museum. In the second court, note: "J. Chuit, lamps and suspensions, gas and oil" on the copper plate of the old mailbox. The exit on the street of the Forces is discreet and does not allow to guess the wonders to which it gives access.  Forces are the ancestors of scissors.  The name of the street comes from a shop selling forces in the Middle ages in the Rue des Forces

In the XIXth and XXth century, the traboule going from the Maurice Scève courtyard to the rue des Forces used to host a brothel of national reknown.

Before becoming the capital of gastronomy, Lyon was indeed the capital of brothels.  Chantal Rivet, also known as « Ange », Mathilde Cérat, known as « Gentiane », Suzanne Lauray, known as « Vénus », are among the 659 « public girls » listed in the official list of public prostitution in Lyon, published in 1836. Half of them were aged 20 to 30.
They were all registered at the preferecture, or at the townhall, and classified according to their activity : « girls with a number » working in « public houses » and the « girls with a card » working in furnished bedrooms, known as « garnis ». The « insoumises » however (rebellious), were working illegaly full time or part time in the streets, in cafes, in clandestine brothels, or in the woods of the Parc de la tête d’or.   But most of them worked in brothels. 

To reassure the catholic church, Napoleon enacted a law in 1800 concerning brothels, but most cities did not prohibit prostitution.  Following many complaints, Lyon passed a few additional laws.  In 1843, a law was passed forbidding prostitutes to show at windows or doors, or to stand in the streets.  In 1945, a former prostitute Marthe Richard, who had become a resistant, and a politician, submitted a law forbidding brothels.  1400 brothels throughout the country had to close down.



The street Rue de la Poulaillerie is fairly narrow and links the Rue de Brest to Rue de la République and was restored by Claude-Marius Vaïsse. In the 12th century, Peter Waldo was draper in the street. In 1529, there was a famous inn called Le Logis de L'Ours. The street was named rue Maudite on the 1550 plan.

The Hôtel de la Couronne was used as Lyon City Hall From 1604 to 1652. At the architectural level, it had vaulted path, stairs and Florentine-styled galleries, and a monument sculpted by Philippe Lalyanne. The building is now replaced by the Musée de l'imprimerie, created by Maurice Audin. The jeweler and watchmaker Adrien Fortune opened a shop in 1852.

Famous historical inhabitants included 15th-century gilder Jean Dirigrunis, painter of the Consulate Pierre Jacquand and printer Jacques Nigon, both of the 19th century.


At north, the street has first four-floor buildings, the oldest building was built in the 17th century.  The building close to the rue de Brest are in the style of the 1850s architecture.

The big, ancient clock made by Charvet, is also named the 'Guignols clock', as we can see Guignol, Gnafron, Arlequin and Polichinelle.  The clock has been on the wall 8 rue de la Poulaillerie since 1852.  It is 7 meters high, and 2.20 meters wide.  Lyon once considered moving it across the Saône to the Musee Gadagne. 

The clock stopped working in 2005, after the death of the master watchmaker across the street.  It was to be auctioned for over 175,000 euros in 2005, but Etienne Tête, former deputy mayor stopped the auction sale planned by the Fortune company, sucessor of the Charvet company, and the city claimed the ownership of the clock, referring to   a decree of 18 March 1864. The clock became a subject of controversy, and the Fortune company was proclaimed sole owner of the clock, but the city bought the clock for 100.000 euros in 2012. 

The building hosting the Printing Museum was built in the 15th century as a private home that passed through the hands of the city’s ruling merchant families. The museum building itself forms part of one of Lyon’s famous traboules, linking Rue de la Poulaillerie with Rue des Forces which sits just behind it.

It became the town hall in 1604 when the original one, around the block at 3 Rue de la Fromagerie, was too small for the growing city.

The Hôtel de Ville stayed at Rue de la Poulaillerie until 1654, when the building passed through private hands until it was sold to the City of Lyon in 1956. The museum was opened eight years later.


Maurie Scève

Maurice Scève was a French poet active in Lyon during the Renaissance period. He was the centre of the Lyonnese côterie that elaborated the theory of spiritual love, derived partly from Plato and partly from Petrarch. This spiritual love, which animated Antoine Héroet's Parfaicte Amye (1543) as well, owed much to Marsilio Ficino, the Florentine translator and commentator of Plato's works.

Scève is believed to have been born in 1501. His father was a Lyonnese lawyer and municipal officer who served as Lyon's ambassador to the court upon the accession of François I to the throne, giving the family a strong social standing in the city.

The Lyonnese school, of which Scève was the leader, included his friend Claude de Taillemont and the women writers Jeanne Gaillarde—placed by Clément Marot on an equality with Christine de Pisan—Pernette du Guillet, Louise Labé, Clémence de Bourges and the poet's sisters, Claudine and Sybille Scève.