There are over 150 fantastic Lyon murals painted all over the walls of what was once a pretty colourless city. We only managed to see a grand total of THREE, and completely by accident at that.
I can only thank the travel gods above that we stumbled upon the Fresque des Lyonnais – one of the most famous of all of Lyon’s murals.
This is what happens when you don’t do any research about a city before visiting. Or if all your energy is focused on eating. Which it was. *blush
If I could visit again, I’d pick up a Lyon City Pass, map out all the most famous of Lyon’s murals, and jump on a segway with a local guide, instead of wasting time trying to get into the city’s traboules or secret passageways.
Jump to what you want.
Fresque des Lyonnais
Painted by the artist collective, CitéCréation, La Fresque des Lyonnais covers more than 800 square metres of wall. It’s painted on 2 sides of a windowless building located at the corner of 2 rue de la Martinière and 49 quai Saint Vincent.
There are 31 famous people from Lyon and the surrounding area painted on the building, including Antoine de Saint Exupéry (Le Pétit Prince), the Lumière brothers (pioneers of cinema), and Paul Bocuse (the father of gastronomy).
This incredible Lyon mural was created using the trompe l’eoil painting technique, which was also the method by which I became a wall-climbing ninja, rode a dolphin, and got shot out of a cannon, in Seoul. And it certainly lives up to its French translation for “deceiving the eye.”
The figures on the Fresque des Lyonnais are so lifelike, it’s hard to tell the tourists from the paintings!
Fresque des Lyonnais Map
Address: 2 Rue de la Martinière, Lyon, France.
We walked to the Fresque des Lyonnais. It’s doable, but can definitely be a bit tiring and confusing. If you’d like a little more guidance, or have mobility issues, there are multiple alternative ways to see the city of Lyon, and it’s unique murals.
Famous Lyon Murals to Find
Aside from la Fresque des Lyonnais, here are a few of the most famous Lyon murals to look out for.
Le Mur du Cinéma
Address: 4 Pl. Gabriel Péri, 69007, Lyon, France
The Lyon born Lumière brothers started the era of the big screen, with the invention of the Cinématographe camera and projector in 1895. Le Mur du Cinema is a 500 m² mural that celebrates this history.
Le Mur Des Canuts | Wall of the Silk Weavers
Address: 36 Boulevard des Canuts, Lyon, France
This is one of the largest frescos in all of Europe, spanning an impressive 1,200m². This colossal piece of artwork depicts the real life of the silk workers who inhabited the historic Croix- Rousse neighbourhood.
La Bibliothèque de la Cité | The Cité Library
Address: Angle rue de la Platière et quai de la Pécherie – 69001 Lyon 1er
The mural on La Bibliothèque de la Cité is a 400m² bookcase, with the books of over 300 writers from Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region in it.
Other Lyon Murals
The Fresque des Lyonnais was so incredible, I really wish we’d seen a lot more of Lyon’s murals, instead of wasting our time trying to enter and find our way through the city’s network of traboules (which are supposed to be open to the public, but in practice, were not).
In hindsight, I would’ve booked a customized walking tour with someone who knows their way around, to avoid all the frustration, save myself a bunch of wasted time, and actually see what I set out to see.
We happened upon a couple more Lyon Murals, by accident. They included this remarkable lion advertising a furniture store on another misguided self-tour through the canut (or silkweavers) district (are you sensing a theme here yet?), and the exterior of a hotel.
When I saw these chairs on the outside of this hotel in Lyon, we assumed they were ACTUAL chairs glued to the hotel. But now that I know the city is covered in trompe l’eoil art, I’m not so sure.
Perhaps they’re actually paintings! Because sticking chairs to the outside of a hotel is pretty weird, and a potential hazard, wouldn’t you say?What do you think? Real chairs or painted?