The traboules are small passages that actually connect two parallel streets.
It's a unique feature in Lyon and no tour here is complete without it.
The traboules hide behind the facades of the old Lyon buildings.
You will have to search them a little bit.
Ones entered the traboules, you'll make you're way threw and under some Buildings and find a way out on the next street.
On your way in the traboul you will find beautiful inner courtyards, spiral staircases, balconies, and wonderful architecture.
The entrance to the traboul is through a door of an old apartment building, which doesn't tell what is behind it.
Actually the feeling is that you invade someone's privacy.
And yes, there are people living in those houses, but they know that they live in historical and architectural monuments. And there is an agreement between the residents and the Lyon tourist office that allows tourist to enter the traboules and inner courtyards during daytime.
Just see that you respect people privacy and don't make to much noise.
The majority of interesting traboules lies in the Saint Jean quarter and connect Boeuf st. with Trois Maries st. and Saint Jean st. (three very nice little parallel street in old Lyon) but there are others that I'll mention soon
Few are marked by a little metal sigh on the side of the door, but many are not marked.
To enter a traboul you'll have to open its door by pressing on the intercom button.
You have better chances if you do it before 12.00 noon, as doors are automatically set to open until midday (for the postman, cleaning services etc), and they may be locked afterward.
Don't try to call any resident and don't try to type a code, just push the main button, the door will open, and a secret world will appear behind it.
It is worth trying opening doors, even if you are not sure what's behind it.
In the worst case you'll enter the garbage cans place, but if you chose right you will find a beautiful inner courtyard, or traboul.
Since i have no more space here, continue reading my tip on "Traboulesand inner courtyards in Lyon" part two
The so-called "traboules" (the name comes from the latin word "transambulare" meaning "traversing"), hidden short-cuts between two streets in the hills, often a tiny, winding path leading through somebody's backyard, are a thing unique to Lyon. They were created during the Renaissance period I believe and proved useful to Résistance fighters during Nazi occupation.
The locals got tired of traboule-tourism at some point and locked them up, so many traboules can only be accessed with no. codes.
For a tour or a map of Lyon's traboules you can consult the tourist office at Place Bellecour. When you walk Vieux Lyon during the weekend you can also find many open traboules though.
The Hotel "Cour des loges" (in Saint Jean quarter) is a master piece of old and modern architecture, as the inner courtyard was roofed and became a lobby, and the old apartments became hotel rooms.
(A painted wall near by pays homage to that masterpiece)
Even if you are not rich enough to stay there, you should enter for a visit. Just see that you're dressed properly.
In the presqe'ille quarter, enter the beautiful inner courtyard of the "beaux art" museum
(Even if you don't plan to visit the museum, the courtyard is free).
and the inner courtyard of the printing museum (just behind the MacDonald on DeBrest st.)
On the Place du Change are two fine buildings. One called the Loge du Change was created by Soufflet between 1747-50 with engaged columns on its upper floor where there also are Ionic capitals. It has been a Protestant church since the beginning of the 19C. Opposite across the square is the 15C Maison Thomassin with a facade partly in 14C style with mullioned ogee bays and Gothic arches plus coats of arms. Not far off is the larger Place du Gouvernement with sturdy buildings. At the end of rue Juiverie a steep set of stairs leads up onto the Fourviere. In a nearby building within an inner courtyard, a building has wide galleries.
The Lyonnais verb 'trabouler', a corruption of the Latin 'trans-ambulare', means to move from one street to another, passing through several buildings by way of corridors and courtyards.
Classification: Photography , Site Seeing
No visit to Lyon would be complete without some traboules-hunting! That stated, a reader unfamiliar with Lyon should first find out what traboules are. The short answer is "passages through courtyards", but this wouldn't do the traboules justice. The word, deducted from Latin "transambulare" which means "to cross", refers to the numerous hidden passages that traverse many of the old buildings in Vieux-Lyon and Croix-Rousse. They were built as a means to allow silk weavers to transport their goods from the workshops to the river even in most untoward weather conditions, but they also served the members of the Résistance during World War II. An uninitiated visitor to Lyon would most likely miss the traboules, as their entrances are concealed. What looks like a normal door to a house (and thus out of bounds to an average visitor) is in fact the entrance to the courtyard of the house which can be reached by a dark passage under the first floor of the house. Lyon's courtyards are more often than not masterpieces of architecture. Some of them date back to the 16th century, and Renaissance features are plentiful. But even those that don't appear to be masterpieces mostly offer a feature or two that catches one's eye - be it a elegantly curved staircase or an old lantern. Our absolute favourite was the one at 14, rue René Leynaud in Croix-Rousse. It's just opposite Passage Thiaffait, and we wouldn't have found it if it hadn't been for the owner of the little grocery shop across the street who hinted that there might be something worthwhile behind the door. There was a magnificent Italian-like courtyard with wrought-iron railings and beautiful staircases.
In order to become a skilled traboules-hunter, you should do the following. Go to Lyon's tourist office on Place Bellecour and get yourself the "Traboules, Cours et Façades" map or the official Lyon map. Get a general idea where you can find traboules and set off on foot (you wouldn't be able to find them with a car anyway). Look out for signs like the one in the third photo. Enter the traboule, but be aware that they are private property - don't make too much noise and don't disturb the inhabitants. Lyon has introduced a scheme which aims at opening all of its old traboules, but this needs to be done in cooperation with the locals, so please accept it if there are traboules which remain closed for now. In general, we found the traboules in Croix-Rousse much more tourist-free and nicer to visit, but some of the official highlights can be found in Vieux-Lyon.