There are so many beautiful, spectacular, impressive mural painitngs in Lyon, check out at least those top 20 unmissable I have selected for you.
In Lyon the walls tell stories. I could not think of a better use of the walls. Especially, since the wall paintings in Lyon turned out to be beautiful.
The idea of mural paintings came from a group of local students who in the early 1970s were discussing the closed nature of the art world and came to the conclusion that the murals can bring art to ordinary people. A group of ten students went to study modern wall painting in Mexico, where Diego Rivera had launched a new artistic tradition in the 1920s with a series of storytelling murals. CitéCréation, their student cooperative movement, was born. Today the collective is based in the suburb of Oullins south of Lyon. And today, we have over 60 officiel mural paintings, many unofficial and the overall number is growing…Because, there are so many of mural paintings in Lyon, even i haven’t seen half of them. That is why, I picked up the most important, the most beautiful, the really unmissable mural paintings in Lyon that I highly recommend:
- Mur des Lyonnais at the street: rue de la Martinière. The most popular, famous, spectacular “Lyonnais fresco” which since 1995 has attracted more than a million tourists a year. There are 31 famous Lyonnais on 800 m²! Of these 31: Saint Blandine; The Emperor Claude; Antoine-Marie Ampère, Laurent Mourguet and especially his creation: Guignol, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, known, The Lumière brothers, the popular Bernard Pivot, abbot Pierre, Bernard Lacombe, Paul Bocuse, the grand chef of Lyon, FrédériDard….I won’t list them all because the list is situated on the wall and it’s a good fun to check it out and locate each of the famous Lyonnais on the wall.
- Le Mur Des Canuts, at the street: rue Denfert Rochereau – Lyon 4. Originally a huge blind wall left by urban development necessary on the plateau of the Croix- Rousse. It wasn’t pretty at all. Now, it has become the best known, impressive, spectacular painted wall of Lyon. It is a huge fresco and represents the neighborhood of silk workers who rebelled against working conditions in the 1800s. The trompe l’oeil effect is particularly used on this painted wall to express the real life of the inhabitants of Croix- Rousse. It looks very realistic. I cannot describe it more, you need to see it yourself. Manifique!
- Le Mur du Cinéma, in the heart of the 7th to 18th course Gambetta. Because Lyon saw the birth of the cinema thanks to the Lumière brothers, this great mural painting has-been created. It is 500 m² painted wall which represents a film shoot as well as a staging of the first film with one of the Lumière brothers. On one side, the work also makes a wink to several films shot in Lyon. A piece of history to find.
- La Bibliothèque de la Cité (The Cité Library) at the 6 rue de la Platière, Lyon 1. They also call it Mur des Écrivains. It presents about 300 Lyonnais writers in different genres (novels, crime writing, comic books, etc.) from Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region and extracts from their texts. There are, for example, Frédéric Dard, the author of San Antonio, Louis Calaferte, the author of Sulfur Septentrion, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his The Little Prince with the beautiful phrase: Here is my secret. It’s very simple: you can only see with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye…beautiful and inspiring.
- Mur peint de la cour des Loges at the Vieux Lyon, in the terrace of the bar Rocambol. This wall is very cleverly done and if we are not warned that it is a trompe-l’oeil, we have every chance to … deceive and believe that it is about a real scaffolding. At the foot of this wall, there is the most famous ice cream place in Lyon: Nardone glacier.
- Parcours des Roses located in few places in Lyon Métropole, Champagne-au-Mont d’or, Saint-Priest, Vénissieux, created thanks to the Association Roses anciennes en France. Not many people know that Lyon has a beautiful history with the roses. No fewer than 3,000 roses were created in Lyon in the 19th century by the families and impassioned enthusiasts who created and sold these roses to every corner of the globe, a history linked in particular to the Empress Josephine who gave her collection of Malmaison to the City of Lyon. The rose was a source of inspiration for the Lyonnais silk manufacturers, the designers of CitéCréation and a raw material for the perfume and cosmetics industries. After the World Convention of Rose Societies which was held for the first time in Lyon in 2015 for its 17th edition, the Association Roses Anciennes en France and CitéCréation supervised the production of a circuit of monumental murals dedicated to Old Lyonnais Roses to remind people that Lyon was the international capital of old roses at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
- Fresque Hommage à Tony Tollet at the 7 rue Pareille just opposite the famous Mur des Lyonnais, at the street: rue de la Martinière. Most visitors misses it that is why I want to bring your attention to this fresco! It is the most recent of the 4, inaugurated in 2012, creations of the Cité Création association. It is dedicated to Tony Tollet , Lyons painter who was a student of Ingres and received the Prix de Rome in 1885. Check out this intereseting video about this particular mural here
- Fresque d’Église Saint Just at the street: rue des Macchabées, Lyon 5. This is also another unusual and unique fresco in Lyon. This features the remains of the successive basilica of Saint-Just, offering a fine view of Lyon. The remains of the foundations of the monumental church of Saint Just, were built at the end of the 4th c., extended and modified in medieval times (12th – 13th c.) The current church (end of 16th c. to start of the 18th), was renovated in the 19th c.9 so very, very old building which I admire with the highest respect.
- Fresque Bourse du Travail at 05 Place Guichard, Lyon 3rd. This fresco is located on the side of the “Bourse du Travail” theatre. The building used to be the Labor Exchange founded in 1891 but nowadays it become a simple theater hosting tours of the greatest artists of varieties, singers, acrobats …. The mural fresco located on it, it is the thirty meters long painting showing the workers, employees, executives looking for a job or for a politico-union meeting.
- Voyage dans la ville (City Travel) in 98 avenue Lacassagne, Lyon 3. It is the 720 m² painted wall at the TCL depot in Les Pins. It shows, in 7 paintings, the history of public transport in Lyon, from the first horse-driven carriage to the current underground system. It was created by the Cité de la Création in 1989. You can admire the tramways; planes, cars, and people dressed in period costumes: Jean Moulin, Jean Gabin, James Dean, drawings by Margerin and Hergé, and also a little theatre represented by Guignol and Gnafron.
- Escalier de la Rue Prunelle. Not exactly a mural painting but so beautiful and unusual art on the street, I had to mention it to you. It is, very simply speaking, the colorful staircase located at the Prunelle Street. This is one of those many steps on the hillside that we do not know if they are traboule or street. It was colorized by local residents with Genaro Lopez, an art director, and the help of a painting company whose name begins with Z. Don’t hesitate to walk on them and definitely take a photo!
- Fresque végétale lumière, Mur de la Clinique Saint-Charles at the rue de l’Annonciade, Lyon 1er. This is another not really typical wall painting but quite unusual. This is the fresco purely decorative, without identity or historical vocation. The wall around the Saint-Charles clinic in Lyon was constantly tagged. To remedy this problem, the Sisters of the Congregation of Saint Charles, have asked the City of Lyon to find the solution. Contacted by Lyon’s Urban Planning Assistant, the Scop CitéCréation has come up with the ambitious project using plants, light and mural painting. To bring reflections in a planetary dimension, the designers of CitéCréation chose to paint three photographs of Yann Artus-Bertrand.
- Musée Urbain Tony Garnier, Parcours de fresques LYON at the 4 Rue des Serpollières, Lyon 8. So there are 25 murals of 230 m² painted on the buildings, including a dozen featuring the sketches of the young architect Tony Garnier who input there his vision of the future ideal city. On top of that, there are the painted walls of the 5 continents made by artists from Egypt, India, Mexico, Ivory Coast, Russia and the USA. As you can suspect, there are 2 parts of the museum Tony Garnier: inside and outside. The “outdoors” can be visited and should be visited anytime by walking or on a bike. If you like it and if you want more, I would recommend visiting the museum inside.
- Fresque Lumière Lyon, at 106/110, avenue Jean-Jaurès – Lyon 7. It shows a faded, blind wall at the heart of the Gerland district in Lyon, a major economic centre with some 2,300 enterprises employing about 35,000 people of which 5,000 work in high-tech sectors. This mural painting takes viewers to the third millennium, thanks to a futuristic vision of Lyon, portrayed by nocturnal stage setting accentuated by dynamic lighting.
- Cité So’Coloc Design Mural in Oullins. For the little history: it was an old primary school that belonged to the municipality of Oullins which was transformed into a community house share for young people under 30 (So’Coloc). The manager of the building, Alliade Habitat installed a residence intended for students and young workers. But this is not all, he wanted to make this residence located on the edge of the A7 highway more attractive. Sensitive to the environment, the agency commissioned CitéCréation to provide a series of mural paintings on the theme of flora.
- Paul Bocuse Restaurant in the Collonges-au-Mont d’Or. It is a very colorful and impressive building: the Auberge de Collonges-au- Mont d’Or. It is his Michelin three star restaurant which Mr Paul kept for 50 years at these standards. Paul Bocuse, the great chef and businessman wanted to honour other chefs and the “Lyonnais mothers”: the Mères Brazier and Fillioux for the support and teaching they gave to him and therefore In the inner courtyard of his famous restaurant, seven tableaux render homage to all those who have worked for cuisine. It was Paul Bocuse’s way of honouring the people he considered represent the history of cuisine. Interesting to see.
- Fresque Murale Monsieur Paul Bocuse next to Halles Paul Bocuse, Cours Lafayette, Lyon. This mural is lit up every evening, showing a short history of Paul Bocuse with visitors. Created in 2015 to celebrate 50 years of the 3 stars Michelin Paul Bocuse, this mural is a tribute to the excellence of the gastronomy of Lyon. The mural presents some key moments in the life of Lyon chef, his American and Japanese successes or the evolution of its famous breweries. You cannot imagine how Lyonnais people are proud of having Paul Bouse and you cannot miss this mural in Lyon. It’s huge!
- Fresque Au Fou! Crazy! Located at the Jaïr Quay / Roquette Street in Lyon, it is not so well known Lyonnais fresco but I like it a lot. It represents a lady flying under a bridge flush with a building to impress her lover who must think she is a hero. It has nice calming colors.
- Fresque Murale Chats colorés in the 37 Boulevard Yves Farge, Lyon 7th. It is a wall painting on the building which was first destroyed at the end of 2016 to build a new School. The Birdy Kids Association took advantage of the situation and painted the two opposite facades. Usually, they paint birds, but this time they painted are cats. Still it looks great. Lastly, who are Birdy Kids? The association of the street artists: Gautier, Stéphane and Guillaume. They come from different influences because of their origins and their age.
- Fresque Agir pour la Biodiversité at the 87 Rue Chevreul, Lyon 7th. This animal fresco is located on the grounds of the Jean-Macé / Marc-Bloc school. It was designed as part of its 100th anniversary by the LPO and Jean Grosson, animal artist, directed by Jean Grosson, CitéCréation and ECohlCité students. The Fresco Acting for Biodiversity was inaugurated on September 12, 2013. I love this fresco!
Uff, I made it. I have chosen some and it was difficult as there are so many beautiful mural paintings in Lyon. However, I created the shortlist for you to start with. I think they are all worth seeing and I would even say, they should not be missed out when in Lyon. To be honest, I knew some of them, but I also discovered a few more that I want to see in a real. And I also know there are others hidden mural painting and the whole street art in Lyon which I would love to discover so if you know any other lyonnais street art painting worth seeing, please let me know. Thank you!
By the way, did you know you can read, save and use on-the-go this article and others when visiting different places? Well, there is such an application called with GPSCityMap which you can get for free here with my article. Happy traveling!