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The traboules of Lyon

Lyon is a charming city with lots of things to discover. For instance, the Fourvière hill has a stunning basilica with great view of the area, easily ascended by funicular. The old town features small alleys and the city is renowned for its great food.

But one of the things that sets Lyon apart from many similar cities are the traboules. These are a kind of historical hidden passageways that can be found all over the city.

Traboule courtyard in Lyon Courtyard of a traboule at Rue du Boeuf.

There are said to be about 400 traboules in Lyon, but only a tenth of that are open to the public. Many of them are located in Vieux Lyon, the old town.

The name itself comes from the latin word for “passing through”. The oldest dates back to the 4th century, as the citizens of Roman town Lugdunum needed a quick way to get from their homes to the river Saône.

Punaise passage in Lyon Punaise passage in old town.

They were later used by silk workers to carry their goods. Since most streets in the old town run parallel to the river, the passageways were a great shortcut.

In more recent times, the traboules were used by the resistance for secret meetings during World War 2 during the German occupation of Lyon.

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