Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lyon's mysterious passage ways

The old part of Lyon is criss crossed by traboules, narrow sheltered passage ways that runs through the old buildings of the city. They are mostly found in the Croix Rousse and old Lyon areas. Most of them are closed to the public, but I found a few. As you entered, you were immediately removed from the the new world. The traboules were the domain of the canuts, the silk weavers of Lyon.

The name is derived from the Latin verb transambulare via vulgar Latin trabulare meaning "to cross". As many of the old blocks were very long , with no crossing streets, passages were built in order to more easily come over to the parallel street, without having to walk around the whole block.

It also allowed the canutes to move their precious fabric through the enclosed streets, sheltering them from the weather.

I found the long Traboule, between 27 Rue de Beouf, and 54 Rue de Saint Jean. It covers four different buildings though low tunnel-like passages as well as large dark courtyards.

The traboules are unique to Lyon and a few other old French cities. They hold you in excitement as you enter into the darkness of Medieval Lyon. I got much of the same excitement along the narrow passages at Bryggen in old Bergen, but here the passages are even more mysterious.

During World War II they sheltered members of the local resistance, as the Germans never managed to get control of the secret streets in the Medieval part of Lyon.

Today many of the passages are private property, and can not be accessed by the public. Some of them have been kept opened as the the traboule longue.

An agreement signed by local authorities and its owners grant access during daytime, under the condition that the local authorities secure proper cleaning.

Traboule de la cour des Voraces" ("Traboule of the Voracious Court") is the most famous, located in the Croix-Rousse quarter. I never managed to see this particular passage.

The passage way on the left is another located the Croix Rousse area. It is open to the public, and is called "Le Passage de l'Abbaye de la Deserte" and under the sign it states that this passage was built here in 1304. So here we are in a pre Black Death period.

As you come to Lyon wander through the Traboules that you may find. If you find other beautiful passages, please send a picture and a short text.

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