Monday, December 19, 2011

The Traboules of Lyon

Traboule is a word I had never encountered until we started planning a trip to Lyon.  It is a contraction of the Latin transambulare-to walk across- and is used to describe small passageways that run between and within buildings. 

Apparently when medieval Lyon was reorganizing in the post Roman era, the streets paralleled the two rivers.  Access to water was difficult, so the traboules were created.  These were needed for both commercial purposes and in some instances to fetch drinking water.

The heart of Lyon is medieval, and while it is claimed that some of the oldest traboules go back to late Roman times I saw no evidence of structures that old.  Perhaps they follow the same route.

We made a point of seeking out and exploring traboules, they have a fun, slightly spooky vibe to them.  Here are a few pictures.  Tips on visiting, including the etiquette so far as we could figure it out, next time.
A typical traboule

staircases winding upward

The local limestone is full of fossils

They are generally found behind whopping great doors like this.

A shadowy woman of mystery in the traboules of Lyon

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