Croix Rousse used to be the silk manufacturing center for Europe and littered throughout the neighborhood are hundreds of traboules, or secret passageways that the merchants used to transport goods. The traboules are unique to Lyon (France) and are great way to lose yourself in the city’s history. Entrances to the passages are often hidden behind closed doors, which open if you buzz during daylight hours.
Some of the doors are unmarked, but the city of Lyon has made it pretty easy for the unassuming tourist to find her way. Just follow the plaques with the little blue lions on them. Sometimes you’ll have to fumble along to find the buzzer and other times, the doors are left open.
Once inside, you’ll walk down dark hallways, up stairs , and into the sometimes intimate and sometimes expansive courtyards that are now home to the residents of Lyon.
Wandering the streets of Croix-Rousse was one of my favorite things to do in Lyon. Armed with a map from the tourist office and a sense of adventure, I let the lions take me where they would, taking in beautiful views of the city and art boutiques along the way.
Traboules can also be found in Vieux Lyon, though the adventurer in me prefers Croix-Rousse, where you really don’t know where a path may lead you. The passages in Vieux Lyon are much shorter, though they the interiors are more intricate and romantic.
The traboules are only open during the day, so make sure you get started on the early side. If you’re in the area on the weekend, don’t forget to drop by the Marché Croix-Rousse, right outside the metro stop, and grab everything you need for a pique nique–you’ll definitely be hungry after all that walking.