What to See During the 2023 Journées du Patrimoine in Lyon

Published: 2023/09/14
The Europe-wide Journées du Patrimoine return September 16 and 17, offering free entry into historic sites, workshops, and government buildings usually closed to the public.
During this year’s European Heritage Days or Journées du Patrimoine, the spotlight is on the intricate relationship between Lyon’s storied past and the concept of light – a central theme in the region’s narrative.
We invite you to delve deep and uncover the profound connections between light and the architectural and mystical facets of Lyon’s rich heritage.


Lyon Journées du Patrimoine 2023


This year’s Journées du Patrimoine take place September 16 and 17

This year the event prompts reflection on the integral role light has played historically in shaping Lyon’s territorial heritage, architectural marvels, and its deep spiritual and mystical narratives.


maison des champs in pierre benite near lyon

The Maison des Champs Petit Perron in Pierre Bénite reminds visitors of Lyon’s agricultural prowess in bourgeois times. © Jenna Careri

It’s also the 25th anniversary of Lyon’s ranking as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Biennale de la Danse plans to make use of those historic sites throughout its month of shows.

The weekend includes all the classics like visits of Hôtel de Ville and free access to Lyon’s many museums, but also many more hidden treasures across all the arrondissements and towns in the metropole.


2 Must-Visits to Bask in the Lights of Lyon

Walk on the roofs of the basilica with Lyon at your feet

Discover the rare opportunity to explore the roofs of the Fourvière Basilica in Lyon, offering a unique view and an opportunity to immerse yourself in its history and architectural beauty.
The tour, lasting an hour, takes you through hidden gems of the basilica including the architects’ office and the observatory tower.
Note that it involves climbing around 345 steps, making it unsuitable for those with vertigo or knee issues.
Pre-booking is essential, with limited spots available for each time slot.
Prices vary based on age, with discounts for children and free entry for those under 5.

  • Sunday, September 17 from 10:00 to 18:00
  • Maximum 18 people per departure.
  • Meeting place: at the top of the basilica’s stairs.
  • Price: Rates: €6 (adult), €4 (child from 5 to 18 years), free for children under 5 years.
  • Mandatory reservation here


The old Saint-Clair water factory: Amazing Underground Water Basin in Lyon, France


The old Saint-Clair water factory: Amazing Underground Water Basin

L’Usine des Eaux de Caluire, once a major cog in Lyon’s water supply system, is a remarkable industrial site that has been preserved against the odds.
This former waterworks, located in the Saint-Clair area of Caluire, forms a significant complex of which a 20-meter high steam pump, a 1600 square meter filtering basin with vaults supported by about thirty pillars, and a neo-classical building still remain.

  • Saturday, Sept 16th from 12:00 to 17:00
  • Saturday, Sept 16th from 12:00 to 17:00
  • Sunday, Sept 17th from 10:00 to 17:00
  • Sunday, Sept 17th from 10:00 to 17:00
  • Tours every half hour, lasting 1 hour
  • Maximum of 18 people per tour
  • Reservations required here

Scenic Boat Adventures at the Caluire Boat Club

After witnessing the splendid views from the rooftops of Lyon and experiencing the mesmerizing water reflections underground, enhance your visit by partaking in a scenic boat ride along the Rhône.
Whether with family or a partner, a tranquil outing awaits you at the Caluire boat club.

  • Club de barques – 4 Avenue de Poumeyrol, 69300 Caluire-et-Cuire


Strolling around in the Capital of Gastronomy

After a tour through Hôtel de Ville, stop over at the Grenier d’Abondance, now home to dance studios and cultural affairs but once a storage space for the city’s wheat stacks.
If the atmosphere’s got you feeling a little more creative, the well-known épicerie Bahadourian in Lyon 3 is opening the doors to its cellars.

If you’re headed out of Lyon, stop into the giant Marché de gros de Lyon-Corbas, where over 300,000 tons of produce pass into the city’s system.
Meanwhile, the historic Maisons des Champs in Pierre-Bénite remind visitors of times past, as the seats of Lyon’s most powerful bourgeois families and their wealth of agricultural products.


the prison de montluc in lyon

The infamous Prison de Montluc, not to be confused with the Fort de Montluc, is one of the historic sites specially open to the public this year. © Jenna Careri

Keeping Things Historic

The Maisons des Champs aren’t the only heritage sites making an appearance.
The Prison de Montluc, known for its involvement in the work of Klaus Barbie and the Gestapo during WWII, is opening the second half of the prison specially for the Journées du Patrimoine.

The 1m80 by 2m cells will have visitors feeling a little cramped, so then it’s time to tour the famous Halles Paul Bocuse and Halles de la Martinière.
Their stands are waiting with tours, tastings, demos, and even some workshops for the more culinary-inclined.


Playful Takes for All Ages

The Journées du Patrimoine isn’t just for history-minded adults.
See how astronomy and food intersect at the planetarium in Vaulx-en-Velin or stick to astronomy at Saint-Genis-Laval’s astronomical observatory.


a plane at the lyon aerodrome in corbas

Aviation enthusiasts can score a look at some plane and helicopter models at the Aviation Museum and airfield in Corbas. © Jenna Careri

Not one for science? How about an air space a little closer to home?
The Musée de l’Aviation and Aérodrome de Lyon in Corbas are open for demo flights and up-close views of modern and historic planes and helicopters.

See behind the scenes of a horse race at the Hippodrome de Parilly in Bron, or keep the kids’ feet on the ground designing musical instruments from fruits and veggies at the Georges Pérec Library.


The Journées du Patrimoine events kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 16 and run through the following evening. Events are free unless otherwise noted.
Some reservations may be necessary.

A full program can be found on the Grand Lyon website.