Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lyon: The Place des Terreaux and the gardens of the Fine Arts Museum

Lyon's Fine Art museum is one of the largest in France and Europe. A massive four-sided construction surrounding a large courtyard/garden, it is a magnificent XVIIth century building and its 70 spacious collection rooms and areas are home to many fine collections of paintings, sculpture, artefacts and other art forms dating from antiquity up until modern times.

The museum is situated in the heart of the city centre and one of its facades constitutes one whole side of the city's most beautiful public square, the Place des Terreaux. This photo can only take in half of its length.

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

The square is dominated by the Town Hall, a sumptuous and imposing building which is well worth a visit in its own right. It was built between 1645 and 1651, although it has been renovated since. 

Hôtel de Ville, Lyon

One of the other sides is occupied by this elegant and wildly extravagant statue - the Bartholdi Fountain - which was sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in 1889, just a few years after he had designed the Statue of Liberty.

La Fontaine Bartholdi, Lyon

You can get a better idea of how beautiful the Place des Terreaux is by going here. Click left, hold, and move around on the moving panoramic video.

If ever you visit the Fine Arts museum, you will go through one of the entrance gates before crossing over one of these gorgeous cloisters....

...and emerging into the gardens..... which point you shall instantly forget that you are in the centre of a major city. You are now in an oasis of peaceful calm with statues dotted all around amongst the trees, attractive flowerbeds and pathways, and there are benches everywhere to sit on in order to relax and take it all in. These statues are by renowned sculptors from well over a thousand years ago up to the 18th century, and it is not uncommon for first time visitors (and even regulars) to stop and spend some time in the gardens either before or after (or both?) entering the museum itself....

I have chosen not to describe them and their creators because I thought they didn't need my words, they just need to be looked at, although I shall be only too pleased to offer information on them in comments or in answer to email.

I hope you enjoy them and may I wish you an excellent evening.



  1. Thanks so much for sharing this tour with us. I hope one day to see for myself! Take care Diane

    1. Good evening Diane, and thanks for dropping by. I'm not surprised you enjoyed this photoblog because you too enjoy posting photos of places in France that are well worth looking at and may well inspire others to visit them.

      These gardens are a wonderful place to wander around in, and I have been doing so for 15 years. Sometimes just to get some respite from the madding crowd, and others to look at the statues.

      It is common during the week to see office workers eating their lunch there, groups of schoolchildren looking at them before entering the museum, or students sat in groups on the stone slabs of the cloisters chatting in the shade. And do you know what? Everybody, even the kids and students, keeps their voice down.

      It's as if they know they are in a very special place that merits respect and inspires thought...

      It's one of my favourite places in Lyon, and I'll be putting up similar blogs about others as time goes by.

      Have an excellent evening.