Traboules Secret Passages

These historic secret passages provide visitors with a mysterious--and free!--tour of Lyon.

Twist and Turn through Historic Lyon

In the past, the silk trade dominated the city of Lyon. The silk workers originally built a series of passageways–some as early as the 4th century–in order to more easily access water. But eventually these traboules became an convenient way for the silk workers to travel pretty much anywhere, cutting between buildings and through courtyards. Though many of these passageways are private today, visitors can still explore dozens of them, all for free.

A Maze of Secret Passages

While meandering through the mysterious passages is entertaining enough, many of the traboules also feature rare historic architecture. For example, visitors will find a beautiful six-story staircase at 9 Place Colbert. The longest passageway stretches from 54 Rue Saint-Jean to 27 Rue du Boeuf.

The traboules are always open to the public, and the city has marked them with special plaques. In the Croix-Rousse district, these plaques show a lion’s head, and in Old Lyon they depict a bronze shield. By following these markers, curious visitors can make Lyon into their very own scavenger hunt.