Traboules

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

Our apartment situated in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon - the 5th arrondissement) was perfectly located for exploring Lyon's traboules. These traboules allowed the silk workers (Canuts) covered passage to carry their heavy loads, therefore protecting their delicate silks from the elements. Lyon was granted the monopoly for the manufacturing of silk for France and by 1620 there were more than10000 silk looms in Lyon, however the French Revolution nearly ruined the industry. The invention in 1801, of a new type of loom by Joseph-Marie Jacquard revolutionised silk weaving and by the 1820’s, the silk industry was back in full force, with Lyon reaching it’s peak in the 19th century.

So early one morning we set about to find these hidden courtyards and secret passageways. Often behind closed doors, if you dare to open them Lyon's secret silk makers passages may be revealed. There is something so delightfully childlike and invigorating about sneaking quietly behind the closed doors of late 15th, early 16th century buildings, masterly crafted, revealing these hidden beauties that have helped five centuries of silk weavers. There is an agreement in place with the authorities that the residents will keep the traboules 'open' during the day and in return the authorities will keep them clean. Naturally we as visitors must also respect the residents by enjoying them quietly and with respect. A couple of our favourites can be found at: 27, Rue Saint-Jean and 6, Rue des Trois Maries described as a welcome splash of colour and 54, Rue Saint-Jean and 27, Rue de Boeuf described as a long traboule that manages to wind through four different buildings.

With the girls in tow we loved the mystery, imaging the whispers of the silk weavers passing through all those years ago. After a morning like this it seemed only natural to eat a traditional lunch at La Traboulerie in the 2nd. 

October 2017