Running in Lyon: Lugdunum, the capital of Gaul
It is said that Lyon was born from an omen: according to the Celtic legend reported by Plutarch, the city was founded on the Fourvière hill when the Celtic king Ateporamos arrived on the mountain, where dozens of ravens flocked. Seeing it as a sign of the presence of the god Lug, he settled there and decided to call the city "Lugdunum". In 43 BC, a Roman colony settled on the site, officially marking the beginning of the history of Lyon, capital of the Gauls...
"If Paris is the capital of France, Lyon is the capital of the province", said the literary critic Albert Thibaudet.
In 27 BC, Lugdunum became the capital of the province of Lyons Gaul. At that time, the city grew richer and larger, taking advantage of its strategic position at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône. As the cradle of Christianity, Lyon was also the scene of the condemnation of Christian martyrs such as Sainte-Blandine, who died in the amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, the remains of which you can admire during a run in the 1st arrondissement. It was during this period, in 177, that Lyon began to lose its influence, disputed by the various pretenders to the imperial throne.
During the Renaissance, it was once again the centre of attention: the French court often stayed there, as did great artists, attracted by the aura of the city, which was then experiencing strong economic growth. Walking around the Vieux-Lyon district, you will come across many buildings dating from this period, such as the traboules, passages through the courtyards of buildings allowing you to go from one street to another.
In the 20th century, the Lumière brothers invented the cinematograph, marking a turning point in the history of art. Lyon then definitively earned its nickname of "City of Lights".
The city of three hills
The Fourvière hill will lead you to the traces of ancient Lyon, of the origins of the city. Nicknamed "the hill that prays", it is distinguished by its Basilica, erected at its summit on the very spot where the forum of the Gallic city stood. This Roman presence is reflected in the ancient theatre, an archaeological site located next door.
Climbing up the Croix-Rousse hill, you will arrive on its plateau, where stands Le Gros Caillou, a rock symbolic of "the hill that works" and of its inhabitants, the Canuts. The district was the center of the silk industry, which began in the Renaissance, and was the site of one of the most important workers' uprisings in French history.
The third hill of Lyon, La Duchère, although less famous, was a stronghold of Lyon's defence with its bastion, the Balmont fort, built in the 19th century. The district, which is currently undergoing a complete transformation, has a rich heritage that should be developed, such as its castle and its panoramic tower, which is classified as a 20th century heritage site.
Between Saône and Rhône
Situated at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers, Lyon is endowed with a Presqu'île, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Starting your run towards the Musée des Confluences, you can walk along the quays of the two rivers or up the city's shopping streets, from Rue Carnot to Rue de la République. You will then pass by some of the most emblematic places in Lyon, such as Place Bellecour, the Jacobins fountain or Place des Terreaux, bordered by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Town Hall!
The city of lights
The root of the word Lyon comes from the root "Lux" meaning Light. It is also said that the attraction of the kings of France to the city during the Renaissance earned it this nickname. However, the name took on its full meaning when Louis and Philippe Lumière, whose name means "Light", in French, moved to Lyon in 1871, using their invention, the cinematograph, to immortalise the city and its inhabitants. The family home, located in the Montplaisir district, is now a museum but also the home of the Lumière Festival, a not-to-be-missed event for film lovers.
Lyon is also known internationally for its Festival of Lights. Each year, around 8 December, the city lights up, continuing and adapting the tradition of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, during which the inhabitants of Lyon light up their windows with luminous lights.
Lyon, capital of gastronomy
With its 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, including that of the famous Paul Bocuse, Lyon has been the world capital of gastronomy since 1935. As you walk through the city you will see many of Lyon's "bouchons", traditional restaurants whose specialities, hearty family dishes made from quality local produce, will delight the most discerning gourmets.