Imagine a square bordered with magnolias in bloom, the majestic facade of a 19th century theater, terraces and a riverside market... this breathtaking and idyllic setting can be found at the heart of downtown Lyon. Head to the Place des Célestins to discover a haven of peace in the middle of a bustling city. We are just a few yards from Place Bellecour and yet… Considered as one of the most desirable squares in Lyon, emblematic of the city's cultural life, the Place des Célestins is home to the Italian style theater representing 200 years of the history of the dramatic arts. BARNES Lyon gives you the guided tour of this district, and all the other districts of Lyon.
History of the Célestins district of Lyon
The square owes its name to the hermits of the religious Order of the Célestins, which was based here from 1407 to 1778. The monastery stood for almost 400 years before giving way to the Théâtre des Variétés, opened on April 9, 1792 but destroyed by a fire in 1871. 6 years later, a new theater, the work of Gaspard André was inaugurated, but also succumbed to a fire! The reconstruction as per the original plans was once again entrusted to the architect, who designed the current building. Major renovation works were undertaken from 2002 to 2005. The theater, unique in France, has one of the most beautiful Italian-style halls and has retained all the majesty of its rich history and its original architecture: the main lobby, the atrium, the red and gold hall and the galleries. During its 200-year history, it has seen many famous artists take to its stage: Louis Jouvet, Sacha Guitry, Madeleine Renaud, Joséphine Baker, Maurice Chevalier and many more. Today, the Théâtre des Célestins is a renowned performing arts venue that reaffirms its commitment each season to reveal the vitality of the theater repertoire in all its forms (classical, contemporary, circus arts, concerts and musicals, etc.) to the general public.
Life in the Célestins district
Life in the district revolves around performance times, with patrons enjoying a meal at one of the square's restaurants, or a last drink on the terrace. The true dolce vita! In spring, Lyon dwellers come to admire the magnolias in bloom and take time to relax on a bench or the theater steps.
A certain lifestyle, extending along the quays of the Célestins where you can enjoy a pleasant stroll, grab a bite in its many restaurants, or shop at the market on the banks of the River Saône, while taking in the magnificent views of the Fourvière Basilica and the old town (Vieux Lyon). Traces of the old Célestins convent on some of the buildings on the left bank of the river, in particular between Rue André and Rue Amboise, are a reminder of the historic past of the district.
For parking, there are several car parks close by, including the Célestins car park which many see as a work of art! Designed and built by the architects Michel Targe and Jean-Michel Wilmotte, as well as the artist Daniel Buren, it descends several levels deep, each served by a spiral ramp, in the center line of which there is a cylindrical space dotted with arched windows, giving it the simple and enigmatic appearance of the palatial facades of Venice. A huge, slanted and rotating mirror is placed at the heart of the cylindrical space. The overall appearance is that of a telescope. Daniel Buren's work, “Sens dessus dessous” (or “Upside down”), can be seen from the square though a periscope giving a kaleidoscopic view of the car park.
Finding an apartment in the Célestins area
Superb apartments with a view of Fourvière are highly prized in this area. The district is home to a number of exceptional bourgeois-style apartments with all the charm of yesteryear: beautiful original parquet floors, large marble fireplaces, moldings and high ceilings. For those interested in renovating, the large dimensions give you all the scope you need to build your ideal living space. Completely refurbished, you can enjoy stunning apartments with lavish, more contemporary renovations.
What to do in the Célestins district?
Places to eat and drink
Various establishments are located on the Place des Célestins, as well as on the river bank with terraces and a number of snack bars overlooking the Saône. From trendy bars to convivial cafés, and from contemporary brasseries to typical Lyonnais restaurants (“bouchons”), the district has an abundance of places for foodies: Brasserie Chavant, Diplomatico, Pléthore et Balthazar, Café du Marché, and the Buvette du Pont Bonaparte, to name but a few.
You can also enjoy a variety of performances at the Théâtre Comédie Odéon or the Théâtre des Célestins, or take in a film at the Pathé Bellecour and Pathé Cordeliers cinemas.
Why not visit the famous food market on Quai Saint-Antoine, open every morning from Tuesday to Sunday. Located on the banks of the Saône, facing Vieux Lyon, it is one of the city's largest food markets with stalls run by small market gardeners and farmers. Here, you'll find fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meat, game, roasted chickens, cold meats, fish, bread, cakes, wine and flowers.
From the Quai des Célestins, board the riverboat shuttle Le Vaporetto, which links between the historic heart of the city, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the resolutely modern, trendy district of the Confluence and its shops and leisure facilities, in under 30 minutes. The vaporetto runs continuously every day from 10am to 9.30pm., departing every hour from the Quai des Célestins, at the foot of the Pont Bonaparte bridge. Or go with the flow on the Croisière Lyon City boat, boarding at 2 Quai des Célestins for a river tour of Lyon!
- École élémentaire Lamartine
- Collège et Lycée Ampère
- Lycée Juliette Récamier
- École maternelle et élémentaire Saint Nizier – Aux Lazaristes
- École maternelle et élémentaire du Sacré Cœur Saint-Marc
- Collège Chevreul
- Collège et Lycée Saint-Marie
- Lycée Lazaristes
- Lycée Saint-Marc
Discover all the districts of the Presqu'île: