After exploring Alsace and Burgundy, we were back on our bikes and ready to explore the city of Lyon for a day and then start our route alongside the Rhône on the ViaRhôna. It’s a shame we only had a day to spend, since Lyon itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but we’ll have the opportunity to come back another time. So let’s start with Lyon’s new museum : The Confluence Museum !
Even though we love visiting museums (we are museum geeks, did we ever tell you ?) we sometimes find them a bit boring and dusty, just like people who are not quite fond of museums ! But in Lyon, the Musée des Confluences is the first museum in France that we actually found entertaining !
The Musée des Confluences
The scenography is dynamic, playful and educational at the same time – 3 things that make a museum great to me.
Since we didn’t spend much time in the city, I can’t really give you much travel tips on where to go and what to visit but I am going to try my best to inspire you to visit this awesome museum.
A few words on the museum first
The name “Confluences” comes from its location. The museum is set on the confluence between two main rivers, the Rhône and the Saône.
Conceived by Coop Himmelb(l)au, an Austrian agency known for its architecture of the deconstructivist school, this monumental building of concrete, stainless steel and glass is composed of 3 architecturals units : the Cloud, the Crystal and the Base. The Base is the concrete part at the bottom, the Cristal is the entrance spaces made of glass and the Cloud is the exhibition rooms at the top.
The modern architecture is a reflection of the modernity of the museum itself. I am a big fan of the building itself even though many people are not pleased with it (or was it because it cost quite a lot of money?).
The gardens around are a nice place to have a walk and relax, and are free and open to anyone.
The Confluences museum aims to tell the story of our planet and humanity from its beginnings to our days.
Similar to a Natural History Museum, the Musée des Confluences started off as a cabinet of curiosities. The 3000 square meters permanent exhibition will take you through the history of our world in 4 distinct rooms with a different scenography for each room.
- Origins, the stories of the world
Dinosaurs skeletons invite you to go back to your origins in this first room showcasing ethnographic objects and fossiles.
A detail that I loved : here is a replica of a dinosaur’s head you can touch !
- Species, the web of life
This room takes you through the diversity of the species on our planet and pushes you to question your place and influence on the living world and ecosystem.
- Societies, human theatre
The third exhibition room questions the ways in which our society functions. The displays are divided in three main themes : organization, exchange and creation.
You don’t follow a trail, you walk through the displays following your own route and interests, discovering objects from other cultures and times whilst they are displayed beside every day life objects.
- Eternities, visions of the beyond
The last exhibition room addresses the question of the afterlife in other cultures and civilizations than Europe (Amerindian, African, Ancient Egyptian, ancient Peru…)
We visited the museum in May and at that time there were several temporary exhibitions going on but the one we visited and loved was ‘Antartica’.
Everything from the topic, to the pictures, scenography and police used for the texts was amazing. So different from what we are used to see in older museums, here it was modern, fun and enriching.
I particularly enjoyed the circular room displaying huge screens, giving me the impression to be completely immersed in the ice fields of Antartica.
The Musée des Confluences, a live hub
Check out the museum’s website or active social medias pages for events and workshop throughout the year. Far from dusty old museums, the Musée des Confluences is a lively and dynamic centre of education.
The museum is huge, if you want to enjoy everything it has to offer as well as the exteriors, make sure you arrive early.
It is easily accessible by bus (C10, 15), tram (1) or bicyle (velo’v right outside the museum)
What else is there to do in Lyon ?
Although we did not spend enough days in Lyon to write a city guide, we did see more than just the Musée des Confluences ! Here is a few things we did that might inspire you.
The city centre and its “Bouchons”
We arrived in Lyon after Alsace and Bourgogne, so coming from the north, Lyon looks very much like a mediterranean city. The stone is a little yellowish, the shutters are colourful -, the architecture is similar to what you can encounter in Italy.
Get lost in the “Vieux Lyon” narrow streets and find a “Bouchon” to eat a traditional lunch. A Bouchon is a type of restaurant you will only find in Lyon. They serve traditional dishes, mainly made out of meat, such as sausages, duck or roast pork.
We ate at Le Comptoir des Marroniers and had a delicious traditional lunch for an affordable price.
Dominating the city on top of the Fourvière hill, the 19th century Basilica stands on the Roman forum of Trajan site. The praying site has always been a cultural and spiritual centre of the city of Lyon, from Antiquity to nowadays. From there you will get a kick ass view on the city and even the Mont Blanc on a clear day !
The Rhône riverbanks
They recently rearranged the riverbanks in Lyon and it’s worth to enjoy by foot or on a bike on a sunny afternoon or at sunset with an “apéro”!
More photos on our Flickr album !
*Images of the Musée des Confluences courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au.
Musée des Confluences
Opening hours : 11:00 am – 07:00 pm (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday), 11:00 am – 10:00 pm (Thursday), 10 am – 7 pm (Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). Closed Mondays and 1 January, 1 May, 25 December
Fares : Full rate € 9.00, Reduced rate € 6.00 (a ticket to go in the Lyon Aquarium valid up to and including one month from the date of purchase), Reduced rates for everyone from 5pm € 6.00, 18-25 years € 5.00, Free for young people under 18, high school students, apprentices and students under the age of 26.