Monday, 13 May 2013

Lyon's Incredible Trompe L'Oeil Murals

Lyon is the cpital of Europe for trompe l'oeil murals. There are more than 65 in the town itself and about 150 in the whole 'lyonnaise' conurbation. Here are a few of them I was delighted to see again when I went home during the Easter holidays.
The 'Mur des Ecrivains' was  painted by 'Cité de la Création' artists on a building on the corner of rue de la Platière and quai de la Pêcherie. It features references to about 300 writers who were born in Lyon or worked there. It isn't easy but if you look carefull you can see references to Frédéric Dard (the prolific crime writer of the San Antonio series), poetess Louise Labé, Rabelais and Voltaire, and to Saint-Exupery - French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator and author of  'Le Petit Prince'.

On the ground floor you can see three book shops and a postman leaning against the wall.


I couldn't resist including this powerful and passionate poem by sixteenth-century poetess Louise Labé. 

Sonnet II -  Your Cold, Appraising Eyes

Your cold, appraising eyes entice me still
And cause a hundred thousand sighs.  Again,
And yet again, I wait and wait in vain.
The night is dark, the way is all uphill.

And when I dream about you, I am filled
With ceaseless turmoil and long-stifled pain.
Then, on a sudden, flashing through my brain,
I see my fate, and it’s a bitter pill.

Into the deep of night, I speak your name.
My hard-fought struggle with the gentle art
Of making verses cannot long subdue

All passion and desire.  A fit of flame
Flares up, ignites, and burns within my heart.
Would that one red-hot spark might fly on you!

 Another very famous mural is The 'Mur des Lyonnais', also painted by 'Cité de la Création. Located on the corner of 49 Quai Saint Vincent and 2 Rue de la Martinière, it features 30 famous people from Lyon on a surface of 800 m2.

You will find there Sainte Blandine, one of the first Christian martyrs of Lyon, restaurateur Paul Bocuse, the Lumière brothers (who played a crucial role in the development of photography and the cinema), 19th century physician Claude Bermand, Laurent Mourguet who created the famous Canut puppet Guignol and many others.

I will also mention Juliette Récamier who was born in 1777 in Lyon and held an illustrious 'salon' in Paris in the early 19th century, just because she gave her name to the secondary school I attended!


The oldest, largest and most famous mural is the 'Mur des Canuts', located of course in the Croix-Rousse district of Lyon, where so many silk-workers lived and worked. It was the Cité de la Création's first mural and the one which made them famous all over the world.
Now, what is real and what is just a painting? I guess you'll have to go to Lyon to find out!
There are many more murals to discover in Lyon.
For more information, visit