Only Lyon - Tourism and Conventions

Hugues Savay-Guerraz, conservateur du Musée Gallo-Romain de Lyon Fourvière
Vestiges gallo-romains à Lyon
Visite d'enfants au Musée Gallo-Romain
Musée gallo-romain de Lyon Fourvière - Mosaïque
Musée gallo-romain de Lyon Fourvière - la salle de Neptune

An astonishing museum…

Hugues Savay-Guerraz, curator of the Lyon Fourvière Gallo-Roman Museum, presents the museum, plans for the future, and his favourite pieces…

Describe this astonishing museum for us…

The museum was designed by the architect Bernard Zehrfuss in 1975 to fit into the archaeological site. Almost invisible embedded in the hill, it opens onto the theatres with light canons. Entirely designed around the site’s collections, its reinforced concrete structure presents curves, strong lines and viewing wells overlooking mosaics – which make it very difficult to modify!

And since 1975, we’ve made a lot of new archaeological discoveries, so our store rooms are currently overflowing! Only half of our stock is actually used in the exhibitions!

We began the complete renovation of the Museum’s scenography in 2012.


And what about activities?

There are several ways to visit: some people simply walk around the collections, others prefer a guided tour, while others spend hours reading every description. Almost half of the museum’s visitors are school children, so we are increasing the number of workshops and activities for younger visitors. The museum is open to everyone. The exhibit descriptions are bilingual and we have a museum guide available in several languages.

Which are the really exceptional and unmissable exhibits?

The Claudian Table is one of the most interesting and prestigious works in the collection. This speech made by the Emperor Claudius, engraved in bronze, deals with a highly relevant topic: the integration of foreigners. The engraving is of excellent quality and the document of considerable historical interest.

The Gaulish calendar, a unique artefact and the most popular object in the museum, has travelled all over the world! We loan out the original as well as copies. It is the longest written document (engraved in bronze) in the Gaulish language transcribed in Latin characters.

The mosaics depict scenes from Roman life, such as a chariot race, for example.
The collections in Lyon deal with all aspects of public and private life.
Lugdunum boasted a wide range of monuments devoted to entertainment: an amphitheatre for gladiatorial combat, a theatre, an odeon for lyrical presentations and a circus used for chariot racing.
In the Craft and Trade area you can walk, just as they did in ancient times, on the mosaic of a reception hall of approximately 100m².

Here you can discover some unusual occupations, including that of “barbaricaire” (weaver of gold thread) or soap maker…
The busy trade port of Lugdunum was an important staging post for products from the Mediterranean travelling to the north of the Empire via the Rhône River. The amphorae were used to transport important foodstuffs during the Antique period: garum, wine and olive oil.

The museum’s gently sloping circuit logically ends with the theme of death: during Roman times, tombs were found all along the roads. The epitaphs were designed to catch the eye of the passersby: “Make the most of life. There where you are I was, and here where I am you will be…”

The museum exhibits a number of models…

Lyon’s Roman past is extremely rich: there are always archaeological digs preceding building projects. Afterwards, everything is covered up, and hence the usefulness of models that offer an idea of how the buildings were laid out and the archaeological discoveries.

The antique site?

The light canons enable the theatre and the odeon to be brought right into the museum.
Only 1/3 of the terraces of the Roman theatre still remain. They originally went right to the top of the hill, as shown on the model next to the opening onto the theatre.

Next to it is the smaller odeon, shops, and a Roman road… The interpretation of the site has evolved over the years as further archaeological discoveries have been made…

You have to imagine that this was a really bustling district, since here we’re right at the heart of the Roman city.

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Lyon City Card The admission to the Gallo-Roman Museum and the exhibitions is included in the Lyon City Card