Basilica of Notre Dame de Fouviere

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Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2017

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On your own

Reasons for trip

Set on top of Fouviere Hill, the Basilica dominates views of Lyon. This was the heart of the original Roman settlement. Fouviere has always been a popular place of pilgrimage and there has been a shrine dedicated to Our Lady here since the C12th. The building is late C19th and built with private funds, in thanksgiving for being spared during the Franco-Prussian War.

It is a “splendid”: building combining elements of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. It is a long rectangular building with a small round apse at the east end and octagonal towers at the corners. Built of limestone it gleams white. Next to it is the much smaller and earlier Chapelle de le Vierge dating from the C18th with its bell tower topped by a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary.

If the outside is impressive, the inside is stunning, with every surface covered with mosaics. Arcades of tall columns with elaborately carved bases and capitals separate the nave from the side aisles. The stone pulpit is equally as impressive.

The mosaics on the ceiling and dome have images of the Virgin Mary. Those on the walls have scenes of ecclesiastical history including the arrival of St Basil and being welcomed by St John and St Polycarp. There is a depiction of Louis 13th dedicating France to the Virgin Mary in the C17th. Another shows the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception by Papal Bull in 1853. There is also a mosaic of Joan of Arc meeting Charles VII of France and telling him she would lead his army to victory over the English.

The chancel apse is a mass of gilt and bright colours. Under the altar canopy is a statue of the Virgin holding the Christ Child.

There are smaller altars in the side aisles with carved reredos depicting the Crucifixion and the Ascension of Christ.

After visiting the Basilica, it is worth walking to the Boulevard at the east end for the views over Lyons.

We visited here as part of a guided tour of Lyon on Day 2 of a river cruise with Riviera Travel to Burgundy, the River Rhone and Provence,.

My full account with all the pictures can be found “here.”:


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