Capital of the French way of life, Lyon reveals itself and arouses the curiosity of tourists from all over the work with its many contrasts between culture, high gastronomy called “Haute-goutûre” and contemporary architecture. In this creative effervescence, the reopening of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu – an edifice founded in the 12th century along the Rhône, emblem of Lyon’s rich heritage and the scene of numerous adventures (medical, military, religious) – is provoking an urban upheaval right in the centre of the city of light.
When grandiose meets intimate
This is the emotion that one undoubtedly feels when exploring this particular address… It took four years of building work to complete its reconversion into a new lively quarter. Didier Repellin and Albert Constantin, two inspiring architects, brilliantly led this most ambitious private-sector rehabilitation of a listed monument ever done in France. Even today, this prestigious and unique place continues to fascinate the greatest enthusiasts of history and architecture all over the world.
An urban promenade through a land of exceptional experiences
The walk starts by going through one of the seven entrances to the Grand Hôtel-Dieu. One of the most discreet of them, the hospital square entrance, leads directly to the magnificent garden of the Grand Cloître courtyard. The route continues to the Saint-Louis courtyard where the terrace of Epona, the restaurant of the 5-star InterContinental Hôtel-Dieu, invites you to take a relaxing break with a coffee or a glass of wine by candlelight in the evening. Then appears the Saint-Henri courtyard – the main courtyard with its remarkable peristyle – and the Grand Réfectoire offering a modern set menu, a subtle blend of local and exotic products.
The wide aisles lead to the Sainte-Elisabeth courtyard, the architecture of which is a blend of old buildings and modernistic incorporations. Here the Halles Grand Hôtel-Dieu greet visitors for a tasting of products sourced from listed terroirs, proposed by 9 artisans and/or Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Workers in France). Across the Saint-Martin courtyard, one of the most monumental and dynamic with its many terraces, the excursion ends in the Midi courtyard, where the imposing glass roof reveals a meeting place devoted to shopping through four worlds – fashion, design, taste and well-being – represented by more than 50 brand names.
The highlights of 2019
This year, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu saw two high points:
The opening of the 5-star InterContinental Hôtel-Dieu, one of the centrepieces of this new complex, aims to contribute to the international reputation of the city of Lyon. Jean-Philippe Nuel was the architect in charge of the hotel’s decoration. Drawing on the past, the architect has preserved its historic mark while subtly introducing modernity and luxury into the space. The 144 rooms are generously proportioned with sober and refined decor. “Humble luxury” that fully comes up to the new expectations of travellers.
To accompany the stay of the guests, the hotel proposes a bar – Le Dôme – nestled under a 32-metre high keystone; a restaurant – L’Epona – run by chef Mathieu Charrois; a highly privileged club lounge; a fitness and yoga centre – Le Tigre – as well as a personal concierge service and a vast conference centre of over 1300 square metres.
On 19 October 2019, the official opening of the Cité internationale de la Gastronomie consolidated the avant-gardist positioning of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu. Between a museum and an experimental centre, this astonishing area is entirely devoted to the art of cooking in different forms: exhibitions, performances, workshops, tasting sessions… ‘Miam Miam !‘, a recreational area has been designed specially for children to let them have fun while cooking, arouse their curiosity about what they eat and fire their imagination through food.
Open to all, the only watchword of this unique place is to explore the connections between nutrition and health to heighten awareness among visitors about the food of tomorrow.
The event-driven high points
Every year the Grand Hôtel-Dieu sets out to revitalize the everyday life of Lyon’s inhabitants and tourists with annual events around unexpected and entertaining breaks:
The fête des lumières, the emblematic event of the city of Lyon, where light is transformed into jewels and the city becomes its showcase. In the streets, squares and monuments, artists invite spectators to discover their works in a magical atmosphere. This year, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu used TETRO, a creative Parisian collective, specialists in visual scene-setting through a contemporary universe. Together they create a futuristic transposition of a ballet – they call CODA – in which mankind is replaced with light. This new architectural installation, a blend of ballet and electronic music, is made up of 20 robotized arms coupled with 2-metre long bars of light, the mechanics of which create avant-gardist choreographies in unison.
This event can be experienced from 5 to 8 December 2019 in the sublime Cour du Midi.
Les grandes Estivales, from June to September, the courtyards accommodate convivial activities, fitted out with petanque grounds, a hall with deckchairs and parasols or even pop-up stores on the theme of “better living“.
La Grande Dégustation, 4 gatherings that create an unusual link between chilled rosé and local gastronomy. This project is collectively organized by the site’s restaurant owners in partnership with all the terraces of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu.
Today, 18 months after it opened, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu is the new beating heart of dynamic Lyon. It embraces the city and is one of the region’s most unmissable tourist destinations.