Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Creative City of Media Arts

The City of Lyon is situated by the Rhône and Saône Rivers in the south-eastern part of central France. With a population of around half a million, Lyon is the third largest city in France and one of the country’s most dynamic and innovative. Lyon is known worldwide as the capital of French gastronomy, the former silk capital of the world, the birthplace of the cinema. In recent years the city has increasingly been drawing attention for its creative ventures in the world of media arts, including the annual Festival of Light spectacle as well as for its new architecture.

From early Roman times up until today, the urban fabric of Lyon has developed successively eastward, leaving preceding settlements intact rather than rebuilding on the same site. The legacy of this remarkable continuity over many centuries have earned the historic sites and architectural monuments of Lyon a place on the World Heritage list, as outstanding examples of traditional human settlements.

Header photo: Hôtel de Ville, Photo: Tristan Deschamps/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

 

Quai de Saône – Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Quai de Saône – Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

Creative City of Media Arts

Cinématographe – Photo: Marie Perrin
Cinématographe – Photo: Marie Perrin

The dazzling views of Lyon at night may have inspired the Lumière Brothers in their work on the world’s first motion-picture camera, the cinématographe, invented here at the end of the 18th century. And who know’s, the first ever flickering images projected onto the silver screen may also have inspired the city’s future vision of itself as a creative city of light and moving images, a century or so after the Lumière Brothers’ forays into this field.

Evolving out of the city’s media sector initiative, Lyon’s traditional light festival – Fête des Lumières – has become a large-scale multimedia spectacle illuminating the city’s architectural landscape and World Heritage monuments at night around December 8th every year.

The four-day festival has its origins in a centuries old Lyonnaise tradition of lighting small candles on the window sills outside as a token of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving the city from the plague. In 2013, the event attracted around 4 million visitors and massive media attention to the 80 different light shows. Altogether some 8 million candles were sold during the festival days.

ête des Lumières, Photo: Muriel Chaulet
ête des Lumières, Photo: Muriel Chaulet

The City of Lyon and the Lyon Metropolis have in recent years invested heavily in the development of the digital economy and creative industries, representing around 7000 companies including a number of leading software gaming firms.

In addition to the Festival of Light, the city also support a host of digital media arts initiative at the international level, such as the Mirage Festival, electronic music and film festivals, events in the theatrical arts field, the city’s Digital Library NUMELYO and various digital strategies for its museums.

Lyon is at present one of two UNESCO-designated Cities of Media Arts in France. Lyon joined the Creative Cities Network in 2008, followed by Enghien-les-Bains (Paris) in 2013.

 

Lyon – old and new

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Photos (clockwise from top left):
Place de la Trinité, Vieux-Lyon, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Traboule, Croix-Rousse, Photo: Brice Robert/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Confluence, Cube Orange, Jakob + MacFarlane architectes – Photo: Brice Robert/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Musée des Confluences, Photo: Quentin Lafont/Musée des Confluences/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

 

Lyon at night

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Photos (clockwise from top left):
Place du Change, Vieux-Lyon, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Place des Terreaux, Terreaux – Opéra, Photo: Tristan Deschamps/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Fête des Lumières, OnDiraitQue, Photo: Muriel Chaulet/Lyon Tourism and Conventions
Fête des Lumières, Quai de Saôn, Photo: Marie Perrin/Lyon Tourism and Conventions

SOURCES & CREDITS
All photos above courtesy of Lyon Tourism & Conventions.
The Impact of Societal and Social Innovation by Carol Yeh-Yun Kin and Jeffrey Chen (Springer Nature 2016)
ONLYLYON
Enghien-les-Bains, City of Media Arts
Saint-Étienne, City of Design
UNESCO