The history of any city can be told in part through its buildings. In Lyon remnants of the work of the Romans, the first devoted civic builders to occupy the land near the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers, remain up the hill above the old quarter, Vieux Lyon. Between the Roman era and today, many buildings have been constructed in many different styles.
In some cities (London comes to mind) the new comingles with the old. In Lyon the building styles are more segregated; they tend to run with the districts. It’s no surprise that the oldest buildings are found in the most historic areas of town like Vieux Lyon. Inventive modern architecture has its own zones, having often sprouting mostly emphatically in places where urban renewal is active.
In Lyon, La Confluence, the district where Wanderlust moored during her stay, is in the midst of a building boom. The old abandoned warehouses are being removed, which is a tad sad as even the newly old industrial buildings can have interesting character. On the upside numerous attractive new, modern buildings have replaced the warehouses and industrial buildings. Generally the stylistic choices made in Lyon are good, in our uninformed opinion.
As always with ultra modern architecture, there are some new buildings that I like and some that I don’t. It often only becomes clear which ones are which after time. I may not think I “like” a building, but I can’t help but look at it. And I can’t help taking a picture each time I pass by.
The modern architecture in Lyon is not to the same standard of other worldly Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (“City of Arts and Sciences”) in Valencia. Valencia’s ultra modern development is more cohesively themed, more futuristic, and less utilitarian. At the same time I suspect that unlike Valencia’s ultra futuristic development, Lyon’s wave of new buildings are not going to bankrupt the region.
In any event looking at buildings is free entertainment, as long as you have the time. Time is money, after all. And it may take a lot of time. Lyon is large enough that exploring the diverse architecture is a multiple day affair. Exploring by bike makes it is easier to pop from building to building. It also lets one discover things by accident. You never know what you are going to find when you explore. And that’s the point.