Located at 200 Avenue du Casino in La Tour-de-Salvagny, the Casino Le Lyon Vert is considered one of the most beautiful gambling houses in all of France. Although modest in size compared to mega-casinos, the Le Lyon Vert offers 12 table games and over 100 electronic games.
Guests may dine at two restaurants or stay at the Pavilion hotel and spa. The Brasserie Le Caz offers casual dining next to the game floor. The Restaurant La Rotunde features cuisine by Michelin star chef Jean-François Mallet. Guests sit beside large windows, looking out over a large natural park.
When you’re not gambling for real money at Le Lyon Vert and want to see more of the historic city, there are more places to visit than you can fit into a weekend. Here are a few great recommendations.
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
The ancient Romans built a basilica in their colonies to serve as a public building. They held trials and public assemblies in their basilcae, which served as town halls. The church gradually adopted the use of basilicae for worship.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière rose beside the ancient shrine of Fourvière. Pilgrims have visited the shrine, dedicated to Our Lady of Fourvière, since 1170. Residents decided to construct the basilica after the city survived the 1870 Franco-Prussian war unscathed.
Built in the late 1800s, the Basilica Fourvière contains two churches, four main towers, and a belltower. The architecture is a blend of Romanesque and Byzantine designs. According to tradition, Architect Pierre Bossan began designing the basilica in the 1840s, but a choice of location and start of construction waited until the 1880s.
Bossan’s design called for ornate decoration in the upper church, but the lower sanctuary utilizes a much more plain design. The city’s residents gave the nickname of “the upside-down elephant” to the basilica because of its stunning and unusual architecture.
Parc de la Tête d’Or
Legend says a treasure lay buried somewhere in the grounds of what became Parc de la Tête d’Or. The land was initially owned by a wealthy local family centuries ago, and it was a marshy backwater for the nearby Rhône river.
Some of the property passed to the Hospices Civils de Lyon (a teaching hospital), which the city established in 1802.
After the city decided to create an urban park there in the mid-1800s, the land was purchased from the hospital and then drained; the city subsequently planted a forest designed by architect Christophe Bonnet on the grounds.
Lyon’s government combined a nearby botanical garden with the new park in 1957, transferring about 4,000 plants to Tête d’Or. The botanical grounds now cover seven hectares and comprise one of France’s most extensive botanical gardens.
The park also includes a zoo, which added an African plain exhibit in the early 2000s.
The Lyon cathedral’s history extends back to the 2nd Century CE and is one of Christianity’s oldest centers in Europe. Saint Pothinius, martyred in 177, founded the original cathedral.
His successor, Saint Irenaeus, continued the work of expanding the Christian community and the cathedral. Lyon’s bishops played essential roles in the Roman Catholic Church’s growth, including putting down heresies and in Lyon’s history.
The cathedral houses two crosses beside the altar dating to the Second Council of Lyon in 1274 and a magnificent Lyon Astronomical Clock built in the 1300s. The organ dates from 1841 but was rebuilt and enlarged in 1875.
The Presqu’île (“almost island”) is a point of land starting at the base of the Croix Rousse hill, projecting toward the Rhône and the Saône rivers’ confluence. The district houses many business and government buildings and is quite popular with tourists.
Some of the streets and buildings in Prsesqu’ile are several hundred years old, but new streets and buildings date from every century. Some historical buildings like the Celestins Theatre have been renovated.
Famous landmarks still popular with tourists include Basilica of Saint-Martin d’Ainay, the stock exchange, the Museum of Fine Arts in the Saint Pierre Palace, and the Hôtel de Ville (city hall).
When you’re not busy with the casino games at Le Lyon Vert, Presqu’île is a great place to explore for some historic sights.
Lugdunum (formerly the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière)
The name Lugdunum has great historical significance to the area of Lyon.
The Romans probably established their original colony near or atop an earlier Celtic (Gaulish) fort dedicated to the god Lugus or Lug. The original Gaulish name was Lugudunon, and as Gaulish Latin evolved into Medieval French, the pronunciation shifted to Lyon.
In addition to its collections of jewelry, statues, inscriptions, and other heirlooms of the past, the museum houses scale models of the ancient town and its theaters. The museum also occasionally hosts temporary exhibits provided by other institutions.
The Hôtel Gadagne was constructed in the early 1500s by the Pierrevive brothers but took its name from the Florentine Gadagne brothers, who rebuilt it in 1545.
The property served as a hotel and apartments for several centuries. The city of Lyon acquired partial ownership of the property in 1902.
The city established the Historical Museum of Lyon in the hotel in 1921 as a permanent home for collections previously displayed at the city hall. The museum collections now consist of more than 80,000 objects housed in 30 rooms on four floors.
Lyon established the World Puppet Museum in the hotel in 1950. The museum collection includes up to 2,000 puppets housed in nine halls on the hotel’s first floor.
The hotel also includes a small 150-seat theater, shops, a restaurant, and a hillside garden. The Pierrevive family initially established the garden but had fallen into neglect after a few hundred years. The city renovated the property toward the end of the 20th century.
The Murals of Lyon
Lyonnais artists created around 100 murals for their city. The paintings adorn many buildings, and people admire the art as they walk about the city.
Some of the frescoes are painted with stunning depth and detail, so realistic it takes a moment for casual visitors to realize they are gazing at the sides of buildings.
The colorful artwork may resemble a traditional square or rectangular paintings in some locations. But the most stunning murals depict people standing on balconies that don’t exist, magical stairwells that lead up into non-existent alleyways, gardens spilling out of homes, and people dressed in Renaissance or other period clothing.
Murals depict many different art styles and types of scenes. You may see large cats stalking prey on the sides of buildings, an artist working on a painting, or even a fantastic array of flying craft and birds high above the city streets. It’s almost like visiting another world.
The History of Lyon
The city of Lyon sits in Southeastern France, about 93 miles from Geneva, Switzerland. Settlements existed in the area as far back as Neolithic times.
However, the Roman Senate established the modern city in 43 BCE for refugees the Allobroges tribe to the south had expelled from their city.
Under Roman rule, the city of Lugdunum grew to a large size, served by four aqueducts and four Roman roads. Lugdunum eventually became the provincial capital for Roman Gaul and Germany. Roman armies used the city to launch invasions of German territories for several hundred years.
From the 2nd century onward, the city became a Christian bishopric and helped spread the new religion throughout Western Europe. Unfortunately, two Roman contenders (Severus and Albinus) fought a massive battle beside the city in 197. Severus won the engagement, subsequently punishing Albinus’ supporters in Lugdunum.
When German tribes took control of parts of the western Roman empire, Lugdunum fell to the Burgundians. The Franks united France, but Lyon—as residents now pronounced the name—remained an important cultural and administrative center.
The church established an archbishopric there, and French and German nobles visited the city throughout the Middle Ages.
The city remained influential throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, sending missionaries to other countries and leading the French Resistance during the Second World War. Commerce and culture are trademarks of Lyon, which continued to expand and rebuild itself after every setback.
Have Fun Outside of the Le Lyon Vert Casino
You won’t visit Lyon just for the gambling. There is too much to do and see in the city. But it’s no surprise that one of the most popular casinos in the history of French gambling, the Le Lyon Vert, is located in this historic area.
Whether you win big or lose it all at the Vert, save some time, money, and energy to take in the sights. If nothing else, you’ll want to wander the streets and look at all the breathtaking murals.