La Part-Dieu

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La Part-Dieu
La Part-Dieu skyscrapers seen from the Fourvière Hill
La Part-Dieu skyscrapers seen from the Fourvière Hill
MétropoleLyon Metropolis
Boroughs3rd arrondissement of Lyon
 • Total1.17 km2 (0.45 sq mi)
 • Total20,600
 • Density17,606/km2 (45,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00

The district of La Part-Dieu is the central business district of Lyon, located in its 3rd arrondissement. It is the second most important area of the city after the Presqu'île. This district is the second-largest business district of France after La Défense in the Paris area,[4] with over 1,650,000m² of office space and services and more than 55,000 jobs. Located east of the Rhone, Part-Dieu is a major transport and commercial gateway for Europe, as the very busy Lyon-Part-Dieu railway station is located in the district. The shopping mall is one of the largest shopping malls in all of Europe.[5]


Origin of the name[edit]

La Part-Dieu was once called "la Pardieu", what could be translated as "God's ownership" or "Gift of God". The original place was a large swampy area, and History tells how a 12th-century pious man saw a gift from God in the only piece of land that was emerged.[6]


Remnants of the Part-Dieu farm estate around 1860

Before the 1850s, La Part-Dieu was composed of rural flood-zones. It was ceded by the Mazenod-Servient family to the Hôtel-Dieu de Lyon Public Hospitals in 1737.[7] The embankment of the Rhône river and construction of bridges ( see Bridges of Lyon ) led to the management of flood risk and urbanization of the eastern Rhone bank from 1772 onwards. By the end of the 18th century, La Part-Dieu domain was a large estate bordered by the Brotteaux and Guillotière districts.[8]

The Lafayette bridge erected in 1872[9] accelerated the eastward urbanization process, while cleansed farmlands gave way to wheat production. From 1830 to 1848, the city erected walls to protect itself from foreign invasions. La Part-Dieu, thus becoming a fort, acquired a military function. Because of the administrative, urban and geological complexity of Lyon, rail transport brought multiple train stations to existence. The Part-Dieu one was solely dedicated to freight transport.[8]

Cavalry barracks[edit]

Part-Dieu cavalry barracks in the first half of the 20th century

In 1844, the Public Hospitals sold their land to the military administration, which built cavalry barracks from 1851 to 1863. However, the process of urbanization was limited by traverse axes and the fact that Lafayette street was the only road connecting La Part-Dieu with the Lyon peninsula. In order to link the city with Geneva, the Gare des Brotteaux was designed by the Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée company, which led to the dismantling of wall fortifications to make way for railway lines. Meanwhile, the military compound took on the orthogonal footprint of the original farm estate.[8]

At the beginning of the 20th century, Édouard Herriot was elected Mayor of Lyon, a city dominating other French outside of Paris, thanks to its dynamic industrial and commercial output. Inspired by the French hygiéniste urbanist movement, similar to Haussmann's renovation of Paris, he undertook major works to improve urban and social space. The eastward urban expansion, rail and road networks turned the Part-Dieu marshalling yards into the centre of the metropolitan area. In 1926, a project based on American Downtowns emerged.[8]

Post-war housing[edit]

Following World War II, France's top priorities were to rebuild the housing stock fast, to push for economic development and to favour efficient movements by car. Due to the evolution of warfare, the military compound lost its importance and became part of a massive housing estate project.[8]

In 1960, the French state sold the lands to a private company, SERL, to bring the project to life.[10] The subsequent demolition of existing structures took 5 years. The fact that large estates were owned by state administrations (Public Hospitals, SNCF and the military), allowed for a profound transformation right in the middle of the city.[8]

The program evolved under the mandate of Mayor Pradel, not only by pushing for housing construction but also for encouraging the construction of an administrative centre and private office space to host public services, such as radio and police stations. The winning architectural project abode by the Athens Charter, a rigorous modernist urban planning philosophy developed by Le Corbusier.[8]

It promoted the separation of human and car flow through the use of "above the street" concrete structures, in a La Défense fashion, allowing for car supremacy on the lower street level, while overhead orthogonal architecture standing on reinforced concrete stilts followed the Unité d'habitation principles. Consequently, several buildings were drawn by the hands of Jacques Perrin-Fayolle, Jean Sillan and Jean Zumbrunnen, nonetheless, only a third of the planned structures were constructed.[8]

Directional center[edit]

While the Charles de Gaulle government pushed for the decentralization of France, car-centric urbanism from the Trente Glorieuses fuelled the growth of the periphery at the expense of the centre. As a result, a management plan was drafted by urbanist Charles Delfante and Jean Zumbrunnen, under the supervision of Mayor Louis Pradel. It included the development of commercial, tertiary and cultural activities, in order to compete with Paris and other international cities and to turn La Part-Dieu into a showcase of modernity. A central train station was planned but the SNCF refused to fund it, a move which hindered the purpose of the directional center.[8]

Lyon had to become the "Balancing Metropolis", relying on regional cities like Grenoble or Saint Etienne, that fought the impoverishment and depopulation of urban centers, owing to a network of highways passing through La Part-Dieu. The original plan included major east-west an north-south green axes, pedestrian-friendly spaces such as a central plaza well served by public transit, and an iconic tower as tall as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière from its historical hill.[8]

However, the 1970s oil shocks and following housing crises altered the project as profitability became the main concern, isolating the district from the rest of city flows. Pedestrians were alienated because of the rupture of major axes caused by the expansion of the central mall, and also by favouring vehicle transport over public transit and finally by constructing concrete pedestrian bridges several meters above street level that isolated architectures into islands. Nevertheless, several iconic structures were elevated during this decade, such as the Municipal Library (1974), the Mall and Auditorium (1975) and the Tour Part-Dieu (1977). To that end, La Part-Dieu differentiated itself from the historical center with a strong architectural identity by offering high end tertiary activities and public services.[8]

Major rail node[edit]

In 1974, it was decided to transfer the old Brotteaux station to La Part-Dieu thanks to its central position. By that time, Line  B  of Lyon Métro arrived inside the Mall in 1978. Half of the marshalling yards were converted into a large real estate project in order to fund the development of the new train station on each side of the rail tracks. The objective was also to integrate the district with its railways, that is, Central Lyon with eastern neighborhoods. 1983 saw the inauguration of France's first high speed rail TGV line, between Lyon and Paris. Unfortunately, large urban roads surrounding the business district, for instance the existing Viver-Merle Boulevard, continued to divide the business district from the eastern neighborhoods and train station.[8]

European business district[edit]

La Part-Dieu's expansion slowed down during 1990s because of a strong momentum of urban development all over the agglomeration, regarding the Confluence district, the Cité Internationale, Gerland and La Doua Campus. The City Council drove efforts to minimize car travel and to encourage public transit within city limits. It also wished to establish a proper European business district doubling its office supply by densifying the area with 7 highrises such as the Swiss Life and Oxygène Tower, although most proposals were scrapped, because Lyon was focusing elsewhere. Other objectives were to reintegrate the district within the surrounding urban environment through the reclassification of major roads, the conception of the T1 tramway, the renovation of public spaces, the improvement of the connection between the métro and train station and the demolition of elevated pedestrian footbridges.[8]

Main sights[edit]

Skyscraper and high rises[edit]

Rank Name Image Height
m (ft)
Floors Year Status
1 Tour Incity[11] Tour Incity.JPG 202 m (663 ft) 39 2015 Built
2 Tour To-Lyon[12] 170 m (558 ft) 43 2022 Under preparation
3 Tour Part-Dieu[13] Tour Part-Dieu from Rue Du Lac.JPG 165 m (541 ft) 42 1977 Built
4 Tour Silex 2[14] 129 m (423 ft) 23 2021 Under construction
5 Tour Oxygène[15] Lyon tour oxygene.jpg 115 m (377 ft) 28 2010 Built
6 Tour Swiss Life[16] 82 m (269 ft) 21 1989 Built

High rises under construction[edit]

  • Tour To-Lyon (Under Preparation) Office and Hotel Tower, to be completed by 2023 (170 m)[12]
  • Tour Silex 1 and Silex 2 (Built and Under Construction), the former is a lowrise completed in 2017 and the latter will get a 129 meter tall contemporary extension on the top of its renovated 1970s Tour EDF structure.[17][14]

Proposed skyscraper projects[edit]

Tour Incity[edit]

Tour Incity is the tallest Lyon structure, on top of being a low consumption skyscraper. Its spire, designed by Valode et Pistre and Albert Constantin, reaches 202 meters. The tower finished in 2015 currently hosts the Caisse d'Épargne Rhône-Alpes bank and SNCF branches.[20][21]

Tour Part-Dieu[edit]

Completed in 1977, this 164 meters tall building was designed by US based architecture firm Cossutta & Associates for the main structure and by Stéphane du Château for its crown. Mainly occupied by office space, it also hosts a luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel at the top.

The tower, originally named Crédit Lyonnais, is now called Tour Part-Dieu, but is best known by its nickname, le Crayon or the Pencil.

Its postmodern style is showing through the terracotta cladding, imitating the reddish Lyon tiles, and also through the main volume echoing with the Rose Tower traboule in the Vieux Lyon quarter from French Renaissance.[22][23]

Tour Oxygène[edit]

Tour Oxygène is comprised of a direct link to the Part-Dieu Mall, an underground parking lot and 117 meter tall structure crowned by a leaf, to resonate with the pyramidal crown of the first tower. Constructed in 2010, this high-rise designed by Arte Charpentier Architects is a representation of the dynamism that Lyon has been experiencing since the early 2000s.[24]

Other sights[edit]


Municipal Library[edit]


Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse[edit]

Archives Department[edit]

Grand Lyon Hotel[edit]

Montluc Prison[edit]

The Montluc prison opened in 1926 from the existing fort. Under the Vichy Regime, it became a major jewish deportation center and French Resistance prison. It was converted into a civilian prison in 1947 and museum in 2010.[25]


The shopping center with the tram T1

La Part-Dieu is the main Lyon transportation hub :

La Part-Dieu 2030[edit]

Since the 2010s, La Part-Dieu has been undergoing a major transformation, totalling around 2.5 billions euros between private and public investments.[29]

Lyon Metropolis launched an ambitious project to renew La Part-Dieu area with the collaboration of SPL La Part-Dieu organisation and the AUC architecture firm. The goal is to improve tertiary, housing and collective spaces and respecting the existing cultural heritage at the same time. It also wants to turn the business district into a place to live in rather to just work while spurring economic development.[2]

All contemporary developments, including Tour Incity, try to rhyme with the historical heritage and to respect the distinct Part-Dieu style, that consists mostly of repetitive retrofuturistic and mineral patterns from the 1960s and 1970s.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dossier_concertation_ZAC-PART-DIEU.pdf
  2. ^ a b "Ambition | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  3. ^ Dossier-de-presse_septembre2016.pdf
  4. ^ Ernst & Young, Jones Lang LaSalle, Why Invest in Lyon?, 2014.$FILE/EY-Why-invest-in-Lyon.pdf
  5. ^ Official site of Lyon Archived 2010-04-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Culture : les noms des lieux lyonnais". Girls Take Lyon (in French). 2015-05-11. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  7. ^ a b "Reinvention | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m
  9. ^ "Pont Lafayette". Lyon France (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  10. ^ Systems, eZ. "1957-2017 : 60 ans d'aménagement !". (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  11. ^ "Photographes en Rhône-Alpes::[Tour incity]". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  12. ^ a b "Part-Dieu : To Lyon, une nouvelle tour en 2022". MET' (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  13. ^ "La Tour Part-Dieu - Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts". Radisson Blu (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  14. ^ a b "Silex² | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  15. ^ "Foundation of Oxygen Tower at Lyon Part-Dieu". Antea Group France. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  16. ^ "PSS / Tour Swiss Life (Lyon, France)". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  17. ^ "Silex¹ | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  18. ^ "Dix édifices à plus de 70 mètres à Lyon en 2022" (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  19. ^ mag, Lyon. "Part-Dieu : la Skyline de Collomb a du plomb dans le béton". (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  20. ^ "La Tour Incity". Lyon France (in French). Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  21. ^ "Tour Incity". The Skyscraper Center. Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  22. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "Oxygène Tower - Lyon - Arte Charpentier Architectes". Arte Charpentier. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  25. ^ "Le Mémorial". (in French). Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Gateway to the city | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  27. ^ "Place de Francfort | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  28. ^ "Car rental parking lot | Lyon Part-Dieu". Lyon Part-Dieu. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  29. ^

Coordinates: 45°45′40″N 4°51′26″E / 45.76111°N 4.85722°E / 45.76111; 4.85722