Montée du Gourguillon

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The Montée du Gourguillon is a very old street of the hill of Fourvière in the 5th arrondissement of Lyon, between the Saint-Jean and Saint-Just quarters. It begins from the Place de la Trinité and ends with the rue des Farges. The street belongs to the zone classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Origin of the name

There are various explanations for justify the name "gourguillon". The name would come from the Latin words gurgulio which means "throat"<ref name="Rues">Template:Cite web</ref> or "to gurgle", which is an onomatopoeia to express the sound of bubbling water down when it dropped on the slope. According to other sources, the name may also come from gurges sanguinis as reference to the blood of the martyrs of 177 that would flow from the top of the hill, although this explanation is much less credible than the first one. Indeed, according to a fable, in 1790, the fourth battalion of the National Guard, which was recruited in this neighborhood, has a flag with the Latin motto Dat sanguine palmas.<ref name="Meynard">Template:Cite book</ref>


File:Montée du Gourguillon -7.JPG
A statue and the plaque of the street

The montée du Gourguillon has a length of 400 meters with a climb of 53 meters, which represents a slope of just over 7.5° on average. The street is wholly paved and has no sidewalk from its bottom to its intersection with the montée des Épies and has at regular intervals (every 10 meters) small steps over its entire length. The street is pedestrian but the residents can move and many cars are parked. Houses of the 15th century with decorated mullioned windows with fantastic animals and grotesques are still visible.

At number two, a private traboule with symmetrical galleries to a staircase is opened and overlooks to the montée du Chemin-Neuf. Between Nos. 5 and 7, there is the Impasse Turquet which shows the latest (14th century) wooden galleries of Lyon.<ref name="Gambier">Template:Cite book</ref> On the western side, there are ruins untils number 12 and, on the other side, high houses, then a large white stone portal with a garden. From number 14, buildings consist of houses and large garden walls alternatively.<ref name="Rues"/> In the middle of the rise, there is the Place Beauregard at the location of a slight widening of the square at the junction of stairs of the montée des Épies. This square was created after 1540, as it was not indicated on the plan of that year, and was built after the step backwards of a few houses that were rebuilt. In addition to this montée des Épies that opens on the left by climbing long stairs on the hillside down to Saint-Georges quarter, there is the rue Armand-Caillat which joins the montée des Épies.

File:Montée du Gouguillon -3.JPG
A building of the street

At its end, the montée du Gourguillon is divided into two almost diametrically opposite ways: a staircase that leads into the rue des Farges, before the school of Saint-Just in the continuity of street axis, and the other one is the continuation of the top of the paved hill, lined with sidewalks which joins the montée du Chemin-Neuf.<ref name="Rues"/>


From the Roman times to the late 16th century, the street was the sole road to provide an access to Saint-Just quarter<ref name="Gambier"/> and it was often frequented by processions of the most powerful men (e.g., in 1245, Innocent IV, the emperor of Constantinople and the Count of Toulouse passed by the montée du Gourguillon when they went to the Cathedral of St. John to open the thirteenth ecumenical council).<ref name="Revue">Template:Cite book</ref> Originally, it was a natural road to climb on the hill of Fourvière on the side of Saint-Just from the Vieux Lyon, which are the two ancient centers of the city, Fourvière, the high center of the ancient city of Lugdunum which ailed in the late Ancient history to the benefit of Vieux Lyon, on the Saône banks. In the Middle Ages, the street was called Beauregard, was not lined with houses except in its lower end, and there was on its top the door of the city wall which opened into the Saint-Just quarter, which was an independent village then.

File:Montée du Gourguillon -4.JPG
Other view of the street

According to a legend, after the 177 persecution, the blood so flowed through the Gourguillon that it flushed the Arar and thus observers called it "Sagona", from Latin sanguinis, which then became "Saône". In 1218, the Dominicans moved to the home of Madeleine, which was fortified in 1271. On 14 November 1305, a wall of the street on which some people were sat collapsed on the motorcade of Pope Clement V, who had just been crowned Pope in the basilica of Saint-Just by the King of France Philippe le Bel. Twelve people died in this accident, including the brother of Pope John II, and the Duke of Brittany who died three days after. The legend says that in his fall, the pope lost his turban and a 6,000-florin precious stone was loosened and eventually buried under the rubble;<ref name="Meynard"/> however, according to an account by Ptolemy of Lucca, it was found later.<ref name="Revue"/>

Between 1525 and 1555, doctor of laws, humanist and archaeologist Guillaume De Choul received many scientists and scholars in his house located in the street. At the top, a convent was progressively built between 1577 and 1647 and was "one of the most significant of France". In the 16th century, the Trinitarian Sisters settled at number two,<ref name="Rues"/> and they were allowed on 16 and 23 July 1658, respectively by Camille de Neuville and the consulate, to build a hospital to be used as hospitality for their religious order. The Monastery of the Incarnate Word, composed of the 27-meter facade house of the Madeleine and the Florentine Orlandini home, was installed in 1655.<ref name="Rues"/> The monastery was replaced by the Institute of the Incarnate Word, led by Mr. Guillard. It had a dining room with walls covered with cards painted by students, and a covered gym, built under the direction of Colonel Amoros.

In the 16th century, Laurencin had a famous inn called Trois Fontaines. In 1670 or 1676, a compartmented mosaic (20 feet long and 10 feet wide) showing a battle between Love and the Pan god was found in a vineyard owned by the surgeon Cassaire and which was part of the garden of the Vendôme house in the 19th century, and was placed in a museum in 1822. A Roman cippus with a 15-line epitaph in honor of a nine-year old boy was found in the house of Mr. Raymond who donated it to the Museum of Lyon in 1843. On 31 July 1847, another mosaic was unearthed in front of the Bouvier ladies boarding. Another inscription found was transported to the Île Barbe and was used as slab of an altar in the chapel of St. Martin. In 1849, four Masonic lodges held meetings at No. 22.<ref name="Meynard"/> In 1873, a newspaper named La Gazette du Gourguillon was published and disappeared quickly.

In 1827, this street was described as "disgusting and dirty" due to "the black color of [its] dirty and badly built houses. Shortly after the World War II, the remains of a woman, dismembered and packaged in a newspaper, were found in the trash, while the scavengers were on strike, after being ritually killed by her husband, a member of the Inghilis sect.

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See also


  • 5th arrondissement of Lyon
  • Vieux Lyon
  • World Heritage Site


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