Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour, Lyon 2

Place Bellecour (62,000 sq.m.) is not only Lyon’s biggest square, it is the largest pedestrian square in Europe. The imposing statue in the centre depicts Louis XIV astride a horse.  A more recent statue pays tribute to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the Little Prince. Both monuments are a source of inspiration for artists creating light shows for the Festival.

Louis XIV gave his permission for the city to purchase the land in 1658 on one condition – that the square should be a public space unencumbered by buildings. The monumental façades – one on the Rhône side and the other on the Saône - were the work of architect Robert de Cotte but they did not stand for long; they were torn down following the Revolution in 1793 due to their association with the local aristocracy. Napoléon Bonaparte had them rebuilt to a virtually identical model with the first stone being laid in 1800.

The statue in the middle of the square shows Louis XIV as a Roman emperor, symbolising royal power over the city. The first statue dating from 1713 was melted down to build canons during the Revolution. The version we can see today, carved by François Frédéric Lemot, boasts the original pedestal dating from 1825 decorated with allegories of the Rhône (the man) and the Saône (the woman). The renovation completed in 2010 returned the square to its former glory mimicking its original 17th century layout with its shady tree-lined promenades.

Source: Lyon History Museum - Musées Gadagne


Thursday 5 and Sunday 8 from 7 pm to 11 pm 
Friday 6 and Saturday 7 from 8 pm to midnight

TOWER is a three-part artistic signage project designed to welcome the public and help them find their way around the city. From a distance, five glowing horizontal bars – encircling the tower at regular intervals – seem to float in the air as though in zero gravity. When the visitors get closer, they get a better view of the signs adorning the luminous totem. The aerial and futuristic aesthetic of these tall rectangular structures is inspired by the Deconstructivist architectural style.

Prairie éphémère

Thursday 5 and Sunday 8 from 7 pm to 11 pm
Friday 6 and Saturday 7 from 8 pm to midnight

Around the foot of the statue of Louis XIV, Place Bellecour is transformed into a vast illuminated meadow.  Strange flying creatures – the Luminéoles – inhabit a field planted with 500 pampas grasses. These 4-metre tall glowing plants reflect the light, creating a veritable tableau vivant, first a wild meadow then a bizarre ocean. The grasses and birds interact in a colourful dance. No bigger than ants in this oversized natural world, the spectators gaze upwards in fascination.

> Prairie éphémère