I had never heard about this two French words until the day I opened my guide book at the Lyon chapter for the first time. After that, during my research and planning, I came across « bouchons » and « traboules » many times, but I only could see what these words really meant during my stay in Lyon.
Bouchons are small bistros very common in Lyon. They use to serve local food, but I notice that people from there go to bouchons not only to have a meal, but also to spend time with friends, have a drink, talk and sometimes even to play board games, such as checkers. It seemed to me that many customers even knew the owners, because of the way they used to talk to each other.
The traboules, on the other hand, are secret passages that lead from one street to another. Most of them were built on the 19th by silk weavers to transport pieces of cloth on rainy days, although some date from the Roman times. In the Second World War, the resistance fighters found them very handy as well. Walking through the traboules is like discovering a hidden labyrinth, specially if you, like me, never know were the passage is going take you.
Although I knew about the existence of the traboules and was looking for them, it was difficult to find them in the beginning. They are hidden behind doors that look very much like a house or a residential building. Then I realize that they were indicated by this sign:
Some silks shops – the reason why most of the traboules were built, after all – still working nowadays and are open for visiting. They offer workshops and guided tour to explain the history of the silk industry in Lyon and how it is made. I have been in one of them
and finished my trip in Lyon with a boat ride in the Saône river.