La Part-Dieu

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La Part-Dieu and its skyscrapers

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,[1] 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.[2]



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 1725. The embankment of the Rhône river and the construction of bridges ( see Bridges of Lyon ) led to the of the management of flood risk and the urbanization of the eastern Rhone bank from 1772 onwards. The first neighbourhood to ever be built on these Public Hospitals-owned lands was named Les Brotteaux. By the end of the 18th century, La Part-Dieu domain was a large estate bordered by the Brotteaux and Guillotière districts. [3]

The Lafayette bridge erected in 1872[4] accelerated the eastward urbanization process, while the 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 mutiple train stations to existence. The Part-Dieu one was solely dedicated to freight transport.[3]

Cavalry barracks[edit]

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 the wall fortifications to make way for railway lines. Meanwhile, the military compound took on the orthogonal footprint of the original farm estate. [3]

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.[3]

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.[3]

In 1960, the French state sold the lands to a private company, SERL, to bring the project to life.[5] 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.[3]

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.[3]

It promotes 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 follow the Unité d'habitation principles. Consenquently, 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.[3]

Regional centre[edit]

European hill[edit]

La Part-Dieu 2030[edit]

La Part-Dieu was originally built to be a local business district. But it ended up growing very fast. The mall together with most of the buildings, the LCL tower and the station were all built around the 1970s. The district is expanding very fast and facing quite a lot of demand for offices. The new Oxygen tower and the Incity Tower are a proof. The attractiveness of the district is growing as well due to the fact that the prices for offices are much lower than the ones in La Defense.


The shopping center with the tram T1

The metro line  B , four lines of tramways (T1, T3, T4 and Rhônexpress) as well as numerous buses link the district to the rest of the city and its metropolitan area.

In 2010, the district was linked to Lyon Saint Éxupery International airport. It now takes less than 30 minutes to go to the airport from Part-Dieu.

Since 2012 La Part-Dieu is served with the new 'green' line, tram T4.

The train station and airport are both facing saturation. The station was originally built to welcome about 35 000 passengers per day and is today facing 140 000 passengers a day (51.1 million per year 2010). Many projects are being thought of to sort these problems. The airport is also facing saturation, Two projects were accepted to face the previsions of traffic for years 2012 and 2020. The first one was the creation of a new boarding 'satellite' connected to terminal 3. The second one is still being studied, it consists in rebuilding terminal 3, and terminal one towards the airports train station.


Rank Name Image Height
m (ft)
Floors Year
1 Tour Incity Tour Incity.JPG 202 m (663 ft) 39 2015
2 Tour Part-Dieu Tour Part-Dieu from Rue Du Lac.JPG 165 m (541 ft) 42 1977
3 Tour Oxygène Lyon tour oxygene.jpg 115 m (377 ft) 28 2010
4 Tour Swiss Life 82 m (269 ft) 21 1989
  • Tour MLyon (Proposed) project launched by DCB International, possibly in 2022 (215 m)
  • Tour Eva (Proposed) project launched by Swiss Life, possibly in 2025 (200 m)
  • To-Lyon (Approval) Twin towers office and Hotel, to be completed by 2022 (170 m)
  • Tour Silex 1 and Silex 2 (Approval) Silex 1 complete in the 1970s and Silex 2 by 2014, adjacent to Silex 1 (Silex 1 is the actual 'Tour EDF', but the whole project was renamed SIlex 1&2 afterwards). Silex 1 – 80 m (planned for 110 m) and Silex 2 planned for 2017 about 129 m.


See also[edit]

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