Located in the north of the city of Lyon beside the River Rhône, it covers an area of 105 hectares (260 acres). It can be thought of as the lungs of the city, with its vegetation, zoological gardens and lake of 16 hectares (40 acres).
The extensive areas of grass alternate with woodland, and many of the trees are more than 150 years old. The borders of the paths and flower beds, with their roses and peonies, bring touches of scent and colour in all seasons.
The park gained an ISO 14001 certificate in 2005, because of the environmentally-friendly way it is managed by the city.
It is open to the public year-round, free of charge.
The International Rose Garden
The history of Lyon is closely linked to horticulture and rose-breeding, with many famous rose varieties having been created there. There are more than 100,000 rose plants of 350 different varieties in an area of 40,000 square meters(10 acres). There are also two other rose gardens in the park; one in the botanic garden and the other devoted to the International Competition of New Roses.
The Botanic Garden
The Jardin Botanique de Lyon was created in 1763 by the Royal Veterinary School in Lyon. In 1793 it moved to the Croix-Rousse district (in the place still called the Jardin des Plantes), then in 1857 to the park where it is one of its most treasured features. It was closely linked to the economic development of Lyon, first for medicine and then for science, industry and art (research on food plants, dyestuffs for the silk trade and pharmaceuticals).
Outside the Botanic Garden there is an arboretum with over 350 species, as well as the School of Botany, the Alpine Garden and the bamboo groves. There are also many greenhouses well known for their living collections which help conserve plant species, and also for their architecture.
The large tropical greenhouses (built in 1883) are essentially for camellias and pandanus (tropical palm-like trees). The smaller tropical humid greenhouses cater for araceæ (arum family), bromiliaceæ (such as pineapple), tillandsia and orchids, while the Dutch greenhouse is devoted to plants from the Canary Islands and South Africa, and to carnivorous plants. The Madagascar and Victoria greenhouses complete this group.
The Botanic Garden is involved in French groups of botanic gardens, including The Botanical Gardens of France and French-speaking Countries (JBF), Conservatoire des Collections Végétales Spécialisées (CCVS) and in international groups such as the Botanical Gardens Conservation Initiative (BCGI) and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Zoological Garden
With some elements of construction starting in 1858, the Zoo de Lyon is one of the oldest zoos in France. From 1870 wild and exotic species arrived, kept in cages as was usual at that time.
The zoo now occupies more than 10 hectares (25 acres). It contains some 400 animals of 64 species (30 of which are in European breeding programmes). In 2006, the African Plain was set up. In this open space there are over 100 animals, including giraffes, zebras and pink flamingos, living together in a more natural and ecological environment. The cages have been left behind and the zoo is now a model of what a zoo should be.
Zoo de Lyon has been a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 2006. It aims at becoming a biodiversity area and a conservatory for endangered animal species.
The Parc de la Tête d’Or is under the responsibility of World Urban Parks Board Member M. Daniel Boulens. He is head of Parks and Gardens in the City of Lyon, the third largest French city.
There is a staff of 400 in the department, whose role is not only to maintain the existing parks and gardens but to design and create new ones. It also oversees nature and environmental education policy.
Lyon recently hosted the World Federation of Roses Societies international convention, also presenting a rose festival including olfactory tours, exhibitions and other events.
Ville de Lyon
Direction des Espaces Verts
69205 Lyon Cedex 01
Tel : 0033 (0)4 7269 4760
Photos provided courtesy of Parc de la Tête d’Or.