Since 2012, the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes has been carrying out major restoration work on the interiors of the Primatiale Saint-Jean de Lyon

The restoration of the building’s interiors is planned in five sections, according to the terms of the architectural and technical project of the chief architect of historical monuments.

It began with the restoration of the apse, choir and eastern chapels (completed in 2013), continued with that of the transept and the first bay of the nave and aisles, will continue through the three bays of the nave and the bas-sides and will end with the restoration of the side chapels.

Blackened and difficult to read, the walls and vaults gradually regain their radiance, marked by a polychrome often old and no longer visible.

Restoring the interior of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral without suspending its operation was a constraint that added to the difficulties of the actual restoration and management of such a project.

The last major campaign of work on the interior elevations of the apse dating from 1936, a new grooming had become necessary in order to remove the dirt accumulated for years and which had gradually faded the chromatic play of the building stones.

This restoration has also made it possible to rediscover the subtlety of the effects of light and color, between stained glass, marble and limestone.

The restoration of the interior elevations addressed several material issues.

The elevation of the apse and the choir consists of the marble triforium ground called «choin» from stone blocks of ancient Roman monuments of Fourvière hill whose cleaning and surface treatment (polishing) respond to specific methods.

The elevation of the vaulted triforium consists of traditional limestone from Lucenay. Cleaning and surface treatment has been defined in connection with the marble stone to ensure continuity of facing.

The cleaning of the siding was also an opportunity to find 4 levels of scagliola frieze. This frieze comprises a total of 87 claveaux. The cleaning of the frieze required very specialized teams, the dust removal work was carried out with cotton swabs, with a water brush, a pre-consolidation by application of gauze was carried out, then a purge of the non-stick rags, the cleaning of the marble, the consolidation and reintegration of the stained mortar and the polishing and polishing of the elements.

The coatings of the vaults were, for the blown parts, redone then a harmonization brush was applied.

New lighting highlights the architecture

This work was accompanied by a lighting project designed by the company COBALT, which meets two objectives: to highlight the restored architecture and monument and bring the ambient light. The light sources are invisible, the LED technology used will reduce electricity consumption by 75%.

Creation of contemporary stained glass windows

Another important programme during this phase of work is the creation of new stained glass windows. A competition launched in July 2013 by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs has made it possible to nominate a team of three artists, Jean Mauret, Dominique Fleury and Gilles Rousvoal associated to the Duchemin workshop (Paris) to realize the design and realization of 6 high and 2 low bays in the north and south transepts.

Total cost of work completed

The cathedral’s interior restoration project: choir and transept (2012-2015): 6.4 million €

The restoration work will continue from 2017 and will concern the nave for a cost of €4.100 million. François Botton, chief architect of historical monuments will take over the project.

The total cost of the interior restoration of the cathedral excluding side chapels, furniture and organ will be 10.5 million €

State share (Ministry of Culture and Communication - DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes): 4.5 million €

Departmental Council share of the Rhône and Metropolis of Lyon: 6 million €


The inauguration of this restoration phase took place on February 6, 2016 at the invitation of Michel Delpuech, Prefect of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Christophe Guilloteau, President of the Rhône department, Gérard Collomb, president of the metropolis of Lyon and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon.