The Flower Tree Sculpture in Lyon

Flower Tree Sculpture on the Rhone, public art that welcomes visitors

Visitors arriving at Lyon, France by boat are welcomed to the city by a whimsical, eye-catching, larger-than-life Flower Tree sculpture that sits close to the bank of the Rhone.

Pedestrians can easily sight the Flower Tree, too, while walking on the eastern side of Place Bellecour, the city’s immense central square that is the largest in Europe. It’s on view all day every day of the year.

The bouquet of 85 flowers is 6-meters (almost 20-foot) tall and is actually positioned on a smaller square, called Place Antonin Poncet, beside fountains that offer a cool mist in the summer.

In winter or when clouds cover the city, the sculpture offers an expected burst of color.

Fountains Near The Flower Tree Sculpture
Fountains Near The Flower Tree Sculpture (credit: Jerome Levine)

Created by Korean pop artist Choi Jeong Hwa, the Flower Tree was first created for the Lyon Biennial Contemporary Art Festival (held in years ending with odd numbers) in 2003 but has been sitting at its present location since 2007 when residents of the city decided to make it a permanent fixture.

The artist, who lives and works in Seoul, uses everyday materials to create public art that seeks to engage participation. The Lyon sculpture is made of stainless steel with a durable polyester resin coating.

A “big sister” (25-meter) Flower Tree sculpture by the same artist is also on display in Shanghai.

Closeup view of the colorful flowers (credit: Jerome Levine)
Closeup view of the colorful flowers (credit: Jerome Levine)
Another view of the meticulous detail of the sculpture (credit: Jerome Levine)
Another view of the meticulous detail of the sculpture (credit: Jerome Levine)

A website for visual artists notes:

Choi Jeong Hwa’s installations invite the audience to experience these objects and materials in a new way. Viewers can touch, walk through and around the installations, creating movement through mobile, hanging pieces.

Choi Jeong Hwa challenges the status and reverence of artworks in galleries and museums by creating artworks from non traditional materials as installations, away from these formal institutions, that can be touched and experienced by an audience.

Now, more than two decades after its creation, you still can’t help but look at the Flower Tree and smile. It is as radiant and beautiful at night as it is during the day.

A tourist stops to see The Flower Sculpture on a Rainy Day (credit: Jerome Levine)
A tourist stops to see The Flower Sculpture on a rainy Day (credit: Jerome Levine)
Flower Tree Sculpture in Lyon at Night (credit: Jerome Levine)
Flower Tree Sculpture in Lyon at Night (credit: Jerome Levine)

In a city known for the ways in which it both preserves and reinterprets the classics, Lyon seems to be a perfect home for this spectacular piece of public art.

The FLower Tree: A Symbol of Lyon, France
The Flower Tree: A Symbol of Lyon, France (credit: Jerome Levine)

It serves as a reminder for passersby to stop and smell the “roses” and also provides a perfect backdrop for a photo that will transport you back to Lyon.


Also on More Time To Travel:

Note: This is a substantially updated version of a previously published post.

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  1. The flower sculpture certainly provides a colorful and happy welcome to visitors to Lyon.

  2. This is such a wonderful idea — flowers that “bloom” all year round. A day brightener for sure.

  3. I absolutely love flowers and this sculpture is awesome! Now I have another reason to visit another area of France besides just Paris!

  4. My favorite kind of art: the kind I can look at, appreciate and actually know what it is. Your post makes me want to return to Lyon, a place we spent far too little time, too long ago.

  5. What a fun sculpture installation. Lyon is a wonderful city, which such charming and welcoming people. It is also one of the great gastronomic centres of France, so is definitely worth a visit. It makes a convenient last stop on a trip through a France as the TGV can drop you directly at Charles de Gaulle for the trip home.

  6. The tree is nice, but the surroundings are even nicer. Actually, the core/s of Lyon is/are full of nice surprises. I arrived to this place via the metro/subway and it was one of those smaller mind blowing experiences since the place where I arrived from was a quite usual looking business district.

    It’s easy to arrive to Lyon via air, water or land. It’s quite easy to make day trips in the area as well, if perhaps a bit expensive. The place was very child and senior friendly.

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