39-41 rue Grenette in Lyon (France) : a BNP Paribas’ landmark adress for one century

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Branch entrance at 39 rue Grenette in Lyon - photo of Lacompagny/Jean-Erick Pasquier

Branch entrance at 39 rue Grenette in Lyon - photo of Lacompagny/Jean-Erick Pasquier

The banking history of Lyon dates back to the Middle-Age when the city was well-known for its fairs, Italian bankers and silk traders. At first, Lyon’s financial sector was dominated by family-run banking houses, originating from manufacturing and silk trading, until the advent of the banking institutions founded in the wake of the French legislation passed in 1848 and 1863. As a result of this modern banking concept, these new credit institutions, attracted by Lyon’s floating capital and banking needs, hastened to open branches. That was what the Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP) did in 1868 when setting up at 9, rue Bât-d’Argent in the heart of the new business quarter designed by Prefect Vaïsse within the Presqu’Île.

From Quai de Retz to Rue Grenette

These national-calibre financial newcomers did support Lyon’s booming economy yet they were fiercely competing with the local banks in their traditional markets. Under the same circumstances, in 1910 the Comptoir d’Escompte de Mulhouse (CEM) acquired Banque De Riaz Audra & Cie, which was founded by a Swiss cloth manufacturing family towards the end of the 18th century at 10, Quai de Retz (nowadays called Quai Jean-Moulin), a prestigious address at the time.
In October 1914, Banque Nationale de Crédit (BNC), a French affiliate set up in 1913 to take over the French branch network of the Alsace-based CEM headquartered in German territory at the time, acquired the whole block at 39-41 rue Grenette. Without delay, the bank launched the construction of a new building for its Lyon branch, which was feeling both cramped in the old offices and distant from the bank district.

The façade – photo of Laurence Bosc
The façade – photo of Laurence Bosc

Local branch and regional management

From the day it opened in September 1922, the Lyon-Grenette branch was BNC’s largest. As a busi-ness unceasingly committed to customers and communities, it was successfully transferred to the Banque Nationale Pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI) and later the BNP. One of the first regional back-office was implemented as early as 1936, to handle accounting and collection for Southeastern France. Later on, in 1975, Rue Grenette became home to the first Regional Division and in 1988 accommodated the first regional dealing room while the sixth floor was renovated and the new roof terrace laid out.
Several renovation projects were carried out especially the lowering of the sills of the three windows at the centre of the façade in 2000, to create a direct access to the new ATM hall, hence broadly opening up the branch in its historic neighbourhood, which is one of Europe’s largest commercial areas.
The building, which is situated in the “Vieux Lyon” (Old Lyon) area that was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1998, today hosts, alongside the Regional Division, a branch plus a Private Banking Centre.

To go further, flip through the brochure 39-41 rue Grenette Lyon of the collection “BNP Paribas’ landmark buildings”

The number 41 entrance door arched pediment with the Mercury relief – Photo of Laurence Bosc
The number 41 entrance door arched pediment with the Mercury relief – Photo of Laurence Bosc
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