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Exploring La Demeure du Chaos, Lyon—France’s most radical & thought provoking art installation

It’s hard to miss La Demeure du Chaos (the House of Chaos), as it really is a chaotic place. The outer walls scream out at you with political messages scrawled in red, white and black, and huge rusty structures taunt you to enter. Just a short drive from Lyon, this weird and wonderful art installation should be on everyone's travel list—it's the perfect place to pause and reflect during a foodie trip to France.

graffiti of cctv cameras and private flag on orange container
Stencilled art work at the House of Chaos

Descriptions of La Demeure du Chaos range from ‘ugly and humanly intolerable’, ‘a repulsive disaster’ and ‘an extraordinary place for open minds’. I’m in the latter camp. The House of Chaos has been causing chaos since 1999, what started out as a beautiful 17th-century house is now a sprawling mass of burnt out cars, graffiti and giant silver skulls. There’s even a pond dyed bright red, it kind of looks like blood and I think it's supposed to.

huge silver skull sculpture in red pond at house of chaos france
One of the many giant skulls

Upon entering La Demeure du Chaos you’re met with the faces of Osama Bin Laden, Salvador Dali and Julian Assange painted straight onto the outer walls and there are over one thousand portraits like these throughout the place, dotted amongst slogans like ‘Is there life before death?’ and ‘Open your mind before your mouth’.

As well as paintings, the grounds are also filled with thousands of installations—old TV sets are piled on top of each other, huge fibreglass rats run through the giant skulls, and there’s even a crashed-out helicopter. But they’re not here for show alone, everything has a message and has been carefully thought-through. The owner, Thierry Ehrmann turned the building, his home, into this contemporary art museum to highlight controversial and often overlooked social and political issues. What he’s created asks questions on subjects from human trafficking, terrorism and war to drug laws and climate change, and today, over 20 years since opening his messages feel more relevant than ever. 

old tvs at abode of chaos
TV art installation

Open from 14h30 to 18h30 between April and September and 14h to 17h from October to March each weekend, entry is currently free and I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.

burnt out car and painted brick walls at abode of chaos
Thousands of portraits are painted directly onto the outer walls

How to get to La Demeure du Chaos from Lyon

You’ll find La Demeure du Chaos in St. Romain au Mont d'Or, a 10km drive from Lyon city center taking the D433 road towards Fleurieu-sur-Saône. No car? Take the 43 bus from Lyon-Vaise station.

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