The Convent of the Visitation, built in 1854, was one of Pierre-Marie Bossan's first projects in Lyon. Bossan was not yet the major religious architect that we know today as the creator of the Basilica of Fourvière. Bound by the strict rules of the architectural model required by the rules of the Order of the Visitation, he created a perfectly symmetrical construction designed to illustrate the balance and fullness of religious life.
The building is a harmonious whole that alternates brick with white limestone and yellow Couzon stone rubble.
It is designed on a square plan with three floors. On the ground floor, four wings surround an enclosed cloister, forming the peristyle. The peristyle was initially accessed through the main entrance and a vestibule located in the east wing. In the west wing, the convent church is perpendicular to the cloister, as stipulated by the rules of the order. A double-flight stone staircase leads to both upper floors.
Few of the convent's original interior fittings have been preserved, since the building has experienced many ups and downs during its history. It was home to a boarding school for young girls until 1903, then housed the wounded during WWI, and was later sold to the municipality of Lyon in 1965. At the time, André Malraux and Louis Pradel intended it to be used as an architecture school. Instead, it was rented to the Hospices Civils de Lyon hospital system in 1970 and used as housing for student nurses until 1974, when it became the repository for the Archives of the historic Hôtel Dieu hospital.