Bonjour mes amis! It’s time to share highlights from my summer trip to lovely Lyon, the culinary capital of France.
Oui mon amis, I bet after I tell you about my first visit to this amazing city, you’ll want to book your next vacation there, especially if you’re a foodie.
Oui mon amis, I went to Lyon with my BFF L for our mutual 60th birthdays. What could be more fun than celebrating 30+ years of friendship and a 60th year with a long weekend in Lyon followed by a few days in Paris?
(Side story: We were supposed to fly from Paris to Lyon, but moi forgot about the date change when flying to Paris and booked our Lyon flight a day short! Needless to say, it was a fiasco and that’s why we ended up on the train.)
(Addendum to side story and very important tip: We learned the hard way that when traveling by train from the Paris Gare Lyon Station, it’s important to find out IN ADVANCE what Hall your train leaves from and what seat and car you are traveling in – believe me, you’ll be glad you did. All ended well and we left that episode behind once we arrived safely in Lyon.)
Living Like A Local In Lyon
Our goal for our stay was to live like a local. We wanted to shop for fresh produce in the farmer’s market, buy morning baguettes and croissants in the boulangerie, sample the handmade chocolates in the chocolatier, shop for French cheeses in the fromagerie, eat lunch in an authentic bouchon cafe, and end each day with a sweet treat from one of the many patisseries.
It felt like we were in foodie heaven. Each moment was a feast for the tummy and the senses – tasting, touching, seeing, smelling, hearing – we fully embraced our culinary surroundings.
Lodging In La Croix Rousse
We booked Airbnb lodging with two bedrooms in the La Croix Rousse. It was a quiet apartment with an outdoor patio and garden. Olivier was our host and was very accommodating. I highly recommend this area and this apartment.
The trendy La Croix Rousse area is located on a hilltop, a bit further from downtown. The travel writer Rick Steves says it’s “Hilly, untouristy, and SoHo-esque, this neighborhood hummed with some 30,000 silk looms in the 1800s. Today this part of town is popular with Lyon’s tie-dye types, drawn here by abandoned, airy apartment spaces (built in the age of the Jacquard loom, which required exceptionally high ceilings). Ooh, ooh, ooh, L and I went on a tour of La Maison Des Canuts, the silk museum. I’ll share that tour in a separate post.
BTW, the Lyon metro station is very convenient and provides an easy ride to the center of town if you don’t want to walk up or down the hill. And purchasing tickets at the kiosk is easy – it’s available in English. (Note: You can purchase a Lyon City Card if you plan to spend more time in Lyon. It covers lots of museum entry fees and metro transportation. We felt we didn’t need it for our stay.)
A Taste of Food Glorious Lyonnaise Food
Wherever we walked in La Croix Rousse it was a foodie extravaganza. Come indulge with me, I’ll take you on a taste:
♥ Farmers Markets – There were two farmers markets in our neighborhood. Both were open every day until 12:30 pm, except on Mondays. One was around the corner from our apartment and was about a block long. The larger one stretched down the Boulevard de la Croix Rousse with around a 100 vendors. You can buy fresh produce, sausages, rotisserie chickens, spices, cheeses, baguettes, and more. Ooh, ooh, ooh, the flowers are gorgeous too. (Tip: remember to bring a grocery bag or two with you when you go shopping as they don’t provide bags.)
♥ Fromagerie – An amazing cheese shop, Galland Didier Maître Frommager, was in our building on the ground floor. Ooh, la, la. We bought a variety of French cheeses and sampled two each morning for breakfast with our café and baguette. What’s that, you want to know which cheeses? Glad you asked:
– On day one, we savored Ossau-Iraty made from sheep’s milk and a creamy Reblochon made from cow’s milk.
– For day two, there was a delicate Satonnay chèvre enrobed in flower petals and creamy St. Marcellin, a classic French cheese made from cow’s milk.
– Our final Lyonnaise breakfast included Lingot brebis, a firmer sheep’s milk cheese and Picodom de chèvre made from unpasteurized goat’s milk.
♥ Boulangarie – The bakeries were brimming with freshly baked baguettes, croissants and other French breads. There is nothing better to wake up to in the morning than a warm croissant or a slice of crusty baguette with real butter and some rich French cheeses. Ooh, ooh, ooh, it’s so good, so good, so good.
♥ Patisserie – Lyonnaise pastries are ah-may-zing. If I was only allowed to eat one thing for the rest of my life, I think I would pick these pastries. One evening after L cooked dinner, we treated ourselves to two desserts, a lemon tart and a pistachio cherry bar. First we tasted the pistachio cherry bar – it was so good, so good, so good. We both couldn’t stop smiling. Next came the lemon tart – it was so good, so good, so good. More smiles. What could be better than eating two delicious pastries with your BFF in Lyon for your 60th birthday? C’etait la perfection absolue.
♥ Chocolatier – We had our choice of two chocolatiers close by and we bought chocolate at both. Bouillet, was directly across the street from our apartment. The dark chocolate bars were so good, so good, so good. Voisin, a well-known Lyon chocolatier, was a few steps away. I handpicked an assortment of dark chocolates to bring home to my boyfriend L.
♥ Bouchons – Eating in a bouchon is a tradition in Lyon. These family bistros are often only opened for lunch. Some bouchons close in the late afternoon and reopen for dinner. If you want to eat dinner at a bouchon, I suggest you make a reservation in advance. (Supposedly you can make reservations on TheFork website or app.)
I was glad to have L, who mastered the French language prior to our trip, by my side when ordering. She was able to decipher the menu. As Rick Steves says about bouchons, “It’s hard to go wrong — unless you order tripes (cow intestines, also known as tablier de sapeur), foie de beau (calf’s liver), or tête de beau (calf’s head).”
Rick Steves says that: “In Lyon, how well you eat determines how well you live.” For sure, L and I were living well during our stay. But there’s more to living well beyond the culinary scene.
Next time, I’ll take you on a tour of La Maison Des Canuts, where we learned about Lyon’s starring role in Europe’s silk trade. Plus, in future posts I’ll be sharing highlights from our tour of Vieux de Lyon, also known as old city where the history and legends of Lyon began and give you a peek inside Les Halles de Lyon, named after the father of French gastronomy, Chef Paul Bocuse, and Musee de Beaux Arts, where fine art is on view.
Can you tell why I fell in love with this city?
Oui mon amis, le meilleur est a venir.