Monday, March 1, 2010

The high-caloric getaway

Ever since I moved to Paris, I’ve been hearing how Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. Really? Mais, pourquoi?

After considerable prepping and planning, Michael and I trained down Saturday morning, stealing ourselves for a 36-hour orgy of food and wine. As much as I enjoyed the break, and despite the obscene number of calories I managed to consume, I wouldn’t say the food was anything great. In fact, I probably enjoyed the culinary scene of towns like Nantes and Nice more.

There were a few things really surprised me. First, the obvious and devastating lack of boulangeries and patisseries. Not once was I knocked over by the whiff of bread, fresh from the oven, nor at any point did I find myself licking a window that displayed exceedingly beautiful gateaux.

Actually, I take that back. We did go to Bernachon, and, while I was dazzled by the cakes, I only indulged in the chocolates.

There also aren’t a lot of high-end restaurants or outdoor cafes in Lyon. Instead, it’s a city of traditional bouchons: small and cute eateries like Le Petit Flore, where we ate Saturday night, that feature regional specialties (lentil and Lyonnais salads; quenelles and sausages), checkered tablecloths and super casual service.

However, we did find some magical food bits at an outdoor market, where the produce was cutely displayed in little tin dishes…

And the wheels of cheese were as big as tabletops.

And we of course went to the Les Halles. There, my eyes were pleased by plenty of pretty cakes and chocolates…

Another big surprise was how much the Lyonnais are into oysters. Neither of us are fans, so we didn’t try, but the experience looked so fun we were tempted.

We didn’t try veal tongue, head or brain either.

We did, however, try frog’s legs, something I’ve always wanted to do since dissecting them sophomore year of high school.

But, it turns out, I’m not a fan. Must have been the itty-bitty bones.

In between all the eating, we ventured across the river to Vieux Lyon…

...and climbed Fourvière Hill to see the basilica and take in the view down below.

We hopped on Velo’v (the original Velib program—yay!) and biked along the river to the Parc de la Tete d’Or.

We picnicked along the river, dozed in the sun, caught Oceans, and watched some Olympics at the hotel. So Lyon wasn’t my foodie fantasy, but it still made me fall in love with France just a little bit more.


  1. I'm jealous, going to Les Halles in Lyon has been on my to do list for a few months. Hopefully I'll get up there in the springtime

  2. oh! quel magnifique reportage...
    J' adore.

  3. Now I loved Lyon. Visited it on an exchange way back when!!

    The restaurant you ate in looked familiar - we wandered up and down the street with all the restaurants on (after I persuaded my friends that we really did not want to eat in Pizza Pronto!) and we where perusing a menu when a guy came out and started chatting in English (guess I have 'Made in the UK' stamped on my forehead). They made a table for us - I suspect where the staff eat - but it was one of the best meals I have eaten. A lovely salad of runny cheese with sauces then the sizzling plates to cook our own meat on. Friends had desert as well. With wine, water and desert it came to less than €100 for the 3 of us. Kept us going all day with just a snack in the evening after we had seen 'Dracula' for the 2nd time with Bruno Pelletier, Matt Laurent and Sylvain Cossette (who has one of the most amazing voices and made me cry when he sang 'Mina').

    Tried frogs legs a few years ago in London - not a fan and as I am allergic to seafood I have never tried oysters.