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.