Lyon: Gourmet capital of France

19 Feb

This may provoke outrage from Parisiens but I back Lyon’s claim to be the most food and wine obsessed city in France. Their Paul Bocuse food markets are a case in point. Any place serving champagne and fresh oysters at 9am week days is serious about food and wine. With so many authentic bouchons (tiny restaurants serving only Lyonnaise style food with heavy emphasis on pork products), brasseries and Michelin-starred restaurants it’s difficult to eat a bad meal in Lyon. Trust me to do exactly that on Valentine’s Day.

Seduced by the smart red paint and menu outside Brasserie Bondy in Old Lyon I persuaded Stuart to book us in for dinner. Disappointingly the a la carte menu was unavailable and it was either a three course meat/fish menu or a choice of three types of choucroute (cabbage and potatoes with meats or fish). It was only then we realised this was an Alsation restaurant and as a vegetarian it would be a challenge to find something for me to eat. Chef was eventually persuaded that he could make me a salad minus the lardons (cubes of fried ham). Stuart did not fare much better.

Compensation for that debacle was a delicious dinner at Le Petit Carron, a restaurant near our B&B on Avenue Felix Faure. As you’ll see from the photos Stuart had a huge slab of liver which he adores (I blame boarding school for his penchant for offal).

The effect of the continuing sub-zero winter weather on Lyon was to freeze the Soane River, fountains and most of the external plumbing. Then on our second night 10cms of snow fell and turned the city white. Suddenly people couldn’t get to work and there were several ‘closed due to snow’ signs in shops. It certainly didn’t stop us getting around the city by metro and on foot.

We walked the renaissance traboules (long covered alleyways and staircases serving to protect the silk workers as they moved bolts of cloth from place to place), climbed to Fourviere, saw the thousand year old astronomical clock chime in the Romanesque-Gothic St Jean Cathedral and spent half a day in the Fine Arts Museum where one room alone, the Impressionist Collection,
contained enough beauty to mesmerise me for an hour.

Their permanent works includes old favourites such as Rodin, Degas, Monet and Renoir, while new discoveries were glorious pieces by Sicard, Fantin-Latour, Courbet and others. Special mention for the museum cafe-restaurant which is gorgeous, well-heated and inexpensive.

The final word goes to our hosts at our Loft Vintage Chambre D’Hote, Michel and Denis. I can’t imagine a better introduction to the food, wine and culture of Lyon. Neither were born in Lyon but they’re passionate about their adopted city. Our pre-dinner soirees with fellow guests in their gorgeous pop art and 70s vintage decorated loft living room were full of laughter, stories, great wine and tidbits of delicious food. Merci Michel et Denis. Vivez Lyon!

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5 Responses to “Lyon: Gourmet capital of France”

  1. Lisa mckinnon February 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    That is THE most awesomest apartment ever.

    • Sharon Tickle February 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      Absolutely Lisa! My photos couldn’t do it justice.

  2. Cam February 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Looks like a lovely city. Can’t believe people graffitid that beautiful door!

    • Sharon Tickle February 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

      Seems odd but I think the owners were cool with it Cam.

  3. Sue Elliott April 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Hello
    I have just finished reading your latest update. I am so sorry that you have had such a horrible experience. I can only imagine your feelings when you returned to the car and discovered you had been robbed. A very sad end to a memorable holiday.
    I do hope you have recovered a little from the shock and that you have been able to sort out replacing possessions and clean knickers. !!
    It was good planning that you were visiting friends who would be able to look after you for a couple of days.!!
    Please let us know if we can help in any way.
    On a lighter note we have really enjoyed reading your blog. It sounds like you had a great time with Jenny, Cam and Tris.
    I note from your itinerary that you are catching the ferry from Plymouth – Santander. We are just off the A 38 and if you would like to stay or call in for a meal we would love to see you both.
    Love to you both
    Sue x

    PS We would recommend a visit to Cordoba. We almost preferred it to The Alhambra.

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