Lyon is called the capital of French gastronomy, and, yes, the food here can be very, very good.
And if you’re inclined to walk off all the cream, butter, saucisson and cracklin’ (called gratons) that you’ve consumed with a post-prandial stroll, you’ll discover that this city is as lovely as it is delicious (even in the rain).
With its Roman roots, and gentle hills, and secret passageways, Lyon is endlessly fascinating, a gem of a city, with two rivers piercing its center.
There are secret courtyards hiding towers that seem plucked from a fairy tale. I could almost imagine Rapunzel herself leaning out and letting down her hair.
There are also glimpses of life as it was during the Renaissance…
And there are markets — here, the marché quai Saint-Antoine — bursting with produce so luscious I wanted to rent an apartment, just so I could cook.
Though I’m saving the full report of my eating adventures for my book, I will say that one of my favorite meals of the trip was at Chez Hugon, a comfortable bouchon (i.e. traditional Lyonnais brasserie) that maintains an iron grip on the classics, especially the quenelle. I also loved discussing quenelles and gastronomic history with the delightful Lucy Vanel, who offers Lyon food tours and cooking classes. (If you’re planning a trip to Lyon, I highly recommend contacting her.)
And I absolutely adored my B&B, the one-room Chambre d’Hugo, in the heart of the Presqu’ile, quiet and elegant with linen curtains, and parquet floors, and 18th-century moldings painted a pale grey. After I explained that I was in Lyon researching bouchons (and eating heavy meals), the charming propriétaire, Mme Branche, kindly prepared a light, fruitarian breakfast for me with homemade cherry compote, and sliced grapefruit, and a kiwi smoothie. It was the perfect antidote to all my other bacon-strewed meals.
Marché Quai Saint-Antoine
Quai Saint-Antoine, 2e, Lyon
Open everyday, except Monday, until 1pm
12 rue Pizay, 1e, Lyon
tel: 04 78 28 10 94
Lyon food & wine tours, cooking classes, and blog.
21 rue Victor Hugo, 2e
tel: 06 18 38 27 68