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Stroll Lyonnais

By Ann | June 7, 2011


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.

la tour rose

hexagonal tower

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…



wild strawberries

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.

at chez hugon

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.)

chambre d'hugo

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

Chez Hugon
12 rue Pizay, 1e, Lyon
tel:  04 78 28 10 94

Lucy Vanel
Lyon food & wine tours, cooking classes, and blog.

Chambre d’Hugo
21 rue Victor Hugo, 2e
tel: 06 18 38 27 68

Topics: Mastering the Art of French Eating, Voyages | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Stroll Lyonnais”

  1. Lindsey Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    How fun! You’re courageous to eat your way through any city in France, let alone Lyon! It’s funny, though, when I went the food didn’t strike me as far superior to what we have in Paris. Is it just the traditional fare that’s better quality?

    Thanks for the link to the B&B, that will definitely be filed for safe keeping!

  2. Susan Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve never been to Lyon…and had no idea it is known for it’s gastronomy!

  3. Sweet Freak Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I have to say, I love the look of that simple butter lettuce salad you have there… I can practically taste the tart vinaigrette. Miam…

  4. Voie de Vie Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 12:02 am

    It all looks good – the food and the city!

  5. Shannon Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I always love your photographic narratives but that picture of the tomatoes is particularly inspiring!

  6. CK Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Lyon is only two hours or so from Paris by TGV — a much easier trip than I expected. And after so many trips to Paris’ Gare de Lyon to travel to other destinations, it was nice to finally board a train there to go to … Lyon!

  7. Dawn Maria Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I cannot wait for your book. I feel like we didn’t do ourselves justice in Paris last year with food. We ate some nice meals, but I’d love a religious experience or two. I hope there will be picturse like these in the book. Now I’m hungry!

  8. Andi Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I had the pleasure of going to Lyon a couple of times while I was living near Geneva – the food IS wonderful!

  9. Ann Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Lindsey — I think there’s probably as much good food as there is bad in Lyon. I ate some decidedly mediocre quenelles. But when I found a good one (at Chez Hugon) it was magic… I floated all the way home!

    Susan — It is! But I think its gastronomic renown is more a product of its location in an agricultural center than anything else.

    SweetFreak — That lettuce salad was a special off-the-menu request — I simply couldn’t face another pile of meat again, even if “pork is the vegetable that goes with everything,” as someone in Lyon told me.

    Voie de Vie — It was delightful and well-worth a visit.

    Shannon — Merci! That vegetable vendor had the most attractive display of produce I’ve ever seen.

    CK — There was barely even time to take a nap on the train!

    Dawn Maria — Thank you! I’m not sure the book will be illustrated, but I will be posting more behind-the-scenes food photos as the pub date nears!

    Andi — It’s amazing how close Lyon is to Geneva. They were eating Swiss cheese like it was produced in their backyard!

  10. Lucy Says:
    June 15th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks ever so much for the mention, Ann. It was delightful to meet you, your book will be wonderful, I am sure, reading your first.

  11. Janet Says:
    June 17th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    The photo of the wild strawberries made my mouth salivate and taste the perfume of that delectable fruit.
    Ann, thank you for filling your blog with beautiful images of your food experiences.

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