Hello. I’m taking a break from the messe food for a post on Lyon. Lyon is the culinary capital of France and its food scene includes markets, foods with organ meats, Michelin starred restaurants, and traditional bouchons. It’s for this reason, that I was incredibly excited about the weekend trip. Of course, there were so many options and not enough time.
I spent quite some time trying to figure out how to split up the post about Lyon. I started trying to do it as one post and it didn’t work out as well as I thought it would. I considered doing a food versus sightseeing breakdown like I did for Amsterdam, but it didn’t quite work. So, we’re just going to take it one day at a time.
After an early morning train ride, I rolled into Lyon at 11 and was immediately overwhelmed by the fact that the city was significantly larger than I expected. Never mind that everything I read about the city told me that it was the third largest city in France. I was expecting a tiny and cute French town. It didn’t help that I had a 12 pm reservation for a restaurant called Bijouterie (which means jewelry in French). I started going towards the first thing I saw on Google Maps with that name until I realized that I was just going to a random jewelry store. This happened moments before I boarded a the metro going in the absolute opposite direction, making it very convenient that I bought the 48 hour public transportation pass and hadn’t just wasted a ticket.
All of those hi-jinks, as well as a brief interlude where I thought I might have a moment to drop off my bags at the hotel and get to the restaurant before noon, managed to take up a half hour. This meant that my immediate reaction was to panic and just take a taxi over to the restaurant. Of course, this got me there with an awkward 15 minutes before the restaurant opened. It worked okay because it gave me a chance to explore the neighborhood and get my first sight of the Saone River. I even caught one of Lyon’s more famous frescoes.
Bijouterie doesn’t do French food per se, but a lot of people seemed to rave about this restaurant and I was able to get a lunch reservation, so I decided to go for it. For lunch, they do a prix fixe menu of pan-Asian dim sum. You choose three “jewels” for the set lunch price and can add dessert for not much more.
The dishes come out in a very quick procession and are started with a soup (that I drank like I would miso soup and not with my spoon like everyone else because I’m absolutely not civilized). I chose the siu mai, the fish, and the chicken wings and got the spicy variation of the rice. They were all delicious, but I think I’d have to say that the chicken wings were my favorite. The dessert was a fascinating combination of chestnut flavors with some ice cream. So good. Despite all the small plates, I was quite full after the meal.
Lunch was followed by a trip to the the town square, where I saw town hall and a pretty cool Bartholdi statue that where the horses look like they have smoke coming out of their noses (I learned during my tour the next day that the statue was actually intended for a different city).
This was followed up with the Nike store and some post-lunch downtime at the hotel. I considered walking around the big park, especially since it was across the street from the hotel, but as mentioned previously, was trying to spare the pre-race mileage so as not to injure myself. A lot of good that did.
I had just enough time pre-race for a trip out to the Halles des Lyon – Paul Bocuse (named for the famous chef who would shop at the market). Have I mentioned that I have a weakness for markets? There was food everywhere and it looked delicious. I didn’t try much so as to not get sick during the aforementioned race, but did grab some food to bring back to Basel with me and had my first taste of Lyon’s signature pink pralines. I bought a couple of bags of pralines to bring home with me, but also tried one of the tarts, which was incredible.
I wrote enough about the failed race, so we’ll pick up from where that ended. After taking the funicular back down to Vieux Lyon, I finally did get to get my taste of the old part of Lyon. It was pretty deep into the evening, so the next challenge would be trying to find dinner.
I tried and failed to use the “there’s only one of me” excuse to sneak into some of the more famous Bouchons of Vieux Lyon, so then played a very interesting game of trying to find one to eat at. I tried to use a very scientific process of balancing the window stickers with how touristy the menu looked. I probably could have used Yelp or TripAdvisor like a normal millennial, but that’s no fun.
I did eventually find one that I was drawn to because of the very eclectic interior. It’s very possible that they didn’t actually have for me because they seated me at this tiny table that looked like an old fashioned desk and was piled with stuff. The meal took a while, but it was all delicious. I never knew you could have foie gras in salad, but now I do. We also topped off the dinner with a pastry with more of Lyon’s pralines.
After dinner, I walked around Vieux Lyon a little more. However, between the early train, attempted race, and the heavy food, I was starting to get tired. I made a sad attempt at trying to at least see some of Lyon’s traboules from along the river before understanding that they are actually just passageways. Oh well.
I walked along the Saone until I hit the court of appeals, where I crossed a bridge over the Saone. I made it to the Place des Jacobins before trying to find the bus back to the hotel.
Honestly, there was a lot about the day that was a hot mess, but it ended up being a fun hot mess at the end of the day.