Lyon had been on my top list of places to go to for a long long time and last weekend I finally made it happen. I spent not much longer than 24 hours in this pretty city which also happens to be a foodie heaven. Here is what I got up to.
Paul Becuse market
First thing I did when I arrived, was hit the Paul Becuse food Market. I mean this is the gastronomic centre of Europe, so food has to be on the itinerary. Named after the famous French chef, this place is a collection of stalls and small sit-down eateries selling great smelling local dishes, and wines. You can stock up on chocolates, pies, cheeses as well as fantastic hams. On a Saturday afternoon it was heaving with locals catching up with friends over great food, so I struggled to find a spot to grab some food myself.
On I went to the island that is straddled by the Rhone and the Saone rivers in the heart of Lyon. It’s the place to go to for shopping, especially the area between Place des Terreaux and Place Bellecour, but you’ll also find various bouchons here on Rue Merciere and Rue des Marroniers. They’re traditional restaurants serving hearty local dishes. Think lots of sausages and potatoes. I found one called Le Bouchon Lustre and sat down to a not so hearty, but lovely Lyon salad, with lots of lardons and a poached egg.
After lunch I headed towards the Old Town of Lyon, which is a UNESCO heritage site. And I can see why. Among the colourful historic buildings narrow passageways and hidden courtyards lead onto the atmospheric, cobblestoned streets. They're called traboules and they're everywhere. Some are obvious, some are not, but they're lovely to pop into for a minute. Towering over the old town is the Notre Dame de Fourviere cathedral, perched on a hill boasting far-reaching views of the entire city. It’s a bit of an effort to climb the steep steps up there, but once you’ve reached the top you’re glad you made it. Going down is a lot easier and you can reward yourself with a glass of wine or beer at one of the bouchons down below.
Croix Rousse is another atmospheric area which is featured on the UNESCO list as well. This was the centre of the silk industry back in the day, but now it is a very tranquil residential quarter boasting lovely parks and squares as well as more amazing views of the city as it’s perched on several hills.
Walk along the Saone
If the weather is good the river banks are a good place to spend a wee while. Walk along the quays and take in the views of Old Lyon or cop a seat on the banks and watch tout Lyon walk by.