We tend to eat a prodigious amount of food when we travel, so we need to walk a lot in order to break even with the calories. In fact, there were some days in previous trips to Paris, Lisbon, and Mexico City where we walked as much as 8 to 10 miles.
Luckily, we like to walk.
On this trip, due to weather and the rental car, we hadn’t walked enough. Until Lyon. We parked our rental car upon our arrival and didn’t use it again until driving to the airport. We took one subway and one funicular. Otherwise, we walked.
Lyon is a highly walkable city, which is a great thing because it’s also one of the great food cities of the world.
We had heard that French people spend a big chunk of their income on food, and we can understand why. The food really is that good. Plus, they don’t have to spend so much money on insurance, education, retirement, etc. – but that’s a different topic altogether.
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse in Lyon
We started our first full day in Lyon with breakfast at our B&B, Loft Vintage Lyon. We then walked to Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. We spent hours exploring, tasting and photographing the market. What a feast for the eyes and taste buds. There are over fifty vendors selling top quality cheese, pastries, meat, chicken, fish chocolate, wine and more. There were no bargains, but sometimes you have to pay for quality. And we did.
Once we got our fill, we left knowing that we’d be back again.
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fouvière
We walked through the city, enjoying the views along the Rhone and Saône rivers, crossing bridges and stopping to window shop along the way. We walked through Place Bellecour and into Vieux Lyon, where we took the funicular straight up to the impressive Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fouvière.
We strolled through Vieux Lyon, and we appreciated the architecture, shops, cafes and people watching. We stopped at Terre Adélice for some Saint-Marcellin flavored glace, which tasted earthy, sweet and surprisingly good.
We then walked up the hills to the Croix-Rousse neighborhood since we liked it so much the night before. We bumped into a gallery night that reminded us much of First Friday in Philadelphia. We got to see a variety of local art, we met some local artists and we nibbled on snacks along the way. We even learned that the French drink box wine too.
Disappointing Dinner at Le Potager des Halles
We left the gallery fun for a dinner reservation at Le Potager des Halles, a restaurant that had been recommended to us by a wine dealer in Philadelphia. Although the food looked good as evidenced by the photos, the execution in the kitchen was lacking. For example, the octopus dish was way overcooked and the ice cream quenelle arrived at the table broken and melting. Plus, we felt that we were seated in a section for tourists or, as coined during a previous trip to Rome, in the “ghetto in the ghetto”. Alas, it was our least favorite meal in Lyon.
Fantastic Lunch at Café des Féderations
The next day started much the same with breakfast at the B&B and a walk to the market, this time to buy gifts at Sève and Voisin. We abstained from tasting more treats since we had late lunch reservations at Café des Fédérations. We ordered a bottle of house Beaujolais Morgon wine and picked out our main courses and desserts. Starters were served family style and included a smoked fish spread, lentil salad, pickled pig’s feet salad , charcuterie and crusty bread. We earned respect for eating and enjoying it all. Our main courses were Quenelle de Brochet (fish dumpling) and Braised Pig Cheeks. Both plates were delicious. We finished the meal with molten chocolate cake, one last praline tart and espressos served with Valrhona chocolate. The bouchon’s atmosphere reminded us of a delicatessen – casual and unpretentious. Needless to say, we loved it.
Last Night in Lyon
We spent the rest of the day walking and enjoying the sites of the city. We were so full from lunch that we shared a dozen briny oysters for a light dinner. Though simply served, the oysters were delicious and tasted as if they had just been plucked from the ocean. We walked lots more after dinner and made a stop at a dive bar called Cassoulet, Whisky, Ping-Pong for one last drink. We toasted Lyon and our eventual return to this city filled with light, color and flavor. Then we walked back to the hotel, adding a few more miles on our feet before beginning our long travel day home.