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Walking The Walk In Lyon

Considering how great the food is in Lyon France, it’s a good thing that we walked a lot during our trip to Lyon in 2012. We loved everything about this French city and share our initial impressions of Lyon in this article.

View from Fourviere Hill in Lyon France

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 to France, 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. 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.

Desserts at Seve in Lyon France
Seve Desserts
Chopping Salmon in Lyon France
Chopping Salmon
Foie Gras Cornucopia in Lyon France
Foie Gras Cornucopia
Bresse Chickens in Lyon France
Bresse Chickens – Heads Included
Charcuterie Counter in Lyon France
Charcuterie Counter
Escargots in Lyon France
Escargots in Three Sizes
Market Produce in Lyon France
Market Produce
France Shaped Cheese in Lyon France
France Shaped Cheese
Prawns in Lyon France

Once we got our fill, we left knowing that we’d be back again.

Discover the best French desserts and pastries.

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.

View Through the Funicular Window in Lyon France
Through the Funicular Window
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere in Lyon France
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere
Basilica Clock in Lyon France
Basilica Clock

Vieux Lyon

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.

Vieux Lyon Street in Lyon France
Vieux Lyon Street
Glacier Terre Adelice in Lyon France
Glacier Terre Adelice


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.

Gallery Night in Lyon France
Gallery Night
Gallery Night Spread with Box Wine in Lyon France
Gallery Night Spread with Box Wine
French Couple in Lyon France
Lyon Couple
Philadelphia Couple in Lyon France
Philadelphia Couple in Lyon

Disappointing Dinner At Le Potager Des Halles

Gazpacho at Le Potager des Halles in Lyon France

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, the execution in the kitchen was lacking.

Pretentious Plating at Le Potager des Halles in Lyon France
Pretentious Plating

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.

Overcooked Octopus at Le Potager des Halles in Lyon France
Overcooked Octopus
Chocolate Dessert Served with Melting Ice Cream at Le Potager des Halles in Lyon France
Chocolate Dessert Served with Melting Ice Cream

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.

Charcuterie at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France

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.

Smoked Fish Spread at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Smoked Fish Spread
Lentil Salad at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Lentil Salad
Pickled Pigs Feet Salad at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Pickled Pigs Feet Salad

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.

Quenelle de Brochet at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Quenelle de Brochet
Braised Pig Cheeks with Potatoes at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Braised Pig Cheeks with Potatoes
Molten Chocolate Cake at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Molten Chocolate Cake
Praline Tart at Cafe des Federation in Lyon France
Praline Tart

The bouchon’s atmosphere reminded us of a delicatessen – casual and unpretentious. Needless to say, we loved it.

Last Night In Lyon

Briny Oysters in Lyon France
Briny Oysters

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.

Dive Bar in Lyon France
Dive Bar

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.

Good Night Lyon France
Good Night Lyon

Lyon Planning Checklist

Hungry for More in Lyon?

Check out our Lyon Food Guide and Lyon Coffee Guide for great food and drink options in Lyon.

About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We self-funded our trip to Lyon.

Original Publication Date: October 31, 2012


Saturday 4th of November 2017

Very nice post. We just returned from Strasbourg last weekend which is another great French city to visit. (With amazing food as well!) Lyon is definitely on our bucket list to visit!