And it was fabulous. You should really go. We both totally fell in love with the place. It's a beautiful city with some of the best food I've eaten for a good long while. There's a beautiful market along the river, the people are extremely friendly, there are plenty of lovely old buildings ... Basically, it's heaven.
So, in the spirit of sharing our best bits, here's a little list of dos and don'ts based on our three days in town.
- Do go to a bouchon (traditional Lyon restaurant) called Le Musée (2, Rue des Forces). Be prepared for excellent food, and fantastic service as the owner of the place sits down chummily at the table to explain the menu, going back over it to help with translation and using his own body to demonstrate which particular bit of the animal we're talking about. The whole thing is just hugely jovial and relaxing and delicious. As I said to Mr 'Splorer as we left, it was one of those meals that makes you think that the world is a wonderful place. (He did give me a bit of a funny look at that point, but it's true!)
|Saucisson in brioche - such a wonderful combination.|
|Rabbit terrine with pistachio nuts - suddenly balsamic reductions make a whole load of sense!|
|Delicious, melt in the mouth pig's cheeks|
- However, don't foolishly assume that the door with the menu board and small tables outside it is the customer door of Le Musée. You might find yourself feeling like a right idiot two hours (and quite a few beers) later when you realise that you've been watching the back door and that the main door is round the corner.
- Do go to Brasserie Leon (1, rue Pléney), which I found via Gourmet Chick, for a swanky meal if it happens to be one of your party's birthdays during your trip. But maybe go before you go to Le Musée. Being twice the price (it was over 100 euros for two) and a bit less laid back, Brasserie Leon did suffer slightly in the comparison. Even so, I would recommend it for some excellent and interesting food amid rather more sophisticated surroundings.
|A cold 'barigoule' of seasonal vegetables with marinated raw salmon|
|A fillet of a fish called féra with Nantua sauce and crozets (little bits of pasta)|
|Some kind of delicious chocolatey dessert. Can't give any more details as forgot to photograph the dessert menu. (And there you were thinking I just had a great memory for food!)|
- But don't forget your map of Lyon at the hotel and then get hopelessly lost on your way to Brasserie Leon. Though if you do, rest assured that the ice-cream merchants of the city are a friendly bunch and happy to give directions to lost tourists, and that the restaurant won't bat an eyelid when you're 20 minutes late.
- Do go to the Marché St Antoine and/or the Marché Croix-Rousse. They're pretty similar to each other, to be honest. But I just couldn't get enough the stalls piled high with luscious fruit and vegetables, stinky cheeses and beautiful breads. While there, I would highly recommend trying a pink praline brioche. And some kind of stuffed Algerian bread, whose name we couldn't quite catch but which was savoury and flakey and delicious.
|Marché St Antoine|
|Pink praline brioche|
|Really tasty Algerian stuffed bread thing|
|Mmm, tomatoey meaty flatbreadiness.|
- Do order 'quenelles' at some point in your trip. We didn't (I wanted to at Le Musée but couldn't resist the pig's cheeks). We have two French friends familiar with Lyon. Quite separately, their first words on learning we'd been there were 'Did you have quenelles?' Bugger.
- Don't be put off by the all the talk of offal that goes on in descriptions of Lyon. I'm a bit squeamish myself and can't even bring myself to like liver or kidneys (though I do maintain that I just don't like the taste of those little fellas). But as long as you know a few bits of French (or do your menu research in advance) so you know what to avoid, you're bound to find plenty to eat. If you're like me though, you might want to avoid andouillete (memorably described by my friend as 'bum-hole sausage').