Long Weekend in Lyon

Lyon at night - ever since 1998 its historic centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.

© Shutterstock

Lyon at night - ever since 1998 its historic centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Lyon at night - ever since 1998 its historic centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.

© Shutterstock

Friday


On Friday we explore the romantic old town of Lyon. Fine meringues and fast food of Michelin-star quality show what a gastronomic hotspot this is.

In the morning we leave the hotel Villa Florentine in the medieval old town: you can sense the history of the city in its cobbled, narrow streets, in its boutiques, boulangeries and pubs. We are at the foot of the city hill, Fourvière, on which the landmark of Lyon – the Cathedral de Notre-Dame – as well as extensive Roman excavations are located.

After the trip up the mountain we deserve lunch and end up at the famous "La Mère Brazier”. The founder, Eugénie Brazier, was the first female chef to receive three Michelin stars in 1933 – crowning Lyon as the gourmet capital of France. Today, a take-away service is also offered, without sacrificing quality. This is Lyon – if thre has to be such a thing as fast food then it should come with three star quality. After an excellent lunch, we walk past the opera house, back into the spacious pedestrianised area in the centre of the city.

Villa Florentine sits like a throne above Lyon. 

Villa Florentine sits like a throne above Lyon. 

Photo provided

Walking through the alleyways, two things stand out: There are an incredible number of shoe shops - and even more butchers and delicatessens. Watch out for your sweet tooth. On Rue Grenette, you'll find the Aux Merveilleux de Fred where meringues and tarts are artfully prepared in front of passers-by. On every corner you can find great restaurants; in the alleys one restaurant follows another.

The gastronomic elite of tomorrow studies at L'Institute Paul Bocuse Restaurant in Lyon.

The gastronomic elite of tomorrow studies at L'Institute Paul Bocuse Restaurant in Lyon.

© Frederic Marquet

Saturday

On Saturday we visit the market on the river Saône and one of the five gourmet temples of the legedary late Paul Bocuse in Lyon.

In the morning, head to the market at Quai Saint-Antoine along the Saône. It offers fantastic local and international produce every weekend. We start with oysters and Champagne to gather the strength to resist all the other offerings along the food mile. Good luck.
Within walking distance is the Place des Terreaux. With the city hall, the opera and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, this is the cultural centre of the city. In a small alley behind it we find the Brasserie Léon de Lyon, one of the most famous and traditional restaurants in Lyon. Despite the large crowd, the atmosphere is surprisingly convivial. 

Favourite citizen of the city: French cooking legend Paul Bocuse. 

Photo provided

Traditional Lyonnaise cuisine of fresh, excellent quality is on offer everywhere. With five restaurants, some of which are very different, Paul Bocuse has left his mark on Lyon. To get an impression of the great master, we decide to visit his bastion, L'Institute Paul Bocuse Restaurant, in the evening. It is located on the largest square of the city, the Place Bellecour. Diagonally opposite is a second of the Bocuse restaurants – La Sud.

At the Institute we are served excellently, the chefs conjure up an ambitious menu and we are served local wines. Speaking of Bocuse, if you have time, you must also make a pilgrimage to Les Halles de Lyon - Paul Bocuse. In three halls covering 17,000 square meters, everything that represents fine dining is on offer. But we end the evening at another of the city's celebrities: the Opéra de Lyon, at the ballet.

Evening atmosphere in Lyon, the epicentre of French cuisine. 

Photo provided

Sunday

Sightseeing with a museum visit on Sunday. Afterwards we end the weekend in a wine boutique and in one of the best restaurants of the city.

Many of Lyon's great chefs have settled outside the city, mostly in beautiful old châteaux. However, we forego the excursions in favour of the many other things the city has to offer. At short notice, we book a round trip with the hop-on-hop-off bus. From the open-top deck we can see the most important sights as well as the typical Trompe-l'Œil – huge paintings on the facades with scenes from everyday life. An alternative to the bus trip is a boat trip on the Saône and Rhône rivers. This is exactly where our next destination is located: the new landmark of the city, the Musée des Confluences. On top of all the changing exhibitions, this cloud of glass and steel also houses the excellent restaurant La Brasserie des Confluences where we take our lunch with a breathtaking view.

Brasserie at the Musée des Confluences.

Photo provided

Then it's back to the old town where we linger in one of the many wine boutiques, Antic Wine, where the owner spontaneously invites us to a tasting. Richer in knowledge and experience about wine, we decide to visit another hotel – our last destination, the Cour des Loges.

It is not only an exceptional hotel, but also houses one of the treasures of the city, the restaurant Les Loges - Anthony Bonnet. In the largest medieval courtyard of the city we once again enjoy the local cuisine reinterpreted by yet another exceptional chef.

Culinary creations from Lyon.

Travel tips

Lyon has become a vibrant regional metropolis. The best way to find out about the current events is to go to: www.en.lyon-france.com

Those who can, should come to the Fête des Lumières in December. For one weekend, the whole city is transformed into a unique light show: www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr