I visited Lyon on the recommendation of Nathalie in the first week of September. Her gushing of the city gave me such high expectations and, reader, they were met! I loved this city. The inner part of me that would, one day, love to live in France was like, “I know you love Paris but don’t discount going south.” (Is Lyon even considered south? What do you call the middle-ish part of the country?)
The first order of business was to grab lunch at a bouchon. Thank you to Mathieu who booked me a spot at the busy Cafe du Soleil (2 Rue Saint-Georges) in the old part of the city. I was texting Nathalie frantically asking for help, like a virtual lunch-mate, with the French menu. Google Translate will give you translations but Google Translate will not tell you that the quenelles with sauce nantua is the “best shit”.
I took a stroll in Vieux Lyon – one of the largest Renaissance neighbourhoods in Europe. In the 15th and 16th century, hidden passageways, traboules, and inner courtyards would be home to merchants speaking Italian and Flemish, to name a few. On a next visit, it would be great to join a walking tour, but I had a nice time wandering by myself, popping in and out of stores and imagining all of the people and stories that have passed through.
In the area was the Musée Cinéma et Miniature which was SUPER. CUTE. and also in some areas, terrifying. It was intricacies and beauty of miniatures meets special effects and some whole set designs. There was one area of the museum that had a warning sign for gore and I walked in on that completely ignoring it to come face to face with that Thing from Alien vs Predator and hated it all very much.
As Nathalie is a gelato queen, I took her recommendation for Terre adélice. (If visiting a city, and someone tells you to get gelato — you should only really get gelato if they also specify a particular place. FYI.) They had a gigantic list of flavours – from the classic to indulgent — things like: salted cream caramel, pink praline, almond and orange, fig, cardamom, smoked bacon, pumpkin, kumquat, matcha… I chose fig and matcha because I have no sense of flavour pairing.
The next day, I walked around the city and had a nice lunch at L'Âme Sœur some way across the Rhône. Lyon in the late summer is beautiful. I loved the open bookstalls, the gigantic building murals – and the energy of the city.
Returning eastwards, I took a metro up to Fourvière to visit the Le Basilique Notre Dame and fall in love with the views against the blue sky. Then I walked down to line up at Boulangerie Du Palais (8 Rue du Palais de Justice) on the recommendation of Eleni. I think a big part of my love for Lyon is that it introduced me to the brioche aux pralines which, if you’ve never had it before, is what I can only describe as an emotional fucking experience closely relating to what I imagine heaven is. At the boulangerie, they went for €2,70 a piece. I was initially sceptical (almost €3,- for brioche? In FRANCE?!) but then I went back and bought three more.
(I have tried to find these pralines elsewhere since my visit to Lyon but have been very unlucky. In Paris, apparently they can be found at François Pralus’ chocolatiers but they were all closed for company training the last time I was there. Naturally.)
The Musée Des Beaux-Arts de Lyon is a magnificent work of art itself, set in a busy square – with grandiose buildings and statues. Inside is an even prettier little garden – a cool, green spot to picnic and read. I liked this quiet in the big city. They house a big collection from the antiquities to the contemporary era. I liked their Etruscan ceramics, sculptures from Rodin, and the paintings of Monet, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. (I am a Dutchie-in-the-making, clearly.)
The last order of business was to visit the 150 year old Le Zoo de Lyon. It is situated in the third arrondissement next to the Lyon Botanical Gardens. The whole place is gorgeous and (!) free. There, I wandered through the park, saying hello to monkeys, zebras, and giraffes. The park itself is beautiful and I was really happy to lay there sunbathing a little and reading a book before having to make my way to the airport to head back home.
The flights and accommodation were around €150,- and my expenses were similar. I guess the most annoying part of visiting Lyon is that getting from the airport to the city is €17,-. But, to be honest, the brioches aux pralines could seriously be worth it.