Usually my timing sucks. I am the person who arrives at the gig just after the band has played their best song or I leave the party just when it is about to get really good. However in an amazing instance of serendipity this year MTV boyfriend and I decided to go and follow the final days of Le Tour de France the year that Cadel Evans won the whole thing. Brilliant by us if I don’t say so myself.
|The pelaton on the Alpe d’Huez|
So we were there on the Alpe d’Huez screaming the riders on and we were there in Grenoble when Cadel snatched victory in the time trial. Even if the whole experience had not been absolutely brilliant, of course there was also the French food and wine as well.
|Beef at Le Grill Parisien|
Le Grill Parisien (Grenoble)
We were all set to celebrate the victory of the first Australian ever to win Le Tour with a slap up meal in Grenoble but disaster struck at the first hurdle. The restaurant I had earmarked for dinner was closed for the legendary French summer holidays, an all to common occurrence in France during July and August. All was not lost though, Le Grill Parisien was one of those wonderful discoveries that only came about because we were initially stymied. We selected Le Grill Parisien on the basis that it was near the original restaurant, the menu looked the goods (complete with Via Michelin recommendation) and most importantly it was full of locals.
|Strawberries and cream at Le Grill Parisien|
The setting was unpretentious with brick walls, bare wooden tables and an open kitchen that owed more to space constraints than style. We filled up on slices of toasted baguette served with paté and so skipped starters and went straight to mains. A squat, small fillet of beef was moist and pink, doused in a thick wine sauce and scattered with decadent layers of truffles, peas and asparagus (€36). Tender pork medallions were teamed with a ratatouille and slow cooked peppers (€28). To finish, the best desserts on the menu were the simplest. Fresh strawberries with whipped cream and ice-cream (€12) was a winner while a round of oozing, pungent St Marcellin cheese (€8) went perfectly with our final bottle of sticky wine.
|St Marcellin at Le Grill Parisien|
Brasserie Leon, Lyon
We flew in and out of Lyon to get to Le Tour and so after some shopping in Lyon’s famous antique markets on Sunday we had one last lunch in Lyon. Luckily I had Claude Bosi’s tips to hand thanks to an article that the Michelin star chef wrote in the Financial Times and so decided to try his recommendation of Brasserie Lyon. The chef, Jean-Paul Lacombe used to have two Michelin stars as well but he gave it all up to do a bistro, and what a bistro it was.
|Veal with leeks at Brasserie Leon|
The brasserie had classic Gallic good looks with stained glass windows reflecting coloured light onto the white linen clad dining room. Service was a bit stand offish to begin, when we asked “Parlez vous Anglais?” our waiter simply replied “Non” and walked off. However as our meal progressed and we continued with limited French (me) and excellent English (him) he became much friendlier and guided us through the menu which was divided into entrees, meat, fish and cheese.
|Iberican Pluma at Leon Brasserie|
As always in France, the bread was a highlight. We feasted on slices of crusty white bread with a dark and rich tapenade to start. Of the mains, pluma of Iberian pork (€24.60) was served nice and pink alongside a potato galette and sweet red onions. Fat fillets of veal (€23.80) impressed with the quality of meat and were teamed with soft, slow cooked leeks.
Brasserie Leon offers a classic bistro option in Lyon. The toilets are also worth a visit just to admire their setting in a small underground art gallery and cellar.
Details: 1 Rue Pléney angle Rue Du Plâtre, Lyon, France (Ph +33 (0) 4 72 10 11 12)
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to €124.40 for four people with wine.
|Our room at Hotel Europole|
- We flew to Lyon with Easyjet which was £130 return and then hired a car to drive to Alpe d’Huez and Grenoble.
- I really cannot recommend the hotel we stayed at on the Alpe d’Huez and am holding MTV boyfriend responsible for choosing it. I will say no more.
- In Grenoble we stayed at Hotel Europole which was a bargain price of €77 a night. It was clean and modern but a bit soulless and located in the business district of Grenoble rather than the old town.