I swear Lyon has been calling me back ever since my first visit earlier this year. One day in Lyon after following the Tour de France only allowed time for a quick rummage in the antique markets and a long lunch at Brasserie Léon de Lyon. This time around I was determined to spend a bit more time getting to know this gastronomic capital on our French road trip.
|Saucisson for sale at Les Halles|
The first stop in Lyon has to be a pilgrimage to the city’s renowned indoor food market. Les Halles is packed with around 60 glamorous looking stalls selling everything from stinky cheese to freshly carved jamon. Every piece of produce on display was perfectly presented but I was happy to see I was the only one carting around a camera while the Lyonnaise shopped and socialised.
|Fromage heaven at Les Halles|
Details: Les Halles De Lyon, 102 Course Lafayette, 3e, Lyon, France. 8pm-7pm Tues – Sat, to noon Sunday.
The seafood on display is all brilliantly fresh at Les Halles and available to purchase or eat on the spot. We made like the locals and used our elbows to make room at the counter of Merle and order some white wine and half a dozen De Claire oysters (€6.20). The oysters were without a doubt the best I have ever tasted. The glistening molluscs were so fresh and expertly shucked that they clung to their shells with the lightest of gossamer threads. Even MTV boyfriend was converted to oyster eating.
|Oysters at Merle|
Details: Merle, Les Halles De Lyon, 102 Course Lafayette, 3e, Lyon, France. 8pm-7pm Tues – Sat, to noon Sunday.
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve. The bill came to £12 total for wine and half a dozen oysters.
Lyon is famous for its bouchons, small, friendly family bistros that cook traditional Lyonnaise cusine. We were unable to get a table at Le Garet or Café des Fédérations so we settled for nearby Chez Paul which proved to be the very model of a traditional bouchon from its red and white checked tablecloths to the communal dining tables. We started with a communard, a somewhat lethal aperitif of red Beaujolais wine and créme de cassis. After this came the entrées served in communal bowls that we helped ourselves from before they were passed on to the next table. I think the breaded fried tripe known as tablier de sapeur must be an acquired taste but I did enjoy the hearty beetroot and potato salads and the chunky terrines.
|Poulet at Chez Paul|
Of the mains the Poulet a Vinaigre, chicken slathered in a rich, boozy sauce, was perfect comfort food fare alongside a side serving of cheesy macaroni. The highlight of the cheese course was an oozing St Marcellin followed by the cervelle de canut (brains of the silk weaver) which originated in Lyon’s Croix Rousse area and comprised fromage blanc mixed with chives and garlic. Despite the huge quantities of food we managed to finish off the meal with some stewed fruit, a chunk of quivering créme caramel and some new found friends in our table mates.
Details: Chez Paul, 11 rue Major Martin, 1er Lyon, France (Ph +33 (0) 78 28 35 83)
Damage: Reasonable. €25 for the menu of entree, main, cheese and dessert. Our bill including wine came to €75 for two.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- You can fly with Easyjet to Lyon from £130 return from London or drive like we did.
- We stayed at the utilitarian Hotel St Vincent which was centrally located and had little luxuries like modern bathrooms, wifi and flatscreen tvs in rooms but lacked any real character or atmosphere. Hotel St Vincent, 9 rue Pareille, 1er, Lyon, France (Ph +33 (0) 4 78 27 2256) €80 per night.
- In Lyon Les Halles market is not to be missed and also Puces du Canal on a Sunday is brilliant for antiques and bric a brac.