A Brief Layover in Lyon

Lyon, France is part culinary destination, part university town, and part scenic get-away in the Southeast portion of the French countryside, complete with an “Old Town” and a bustling city center between two rivers.  I’ll go ahead and admit, however, that I didn’t spend nearly enough time here — and thus, my short stay will also only necessitate a short post.  Hopefully, things will work out such that I’ll be able to return and give this great little gem of a city the time it deserves.

On my constantly changing mental itinerary, I’ve had Lyon penciled in as a place to visit 2-3 weeks down the road.  However, I found myself staring at a map of Europe a few days ago in the tickets office of a train station, looking for a way to break up the 3-solid-days of transit that would be necessary to get transport myself by train from Madrid, Spain (where I flew back into after Morroco) to Prague, Czech Republic (where I needed to rendezvous with my brother, who was coming to join in on the fun of my little adventure for a few weeks).  And wouldn’t you know, Lyon happens to be right smack in the middle of the two.  Thus, after a day-and-a-half of travel and night train, Lyon is my destination, right before I embark on another day-and-a-half of travels, again, with a night train involved.

The weather was pretty much perfect during my stay

The weathered facades of Old Lyon

Rue Victor Hugo, the main shopping drag

The remains of an old amphitheatre

The Catedral de Saint Jean in the mid-group, with the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere and the Tour Mettalique up the hill

If you’re willing to climb a few stairs (or brave a funicilar)…

…you can get one of the best views in town from up the hill

The back-side of Notre Dame de Fourviere (on the right) and the Tour Metallique (the Eiffel-tower-looking object on the left)

Being a foodie town — and only having about a day to check it out — I made a beeline for what is supposedly one of the foodiest places in one of the foodiest towns in one of the foodiest countries: Les Halles de Lyon.  Essentially a collection of high-end restaurants, culinary shops, and a few markets all enclosed in one indoor space.

Though these market shots may seem similar to what I’ve posted in other cities, the quality of the food being shown was out-of-this-world (and unfortunately, had the price tag to match)

Chocolate on display behind glass cases as if in a museum

Various anti-pasta-like veggies and cheeses, many cured in oil

Though the budget traveler side of my personality didn’t allow me to take seat next to the business men in designer suits and blow an week’s salary stuffing seafood into my face, I did manage to come away with a few sweet treats in the form of macarons, so all was not lost:

Pistacchio, Lavender, Apricot, Creme Brulee, Bitter Chocolate, and even a White Truffle flavored macaron

Besides being home to some of the best cuisine in the world, France also happens to be one of the best wine destinations in the world.  Though, if you’re anything like me and have just come off of an airplane from the continent of Africa, several metro lines, 3 day trains, another metro line to switch stations, and then an overnight train to get here, nothing sounds better than a nice, refreshing pint of ale.

Luckily, however, through a feat that I can attribute to nothing other than my ninja-like stealth and fox-like cunning (with a little help from my guidebook, too), I was able to locate the one micro-brewery that exists here:

Woo hoo!

And eventhough I had to skip lunch at Les Halles, I couldn’t leave Lyon without indulging in at least one great meal.  So after a recommendation from a few folks in my hotel, I headed towards a restaurant that serves typical Lyonnaise food (or that which hails from Lyon), and ordered what the waiter recommended as his favorite.  Though they used a bit more of the animals than we may be used to in the USA, this was still a great meal that I enjoyed quite a bit:

Even the bread came out with a sampling of olives, cornichons, and pickled onions

The appetizer: Pig’s Trotters Terrine (the meat from the feet of the pigs chopped up and then suspended in a loaf-form with a tranparent gelatin, wrapped in pastry dough, then cooked and sliced up)

The main course: Pig’s Head Meat Sausages with a Split Pea Mash, all covered in a rich gravy

And we can’t forget the cheese course with a nice glass of Rose to finish

As mentioned above, I’m hoping I’ll be able to swing back for another pass through Lyon, as my time spent here was both on very short notice and all-too-brief.  But for now, I’m continuing my journey traversing half of Europe to meet up with my brother for a few days, with Prague being the first destination, and Vienna, Austria on deck.  A votre sante, from Lyon!

About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

12 Responses to “A Brief Layover in Lyon”

  1. fish, chips, cup o tea, bad food, worse weather, merry ****-ing poppins london! tell bobo i said hi!

  2. Hey Rew – so glad you made the trek to Prague in the little time you had. That last pic of you with the city behind you is AWESOME. I am so proud of you! I’m not sure we could do the pig’s feet meat on the BGE – what do you think??

  3. “Give me a pigs foot and a bottle of beer” Bessie Smith

  4. Thanks for the “self portrait.” Just what I needed!

  5. Macarons!!! Dumb question, but are they as good as Pistacia Vera in GV?

    • I know any French person is going to kill me for saying this, but eventhough I grabbed French macrons in France in one of their most gastronomic towns at one of the foodiest markets, I still think that the offerings from Pistachio Vera were far superior (and that’s not just because I’m biased to Columbus restaurants). They really set the standard for me as far as how heavenly a macaron can be…and I miss them 😦

  6. Hey big guy, looks like things are still going well. We’re all having fun keeping up with the posts. Just curious…how often do you wake up and think “shit, where am I again?”

    • Do you know how sometimes when you’re going about your normal routine, you’ll remember waking up and brushing your teeth, but then you’ll suddenly snap awake and realize you’re sitting at your desk at work, with your mind on autopilot having taken care of the rest? Surprisingly enough, that happens here, too, as you get into the routine of traveling. So yes, every few days I have to consciously think, “Where am I again?”

  7. If you get to Switzerland, you must go to Zermatt. It is a beautiful, unique town. And the view of The Matterhorn is outstanding. There are no gasoline/diesel vehicles allowed and you are bused into the town and driven around on electric carts. I’m sure you and David would enjoy it. By the way, have a “brats and a beer” for Jack and me.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Alicia — one of these times, I’ll actually be able to take you up on one. Unfortunately, we only had about a day and a half in Switzerland, but heading to Zermatt is definitely on my wish list of places to visit in the future!

  8. If you go to Switzerland, you must see Zermatt. The view of the Matterhorn is breath taking.

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