I blame Rick Stein you know. His “Long Weekends” program gave us a yen for cities yet unexplored. Having discovered Lyon last year and fallen in love with it, it’s too hard to resist its siren call on our journey south.
Lyon is truly a magical spot. The birthplace and home of the the famous chef, Paul Bocuse, it’s widely recognised as the gastronomic capital of France. It’s at once the old guard, championing paysan recipes handed down from generation to generation, and the birthplace of the new wave – freshly minted chefs, knives and reputations sharpened, determined to make their mark. It offers all the magic of Paris, without the insane crowds and has a dizzying array of dining options.
I only have one point of caution: it’s here you want to pay particular attention to menu translations than possibly anywhere else in France. Offal and otherwise unmentionable bits and pieces frequent menus (the old recipes made the best of what was cheap and available) and if you’re disinclined, it might come as a somewhat rude awakening.
Our (my) plan was simple, if a little naive: arrive in time for lunch, spend the afternoon exploring, go for drinks, stay for dinner. Having ticked all the touristy things off last year, the pressure to “see everything” is thankfully, off.
We’re staying a little further out than last year and so, frustratingly, underestimate the time needed to find the bus and get into the city once settled. By the time we arrive, there’s a scant 15 minutes or so to pick a spot for lunch before service closes. Never the less, the choice is fine. We prop in the Place Bellecour: Himself has the plat du jour, a lasagna and I have my old faithful, salade de chevre.
The lasagna is excellent, but I’ve had better salads. This one is missing the saltiness of lardon and has been over sweetened with the addition of a pear compote. Still though, it’s tasty enough.
It’s the first day of summer, but I don’t think the weather got the memo: skies are grey with rain forecast for the late afternoon. We potter with familiarity, focusing on the 2nd arrondissement in the Centre
and popping across the river into Vieux Lyon, the old city.
The city is jumping – in celebration of summer (and no doubt Friday evening), there’s a music festival on. Bands are in the process of setting up and sound checking for a long night ahead. Street food vendors are joining the throng. Teenagers are out in force, hugely excited at adventures yet to come. There’ll be some sore little heads tomorrow.
Once the rains hit, whilst we stop for drinks, Himself can’t be talked into staying out for dinner. Instead we trek home. At least we do after a delayed start waiting fruitlessly. They moved our bus stop, catching us and many others out – even locals. Not getting to stay to enjoy the fun, stuck in peak hour traffic, standing, then missing our stop on the way home has me decidedly out of sorts.
The ultimate irony is that by the time we’re home, the sun comes out. Well, of course it does!
PS: if you’re new to the blog and would like to read about all Lyon has to offer, if you type “Lyon” in the search field in the blog, my entries from last year should appear. I was in a better mood then…I promise!