Of course we’re much better organised for our second day in Lyon. We zoom up the hill to the (we know where the) bus (stop is) and alight in Lyon to utterly glorious blue skies. Score! And we’re early! Unheard of! Well, early by French standards. Early risers, they’re not.
The glorious La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière looks down from on high.
Our arrival point is opposite the famed Paul Bocuse restaurant and cookery school in the Hotel Royal
– we catch a rare glimpse of the student cohort on a break, crammed into a staircase, smoking, of course. It would have made a fabulous shot, all in their uniforms, but I felt it would have been intrusive. And if I’d asked for permission, their playfulness at their stolen moment of freedom would have been lost. I suspect their demeanor on break is a clue as to how hard they’re worked.
Being early gives us ample opportunity to cruise Lyon’s famed Bouchon restaurant street, Rue des Marronniers, to select a place for lunch.
The Buchon restaurants serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. You’ll find no foams, smears or random bush ingredients here. Indeed the name of the restaurant we settle on is telling, Chez M’mam: Mother’s House, as best as I can translate it.
Lunch is indeed a homely treat: Himself has a pork and chicken terrine for starters,
I have eggs poached in red wine with mushrooms. For mains, beef provencal (served on a surprising bed of noodles). I have the roasted jambon.
For dessert, it’s a Lyonnaise speciality, a praline tart for us both. Its sweetness is offset perfectly with an espresso.
Post lunch is devoted to walking a tour of the shopping strips, Rue de la Republique and Place Bellecour, under blue skies, the air redolent of honey – scented blossom trees line the main boulevards.
We meet a local designer working with silk, modernising its use via innovative clasps. Yes please, and a scarf to match. We find new squares with glorious buildings yet unseen. The Palais de Commerce is magnificent, from all angles.
We visit the Eglise Saint Bonaventure with its 13th century limestone side chapels,
and the ancient Chappelle de l’Hotel Dieu,
once part of Lyon’s ancient hospital, now undergoing extensive renovation. A gentle nun, speaking no word of English, takes me by the hand and shows me all their treasures.
It takes a while to walk off lunch! We visit the Hotel de Ville
and the Lyon National Opera, with its excellent juxtaposition of old and new.
We walk until we’re ready to drop and it’s time to go home.
And I fall in love with Lyon all over again.