After a weekend visit to Lyon, I immediately started combing the internet for apartment rentals in the city. I live in Vermont — not France. However heated my search, I knew it was never going to become reality. But it gives you an idea of what an outsize impact this picturesque French city can make in such a short period of time.
At the end of a meandering journey from Paris, through Beaune and around the Jura, my husband and I made our way to Lyon. It turns out our afterthought was really an oversight. Despite its small size, the city of Lyon is bursting with a rich culinary history and a dense dining landscape; there’s too much to eat and drink in one short weekend. If you visit, and find yourself strapped for time like us, take a leaf out of our itinerary.
Nicole is the Dedalus Marketing Manager. She drinks a lot of wine and hence knows what she’s talking about.
Saturday afternoon: Visit in Beaujolais
Driving south from Arbois towards Lyon,we had no choice but to pass through the land of Gamay: Beaujolais. We were fortunate enough to be welcomed by Michele and David Chapel, and their friend Marie Ponsonnet (sommelier and wine professional) at their home and winery in Regnie, where we snacked on comte and saucisson, and of course sipped on some recently bottled Beaujolais.
Saturday night: Al fresco dining at Illustre
On a recommendation from Michele, we spent Saturday evening dining at this hip wine bar in Vieux-Lyon. In late September, you’ll still find tables and chairs spilling out of restaurants into the streets and squares. Every seat is filled with friends drinking and snacking.
Sunday morning: Hit the patisserie
While much of the city is closed on Sundays, you can definitely find a patisserie to get your sugar and butter fix. We joined a line out the door at a neighborhood bakery close to our hotel and were not disappointed as we scarfed down several pastel colored pastries on a nearby park bench.
Sunday midday: Picnic on the Saône
After spending much of the previous evening on foot, we rented city bikes to cruise around the city and crisscross the many bridges. Stocked with cheeses and a fresh boule we’d snagged the day before, we joined the local students and picnicked along the Saône river (one of the two flowing through the heart of the city), throwing crumbs to the ducks.
Sunday afternoon: Do a little wine shopping
No weekend away is complete without stocking up on a few bottles to bring home, so we sought out the selection at JAJA Power wines. A wine shop and art gallery, JAJA carries a curated selection of small producer wines, most of which I had never seen in the States. We selected wines from Bugey and Savoie, in addition to a JAJA t-shirt to round out our collection of souvenirs.
Sunday evening: The classic bouchon experience at Le Merciere
Back in Beaujolais, Marie told us that we had to stop at Le Merciere when we got to Lyon. Her husband, César Ponsonnet, is the head of operations there. The traditional Lyonnaise restaurant is a favorite among locals, winemakers and tourists alike, so having a reservation was a must, especially on a Sunday when most other bouchons are closed. Le Merciere encapsulated everything you could want in a classic bouchon: a boisterous atmosphere, charismatic service, delicious food, and great wine from neighboring Beaujolais, Burgundy, the Rhône, and beyond.