Lyon Lyon Lyon.. lovely Lyon! France’s second largest city, and a foodie’s paradise. I had “heard” about this city many many times, and last year, on my annual pilgrimage to the French Alps, I decided that enough was enough! I decided to fly to Lyon instead of Geneva, which made sense as it was the same flying time and considerably better value. On that trip last year, and our way back home from the slopes, we actually had a good 6 hours to explore – and I must tell you, I loved what i saw. So much so, that a promise was made – I would return for a weekend in Lyon.
And as the good girl that I am, I did exactly that (again, when I returned from skiing). And what a weekend we had!
We started our weekend in Lyon by checking-in at the Sofitel Bellecour, which became a city landmark and was magnifique. I must confess the outside of the building wasn’t amazing (oh the 60s!), but I was very impressed by the slick redesign by Patrick Norguet, which recalls the stars and silk of Lyon’s rich heritage. With amazing views of the Rhone, I am absolutely sure this was an outstanding choice to stay in Lyon, in style. (note: It is a progressive refurbishment, so ensure the room you have book is on a refurbished floor.)
We were kindly upgraded to the hotel’s main suite, which was nice, spacious and very comfortable – and with a lot of silk! And the views.. ou la la,as they say!
Mr. O was hungry, so it was time to eat. Lyon’s gastronomic scene is well-known, and I was keen to try one of the bouchons – i.e. one of Lyon’s trademark traditional restaurants which specialise not on haute cuisine, but simply amazing food.
The concierge at the Sofitel has recommended and booked us a table at nearby Abel. To say we loved Abel, it would be an understatement – it was cozy, busy, and full of personality. The food options were outstanding (I couldn’t say no to the salad lyonnaise with the bacon lardons – no dieting allowed in Lyon, by the way) and the crayfish gratin.
It really created a problem for everyone as the options were very very good – so we had some (incredible) mousse au chocolat, creme caramel, apple tart and fromage blanc. I obviously had to eat each of them for research purposes.. and can confirm they were up to Mrs. O’s standards. Pfhew!
We really had to walk it off, so I thought I would do something I am quite good at – “a little bit of shopping” (read avec French accent). And Lyon is so so so good at it too.
The shopping streets are concentrated in one specific part of town, starting from Place de Bellecour – the area of the Presqu’île boasts the most attractive streets for shopping, such as rue Victor Hugo and rue de la République. A firm favourite is also Rue Edouard-Herriot, and where you could find many of the fantastique French brands. It would be fair to say I did my best to help the local economy (and didn’t do badly at all!).
Time flies when you are having fun, as they say, and we almost had to run to the hotel and change, so we wouldn’t miss our reservation at Les Trois Domes, the 1-star Michelin restaurant at the Sofitel.
We had an outstanding meal, with outstanding service and have I mentioned the outstanding views? Fair to say that the tasting menu, at €125 is also very good value for money. We ended the evening at the hotel bar, where we ordered our drinks from the i-pad menu. How cool was that?
The next morning (which wasn’t very early, as you can imagine), we just walked around town. I think Lyon is so beautiful, that you can just enjoy – the old part of town is stunning and I couldn’t get enough of the river views.
Soon it was time for lunch, and we were recommended one of Paul Bocuse’s restaurants. We loved Sud – especially how homely it felt. We were one of the few non-French people there – and it was great to just sit and join so many other French families enjoying a lazy Sunday lunch. Just like home.
I loved our weekend in Lyon, and I was very sad to leave. But that obviously mean I will be back. And may be sooner than you think!
And if you are thinking about visiting Lyon, I can’t recommend it enough.
Disclaimer and Acknowledgements: a huge thank you to Rhône-Alpes tourism for helping me organise this trip. You can find out more about Lyon here. I was a guest of Sofitel Lyon during my stay (and I loved it!)