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Pugsly Jul 20th, 2009 03:11 PM

Please give me your suggestions on the Rhone Valley & Lyon.
I posted earlier about Southern Italy and got zero responses so I'm also activating Plan B on planning and thinking about exploring the Rhone Valley and Lyon instead. Food, wine, interesting small cities and villages along with architecture are why we travel. We intended to go to Lyon when we were in Torino last year but never made, we're still considering the possibilities. Please offer your suggestions on the area...thanks very much in advance.

Pugsly Jul 21st, 2009 12:37 AM


Jay_G Jul 21st, 2009 01:14 AM

Ah Lyon, my favourite city in France. If it's food, wine and architecture that you like, Lyon will be perfect.

Widely considered to be the gastronomic capital of France, you can eat incredibly well in Lyon at any price from around €10 for a set menu to well over €100 per head.

The range of architecture covers practically the entire architectural gamut, from Roman amphitheatres (yup, in the plural) via some of the best preserved renaissance buildings in the world - along the banks of the two rivers that run through the centre of town- to brand spanking new buildings such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

As regards villages/towns in the vicinity, Annecy and Chambery are roughly an hour and a half and an hour away respectively or the medieval village of Perouges is a relaxed thirty minute drive.

Let me know if you want more specifics. I'm going to be in Lyon next week for the second time this year and (as usual) am mentally already sat on the terasse of Café 203, supping a kir and wishing I still smoked...

Pugsly Jul 21st, 2009 04:36 AM

Thanks for the reply. Enjoy your trip and please post when you return.

josephine38 Jul 21st, 2009 04:54 AM

Also not to miss in Lyon: the Voisin confectionery shop with its famous Coussins de Lyon:
My favorite treat!

Jay_G Jul 21st, 2009 05:12 AM

Pugsly - feel free to ask any more specific questions you may have.

Since I spent a year studying in Lyon in '99, I have been back at least once a year ever since (marrying a fabulous Lyonnaise lady also helps) so have a good knowledge of Lyon and its environs. Is there anything specific you're interested in or want more info about?

My specialist subject is the bars, pubs and restaurants of Lyon but I also wrote my University dissertation on Lyon's history, so have walked and visited an awful lot of it too.

Honestly, i don't imagine I'd post on returning from my trip as a trip report that consists of long family lunches, catching up with friends, doing as little as possible next to the swimming pool and the odd night out would make for the most interesting read...

Give me a shout if you need anything else.

litespeedchick Jul 21st, 2009 06:02 AM

since you offered...I'll arrive at my hotel, Le College, around noon (if all goes well) day after tomorrow. If you were a dazed, jet lagged english speaker who wanted to wander around, see cool architecture, eat something non-touristy, and make it to the funicular to see the roman ruins....exactly what street would you start down, and how would you arrange your afternoon?


EastBayer Jul 21st, 2009 06:03 AM

Jay_G: If I may insert a question about Lyon, I am living less than 3 hours away but haven't gotten there yet. What restaurants do you recommend, especially for less than 100 euros a person (without wine)? A friend who is from Lyon recommends Leon de Lyon and La Mere Brazier but she hasn't actually eaten at either in several years.

Jay_G Jul 21st, 2009 06:39 AM

I did indeed offer, so here goes;

litespeedchick - Is Le College hotel near Gare St. Paul? If so, you're in the perfect position for jet lagged wandering. If you cross over Place St. Paul and take the pedestrian Rue St. Jean, you'll be right in the heart of Vieux Lyon.

Rue St. jean and the parallel Rue de Boeuf are the centre of 'Old Lyon' and as such are wonderfully atmospheric cobbled streets lined with Renaissance buildings hiding Traboules. They naturally attract lots of tourists as do the shops along them, but if you need to rest up and speak English to someone, there are also couple of 'English' and 'Irish' bars on Rue St. Jean, with The Smoking Dog being the lesser of the evils.

As for eating non-touristy, there are a few bakeries along Rue St. Jean that sell sandwiches, croque-monsieurs and the like for take-away, as the vast majority of the restaurants in this area are Lyonnais Bouchons or close approximations thereof. If you do decide to go to one, L'Amphitryon on the angle of rue St. Jean and the Rue du Palais de Justice is by far and away the best of its type in the area.

If you continue to the end of Rue St.Jean, cross over the square past the Cathedral on your left, you'll be at the funicular stop which will take you directly to Fourviere. Don't forget to get take the funicular that stops at the ruins, as some go 'express' to Fourviere Cathedral.

As for how I'd arrange my afternoon, I'd probably spend it strolling aimlessly, stopping for drinks whenever I spotted a likely looking bar, sitting on the steps in Place du Change and people watching before taking the funicular up to Fourviere to see the ruins and the Cathedral. I'd then walk down slowly from Fourviere taking photographs along the way, before crossing the river at Pont la Feuillee to the Voxx bar to have an aperitif on their terasse, where I would nestle in among the beautiful people and watch the world go by.

I can't wait to be back.

EastBayer - I'll post again regarding restaurants.

dwdvagamundo Jul 21st, 2009 06:53 AM

Lyon is a lovely city, as the above say. You don't say how long you have, but if you have time, go south to Arles and Avignon. Both in the Rhone Valley, both very different from Lyon and from each other, and not a terribly long drive or train ride. And if you're into wine, the whole Rhone valley.

Jay_G Jul 21st, 2009 07:02 AM

Hi EastBayer - For under €100 a head not including wine, you have some seriously marvelous restaurant choices. Whilst Leon de Lyon and La Mere Brazier are Lyonnais institutions some say they've been guilty of resting on their laurels and are not quite as good as they once were.

For €100 a head, if you order sensibly, you can eat at most of the restaurants in Lyon. There's the Villa Florentine which has arguably the best view in Lyon (money saving tip - if you want to experience the view at a fraction of the cost, go to the youth hostel next door which has a bar open to the public, a practically identical view and large terasse, order the drink of your choice and grab a table).

There are also the four Paul Bocuse 'brasseries' - Le Nord, Sud, 'Est and L'Ouest' - each with a cuisine influenced by a different area. They are all equally good, so you can pick whichever you prefer.

My favourite however would have to be L'Auberge de l'ile, which is on L'ile Barbe - the island in the Saône just outside the centre of Lyon. The food, the service and the setting are all completely unforgettable and if you're going to treat yourself, I'd say you could do little better.

There are many more cheaper options, let me know if you need any pointers.

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