Lyon!

If you’re planning on going to France and Paris is NOT THE number 1 on your list of things to see, I can tell you only one – go to Lyon. I will even repeat it once again- go to Lyon. You won’t be sorry I promise. I think I already mentioned that I go to Lyon because my boyfriend’s family lives there, but believe me even if I didn’t have to I would go back as often as possible. For many obvious reasons. Lyon is smaller than Paris but  architecture wise very similar to the capital. First time when I was there I couldn’t resist thinking that it was a smaller, and BETTER copy of Paris. People are nicer and more approachable. You don’t feel like a tourist, who only bothers the locals and can’t even speak any French. You just take your time and enjoy the view on both sides of the rivers. Also the weather is great- especially in the summer time. I believe in some cases you cannot say exactly the same about Paris… eghm…

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Lyon is one of the oldest cities in the whole Europe. It’s on the UNESCO list as a World Heritage Site. It was a Roman colony, and a place where two Roman emperors Claudius and Caracalla were born (sorry but as a former Ancient History lecturer I really couldn’t help myself and I HAD to mention it!). Christianity in Lyon had its tough moments under Roman rule. The city witnessed other historical events, for example mass violence against Huguenots. Also many Italian families moved to Lyon and developed banking systems and silk production. The old part of the city ifs famous for its architectural solutions, copied directly from Italian cities such as Genova/Genoa. What you can see on the picture below is one of those places, still very much in use- it’s a regular house, and just look at it… This is only one of many examples in Lyon, when history is mixed with our times and still vivid. If you would like to see more of those Italian houses/courtyards in Lyon, ask in the tourist offices. They organize specially dedicated tours- around 2 hours- 10-15 euros for the ticket, in French and English. Ask about “traboule” tour- the tour guide will take you to the places where normally you cannot get in straight from the street and it’s due to the fact, that these are real houses, and people still live in there like 600-700 hundreds years ago.

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If you do sightseeing in Lyon, remember to look up. Literally! To be honest I didn’t notice all these things the first time when I was there. The more often you are in Lyon the more you start noticing these beautiful details surrounding you wherever you go. Look at the doors, the walls and the fountains. Their silent beauty is stunning. Wouldn’t you agree…

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What I love about Lyon is the relax atmosphere. You don’t really feel this “big city tension”, and around the city center you can see such places…

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If you get tired of sightseeing you can have a coffee at my absolute favorite place in Lyon, called the Grand Café des Négociants. Any time I’m there we always have coffee and desserts at “Nego”, as the local people call it. The prices are, how can I say it, very much like if you were in Switzerland. But just pay the bill and admire the interiors, happy that you got the table at all.

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I’m sure many of you think that even in France it is Paris, that is considered as the first one in terms of cuisine and food in general. Well, you are wrong. It is Lyon- the capital of gastronomy in France. And believe me there is a valid reason for that. It’s enough if you go to Les Halles de Lyon- which is a sort of food market under the roof. This place has an amazing selection of all kinds of traditional French foods. There are also nice restaurants and places where you can have wine and cheese and everything else you are able to eat.

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Dessert anyone…?

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If you don’t fancy dessert then at least try this traditional sausage called “saucisson de Lyon”, which you can see on the picture. This is a flagship product of Lyon. It’s delicious and very easy to cook. Here is the pistachio version. Yummy…

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When comes to a decent meal, I have to admit I can recommend only one place, and only because I’m lucky enough to have real homemade French food. We tried a few “bouchon” restaurants in the city center. You have to know that “bouchon” is a traditional Lyon restaurant. So out of those few I can honestly say that in MY opinion only Restaurant Daniel & Denise is a good one. Prices are reasonable, you have 3 Menus of 3 different price ranges as a choice. The size of your meal- and it will be either a starter and main, or main and dessert, is going to be respectable. Drinks and coffee are not included. Make sure you made a reservation. Last time when we went to Lyon, we forgot to do it so of course no dinner…

If you have some time and you can, either hire a car or take the bus and travel around Lyon. There are a few places really worth visiting for cultural or food reasons.

The food market in Craponne, taking place every Saturday morning is one of the best places to be ever. The selection of vegetables is amazing and also the quality. We always go there early in the morning, and it’s my boyfriend’s dad who is in charge. We only carry the bags! He knows exactly where to go and buy all those yummy things we eat later during the week.

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I have to tell you that the best fromage blanc de chèvre I ever had,we buy exactly here on this market. The owners have a farm and it’s a small local production. It’s called Ferme de la Milonière, and if you’re ever there just find it!

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Below selection of hard cheese and bread of course- staple on French table…

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Speaking of bread and cheese- of course we cannot forget about wine and here I can also tell you that if you have time, again Craponne is the the place to be. There is a cave in Craponne, where we always get stocked up with different kinds of wine. It’s a small but noble place, in every dimension. You get a good and professional advice- ergo you leave the place hoping the wine you just bought is good- of course if you don’t know yet what you got but decided to take the risk! You will be back- since it was worth taking the risk, and usually, as it happens to us, you will probably get the same wine and more…

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Last part of this post is not food-related at all. My boyfriend told me I was crazy sharing this with you, but I couldn’t resist. Every year in Brignais, not far from Lyon, there is an annual race of old cars! If you’re there around beginning of May go and see it! We found it online and decided to go, just to see the cars, not even the race itself. And it was a beautiful event. If you are sentimental you are going to love it. Just look at these beauties… No need to say more…

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