After a few weeks in Paris, it was time to travel south and explore another part of France. Hailed as the gastronomic capital of the world Lyon is a city with endless charming personality and where I would enjoy some of the most memorable meals of my life. I spent 3 weeks there at the end of summer, the first week accompanied by my younger sister.
We got to Paris’ Gare de Lyon that August morning and after some confusion with the schedule successfully purchased our tickets and had 45 minutes to spare before our train would arrive. We devoured some pastries and coffee to fuel us for the 2 hour ride.
Once on board the train, our car had space enough to have an entire row each to ourselves so we relaxed and alternated between a little chatting and quiet laughter so as to not wake the fellow passengers who had fallen asleep the second the train started moving, light reading, a short nap and admiring the countryside that rushed past the windows. Before we knew it we arrived in the center of Lyon.
We took a taxi to the flat we found via Airbnb. It was a tiny studio, and the girl who owned it greeted us in such a bubbly and hyper manner she seemed like a long lost friend. My sister said that she reminded her of a pixie and I agreed. It was a great welcome - she even left us a bottle of wine! We quickly got settled in and were soon back outside again walking down the hill trying to make our way to Vieux-Lyon for some sightseeing and then our first meal.
Vieux Lyon is so marvelous, with its cathedrals, cute cafes, unique boutiques like one that sold silk scarves and had a little display of silk worms in action - not being fond of worms at all I decided to not get close. Then there was the candy shop that sells every kind of sweetie you can think of, and a few you might never imagine existed - we returned the next day to really investigate!. One of my favorite shops though was one ran by a mother daughter team designing and making glass blown jewelry. I stayed here for almost an hour admiring the pieces and ended up buying a necklace and a pair of earrings and as I was leaving the owner told me I could pick any ring I wanted as a gift. So sweet!
The first evening we dined at L'Ange Di Vin. There were several rooms in the restaurant each as cozy as the next with small tables and chairs close together in an intimate but non-claustrophobic way. Our server was most pleasant with smiling eyes even though the rest of her face was serious. We spoke french, and were spoken to in french. This was really important for me because in Parisian restaurants and stores if you stumble over a french word or hesitate for more than a second, the person you’re trying to communicate with will suddenly exclaim ‘Ahhhh…!’ as if they just unlocked the key to some mystery, and then immediately start speaking to you in English!!! Quite annoying as one of the main reason I travel to France is to perfect my french! But here in Lyon, we were able to relax and speak our french without that nervous feeling that we’d be dismissed with English if we didn’t get it right enough, quickly enough. C'était parfait :)
During my sojourn in Lyon, most days were spent out exploring so I would have a full breakfast of a baguette, smoked salmon, tomatoes and orange juice before leaving home and then an afternoon stop at a cafe for pastry and coffee then in the early evening a three course meal. The first course is usually a salad with either smoked salmon, that’s cut thickly and not smoked was much as traditionally so the texture is more like sushi but even more delicious, or a salad with cheese. For the main course a grilled fish with grilled root vegetables, or potatoes lyonnaise (boiled then sautéed) and for dessert something light but satisfying like a strawberry panna-cotta or chocolate fondant - I almost always had the panna-cotta as it's my favorite. Paired with the most delicious french wine that brought all the flavors of the meal together. Most importantly, the size of each dish was just enough so it could be enjoyed fully in its entirety without feeling stuffed and at each stage of the meal still having more room for the course that was yet to come. Everything perfect in moderation and with time enough to fully relish the experience. This is what life is all about - Cheers!