Tuesday, October 25, 2011

J'aime Lyon

When people heard I was moving to France, I'd say about 85% of people automatically assumed that I was going to Paris. I'd correct them, explaining that I was actually going to be living an hour and half south of Lyon, and inevitably their faces would fall. I decided that it was time to set the record straight and fill you all in about why Lyon is AWESOME. Don't get me wrong, Paris is spectacular, but I feel like Lyon is majorly underrated. See below for the top five reasons that you need to visit Lyon immediately.


1. DU VIN.  Lyon is situated between two killer wine regions: Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone. Cotes du Rhone has been my favorite kind wine for a few years (Chateauneuf de Pape = YUM), so I've been drinking a lot of it.  Most people know Beaujolais for the Georges DeBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau that is released on the third week of each November for the holiday season. France (and Lyon in particular) has a huge festival when the wine is released each year. Unfortunately, it's three days after I am leaving to come back to the US.  Rats.

Here's a picture of some wine that I can't afford. Naturally, I drank it all!



2. Food.  Paris may be the romance capital of France, but Lyon is unquestionably the gastronomic capital. Shopping there gives makes me giddier than a six year old on Christmas. Sunday we went to a store that was wholly devoted to infused honeys.  I had to restrain myself from entering 30837 wine tasting rooms. The market along the Saone is one of the lushest I've ever seen.  Everywhere you turn, people are eating, talking about food, shopping for food, or tasting something… it's pretty much heaven for food-centric individuals.

Traditional Lyonnaise restaurants are called Bouchons and are famous for serving every possible part of the animal (and especially the pig). I can't seem to escape Lyon without eating something horrifyingly bizarre. On my first trip it was the andouillette (aka sausage made out of roughly chopped pig tripe).  This time it was gesier confit. I asked our server what body part I was eating and he said it couldn't be explained. It was a sort of awkward conversation that involved me hollering "Show me on your own body!" and him crying "Ce n'est pas possible!!!" and running away. It turns out that the organ in question was a confit of duck gizzard. Fair enough, I couldn't point to my gizzard either. I have to say, the gesier was not too bad - it sort of tasted like hardboiled eggs. Smoked duck strips and foie gras were also on the salad below… apparently it was a duck extravaganza!


Including all of the the millions of weird offal dishes served at Bouchons, Lyon prides themselves on many regional specialties. One of my favorites is the Lyonnais pralines, which are commonly made into brioche and tarts. The sweets look creepy and disgusting because they are bright red, but in actuality they are SUPER DELICIOUS.  Imagine the most delicious Entimann's pecan coffee cake… times a million, minus the dextro hyglomaricide. See below for some examples.


3. It's the international headquarters of Interpol. Boom.

4. People are out and about at all hours of the day, enjoying all of Lyon's aforementioned luxuries. On Sunday, I was strolling through the markets at around 9am and every bar was packed.  It was the rugby world cup and France was playing New Zealand's All Blacks (they suffered a crushing defeat by 1 point).  I got a ton of random French high fives.  At the same time, people were heading into masses at the various gorgeous cathedrals and churches in town.



5. Shopping. This includes both adorable French shopping - adorable boutiques on cobblestone streets - and hyper-commercialized American-style shopping - a ginormous shopping mall, complete with a Mac store, a Gap, and fast food Chinese. The boutiques range from designer lingerie to a pirate themed candy shop (the candy itself isn't pirate themed, but the shop is - it's sold out of giant barrels).  It is a dream come true for a girl escaping her boring life in the mountains (where my idea of a fashion statement is piling on all of my clothes at once to avoid freezing to death).

Oh, and also:


Hello, lover.  If a five euro latte isn't enough to convince you to book your plane ticket to Lyon, then I don't know what is.


1 comment:

  1. I. Love. This. Post.

    Lyon is moving toward the top of my travel list!