Escape to the Gastronomic Capital of Lyon

June 28, 2016

France's second city is a food lover's paradise with an array of restaurants, cafés and markets. Alex Potton rounds up Lyon's must visits for foodies.

If you’re a Brit, like me, then you’ll know how easy it is for us to escape to the continent for a weekend away. In one short flight you can end up in any desired part of Europe, and usually for a relatively cheap price. You could also opt for the train or car, clear the English Channel in a matter of hours, ending up in France, Belgium, or the Netherlands, before heading in whichever direction you see fit. It couldn’t be simpler and we couldn’t be luckier.

Most common of all places for a quick visit is, without a doubt, France. It’s our natural neighbour, and also our most accessible. With a whole host of fantastic cities, small towns and picturesque countryside to choose from, it can leave you feeling like a kid in a sweetshop when it comes to choosing exactly where to go. If you’re looking for a short weekend city-break, however, there are few places better than the country’s second city, Lyon.

A city in the southeast of the country, not too far from the Swiss border, Lyon is often known as the world’s capital of gastronomy and with fantastic restaurants, bars and cafés aplenty, it’s hard to argue with this consensus. Though it’s not the only thing that makes Lyon great - there’s a whole city just begging to be explored.

1. Explore Lyon's Old Town

View over Lyon

Being the second city in France means that Lyon, like most cities, has become a sprawling metropolitan city. The city has undergone obvious modernisation over the years, though in its heart, the old still remains. Full of long, narrow, winding alleyways and streets, the old town, Vieux Lyon, is home to fantastic café culture and some incredible restaurants. You can grab a sense of the history of the city that was once home to a thriving silk industry. It’s best to enjoy the old town on a nice long afternoon walk, taking in the sights, smells and sounds, whilst stopping at one of the beautiful little cafés or restaurants such as Restaurant Gadagne for a café crème and pastry.

2. Les Halles de Lyon

Rows of artisanal cheese

If you’re a foodie like me, then you’ll probably get just as excited about food when travelling as I do, in fact, it may even be the sole reason for travelling somewhere. Lyon is most definitely not short of offerings in the foodie department, especially when it comes to the delight of Les Halles de Lyon - a food centre that absolutely tickles the senses. With various shops and counters all with their own offerings, you cannot be lost for choice here. From various pastries and breads, to all kinds of meats and chocolates, there’s truly something for everyone inside.

3. Musée des Confluences

View of Lyon's main square

You don’t even need to head inside to appreciate the Musée des Confluences, as the architecture itself is a sight to behold. The museum itself revolves around the different elements of the human story, both demonstrating history and asking questions at the same time. France is usually heralded for its art museums, but the Musée des Confluences is just as enlightening and offers something different from the norm. What's more the museum's restaurant, the Brasserie des Confluences, boasts not one, but two Michelin stars. Now that's food for thought.

4. Getting There

A plane flying into the sunset

Getting to Lyon couldn’t be simpler. Flights to Lyon St-Exupéry from London Gatwick start at around £70 for a return. Alternatively, the option to first travel by train to Paris, and then onto Lyon is relatively quick, though more expensive. Lyon naturally has plenty of hotels to choose from, ranging from typical chain hotels, to more boutique and unique offerings. If you're looking for a hotel, Agoda.com is a good place to start, or check out Wimdu.co.uk for great city-centre apartments.

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Alex Potton Alex always tries to find a reason to travel or go on an adventure. He loves a good mountain and if there’s good food and wine, count him in!