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48 hours in Lyon: The home of gastronomy


Photo by Despina Galani

If the romantic Paris is the city of the harts, the gastronomic Lyon is the city of the stomach.


Lyon has more restaurants per head than any other city in France; some claim Europe. With five two-star and 14 one-star Michelin restaurants, an additional 15 Bib Gourmand restaurants, countless bouchons serving traditional Lyonnais cuisine, and a covered market named after the legendary chef Paul Bocuse, Lyon is a paradise for food lovers.




Lyon´s history of gastronomy dates back to ancient times when it was a major trade centre for wine and other products. Over the years, various cultural and geographical factors, such as the proximity to the Alps, the Rhone River, and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Switzerland, and other regions of France, have influenced Lyon's cuisine.


Lyon's cuisine is also characterized by its diversity and creativity, which stems from the tradition of the "Lyonnaise mothers", who were middle-class women who left their homes to work as cooks in the 19th century. They created new dishes using local ingredients and techniques and gained recognition for their skills and innovations.



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Paul Bocuse is the most influential chef from Lyon, widely regarded as the father of nouvelle cuisine, a style of cooking that emphasizes fresh, high-quality ingredients, light sauces, and artistic presentation.


He also mentored many other chefs who achieved fame and success, such as Alain Chapel, Michel Guérard, and Joël Robuchon.


Bocuse also founded the Bocuse d'Or, a prestigious international culinary competition showcasing chefs' talents worldwide. It is considered the world champion of chefs.


Today, Lyon's culinary tradition lives on thanks to eminent chefs such as Mathieu Vianney of La Mère Brazier, Joseph Viola of Daniel et Denise, and Christian Têtedoie. The latter helms an eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant that offers unparalleled city views. A new generation of Lyonnaise chefs is also coming up hot on their heels, bringing flair and fusion to the local cuisine.


But there's more to Lyon than just food. So how do you spend your 48 hours in this lovely French city?



Day 1: Explore the Historic Heart of Lyon

Photo by Pixabay

Start your day by visiting Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), one of the largest Renaissance quarters in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can admire the impressive architecture and monuments, such as the Cathedral of Saint-Jean, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, and the Palace of Justice. You can also discover the traboules, hidden passageways connecting courtyards and buildings across the old town. Silk workers and merchants used them to transport their goods and avoid taxes.


Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Photo by Mike Benna

For lunch, treat yourself to a typical Lyonnais meal at one of the bouchons, which are traditional family-run restaurants that serve local specialities. A Bouchon is usually a small, family-run bistro unique to Lyon, with a friendly and cosy atmosphere. The word bouchon comes from the bunches of twigs that used to hang on the doors of the taverns or inns where the silk merchants stopped in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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It serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, which is rich and hearty, using ingredients such as sausages, coq-au-vin, duck pâté, and roast pork. Today, there are only 22 certified bouchons in Lyon, recognized by the association Les Bouchons Lyonnais. Some of the best bouchons in Lyon are:




Photo by Daniel et Denise

Don't forget to pair your food with a glass of Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône wine, produced in the nearby vineyards.


In the afternoon, head to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, a Fine Arts museum located in a former convent on the Place des Terreaux. It is one of France's largest and most prestigious museums, with collections ranging from ancient Egypt to modern art. You can admire masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, and Matisse.

Place des Terreaux. Photo by Unsplash

If you have some time left, you can also visit the Musée Lumière, dedicated to the invention of cinema by the Lumière brothers in Lyon in 1895. You can see their original equipment, watch some of their first films, and learn about their contribution to cinema history.


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For dinner, you can choose from various options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to cosy cafes. If you want to splurge, you can book a table at L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, which used to be run by Paul Bocuse. The restaurant was top-rated with three stars in the Guide Michelin, but after Paul Bocuse passed away in 2018, the restaurant lost one star and was in 2020 downgraded to two stars—still a pretty good restaurant. The restaurant is located on the banks of the Saône River, about 15 minutes by car from the city centre.


Photo by L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges

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Day 2: Discover the Modern Side of Lyon


On your second day in Lyon, you can explore some of the city's more contemporary and dynamic areas. Start by visiting the Confluence district between the two rivers at the southern tip of the peninsula. This former industrial zone has been transformed into a modern, eco-friendly neighbourhood with innovative architecture and design. You can see buildings such as the Orange Cube, the Sucrière, a former sugar factory turned into a cultural centre or the Musée des Confluences. This futuristic structure houses exhibits on natural history and anthropology.

Orange Cube. Photo by Michaja Sudar
Musée des Confluences Photo by Ludovic Charlet

For lunch, stroll along the Rhone and head for the Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a covered market that offers a wide range of products from local producers and artisans. You can taste cheese, charcuterie, bread, pastries, chocolate, oysters or buy some souvenirs to take home.


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In the afternoon, relax at the Parc de la Tête d'Or, one of the largest urban parks in France. You can stroll along its paths and gardens, admire its lake and rose garden, or visit its zoo and botanical garden. It is an excellent place for families, couples, or solo travellers who want to enjoy nature and tranquillity in the city.

Parc de la Tête d'Or. Photo by Romain Girot

For your last evening in Lyon, you can experience some of its nightlife and entertainment options. You can catch a show at the Opéra de Lyon, which hosts opera, ballet, music, and theatre performances in a stunning building that combines classical and modern elements.

Photo by Opéra de Lyon

You can also enjoy a cruise along the Saône River, which offers a different perspective of the city and its landmarks. You can choose from various options: sightseeing, dinner, or cocktail cruise.


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Alternatively, you can head to one of the many bars, pubs, or clubs in Lyon to mingle with locals and other travellers. Some popular nightlife areas are the Presqu'île, the Croix-Rousse, and the Vieux Lyon. You can find places that suit your taste and mood, whether you want to listen to live music, dance, or have a quiet drink.

Photo by Pixabay

Practical Travel Tips for Lyon and France

The currency in France is the euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted, but American Express is often limited.

The power plugs and sockets in France are type C and E. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. You may need an adapter or converter for your devices.


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The tap water in Lyon is safe to drink, but you can also buy bottled water.

The public transportation system in Lyon consists of metro, tram, bus, and funicular lines. You can buy tickets at machines or station kiosks or on board buses. You can also buy a Lyon City Card, which includes unlimited access to public transportation, free entrance to many museums and attractions, discounts on shopping and theatres, and a cruise along the Saône River.

The best time to visit Lyon is from April to June or from September to October, when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller. The summer months of July and August can be hot and busy, while the winter months of November to March can be cold and rainy.


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Lyon is generally a safe city, but you should always be aware of your surroundings and avoid carrying valuables or large amounts of cash. Pickpockets and scammers may target tourists in crowded areas or on public transportation. If you need any help or assistance, you can call 112 for emergencies or 17 for police.


For more information: en.visiterlyon.com/

 

We do our very best to bring you accurate information. We encourage you to contact us at editorial@dagama.travel if any information is outdated or contains errors.



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