Lyon has become one of the not-to-be-missed destinations in France (in fact, it was voted “best weekend destination” at the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2016).
Lyon reinvented itself as a city and left its somewhat ageing reputation as (self-proclaimed) “culinary capital of the world” far behind, by catering not only to the needs of its residents, but also to those of a new generation of tourists hailing from every part of the world. Once I had set aside my bias caused by their deplorable football* team, I crushed hard on Lyon, and now every time I go, I reluctantly head back to Paris at the end of my stay, thinking the whole time that I should just give in to this crazy infatuation and leave Paris to go live by the Rhône river.
First of all, it’s an absolutely, undeniably beautiful city set in an absolutely, undeniably beautiful region. The best way to get around is to cycle on one of their citybikes, called Ve’Lov (inaugurated in 2005 – i.e. waaaay before cities like Paris, London or New York, for those of you who may still think that Lyon is “provincial”). The riverbanks have been re-designed with biking paths, boardwalks, picnic areas, restaurants and bars. New restaurants are popping up everywhere – little gems that are a product of the new wave in haute French gastronomy. Young chefs are infusing an international, modern flair to their cuisine. There are also emerging young designers, huge art and music festivals, the opera, streetart, museums and exhibits, a rich and fascinating history in a city where numerous sites are given UNESCO’s World Heritage status, …. in short, everything in Lyon just comes together to guarantee an unforgettable and enjoyable stay.
What a stroke of fate when we met Mélodie, a classically-trained musician at the Conservatory of Music, but also a foodie and interior design enthusiast: She had just left her neighborhood in the slopes of the Croix-Rousse and had moved to the 7th arrondissement in Lyon. It’s a lesser-known neighborhood that is experiencing a sort of Brooklyn-like upswing: it has become an inescapable, trendy meeting-point (and not just for hipsters) in a city that, in case you hadn’t noticed yet, we’re big fans of. Mélodie decided to share some of her favorite places to hang out:
Le Kitchen Café (34 rue Chevreul)
For lunch and breakfast. The granola bowl, the kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls) and the desserts are to die for!
(Editor’s Note: This restaurant is run by a young couple, Connie and Laurent, and while the vibe is unpretentious, the dishes that come out of the kitchen achieve a delicate and masterful balance. Connie is in charge of the savory side, Laurent takes care of desserts and pastries. They nail it every time. Check out their instagram here )
Le Labo (39 rue de Marseille)
For their homemade breakfast. I really love their selection of fresh juice.
(Editor’s note: The combination of cute decor and really low prices will guarantee a great start to your day! You could stop by for lunch too – their daily specials are simple, homemade, and great when you’re on a budget)
Scarole et Marcelin (98 rue Béchevlin)
Greengrocer and deli where everything is local and seasonal. It’s where I buy all my fruits and veggies. They use their fresh produce to make a different quiche / salad / daily special every morning! They’ve been helping us set up a compost in the neighborhood.
Stamtich (2 avenue Berthelot)
The garden in our building is shared with this wooden cabin-turned restaurant. Céline and Nico always make you feel welcome. Their Munster cheese flammekueche with caraway seeds is one of the best guilty pleasures in life. They host events throughout the year: drinks and apéritifs, art openings for local artists, … They also bake the best carrot cake in all of Lyon … maybe even in all of France!
Fromagerie Les Trois-Jean (84 avenue Jean Jaurès)
Jean runs this fromagerie and – get this – ripens his own cheese. It’s worth going on Saturday mornings for their fresh cow’s milk cheese made with chives or berries. When it’s really cold in the winter and I’m feeling a serious comfort food craving, I’ll head there to buy a Mont D’Or cheese and roast it in the oven …
Piscine du Rhône (8 quai Claude Bernard)
The indoor and outdoor pools are connected and heated so you can swim outside in the dead of winter!
(Editor’s Note: it’s a pool worthy of any Scandinavian country – the water temperature is at a constant 27० C ** all year … Also, bonus: since it’s on the riverbanks, the views of Lyon from the pool are breathtaking!)
Cinéma le Comœdia (13 avenue Berthelot)
I love catching a movie here during the day to avoid a big crowd. They do a lot of preview showings with film actors and directors.
Librairie Rive Gauche (19 rue de Marseille)
This a great bookstore, run entirely by women. Placing orders is a quick and easy process and they are always extremely helpful and full of great recommendations.
Mélodie’s Favorite Things to Do in Lyon:
- grab a veggie plate at the Akle Lebanese foodtruck at Augagneur market and eat it on the Rhône riverbanks.
- Sit down for tea in the beautiful garden of the Gadagne Museum.
- Find a spot right underneath the Chartreux gardens and admire the view of the Lyon rooftops.
- Walk around “les Pentes” (the slopes of the Croix Rousse), my old neighborhood, and check out any new streetart that may have popped up.
- Eat ice cream at Terre Adelice.
- Bike along the Rhône riverbanks.
- Catch a ballet at the Lyon Opera.
* soccer for all the Americans reading this!