Our week long river cruise ended in Lyon and one of the things I had read on some travel forums is that many people wished they had more time in Lyon. We booked and extra two nights in Lyon before heading to Paris. Lyon was founded by the Romans and was the capital of the Three Gauls. Lyon is also famous for its silk and the silk workers. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a silk scarf from a silkmaker while on the AMADagio who came to explain the silk process to us.
On our AMAWaterways cruise, those who were continuing on the post cruise with AMA were going into Lyon for a cooking experience. We asked our cruise director Rachel if we could do it as well and we would be willing to pay for the experience. She graciously allowed us to join the others. Unfortunately that morning, I was not feeling well and stayed behind on the ship while Blogger Hubby went with the others in the first of several groups going over. The group was actually making their lunch to take with them on the train to Paris. Since he had ridden one of the bicycles that AMA has on their ships for us passengers over to Lyon the day before to locate our hotel, he was happy and surprised to find that he were basically around the corner from our hotel. He came back to the ship when he had finished the cooking lesson to pick me up. We eagerly got into a cab that our cruise director had called for us.
Initially we had reservations at the Intercontinental in Lyon but in looking at the map that seemed to be further away from the Old City area where we wanted to be. With that reservation cancelled I needed to begin looking around again. Rick Steves to the rescue! I love his travel books and looked at his recommendation where to stay and double checked with Trip Advisor. Turned out that the Hotel Artistes was a true gem in terms of location, price and the room was fine, a little small but larger than some of the more expensive rooms that we stayed in on this trip. I would highly recommend this hotel if any of you are going to be in Lyon. I couldn’t use points for this hotel stay – the only one of the entire trip but I did earn points by using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and received 2 times points as it was a travel expense. We were about a block or so from the Rhone River.
Why this was exciting was because they had large Farmer Markets there and since we were there on a weekend, it was great. We chose not to buy the breakfast option at the hotel but instead walked the block to the river and perused all the vendor stalls. Who could resist a freshly made chocolate croissant – certainly not me. I’m a fan of soft, pungent cheese and they had so many for us to choose from. Add a baguette, a sausage and I was in heaven. We enjoyed strolling past the farmers seeing the bright, vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables in season. Fresh fish were also very popular as well as chickens on a rotisserie. So many different options and I wished I could just sit there and eat. An observation that I made was that the prices in the market seemed much less expensive than our farmer markets that are near me.
Before we traveled to Lyon we happened to watch an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Lyon and learned that a specialized restaurant there is called a bouchan. A bouchan serves traditional Lyonnaise food such as sausages, and duck pate and it is a friendlier restaurant where you can talk and laugh. Of course, we wanted to follow his advice and going to a bouchon was on our list of things to do.
We were able to walk around Lyon, get our bearings and look for restaurants for that evenings dinner. We found that THE place to go was Rue Merciere – a street lined with restaurants and bouchans. So many to choose but having the chalk board outside did help us decide which one to visit. Many times you have a choice of an 2 courses or three with the third being a dessert. With more than enough food being served sometimes I would just order the entre and Blogger Hubby would order the two or three course and “share” with me.
Other restaurants that we highly recommended to us by locals was Le Petit Garet on Rue du Garet, Chez Hugon on Rue Pizay, Restaurant Chabert & Fils (in Old Town) and as mentioned before all restaurants on Rue Merciere. We particularly enjoyed Bouchon Lustre.
Across the Saone is the funicular to go up to the top to visit Notre Dame Basilica. This basilica is on the World Heritage list and another one that we can check off. European churches are so grand, at least compared to what I’ve seen in the United States and they are also very similar to each other. I think this was the last church that Blogger Hubby wanted to visited on our because he said “after a while they all begin to look like each other” and he does have a point. Nevertheless, we walked behind the church and had a panoramic view of the city of Lyon and the rivers that important to it.
We walked down the hill from Notre Dame and stopped at the Roman amphitheatre. As it oher European cities that we have been in, there was a professional photographer taking wedding shots of a Korean couple for magazines in Korea. I am constantly amazed at the archetecture of the ancient civilizations. What they could accomphlish without the tools that we have now is unbelieveable.
For a foodie like me, we enjoyed going to Les Halles, the famed indoor food market. We were able to sample cheese, wine, sausages, macarons (my favorite). If you enjoy food, I would recommend that you visit this market.
We didn’t do anything special in Lyon but instead meandered around the streets people watching. If food is your thing, make sure that if you take a river cruise you spend extra time in Lyon, the gastronomical capital of France!