Vieux Lyon is the city’s tourist center and a don’t-miss destination if your time is limited in Lyon. It is a lovely and fun place to visit, with a wide selection of bars, cafés, and restaurants that feature eclectic, ethnic fare as well as classic French cuisine in a range of prices. Of the handful we have sampled, Les Ventres Jaunes, at 2, Place Neuve, is a favorite.
Influenced by nearby Bresse (known for its poulet-chicken) in both its charming décor and menu, this is where we have gone with out-of-town visitors. Unlike Lyon’s quaint bouchons that celebrate foods I usually avoid, such as tripe and other organ meats, Les Ventres Jaunes is less intense. Here you can find Lyon’s traditional meats and quenelles as well as other area classics including salad Lyonnaise with its poached egg and lardons, escargots and some favorites from nearby Burgundy, and a Bresse classic, poulet à la crème.
2, Place Neuve, Lyon
Tel: 04 78 42 16 49
On the way to French class, at Lyon’s École interculturelle de français pour étrangers
near Croix Pacquet, I like to leave the sidewalk and follow the sheltered passages, courtyards, and stairways of the area’s traboules. These varied, old pedestrian walkways make Lyon’s historic neighborhoods personal and a little mysterious while providing quirky shortcuts and surprising vistas.
On the hillside leading up to Lyon’s Croix-Rousse (des pentes de la Croix-Rousse), the traboules offer staircases and passageways between the area’s narrow streets, and insider views of the multi-storied courtyards in buildings where silk workers once lived and worked.
Today, in addition to long-time residents, this is a neighborhood of artists, designers, students and architects. New art galleries proliferate along rue Burdeau. A business incubator for fashion designers is sheltered on Place Therrioux, off rue René Leynaud. Original clothing and accessories are sold in the area’s designer shops and co-ops. St Polycarpe, the neighborhood church with its huge clock, is tucked into the narrow streetscape. There is an endless game of pétanque under the trees of Place Sathonay. The pedestrian-only rue des Pierres Plantées offers a steep walkway straight up to the plateau of Croix-Rousse. While exploring this area, don’t miss the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, just above the Place Sathonay, a ruin from Lyon’s early days as the capital of Gaul.
The Tourist Information Center at Place Bellecour offers guided tours in French and English (limited English tours off season) that include traboules or incorporate them into general city tours, depending on the time of year. A self-guided tour and map are available online in English or explore the traboules on your own by looking for small markers–square, yellow and blue signs on doorways and passageways in both areas.
Basilique de Notre Dame atop Fourvière
The Basilica at Fourvière is well focused. Too often we do things in broad brush strokes and generalities, diluting the message and covering too many bases at once. This is NOT the case with the Basilica high atop Lyon. Continue reading