WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM
Life. Food. Love.
Lyon is considered to be the best gateway city to visit the surrounding wine countries, due to its perfect positioning and its easy access to North and South Côtes du Rhone, Beaujolais and Burgundy, as a key city in the Rhône-Alpes region, it is also particularly well known for its culinary expertise. It has the hustle and bustle one expects from an international city but it also has a calmness about it, brought by the Rhône and the Saône rivers which ensure a feeling of well-being and relaxation when you stroll along their quays.
Historically when holidaying in France we have, like most people, just driven straight through Lyon from north to south, seeing the skyline from our rear view mirror, yet every single time we have said we must come back and really savour this city that we have heard so much about. Finally the opportunity presented itself to us and we just jumped at the chance.
A two thousand year old city, situated at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon rests below the contrasting Fourvière and Croix Rousse hills, which offer a perfect vantage point in which to view the city. In Lyon, residents and visitors alike take a unique journey through time - steeped in history - simply by strolling down its narrow streets, crossing through the traboules (secret passages), walking along its bustling quays, soaking in the eclectic architecture and passing through the impressive squares of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lyon is of course famous for the fine art of living and no more so is this apparent than through their love of food, this is a town that celebrates food with tangible passion, they hail their famous chefs and pay homage to the mothers of Lyon through the famous culture of bouchons - nose to tail restaurants in a class of their own. Cheese is also very important in Lyon especially Saint-Marcellin originally from Dauphiné, it became particularly famous thanks to La Mère Richard, a dairywoman who created a new maturing technique which took the original cheese to the greater heights that it still maintains today.
We stayed in Vieux Lyon (5th), extremely atmospheric and bursting with quaint bouchons, with easy access over the bridge to both the 1st and 2nd, ideal for browsing the eclectic boutiques - especially Respiro for kitchenware and the gorgeous Bohème for flowers. These neighbourhoods are great for browsing independent artisanal boutiques, from fashion to curated homeware as well as the grand Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon. This is also where you will find a handful of third wave coffeshops however we preferred to have our café express served in Mad Hatter crockery at the wonderful Hôtel Le Boulevardier - which is also an amazing place to stay - then sauntering back to the 5th for artisanal ice cream from Terre Adélice.
North meets south. From the hookers walking amongst the derelict yet to be renovated areas of La Confluence to the grandeur of the palmhouses in the Parc de la Tête d'Or in the sixth arrondissement via Les Halles, to the blood stained history of the silk workers. If Lyon were a pair of glasses they would be Mykita or Andy Wolf - Lyon is handmade, not listening to trends, highly individual yet cosmopolitan - so much choice, creativity, passion, charm and great food. Visit this wonderful city and you will understand its tag line - Addicted to Lyon. Only Lyon - wholeheartedly.