Londoner in Lyon: bouchons, beaux-arts berges et bon voyage

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I have only just got around to writing my last blog post from Lyon as things got rather busy and chaotic due to our mad rush to get our online city guide published on time. Instead of celebrating with a night out, the editing team ended up pulling an all-nighter on our last night to get everything done.

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Before things got manic workwise I managed to tick most things I wanted to do off my list and more. I had a quick look around Les Halles de Lyon which is an upmarket food hall. I personally prefer authentic local street markets which definitely have more atmosphere, but for high-end gourmet food this is the place to go in Lyon.  The weather was bizarrely tropical during my three weeks in the city, which resulted in dodging thunder storms and basking in sizzling temperatures. During a drizzly day I discovered a great little café – especially for those in need of wifi and strong coffee – called Café Mokxa. All the cobbled streets in the area behind Hôtel de Ville and the Opera House are definitely worth an adventure around with loads of boutiques and quirky cafés.

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The Musée de Beaux-Arts is also another activity to save for a not so pleasant day. Showcasing classic sculptures, Egyptian relics, Roman vases and contemporary art, a visit here takes you through the ages. The highlight for me has got to be Monet’s collection, including some paintings of London. I was soon brought back to modern day reality when I walked into a Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Place des Terreaux. With a large Palestinian Jewish community in France, anti-Israel voices are growing louder by the day, with record numbers of French Jews leaving France for Israel.   

Charing Cross, Monet
Charing Cross, Monet

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I took advantage of a sunny afternoon to visit Le Parc de la Tête d’Or, a gorgeous park home to a lake and a zoo. Once inside, you will easily forget that the park is situated in the middle of a city. I also finally got myself on a Vélo’V (Lyon’s version of a Boris bike or a Parisian Vélib) and had a little ride along the berges. Whereas in Paris I would have never dared cycle on the roads, I felt quite comfortable doing so in Lyon.

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Having avoided typically meaty and rich Lyonnais cuisine, I finally had a true bouchon experience – except for the fact that I had my own special veggie menu. With salami slices offered as a nibble whilst we perused the menu, I could tell straight away a meat feast was in order. Despite the stereotypical unsympathetic and incomprehensive reaction to veggies from the French, the staff were most accommodating. Being able to speak French probably also helped to butter them up – I even managed to barter five euros off my fixed menu. Whilst our starter ensemble included lots of meat bits, I did rather well out of the salad, bread and green lentils. While everyone else tucked into some meaty dish for their main, I enjoyed a very nice omelette – and no sarcasm intended. Dessert was certainly the highlight of the meal for everyone, with most of us opting for a heavenly tarte aux pralines – by far the best one I had during my stay.  

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A few of us decided to hike up the Fourvière hill to walk off our meal – think of the climb up to Montmartre but ten times longer and steeper. The view at night was well worth it – the pictures speak for themselves. On the Friday evening we took some time out of production and editing to attend out final team meal at Croque ’n’ Roll, a hip café/resto joint doing croque monsieurs with a twist.

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Myself and a fellow team member decided to spend our last full day in the city in a rather unusual way which tested our French and riddle-cracking skills. We signed ourselves up to a murder mystery style challenge called Qui veut pister which is run in several French cities. This is a great way to discover a city in a completely novel way, where you have to run around cracking clues and solving fictional stories. Our piste was to solve who stole le Gros Caillou – a large stone in the Croix-Rousse district which I have mentioned in an earlier post. Without giving too much away, the piste will get you shining torches to find clues written in UV pen, solving anagrams and getting some strange looks when blowing your lungs out onto a compact mirror. For anyone spending more than a week in a French city with a good level of French, Qui veut pister I definitely something I would recommend.

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Overall a great three weeks in Lyon – it’s no Paris but it has so many of its own charms.

Les Halles de Lyon: http://www.hallespaulbocuse.lyon.fr/

Café Mokxa : http://www.cafemokxa.com/

Musée de Beaux-Arts: http://www.mba-lyon.fr/mba/

Parc de la Tête d’Or : http://www.lyon.fr/page/culture-et-loisirs/ville-nature/le-parc-de-la-tete-dor.html

Croque ’n’ Roll : http://www.thecrocknroll.fr/fr/

Qui veut pister : http://www.quiveutpisterlyon.com/

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