When we climbed aboard the train for Lyon Saturday morning, I had my sights set on having a fabulous meal in an authentic Lyonnais bouchon: I pictured rows of tiny tables with checkered tablecloths, complete with generous helpings of wine and delicious, fresh food. That scene totally exists in Lyon… if you like calf brains, foie gras or other adventurous meat dishes. I should have gotten the hint from our Lonely Planet France guidebook, which describes a local veggie restaurant as “manna from heaven for Lyon’s oft-neglected vegetarians,” but I was still completely unprepared for the lack of options at the little bistros dotting the city.
Partly, it was bad luck: When we arrived at the bouchon that our guidebook said served some veggie dishes, it was closed for the weekend. We perused the menu at a few others until a hostess came out to greet us and offer us a table. When my husband asked if they had anything vegetarian, the lady smiled and suggested we go for a crêpe at the restaurant across the street. That’s when we gave up on the whole bouchon experience and settled for a table at a cute cafe, where we soaked in the beautiful spring weather as I happily ate French ravioli in cream sauce.
Now, I’m not a strict vegetarian – I crave a burger every once and a while – I’m just not normally a fan of the taste of meat or how it makes me feel afterward. And these meat dishes on the menus of the bouchons, well, they were just too exotic for my rarely meat-filled belly to handle. Unfortunately, the “manna from heaven” vegetarian restaurant I mentioned also turned out to be closed so I made an exception to my veggie diet Sunday for an extremely popular restaurant that only serves steak frites. Worth it? Definitely. Our meal was amazing.
But the best thing we had all weekend? Ice cream from Terre Adélices in Old Lyon. I think it may have been the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever eaten. I ordered a cone of salted caramel and my husband got a combination of honey and maple syrup, though the shop also had savory flavors like chèvre and tomato-basil. I can attest to all three flavors being absolutely incredible (thanks for sharing, Gui), but come prepared to wait in line. Ours was about 20 minutes.
Other highlights of the weekend included taking the funicular up to see Lyon’s Roman theater and the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, which is decorated with gorgeous mosaics and offers a sweeping view of the city from its terrace, spending Saturday night at one of the péniches (boats with onboard bars) anchored along the Rhone, checking out the bohemian vibe of Croix Rousse’s Sunday market and the super-modern, environmentally-chic vibe of the revitalized Confluence neighborhood, and even squeezing in a little shopping time (hello, French prices).
We’ll be back to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts when it’s not Victory in Europe Day; the Swiss don’t celebrate that one so we were totally clueless.
I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend!