VISIT LYON AND THE BEST STREET FOOD FESTIVAL IN FRANCE!
by Alexandra Osváth
Just over two hours from Geneva by car or train, Lyon is the perfect day out or weekend city break. France’s third-largest city is a haven for foodies, culture lovers and shopping divas alike.
The very popular annual Lyon Street Food Festival takes place from 12th – 15th September this year and it’s the best street food festival you’ll go to!
I lived in Lyon for a year as an American exchange student nearly a decade ago, and now hop over from Geneva to continue uncovering the city’s secrets, both old and new. Here are my top picks:
GRAB A COFFEE AND PASTRY
If you’re hungry by the time you arrive, head right to Le Perko Café, just behind Place des Terreaux (which is currently undergoing renovation) for one of their delicious coffees and homemade pastries in a very cosy setting.
SHOP LIKE A DIVA
For some shopping therapy (at non-Geneva prices) stroll down Rue de la République, Lyon’s main shopping street. Higher-end boutiques can be found a street or two away, towards Vieux Lyon. Take a photo in front of the fountain at Place des Jacobins as you meander through the streets of the Presqu’île.
You’ll eventually arrive (or for the opposite itinerary, you can start) at Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrian square in Europe, with its statue of Louis XIV and a glimpse of the Fourvière Basilica perched high on a hill above.
BASILICA OF NOTRE DAME DE FOURVIÈRE
Walk towards Vieux Lyon, crossing the Saône river at Pont Bonaparte. Continue straight, and you’ll find the funiculaire, or cable car, to go up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. When you exit the funiculaire at the top, the basilica rises majestically before you.
After visiting the basilica, don’t miss the panoramic esplanade beside it with stunning views of the city below.
You can then either walk back down to the old town below (there’s a winding forest path starting near the panoramic esplanade), take the cable car, or head over to the Roman amphitheatre and ruins just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral.
If you’re visiting Lyon in June or July, be sure to check out Les Nuits de Fourvière, an annual arts festival with theatre, music, dance, opera, and even circus performances from around the world held at the Roman amphitheatre.
LYON OLD TOWN
Once you’re back down, it’s time to explore the cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon. Follow Rue Saint-Jean, stopping in quaint boutiques as you wander, ice cream in hand (try Glacier Terre Adélice with over 100 different ice cream flavours, or La Fabrique Givrée). Lose track of time selecting your favorite French soaps from the floor-to-ceiling display at Les Savonneries du Soleil.
- 27 Rue St-Jean connecting with 6 Rue des Trois Maries
- 54 Rue St-Jean with 27 Rue de Boeuf
- 31 Rue du Boeuf with 14 Rue de la Bombarde
- 2 Place du Gouvernement with 10 Quai Romain Rolland
- 9 Rue des Trois Maries with 17 Quai Romain Rolland
You’ll have definitely worked up an appetite, so make sure you dine at one of Lyon’s classic restaurants, called bouchons. My absolute favorite (and one of the best meals I’ve ever had) is Daniel et Denise in Vieux Lyon. Start with the poached eggs in red wine sauce or prize-winning pâté en croûte followed by the regional specialty, quenelles – pike fish dumplings!
STAY THE NIGHT…
Look no further than Hotel Saint Vincent (2*), a leisurely 10-minute stroll from the old town, Vieux Lyon. We stayed in a beautifully renovated double room on the top floor. There isn’t an elevator (lift) in the building however, but otherwise we were delighted with our stay. My in-laws had the more expensive studio room, but we were happier with the layout of our double room.
Have breakfast or lunch at Les Halles de la Martinière, just a few minutes away from the hotel. Open since 2017, this great find features fresh local and organic products to enjoy on the spot or take home, and there’s even a map showing where the regional specialties come from.
Visit Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse, an indoor food market featuring more top-class Lyonnais food than you’ll be able to carry home. It’s also a great activity for a rainy day.
Rent a bike from one of the many Velov stands and pedal along the banks of the Rhône, taking in the scenery. Continue to Lyon’s largest park, Parc de la Tête d’Or, where you can visit the gardens, zoo, and even rent paddle boats (pédalos) on the lake.
Ready for an afternoon apéro? Head back to the Rhône river and stop at one of the many river boat bars, called péniches.
If you still have time, hike up to the Croix Rousse, the original silk-weaving area of Lyon. This district’s silk-weavers, known as canuts, produced the finest silks bound for Versailles. You can see a demonstration or join a tour.