ExploreRoad Trips South of FranceTasha Powell

My Planning Tips for a Quick Getaway to Lyon, France

Lyon is the 3rd largest city in France and the French capital of gastronomy! With its beautiful old town, many restaurants, museums and shops, there are plenty of things to do in Lyon. So, when my good friend wanted to visit a new city together, we decided on a quick getaway to Lyon, and here is what we did in our 30 hours in the city.

Bill Buford Quote Lyon

30 Hours in Lyon

For anyone living in Provence with easy access to the Aix TGV Station, Lyon is a quick 1.5-hour train ride away. The city has much to offer in terms of culture, food, and architecture! Plus, if you book your trip at least two (2) weeks in advance, TGV rates are more affordable, and the train is a pleasant way to travel. My friend and Angelino (fellow resident of Los Angeles), Judith Crane, made a whirlwind visit to Paris and then to Aix-en-Provence. We wanted to explore a new city together and decided that Lyon was a great choice.

Travel Tips Quick Getaway to Lyon, France

The First Day

We hopped on an early TGV train on a Saturday morning and arrived at 8:19 am at Lyon Part Dieu, where our city adventure began. After a 12-minute cab ride, we dropped our luggage at our hotel, the Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts at 73-75 Rue du Président Edouard Herriot in the 2nd arrondissement and started our Lyon tour.

It was only a 22-minute walk from the hotel to shopping in the La Croix Rousse neighbourhood in the 1st arrondissement. Here, we found small, independent shops full of original fashion pieces and vintage decor items, second-hand clothes shops, design-specialized bookstores, and other trendy concept stores.

The Village des Créateurs (Creators’ Village) is a hot spot for young artistic talent. If you are visiting on a Saturday, stop here after 11 am as stores are just opening. This area is where various artists and designers have studios and showcase their products.

And don’t miss the beautiful Escalier Mermet, a historical landmark painted in blue, white, and yellow organic motifs by Artiste Wenc.

Escalier Mermet Lyon France

For All Foodies and Chefs!

Les Halles Paul Bocuse is the place to be! I was shocked at how many people enjoyed a leisurely lunch (especially oysters) late Saturday afternoon. After all, France is known for strict eating times, such as lunch from 12 to 2 p.m. and dinner from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Les Halles - Quick Getaway to Lyon, France

The incredible variety of culinary treasures stretched on and on inside this famous venue. I especially liked pastries, fruity marshmallows (guimaves), and homemade pasta. I recommend stopping by Boulangerie Jocteur, run by Chef Jocteur and his two sons, and ordering a special Lyonnaise bread: Praluline brioche filled with pink pralines.

Praluline, brioche filled with pink pralines

Tarte aux Prâlines Roses
An elegant but simple dessert for your New Year’s Eve fête or a romantic Valentine’s dinner!
Check out this recipe
Pink Praline Tart Lyon tarte aux pralines roses
Pink Praline Brioche à la Praline
This sweet bread has a crusty exterior yet is soft on the interior, and the pink pralines add the Lyonnaise touch.
Check out this recipe
Pink Praline Brioche à la praline
Salted Almond Praline Cake
Recipe minimally adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine.
Check out this recipe
Salted Almond Praline Cake

Bill Buford Quote Lyon

Time for Dinner

Rue Mercière in the 2nd arrondissement is delightful for both shopping and dinner. It is a lively, colourful section of Lyon that buzzes with activity. Judith and I dined (after shopping in this quartier) at Casabea, which is known for its Mediterranean cuisine. We loved the ambience, the décor, the panisse and the Moroccan-style fish.

CASABEA – Cuisine méditerranéenne (website)
5 Rue de la Monnaie
69002 Lyon
Closed on Sundays

Sunday Morning

You can take the funicular at the bottom of the hill next to the Cathedral St-Jean in the Vieux Lyon section or take a taxi or Uber to Fourviere Hill and Notre Dame Basilica. The Basilica is a majestic and exquisitely designed building, and the views of the city are breathtaking.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere Lyon

We then took an Uber to see the Roman ruins of Lyon and the UNESCO Amphitheater of the Three Gauls on Rue Lucien Sportisse. This historical monument was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill.

Architecture Fans

For those interested in architecture, do not miss the Musee de Confluences, designed by Rem Koolhaus, a Dutch Architect.

Quick Getaway to Lyon, France Confluence Museum
Musée des Confluences  (website)
86 Quai Perrache,
69285 Lyon

Near the museum are the ultra-modern mixed-used orange and green cubes by Jakob + Macfarlane Architects.

Jakob + MacFarlane Quick Getaway to Lyon, France Green Cube

Quick Getaway to Lyon, France Orange Cube

If you are flying out of Lyon, the Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport is also an architectural wonder designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava Valls.

SNCF Railway Station Lyon Aeroport

And so ended our whirlwind tour of Lyon!

However, I conclude that 30 hours in Lyon is fantastic, but I recommend staying much longer – at least one week, if possible! The shopping, sites and cultural opportunities are endless.

St Honore pastry at Les Halles Paul Bocuse

More on Lyon

One could say that Lyon is at the crossroads of France. Lyon follows Paris and Marseille; Lyon is France’s third-largest city. Located in the country’s centre, the drive from Marseille takes a little over 3 hours and 4 1/2 from Paris. However, on the train (TGV) from either metropolis, the travel time is cut considerably. Moreover, Lyon enjoys easy access to mountain sporting activities with the Alps to the East. The heart of Burgundy’s wine country is only a couple of hours away from Lyon, and the Northern Rhône vineyards are just to the southeast of the city.

December Lights

Lyon is famous for its Festival of Lights, or Fête des Lumières, set around December 8th. On this date, the people of Lyon place candles or lamps in their windows in reverence to the Virgin Mary. The origins of today’s professional light show were, in fact, a celebration that began by accident. In 1852, a statue of the Virgin Mary was to be inaugurated on Fourviere Hill to pay homage to the Lord for banishing the Black Plague from the city. Unfortunately, due to violent weather, the official event was postponed. Finally, once the storm passed, the inhabitants of Lyon lit their homes with candles and took to the streets to celebrate.

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Tasha Powell

Tasha Powell

Tasha Powell is a food stylist and writer who specializes in working with celebrity chefs and leaders in the hospitality industry. She cooks and styles for monographs, cookbooks and Satellite Media Tours, working between North America and Europe. Take a look at her mouthwatering photos on Cooking with a French Twist. Since July 2020, she has offered themed Zoom cooking classes influenced by her travels in France and Morocco. Here are a few:

• Fusion Vegetarian Menu: Cheese Soufflé, Grilled Vegetable Kabobs, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime Crème Fraiche & Floating Islands
• Fall in Provence: Carrot Soup, Seared Duck Breast and Chocolate & Pear Tarte
• 3-Course Gluten-Free Menu: Panisse, Grilled Shrimp & Chocolate Towers with Michelin Star plating techniques
• Food Styling Tips: Apéro Dînatoire, presentation & plating
• 4-Course Gluten-Free Menu: Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce, Zucchini Rollups, Roasted Leek Salad & Chocolate Lava Cakes, Michelin Star plating techniques
• Just Stuffed! Stuffed Aubergines, Tomatoes & Zucchini
• Provençal Cuisine: Baked Ratatouille Tian & Tarte du Soleil
• Add Sparkle, Shimmer, Silver and Gold to Your Culinary Presentations! By Lynn Neuberg of Easy Leaf Products and Chef Tasha Powell

Class listings can be found at Chef Tasha Events

Tasha also arranges culinary tours with Barbara Pitcher in Provence, France, in Marrakech, Morocco, in Sicily, Italy and in Parry Sound, Canada under Pitcher and Powell Cuisine and Culture.

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