Bonjour from Lyon
Located at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, Lyon is just under 400 km south-east of Paris in the Rhône-Alps region.
Lyon is one of the great food cities of France and home to revolutionary chef Paul Bocuse (now 87). People book months, even a year, in advance for a table at his three Michelin starred restaurant l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges and use Lyon as a base for jaunts in the great wine region of Burgundy to the north.
Anything cooked by Paul Bocuse and his team! Seriously: he has four brasseries, including a cracker very conveniently located at the old Brotteaux train station near Gare de Part-Dieu called Brassierie L’Est. Alternatively, Georges Brasserie is an independent place serving modern Lyonnaise cuisine and always has a dish of the day available. It’s possible to continue your own festival of Paul Bocuse and head to the undercover food markets Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse but the fresh food markets in most arrondissements are excellent. Look for the large Bresse chicken, morel mushrooms, pike and some of the cheeses of Burgundy, like the stinky orange, unpasteurised Époisses, and the soft Macônnais.
Beaujolais – so often regarded skeptically as a “light red” in Australia – can have real guts and be a rich, smooth delight with pinot noir qualities.
In Lyon, you are half an hour from the southern parts of Burgundy (Bourgogne), a wine region producing some of the finest, and most sought-after wines on the planet. Pinot noir is the red grape and the top producers like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti can set you back thousands of euro a bottle. Fear not, unlike in Australia, you can drink brilliant-quality village pinot such as Bouchard and Louis Latour for less than €20. Don’t be afraid to ask any sommelier for their recommendation. For those who prefer anything but chardonnay, think again. Chardonnay from Burgundy is minerally, acidic, rich with a hint of oak without that just-sucked-on-the-barrel flavour. Montrachet produces the premium wines, but at the affordable end, look for Bourgogne Blanc or Macôn.
Best food souvenir
A signed copy of any Paul Bocuse cookbook (or even a signed menu!).
Getting there and around
Lyon is just over two hours from Paris by TGV. For those looking to fly, Lyon’s Saint-Exupéry airport is a hub, and those looking for cheaper flights may be better off flying to the Grenoble airport. The TCL local train network is super-efficient and there are convenient metro stops around the city. It’s an easy 30-minute walk across the old central part of the city and well worth the effort. For those wanting to get out into the vineyards, it’s better to hire a car and drive.
Paul Bocuse: The Complete Recipes by Paul Bocuse, Jean-Charles Vaillant and Eric Trochon.