Lyon is a city in France that sits at the junction of the Rhone and Saone rivers. It holds the distinction of being the third-largest city in France. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known for the production and weaving of silk. Today it has become the unofficial capital of gastronomy in France.
Many consider the city a better place to visit than Paris. First of all, Paris does not produce wine, Lyon does. You get better choices with the options to explore the vineyard of the wine you had at dinner the night before. Secondly, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is considered a more beautiful church than its counterpart in Paris. If you missed out because of the great fire of the Parisian church, head to Lyon where you won’t be disappointed. Third, it was also the most important city under Roman rule. It was founded a decade before Paris, while Paris was just starting.
There are lots of Roman remains in the city such as amphitheaters and baths. A few other great reasons are the food, the amount of music performed on the streets and in concert halls, famous movie sets, and the food!
With more than 1,500 restaurants, the city has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita in France. Because of its location, it is surrounded by the best food-producing regions in France. Vegetables arrive from farms in Charolais, lake fish from Savoy, game from the Dombes, fabulous pork from Monts du Lyonnais, and spring fruits and vegetables from Drôme and Ardèche. Plus famous wines and local cheeses in Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley. The ‘royalty’ of chickens comes from Bresse, and so are the origins of Bresse Bleu Fromage.
Many dishes are very Lyonnaise, but some must be tried. Try some smoky pork sausage with pistachios, they will be probably be served with mashed potatoes covered in a cream sauce, or a brochette of foie gras. Another is the quenelles, typically a mixture of creamed fish.
A unique feature of the city is the Bouchon’s. They are only found in Lyon and the word only exists there. They are small, family-owned bistros that serve a specific type of cuisine, have a specific atmosphere, as well as a typical décor. Basically, mothers of Lyon, with family recipes that extended their kitchen and familial atmosphere to the silk workers.
You can take in Lyon on many river cruises in France and we highly recommend checking it out as a destination besides Paris.
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