Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lyon part II

11 August 2010

My second day in Lyon couldn't have started any better than breakfast at the hostel on the terrace overlooking the city:


It was cool and breezy, and the sun was just beginning to come over the horizon - what a stunning morning.

Unfortunately, after my six-course incredible meal the night before, I was feeling a little sick to my stomach.  I set out to explore a little more of the city and find a market on Boulevard de la Croix Rousse to pick up some fresh fruit.  When I began walking towards the market, I hadn't realized there was another huge hill to climb going in this direction as well.  But Lyon is a beautiful city, and there was plenty to see on my way up:

Fontaine Bartholdi, Place des Terreaux
In addition to being home to a market, the Croix Rousse district is also home to some of Lyon's most famous hidden landmarks, the traboules:


Traboules are passageways that cut through buildings.  However, unlike the galeries in Paris that are centers of commerce filled with shops and cafés and covered in glass roofs, traboules feel much more residential and private.  In some cases, people's front doors were on the traboule rather than on the street.  I believe they are just as open as the streets, but it felt to me like an invasion of privacy walking through them, so I didn't linger.

I found my market, but after being spoiled with the great variety at the markets in Aix, I was disappointed to find there were just a handful of stands here.  But I was able to get some great produce - succulent peaches, luscious raspberries, flavorful carrots, and some perfect cherry tomatoes:

If the assortment of stands at the market were lackluster, the views weren't.  Being at the top of a hill again, the views over the city were spectacular.




Another highlight of the Croix Rousse hill is the amphithéâtre des trois gaules:


The amphitheater dates to around 19 AD - I love being able to just stumble across 2000-year-old buildings!

By the mid-afternoon, having only eaten fruits, vegetables, and a light breakfast, when I stumbled across a boulangerie selling pépites au chocolat...



...I just had to have one.  I'm pretty sure it was fate.  A pépite au chocolate is a pastry that you find all over France with a few different names.  It is essentially two thick slices of brioche with crème patissière (a sweet pastry cream) and pépins au chocolat (chocolate chips) in between.  Soft, sweet, chocolatey - maybe a little heavy for my stomach that was still coping with the meal from the night before, but so, so good.

As I continued wandering around the city, I stumbled across Le Nord:



In addition to running his eponymous restaurant outside of Lyon, Paul Bocuse also runs a few brasseries (literally, breweries, though brasserie typically just means a relatively informal restaurant) around town, called Le Nord, Le Sud, L'Est, and L'Ouest (the North, South, East, and West), each focusing on a different aspect of French cuisine.  Le Nord was the first of these brasseries, and it does traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.  I briefly considered coming back for dinner that evening, but let's be honest, I was still digesting dinner from the night before so that wasn't going to happen.  Next time!

It was getting on in the afternoon, and I decided it was time to get to the real business of the day: buying new luggage to replace my broken duffel.  I had looked around that morning for a few luggage shops, and after balking at the possibility of spending 120€+ for a new bag, I decided to try a duffel from Ludivine, which was 40€.  I told the shop keeper that the wheel on my previous bag had split, and she told me that the wheels on this bag were replaceable so I wouldn't have to worry about that.  Now I am sure that if I were a great storyteller I would keep you in suspense, but I'm going to go ahead and give away the ending to this story now: THE WHEEL ON MY NEW DUFFEL BROKE TWO WEEKS LATER IN CARCASSONNE.  When I replaced my bag for the second time in Bordeaux (this time at a legit luggage store, where I could not, in fact, get replacement wheels for my newly broken bag), I told the shopkeeper my previous bag had broken after 2 weeks, and she replied, "mais bien sur; ça, c'est la cochonnerie" ("well of course, that bag is a disgrace").  So to end the story with a moral: don't buy cheap luggage when you're going to be dragging it over cobblestones.

After dropping off my new bag at the hostel, it was past 5 pm, and I headed out to find some dinner.  There were a couple of shops on Place Bellecour I wanted to visit.  The first was a renowned chocolatier (chocolate shop) called Voisin:


And the second was a traiteur (a shop selling prepared foods) noted for its Lyonnaise products called Pignol:


After getting my dinner, I headed back up to the hostel to eat on the terrace.  At Pignol, I got some excellent green beans, served cold in a very light dressing, as well as a quiche Lyonnaise:


The quiche contained sausage and potatoes.  The sausage had a deep, meaty, smoky flavor, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly.  It was not a light dish - this is definitely a city of robust food - but it was excellent.

After dinner, I ate some of the candy I picked up at Voisin.  Of course I had to try coussins:


Coussin means cushion, since these small blue candies resemble little pillows.  These are the number one ubiquitous confection in Lyon, and they are Voisin's specialty.  They have a chocolate center and a marzipan exterior flavored with Curaçao, a blue bitter-citrus liqueur.  I found the flavor rather bizarre - it was definitely alcoholic, and if I knew what Curaçao tasted like, I bet they tasted like that.

These are called quenelles:



The name pays homage to the more famous quenelles de brochet, which these resemble in shape and color.  The one on the right (called a quenelle nature, or "plain") is a creamy hazelnut praline surrounded by a white chocolate shell, while the one on the left has some coffee added to it, giving it a delectable mocha flavor.  The quenelle café was definitely the best of the candies.

 Finally, I also got a few chocolates:


The chocolate with the white top was actually a nougat with just a light chocolate coating - a very sweet, chewy confection dotted with pieces of almonds.  The all dark chocolate at the bottom was called Ebene, and it was all dark chocolate - bitter and rich, but not too exciting.  Finally, the striped chocolate on the right was a little more interesting: lemon-cactus flavor.  Verbatim from my notes: "reminiscent of airport bathroom sanitizer, but with a dark chocolate finish."  I think it tasted a little better than that sounds, but it was definitely a bizarre one.

I'll finish this post where I started it - with my view over the city from the terrace:


Coming soon - my final day in Lyon, filled with more city views, more Roman ruins, and the most ornate church I've ever seen.

A bientôt,

1 comment:

I need orange said...

Another place I'm sorry to have missed!

So hard to walk away from too much food when it is so good...........

Your description and pics are so evocative. Next best thing to being there.....