Guide to International Food in Lyon (by arrondissement)

When I moved to Lyon from Paris, I complained that there wasn’t enough international food. Since then, two things have happened. 1) I realized I was wrong and 2) a ton of new cool restaurants have opened up! About half of the places on this list opened after I moved to Lyon (which was in 2013).

By the way, I’m using “international food” fairly loosely here – in most cases, I don’t mean “100% authentic food the way it is served in its country of origin” (because how the hell do I know what “real” Ethiopian food is like) I mean “not French.”

Because I love baguettes and quiche and all, but I don’t want to each French food all the time.

Continue reading “Guide to International Food in Lyon (by arrondissement)”

My Favorite Wine Bars in Lyon (by arrondissement)

Hi! I’ve been writing more and more about Lyon this year, and some of you have told me that you found these posts useful (which is awesome, because otherwise why am I doing this?) I’m so glad to hear it – thank you for the feedback.

Here is the most important one yet. (Unless you don’t drink wine, in which case this will be almost totally useless to you. Maybe you like tea or coffee? No? Croissants?)

It goes without saying that I really liked all these places, or I wouldn’t have put them on the list! But there are a few that I love – my favorite favorites – so I’ve marked them with a ❤.

There are loads of fantastic wine bars in Lyon – feel free to comment if you have a favorite I haven’t included! These are simply places I have been to (many times, in some cases) that I think are great.


1st arrondissement

❤ La Cave d’à Coté: Cozy, great planche of charcuterie & cheese (Closed Sunday)

Le Vin des Vivants: Pretty terrace, low prices (Closed Sunday and Monday)

❤ Autour d’un Verre: Classy but casual, tasty tapas (closed Sunday. Owner speaks very good English.)

Bones & Bottles: Oh-so-hip, a little pricey, great food – small plates (closed Sunday and Monday. English spoken)

Continue reading “My Favorite Wine Bars in Lyon (by arrondissement)”

The Prettiest Places for Tea in Lyon

There is something really nice about sitting down for a snack or a cup of tea in a beautiful setting. I’m not one to prefer the fancy schmancy over something simple, but I can’t deny that I like drinking out of a pretty cup. Here are a few places in Lyon where you can enjoy the asthetic as much as your goûter.

Jeannine & Suzanne

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Jeannine & Suzanne is a new café in the 2nd arrondissement. Everything is beautiful. The tables, the chairs, the walls, the floors, the ceiling, even the ashtrays outside (pretty metal tea boxes). Oh, and the food is beautiful too. Their little tarts are works of art, and they have a long list of tea and other beverages. The kitchen is visible through a glass wall. The vibe here is modern-beautiful-quirky. Aka, totally Instagrammable.

Continue reading “The Prettiest Places for Tea in Lyon”

Best Boulangeries in Lyon

It is no secret that I like French bread (and croissants and pains aux raisins and éclairs and… well, you get the idea). When people ask what brought me to France, I tell them it was the boulangeries. Whenever I am mad at France because the Sécu refused my carte vitale application for reasons they made up, I go get myself the best pain aux raisins I can find. (Something I didn’t know before I moved to Paris: All the flaky pastries like croissants and pain aux raisins are called viennoiseries in French.)

As I slowly get ready to leave Lyon, I find myself wanting to write about it more and more. (So if you have any questions about Lyon, let me know.) I can’t believe I’ve been here three years! I’ve lived up in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood and down on Presqu’île, so those are the areas I know the best, but I try to make it a point to eat croissants all over the city.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

Continue reading “Best Boulangeries in Lyon”

Spring, Life, and Tacos

March is the worst month. It’s the tail end of winter and everyone is dying for spring to arrive, and for me, it’s the middle of the semester when all my students take their midterms at the same time, which means I have to write all the tests and then correct about 400 exams in the span of a few weeks, on top of my normal workload. It’s a little like running on a treadmill in high heels.

I’m so relieved that it’s April – spring has definitely arrived, the semester is almost over, and I’m starting to ponder where to travel this summer. (I’m thinking Italy and Portugal, but I’m also tempted by Croatia, Spain, Budapest, Berlin… so many adventures, so little time. Where are your favorite places in Europe?) Even though traveling in France doesn’t always feel as exciting as going to a new country, I’d still love to spend some time down south, and maybe over on the west coast of the country where I’ve barely been at all, and there will definitely be a trip to Paris where I have big plans to Eat Stuff.

Speaking of Big Plans, I’m heading west in the fall – really far west. Back across the Atlantic west, and then some. I haven’t lived in California in about ten years, so it will be a big change! Everything I had to deal with when I moved to France, like learning how to rent an apartment and set up health insurance and a phone plan, I’ll have to re-learn how to do in my home country. Obamacare was barely a thing when I left. (So if you love your American health insurance or phone plan, drop me a note!)

Since I know I have less than six months left in France, at least for now, I’m indulging more often at the boulangerie and buying the good wine while I can. I’ll miss that, and my wonderful friends and belle-famille, but I won’t miss all the cigarette smoke and the general frustrations that come with being a foreigner. I’ve grown disillusioned with France, so maybe if we spend some time apart, we’ll appreciate each other more when we meet again.

Spring is lovely though, even if enjoying the sunshine in the city almost inevitably means a little secondhand smoke. (For a smoke-free environment, you can either stay inside, or go to the countryside and sit on a grassy hill with some cows.) The quais are no longer flooded, and all of Lyon has been out to enjoy the (fickle, but increasingly balmy) weather. I don’t know if it’s the change of season or the end of the semester or all the chia seeds I’ve been eating, but I have more energy lately, and it’s great! The end of winter feels like a heavy blanket being peeled back to let in the sunlight and the fresh spring air.

A few snapshots of spring in Lyon…

 

  

IN OTHER MAJOR NEWS I’ve discovered amazing Tex-Mex in Lyon – Two Amigos! I mourn the months that I lived in ignorance of the delicious tacos and margaritas just a short metro ride away. (Incidentally, I also tried some pretty good Mexican Mexican food this month at Don Taco, in case you’re interested.) Two Amigos is just far enough away from my apartment that I can’t go there all the time, which is probably good since their margaritas are the best and most dangerous I’ve ever had. (A far cry from the thimble-sized 10 euro margarita at El Guacamole in Paris!) They describe their style as “California-inspired” so maybe that’s why I like it so much! (Should we call it Cal-Mex food then?) If you’re wondering why this is blog-worthy news, you’ve clearly underestimated my love for tacos.

Are you craving tacos and margaritas now? I know I am.

Lyon: La Fête des Lumières

Every year, Lyon hosts La Fête des Lumières, an elaborate festival of lights with colorful and dramatic installations all over the city. I’ve shared some photos from my first Fête des Lumières in 2013, but it’s impossible to do justice to the gorgeous moving lights and cinema set to music.

December 8th is the official day of celebration, so the festival always includes the 8th and extends over four days including a weekend. The population of Lyon supposedly triples during the festival, and I believe it. Streets are blocked off, security guards herd pedestrians like cattle, restaurants are booked solid, and you have to queue just to get down into the metro. Accommodation prices are astronomical, even to rent a student loft on Airbnb.

But this year the Fête des Lumières was cancelled two short weeks before it was set to open. Continue reading “Lyon: La Fête des Lumières”

Bike-share in Lyon: I’m Vé-loving It

It’s been three months since I ditched my metro card for Vélo’v, Lyon’s bike-sharing network. I learned how to bike when I was a kid, but I haven’t rolled on two wheels much since the early 90s. (Apart from the terrifying Vélib incident in Paris in 2013. Did you know that there are way too many cars and pedestrians in Paris?)

[Note: Vélo’v and Vélib get their names from the word vélo, which means bike in French.]

But it turns out that I love the Vélo’v system in Lyon. There are a lot of bike lanes and bike paths, so I feel safe most of the time, and since there are so many Vélo’v stations, I feel a kind of freedom that you don’t get when you’re confined to the metro. I just pick a bike and go. Plus, now that I don’t live in a fifth-floor walk-up anymore, I have to get in some exercise so I don’t feel guilty about taking the elevator when I get home. (To the second floor. Just because I can.)

It’s not all rainbows on wheels, though. Here are a few situations where my vé-love turns to vé-loathe:

  • In the morning when there are no bikes anywhere because the early birds took them all.
  • In the evening when everyone is having apéro on Presqu’île and there are no open spots at the Vélo’v stations.
  • When the bike seat is too high and I have to whack it like a crazy person to get it down to where my feet can touch the pedals and people look at me like I’m a weirdo but don’t offer to help. (I’ve learned that twisting it back and forth is a better method than whacking.)
  • When pedestrians amble across the bike path or the road. Do they realize how much easier it is for them to wait a second than it is for me to brake abruptly to avoid running them over even though I want to, and wait for them to saunter by while I fall off my bike?
  • Oh yeah, falling off my bike. That happened this week. I have banged up hands, knees, and elbow (the right one) and a bruise the size of an avocado on my leg. It started out pink, turned purple, and today it’s black. Maybe blue and yellow tomorrow?

But still. A Vélo’v pass only costs 25€ for the entire year. That’s opposed to 60€ per month for public transport. Under twenty-fivers knock an extra 10€ off of that and pay only 15€ for the whole year. But even if you’re just visiting, you pay 1,50€ for a day of Vélo’v use, 5€ for the week, or 3€ for three days if you have the Lyon City Card (whatever that is.) Just go to one of the many red Vélo’v stations to buy a ticket.

The first 30 minutes of each ride are free (60 minutes with certain passes), and then there’s a small extra charge per hour. But you can just switch out your bike for a new one at any station to avoid paying extra.

Vélov Lyon La Vie En C Rose

For more information, visit http://www.velov.grandlyon.com/.

Have you ever used a bike sharing system? What did you think?

Lyon: Tips for La Fête des Lumières

Lyon’s annual Fête des Lumières is spectacular, but it has its downsides.

With such a huge influx of people, the city’s population triples for the weekend. Therefore, we can make a few conclusions: one, it will be difficult to find accommodations, two, prices will skyrocket because of the demand, and three, Lyon will be crowded.

So I have a few ideas to help you make the most of the Fête des Lumières and your time in Lyon.

Continue reading “Lyon: Tips for La Fête des Lumières”

Flashback to 2013: La Fête des Lumières

In a week and a half, the population of Lyon will triple for four days. Hotels have been sold out for months, and good luck getting into a restaurant in Vieux Lyon.

Why?

La Fête des Lumières!

Lyon has more than one claim to fame (the invention of cinema, the silk industry of Croix-Rousse, and Paul Bocuse, to name a few) but the Fête des Lumières is by far the most important annual event.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Fête des Lumières (which literally means “festival of lights” in case you were wondering). I kind of imagined lots of little tea lights in windows. That’s part of it; Lyon residents do sometimes put little candles in their windows. But it’s more like an artistic explosion of colorful moving light all over the Lyon that transforms the city into a magical alternate universe fueled on vin chaud for a span of four days.

Here’s a look at last year’s Fête des Lumières.

Continue reading “Flashback to 2013: La Fête des Lumières”

The préfecture: it’s not over yet!

Well, at least I had the sense to put a question mark when I titled this post “The End?” of my battle with the préfecture.

Because of course it wasn’t the end. That would have been too simple.

In case you missed it, I went to the prefecture not once, not twice, but three times in order to finally get my récépissé, the piece of paper that gives me the right to stay in France until I get my carte de séjour, the official legal card. And they said something along the lines of, “Congratulations, you have shown great patience and determination in this quest and will now be awarded the golden récépissé. Come back in October for your carte de séjour (and in a year you can do it all over again! Bienvenue en France.)”

And silly me, I thought I could just come back in October and get my carte de séjour. Oh, so naive.

Continue reading “The préfecture: it’s not over yet!”