24 Hours in Lyon

This past weekend flew by. Don't they always? All of a sudden it's Monday morning and I'm wondering what I even did. This time the question is what didn't I do? 

I had my first visitor (finally)! Anna is a family friend from our Switzerland days who also happens to be studying abroad in Aix this semester. The last time I saw her she was maybe five years old and I was about ten. Now she's a senior in college - crazy how time flies! 

We made the most of a cold, rainy weekend by doing a lot of walking, eating and a little shopping – all in the span of about twenty-four hours. When I asked Anna what she wanted to do, she told me she loves just walking around and exploring new cities. A girl after my own heart! I used to be so worried about checking off every single sight (who me? a list?) but battling crowds and waiting in line to see something just because you’re supposed to isn’t fun for anyone.

Here’s my non-list list of what to do/see/eat in Lyon:

1.     Go back in time. Every European city seems to have a charming “old town.” Vieux Lyon is no exception to that rule. Wander the cobblestone streets and pop into the charming little boutiques, but watch out for the tourist-trap restaurants that claim to be real bouchons

We came across this adorable little Fiat in front of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean and couldn't resist snapping a pic.

We came across this adorable little Fiat in front of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean and couldn't resist snapping a pic.

2.     Take a bridge selfie (you know you want to). Between the Rhône and the Saône you have your pick of ponts. From small pedestrian-only bridges like la Passerelle Saint Vincent to the larger, more grandiose structures reminiscent of 19th century Paris like le Pont Lafayette, there are 45 different ways to cross the river 

3.     Shop around. From the chic 6th arrondissement, to the bobo Croix Rousse, there’s a shopping district for every mood. Wandering around the old town, we stumbled across this store with the coolest lights right after I saw them on my friend Sophie’s blog. La case de Cousin Paul sells strings of "fairy lights" adorned with different colored balls you can pick out yourself. Of course, I had to buy a string of the luminous baubles. Merry Christmas to me?

4.     Eat like a Lyonnais. After living in the gastronomic capital of France for almost three months, I decided it was time to put that reputation to the test. I had heard good things about Canut et les Gones so I called on Saturday morning to see if I could get us a reservation for that night. Somehow I managed to get us in and boy am I glad I did! Wow. Best meal out I’ve had in a long time, certainly since I’ve been here. For 29 euros, you get a three-course menu, with a few options to choose from for each course. My entrée (not to be confused with word as it's used in the American sense) was a delicious squash soup but the real highlight was what followed. For le plat principal, I had the lamb. Served with potatoes, and roasted for 10 hours, it was unbelievably tender and flavorful. At this point I was already pretty full, but there's always room for dessert, right? I ordered the chocolate-banana tart with whipped cream and candied pecans. Anna had a warm apple crumble with cinnamon ice cream, which was equally divine. It was an amazing meal and the service was just as outstanding. I would definitely go back!

5.     Watch the show. My dad always says this on family vacations. When we need a break from walking, we find a café where we can take a seat en terrasse, sip a coffee and watch the show going by. I always used to think he was just being funny, but now I realize he’s right. When you look at all the cafés in Paris especially, the tables and chairs are all arranged in rows facing the street. Anna and I did stop for a coffee or two, but the real show was happening at the Marché Saint-Antoine. This charming lady (with a fancy hat) was putting on a puppet show and everyone passing by stopped to watch.

Guignol is the main character from a family of silk weavers. 

Guignol is the main character from a family of silk weavers.