Get Out of Town! 3 Reasons to Leave the City

Why are goodbyes always so hard? My family left last Friday after a 10-day visit. We managed to pack a lot of *sightseeing* (*read: eating) into a short amount of time. We started with the obligatory trek up to Fourvière and ended with dinner en terrasse on a quiet street in the Croix-Rousse. It was perfect and it went by too fast. 

For their visit, I tried to have a plan without over-planning. That meant making reservations here and there, but leaving room for last minute-wine tasting trips...

1. Tain l'Hermitage. This was one of my favorite days and the whole thing was completely imprévu. We knew we wanted to go wine-tasting in the region, but all of the tours that came up in a quick online search seemed overpriced and, well, touristy. Reluctantly, I reserved our places in one of those half-day bus tours. Then I got a last-minute suggestion from a friend who knows the area quite well. "You should go to Tain! They have wine and chocolate and it's only an hour south of the city by train." Sold. 

A few hours later we found ourselves at the Gare Part Dieu buying four aller-retour tickets literally 15 minutes before our train's departure. We hopped on and less than one hour later found ourselves in a town that felt worlds away from Lyon. 

Our first stop after arriving? La Cité du Chocolat, a newly constructed museum paying homage to the city's premium chocolate brand. Fun fact: the brand name Valrhona comes from the region la Vallée du Rhône. We did our tour just after lunch but the price is slightly lower if you go before noon. And yes, there are tastings! 

The one time I wear a crop top and we go to an all-you-can eat chocolate museum. 

The one time I wear a crop top and we go to an all-you-can eat chocolate museum. 

Located on the Rhône River, the small wine-producing commune is best known for the Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage appellations. When it comes to wineries, the two big names are the Maison Chapoutier and the Cave de Tain. The latter is where we decided to do our tasting: 5 euros per person to tour the winery and taste 5 wines. Not a bad deal! After the tasting we had to catch our train back to Lyon but if you have more time, you can go hiking in the area. 

2. Lunch at l'Institut Paul Bocuse at Château du Vivier in Écully. Let me start by saying that we are not a restaurant family. I think we ate a total of four meals out over the course of 10 days. Some of the best dinners were the ones we cooked in the kitchen of our Airbnb apartment, starting with the apéro and ending with a late-night ice cream run.

Nonetheless, I figured we should take advantage of the city's reputation as the gastronomic capital of France. When in Lyon and all that. 

The château in the background is where we ate lunch!

The château in the background is where we ate lunch!

Founded by the famous French chef in 1990, l'Institut Paul Bocuse has two restaurant locations open to the public: one is located at the Château du Vivier in Écully and the other is right in the heart of the city at the Place Bellecour. I picked the first one because who wouldn't want to eat in a castle?!

Having heard reservations fill up fast, I called about a month in advance and it was a good thing I did. Dinner was booked through October but I managed to get us in for a Monday lunch.

It was a fancy, five-course affair that lasted into the late afternoon. Definitely a memorable experience!

Tuna with ratatouille

Tuna with ratatouille

Dessert, my favorite part of the meal!

Dessert, my favorite part of the meal!

If you can't snag a reservation, checking out Les Halles Paul Bocuse is another good option. Located near the train station, it's easy to swing by this indoor market on your way in or out of town. Indulge in a pretty cake from Sève or try a macaron-making class with Philippe Lechat. Pricey but worth it!

3. Les Puces du Canal. This one has been on my list since I moved here almost a year ago. Despite our best efforts, we didn't arrive until about 11:30. My advice is to go early and bring a sandwich. There isn't much for food, though we did manage to find a little place where we ordered a plate of fries.

It's an indoor-outdoor setup, with a wide range of wares and prices. Vintage mirrors, books and dishes as far as the eye can see!

A lot of it seemed to be overpriced but then my mom spotted the most adorable little table for 20 euros! It seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. 

My Dad helping me with my "urban furniture acquisition." 

My Dad helping me with my "urban furniture acquisition." 

If I look back on it, my favorite part of the whole trip consisted of all the little moments in between the big stuff. Like laughing on the crowded bus back from the flea market because a lady decided the table we were hauling home was a chair up for grabs. "It became part of the bus," as Kara put it. 

So there you have it. A few ideas if you find yourself in the area looking for something to do.

Stay tuned for the best souvenirs we found. Don't worry - unlike my table, they all fit easily in a suitcase!

-Stephanie