We heard rain slake down on our skylight throughout our sleep, and today’s Lyon is blustery but mercifully dry. Most everything is closed Sundays, so we head to the Vieux Lyon district, where the tourist trade keeps a few spots still open for business.
The patchy gray skies wash out the soft khaki tones of old Lyon, but the striking architectural forms cut strong across the contrasting clouds.
The area is peppered by bouchons, specifically Lyonnaise restaurants specializing in local goodies and a convivial atmosphere. We decide that everything written in chalk on a blackboard automatically looks appealing. I score a small treasure at an antique print shop called Le Bois Debout, and we minimally peruse a craft fair along the bank of the tempestuous Saône.
We’ve about an hour and a half until our lunch, and MP suggests a warm respite with tea. Excellent. We settle into a salon de thé offering massive creamy cakes and praline everything, but resist and chastely sip our teas and study our French (Je voudrais une cuve de vin rouge. Que recommandez-vous?).
Vogueing is not exactly in the cards given the gale, but crossing yet another bridge pitching to and fro calls for another breakneck photo session. Seriously, we’re nearly carried off by the unpredictable gusts of freezing French wind – gnarly.
MP’s stored a map of how to arrive at our lunching destination on her phone, but it’s not to be found at the indicated location, and the cold’s making us rather eager to arrive. I end up piecing together a semi-coherent question to ask at a nearby boulangerie. And hey, I get a perfectly intelligible gestured answer in return! Score one for team Rick Steves.
Le Bouchon Des Filles is run by just two women. It’s immediately warm and unassuming upon entrance. The animated groups of French folk munching their extended Sunday lunch remind me of nowhere so much as Asturias, where the typical regional eats are also served family-style.
The servers – who, we are guessing, double as the owners – speak zero English to us, but offer very accessible French explanations, and seem not to mind my constant “comment?” Un pot de vin rouge is obtained – not quite a vat, but it’ll do. It arrives with three salads – one leafy and vinegared with lardons and superchewy croutons, one with creamy puy lentils and smoked fish, and one of crunchy cabbages and walnuts. We could sup on simply this and be more than satisfied.
Crème glacée de fruits de la passion! Tarte de maison de caramel et noix! Fromage, fromage, fromage! It’s all parfait, but no way can we possibly ingest this much post-plat. A few nibbles of each, a shot of espresso, and it’s bedtime for bonzo (for one of the bonzos. the other doubles up on the caffeine and proceeds to toil with her ink and quill).
Our satiety has not abated upon waking (isn’t it the opposite problem for most folk? we are the very definition of Lucky Duck), and we muse about what options are open for a chilly Sunday evening in Lyon. MP recalls write-ups of spectacular city views from the bar at the Radisson, and an inquiry with Thérèse confirms this to be a promising plan. She offers a small libation for us and another pair of guests before we head out – a choice of homemade liqueurs, either spiced orange or heady walnut. The walnut is sweetly splendid – Thérèse makes it herself by soaking still-green nuts in fruity red wine for months.
L’Arc en Ciel turns out to be just the thing. Lyon at night is resplendent from above, particularly in contrast to how frigid we know it to be down below. It’s overpriced, but you simply know you’re paying for the view, and a glass each of red plus charcuterie will just about do it. We also sample Saint-Marcellin, a Lyonnaise cow’s milk cheese so soft it is practically liquid inside. It reminds me faintly of Torta del Casar, but is better. That’s right, better.
Don’t mope, Spain. You’ll always have jamón.