Provence Stories and Tips

Lyon by Night

River Royale docked in Lyon Photo,

We've been sailing up the Saone River for two days - now we're back in Lyon where we boarded the ship. On embarkation day we were too exhausted to see much of Lyon, now it's time to "do it right". Today we had a three hour city tour - a "must do" anywhere for a good orientation.

We decided to opt out of dinner on board to stroll the pedestrian district on Saturday evening and experience a "typicale" Lyon meal in a "petit buchon". We asked a few of the Uniworld staff for a recommendation for a casual type Lyon meal since a "Paul Bocuse" restaurant experience was included in our cruise for the next evening. Oh yes - go to "Le Petit Buchon" on Meronnier St or Mercier St - we were told. Attempting to get a more specific address, we realized the "le petit buchon" is not the name of a specific restaurant, but rather describes the type of restaurant - much like a bistro or brasserie, as we know them...we would have walked for hours trying to find a restaurant by this name!

As the sun is setting - off we go in our comfiest shoes - over the bridge and to the right. Streets are crowded with happy people. Moms pushing carriages, young lovers hand in hand , families finishing their meals, older folks perusing each menu - lots of energy...We walked on through Meronnier St. with all its outdoor cafes - uneven cobblestones, menus to entice you, tables filled with animated people, and continued on to Mercer St., a newer version of Meronnier, still pedestrian, and decide on "Le Bleu" an unassuming small "buchon" with indoor and outdoor seating - serving only mussels and tuna...they must be quite good at this!

Only nine rustic wooden tables on the street and about 20 more inside - partially air-conditioned with open shuttered doors overlooking the street. It's pleasant, upbeat and all about people-watching. Most everyone has huge pots of mussels and a large plastic bowl to discard shells. Service is really quick. Our pitcher of wine arrives - a limited menu - tuna, tartare, or pan fried and mussels prepared either Parisienne, curry, a la creme, mushrooms, or wine. We chose the mussels that come with a salad and frites. Salad is served first - delicious, fresh, crisp with a tangy mustardy dressing that we enjoy so much in France. Now for the "moules" delicious with a baguette to soak up the juices and accompanied by fresh made all you can eat frites - not frozen and reheated as many of us are used to...these are firm, crisp, and salty. Wow! Sitting elbow to elbow, everyone enjoying, eyeing the parade of endless strollers and inevitably exchanging a few words or more with our neighbor much fun.

We leave Mercier St. and Le Bleu - satiated...onto the next experience. We walk a few blocks toward the Rhone River to the Sofitel Hotel's panoramic top floor restaurant/cocktail lounge. From the busy crowded street to a quiet air-conditioned comfortable cocktail lounge overlooking Lyon with all its lights at night. A beautiful view, very romantic. Specialty cocktails, each served in a differently designed glass. The lounge has about 10 tables - mostly couples - tuxedoed waiters and quiet music - very romantic. A nice finale to our evening. Don't forget your credit card - two drinks here set us back more than two dinners and a liter of house wine at Le Bleu.

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