When the GEO first suggested going to Lyon, I knew nothing about the city. I was told by various people that Lyonnaise food is perhaps the best in France and the GEO told me there were Roman ruins to explore. Both sounded unbelievable to me at the time but always up for an adventure so I went along with it.
I was sad to learn today that one of the most famous products of Lyon, Chef Paul Bucose, passed away today at the age of 91. The French chef was credited with starting the Nouvelle Cuisine movement. If it wasn’t for this trip, I would never have heard of Chef Bocuse or had the opportunity to dine at one of his restaurants. It’s funny how things intersect in one’s life sometimes.
Upon arriving in Lyon the day before New Year’s Eve, we had no dinner reservations. Despite holiday crowds and waiting to the last minute, we were fortunate enough to score a reservation at one of Chef Bocuse’s restaurants on our first evening in France with the help of our hotel’s front desk. After asking for restaurant recommendations, an hour and a couple of phone calls later, we were squeezed in at Brasserie de L’Est, one of Chef Bocuse’s restaurants located inside a historic train station.
The restaurant’s theme is travel so it offers dishes found from around the world which fits well in this space. There’s even a toy train that circles the restaurant. Even though I had spent the last 24 hours traveling via plane, bus and then train, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and couldn’t have asked for a better meal. The risotto with langoustine was exquisite and may be the first time I ever had a true langoustine. The foie gras was extraodinary, rich yet delicate and we just wanted to lick the plate afterwards. And where can you get that many fresh sardines on a plate without breaking the bank? It is an evening I will never forget and a memory that is even more precious now that Chef Bocuse is no longer with us.
Here are a few dining tips. Restaurants do not open for dinner until 7:30PM so don’t expect any early bird dining.Europeans do not tip but I still left a token Euro(s) increasing the amount depending on the total bill. Many restaurants now also have menus in English so don’t be afraid to ask for one.
If you happen to find yourself in Lyon, the Lyon visitor’s center at Place Bellecour is easy to get to and a great resource. We went in several times to ask questions because it is centrally located and next to the Lyon City Tour Bus which allows you to hop on and off at all major tourist sites. Chef Bocuse is so well loved, not only is there a life-size statue of him at the visitor center, but there is also a kiosk for tourists like me to take a picture with him.
I am sure you are all waiting for me to reveal the related geocache, right? After your questions have been answered at the visitor center, cross the square to take a picture with the lion at the statue of King Louis XIV to get credit for GC7B9Q3 (The Lyon’s Finger). And don’t forget to take a ride on the ferris wheel. Please check in again soon for my post about the Roman ruins. They really do exist!