We stopped in Lyon en route from Barcelona to Paris.
The winds tried their best to blow us off course “vent violent!,” but I refused to allow anything to sway my opinion that the south of France is gorgeous. The Pyrenees! The Mediterranean! Vineyards galore! Plus, we were headed to The Gastronomic Capital of France (I had heard).
After quite the faff of unloading our carful of stuff at the hotel and finding parking for our 4Runner in the old town, we hustled out the door to dinner with the boys. Restaurants don’t open until 7, which is a problem when your kids go to bed in the 7-8 timeframe, but maybe not if you’ve jumped a time zone?
Yeah. No. Have I mentioned that my kids suck at napping in the car?
Our request for a tasty family-friendly restaurant was met with a scoff. You just don’t do Lyonnaise dining with small children. So much for the bouchon meal that enticed me through the entire drive. Our hotel attendant suggested Hippopotamus, a chain grill restaurant found in France. We scoffed at the idea.
We zipped up, crossed the Rhône and sauntered through some magnificent plazas as we followed our nose to Rue Mercière. GoodNESS it smelled delicious there!
Since dinner at a bouchon was out, I was determined to eat a quenelle, a kind of fish dumpling served in a rich cream sauce.
We picked a restaurant with a children’s menu. It was sea-themed and called something like The Wench. We ordered a kir to toast our grand adventure and our first proper dinner on the town. Bertie kicked mine off the table. The glass shattered to bits. My champagne bled everywhere. My husband inhaled his beef carpaccio first course. Then we waited, which is Parentese for “kept our children from smashing more things/pulling pictures off the walls.” For what felt like an eternity.
My quenelle was totally worth all of the drama. SO GOOD. Everyone should have ordered one. Side note: every kids meal in France seemed to be a hamburger – “steak haché,” like, a patty, no bun – and fries. We learned that Albert loves (LOVES) French fries. Walden doesn’t want to see another bunless hamburger ever. I was disappointed that my youngest refused (fiercely) a bit of crème brûlée. Ingrate.
So. Dinner was delicious chaos (at least for me, and somehow Walden didn’t fall asleep in his ice cream) and we decided that dining out in the evening in the future will require simple one-course meals.
The next morning we drove up Fourvière Hill to see the great basilica of Notre-Dame that keeps watch over Lyon. We meant to find the funicular train station at the bottom, but there was absolutely no useful information anywhere about it. Also, our French sucks. The kids fell asleep by the time we reach the hilltop basilica parking lot, so I just hopped out and took a photo of the city.
The view was stunning. (Though I might say that about every view over a city?) Really, though. There’s something magical about having a bird’s eye view in peace, overlooking a beautiful city without the interference of the bustle below. To step out of it and enjoy the bigger design, the entire effect that a place has on its landscape.
As we drove down past the Roman amphitheaters (which we could see from the car and that was better than waking up the kids), I decided that yes, yes I do want to visit Lyon again. With much older children or a babysitter. Or maybe no kids. Definitely with a big appetite.