Insider’s guide to: Lyon

Megan Hughes 23 January 2014

The city of Lyon must be one of the most culturally rich and vibrant places in Europe. Nestled up against the French Alps, it’s a city of spectacular panoramic views with a surprise around every corner.

Where to grab a bite?

Known as the gastronomic centre of France, Lyon is proud of its culinary heritage. Tourist quartiers are rammed with bouchons, traditional restaurants serving up unusual cuts of meat and offal. The local passion for cooking doesn’t end there, and the city boasts some great informal eateries. Head to the Rue Mercière for the juiciest burgers around at King Marcel, where you can have your order cooked to your taste. If you’re looking to take away, the Mamamia Pizzeria out in the seventh arrondissement has won awards for its wood-fired pizzas. There’s no pretence; just grab a beer from the fridge and sit at a plastic table while you wait.

Where to go for a drink?

Make sure you don’t miss out on La Boîte à Café, a café-cum-hipster-hideout of bare wooden tables and burlap sacks. It’s owned by Café Mokxa, and, as far as I’m aware, it’s the only place in Lyon which roasts its own beans. The café is a fairly small place, so don’t be put off by having to wait a while for a seat; the coffee is definitely worth it. If you’re on the hunt for something stronger, try out the nearest branch of Ninkasi, a local brewery and venue with its origins in the seventh arrondissement. It now boasts several bars and diners, all serving selections of their own beers at a reasonable price. Top tip: try out the Bière de Saison, it’s pretty good and definitely worth the extra euro.

What not to miss?

The annual Fête des Lumières takes place at the start of December: millions of outsiders flood in to catch a glimpse of the incredible light displays and installations that temporarily populate the city’s streets. If you do fancy it, and you’re not working the following day, head out on the Sunday to catch the tail end of the shows – you might miss the most spectacular installations, but most stuff is still there, and at least you’ll manage to avoid the hordes of tourists who crowd the street during the weekend.