Lyon is all about food! The most important component however, is sharing good food with good people. This is what made my stay here so wonderful. What seems like hundreds (thousands?) of fine cheeses, cured meats, freshly baked breads and local wines are all found at a specialty butcher, baker, fromagerie (cheese shop), each taking pride in the quality and unique flavor of Lyonnais products. This is where world famous Paul Bocuse built his gastronomy empire, making Lyon the capital of gastronomy in France and perhaps the world? Here, life revolves around exquisite french cuisine and social gatherings, where not having a taste of a local cheese and a wine to match at each meal is rare. My favorite cheese I've ever tasted so far is the brillat savarin which has a shaving of black truffle in the middle. Yum!
In Lyon, the French culture has expressed itself as one of appreciation and respect for the finer things in life whether it be food, drink or the arts. For example, I've never experienced a deafening silence like the one in a movie theater in the south side of town just before a screening of the new film Jackie where Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy. A room full of adults sat ready, excited, motionless in anticipation to watch a film, a work of art, and became so quiet I think my slight stomach noises could have been heard by all. This demonstrates the respect of both the film and others around you and it is something I found quite pleasant. I could get used it. There wasn't a toddler with light up shoes blinding me from two rows ahead of me while also walking and talking back in forth between oblivious parents. (Yes this has happened to me in San Diego, twice.)
When the locals begin listing things off for me to do while in Lyon, the journeys that don't include a local food or drink specialty, include Fourvière for example with a gorgeous view to see across the entire city. There is the massive park, Parc de la Tête d'Or, with geese speckled lakes and expanses of interconnected botanical greenhouses. The city itself is nestled between two rivers and crossing any of the dozens of bridges over either of them you can see boats hibernating. In January, they sleep along the banks of the Rhône River, waiting to reemerge as gathering places to have a drink with friends on a hot summer day. Everywhere in this city is beautiful even in winter and I found the people that live here very proud of it and extremely friendly. The old architecture and culinary tradition mix to create a powerful experience impossible not to fall in love with.