The next stop after Burgundy on my recent Europe trip was Lyon, known as the French capital of gastronomy. Our culinary partner-in-crime Gregory gave us a quick introductory tour of Lyon, through the cobblestone streets of old town vieux Lyon and across the bridges over the Rhône and Saône rivers. With the beautiful Notre Dame de Fourvière standing magestically above the mountains, and cafes and bouchons lining the riverside, Lyon was quite a sight to take in.
All that walking got us hungry- when can we start eating some food? After all, we were in Lyon. With only 2 hours to go until our dinner reservations, we couldn’t help but indulge in some quick but good eats. Gregory knew just the place to satiate our needs, and took us straight to the marketplace Les Halles.
Les Halles is an amazing place stocked full of the best foods in the world. Row after row of food stalls, seafood bars and restaurants throw temptation in your face from all angles. The vegetables stalls have the freshest vegetables bursting with flavor and juice, and the charcuterie stalls with infinite selections of hanging saucissons and hams. The fromageries boasted an assortment of cheeses that I’ve never encountered before in my life, and a macaroon shop offered about 30 different flavors (even white truffle, olive oil and foie gras flavors! ). There was a pastry shop dedicated solely to pralines, and about 4 different oyster bars. In fact, this Les Halles in Lyon is named after famed French chef Paul Bocuse. I wish we had a marketplace like this in Los Angeles. If such a place existed, I would probably be there every day.
We decided to eat some oysters, and sat down at a table by the oyster bar at the Ecailler Cellerier. Gregory had just been there earlier that day for oysters, so the patron recognized him right away. The kind patron gave us a warm welcome, and joined us for some conversation and a white wine toast.
We tried 4 types of oysters: Marennes Fine de Claire, Isigny de Normandie, Speciales Gillardeau Number 3 and Speciales Gillardeau Number 4. My favorite was the Gillardeau Number 3, a 3rd grade oyster harboured in the Marennes region of France from the legendary family-run oyster farm Gillardeau. They were plump, rich, luxurious and divine, and truly some of the best oysters that I’ve ever tasted in my life. So this is the famous Gillardeau oyster…now I see what all the fuss is about! Some claim that these oysters are the best in the world, and many 3 Michelin star restaurants in France serve them.
Within the first 2 hours of arriving in Lyon, we were already at Les Halles having some of the best oysters in the world. Les Halles here in Lyon is not a place to be missed.
Ah, Lyon, I love you already. More exciting gastronomic adventures to come!
Random trivia: Did you know that a baby oyster (larvae) is called a ‘spat’?