Paris is undeniably the most famous city in France, but Lyon takes the cake for being a foodie’s capital (with beautiful scenery to boot).
As I exited the airport in Lyon and waited for my train, the familiar smell of croissants and baguettes passed through my nose. I was elated – it felt so good to be back in a country I called home for four months while studying abroad in 2015. I was beyond excited to visit the gastronomic capital of France for a few days and for a foodie like me, I couldn’t ask for a more perfect trip. Lyon’s scenery is breathtaking but the food was out of this world, just like I remembered.
One of the best things about French food is that it’s so simple and yet utterly delicious. I have lived in New York City my whole life and love NYC pizza but I have to say the pizza in France is delicious! I could’ve eaten pizza during my whole trip with no complaints.
As an Afro-Latina, I thought about how Dominican food is deliciously layered with various seasonings, but French cuisine is the exact opposite. I would literally eat melted cheese and potatoes and be in so much awe. To be real with you, I ate my way through much of Lyon like this – with carbs, carbs and more CARBS! I was basically in the land of carbs and loving it.
Another great way to experience Lyon is through street food. It’s honestly one of the cheapest ways to ball on a budget, support local businesses and eat delicious food. It was great to finally eat a kebab again…I know what you’re thinking, meat on a stick right? Well, not exactly…I thought the same thing when I first visited France. A kebab is actually a sandwich that comes from Turkey and usually has a mixture of meats, your choice of sauce, and lettuce and tomatoes. It is one of the best things to eat sober but even better as a snack after an awesome night of dancing. I also ate tacos; not Mexican tacos per se, but a burrito-like goodness. It had the meat that is typically found in a kebab sandwich with the works AND french fries inside! I thought kebabs were my favorite street food to eat in France, but I think I found a new one :-D.
I also visited two other French cities – Besançon (where I studied abroad) and Annecy. Two different cities in two different regions and yet, they both share three things in common: meat, cheese and potatoes. In Besançon I had fondue with comté cheese, made in the Franche-Comté region where Besançon is its biggest city and capital. Annecy is in the Rhone-Alpes region (where Lyon is too) and is very close to Switzerland. Annecy is popular for its fondue which is mostly made with cheese from Switzerland. No trip to Annecy is official without trying raclette, a cheese from Switzerland that is melted traditionally with a special raclette machine. I treated myself to raclette and it was the bomb.com! Raclette is typically served with potatoes, bread, charcuterie (an assortment of cured meats & veggies) and salad. I saw the machine in action and felt very humbled to have this raclette experience.
Overall, my trip to France was truly a foodie’s paradise! Is Lyon really the gastronomical capital of France? I believe all of France has such a strong food presence and every city and town has their unique take on French food and cuisines from other cultures. I am definitely excited to go back to France soon and explore cities like Bordeaux next time!