Wine & Travel

Snooth User: AlineAlmeida

Going to Lyon and thinking Northern Rhone!

Posted by AlineAlmeida, Oct 31, 2017.

Hi guys, I'm here again for some advice on wine travel: I will be in Lyon this November for 4 days (well, 3 and 1/2) and I was thinking about trying to hit a couple of caves. I will not be driving, which makes it tricky, but not afraid of taking trains, buses, Bla Bla Car, Uber, etc... Also not *totally* opposed to tours... I know, beggars can't be choosers and ideally I'd have a designated driver, but I'm flying solo on this one. Hoping the Snooth family can save me - again! :)


Reply by Really Big Al, Oct 31, 2017.

We did a Viking river cruise down the Rhone and extended our trip to Nice back in 2015.  Take a look at our web site for some ideas of where to visit.

Reply by duncan 906, Oct 31, 2017.

Why not contact the Lyon tourist office?If you had booked your trip on Expedia you would by now have had an e-mail from a tour group giving you details of all their day-trips.An alternative to northern Rhone,and closer to Lyon would be Beaujolais or closer still,the Coteaux de Lyonais

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Oct 31, 2017.

This is so great, thanks so much! Looks like you guys had a wonderful time. Was the Chateauneuf du Pape tour included in your cruise? I am trying to find one that is not private, leaving from Avignon...

Reply by dmcker, Nov 1, 2017.

Have you been to Burgundy before? Lyon deserves a day or more (far more) for its fantastic food markets and restaurants. After that I'd focus on one area rather than try to cover the whole region. Duncan's suggestions are good.

Do you want to see the established, famous and pricier areas (the Cote d'Or, or communes in the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits in the north of the region)? Or go after sometimes funkier (almost always in a good way), lesser known and less pricey areas that also have bite and are interesting, like the Macon or Chalonaise, heading south? Then there's Beaujolais, of course, as Duncan, again, mentions, which is furthest south.

White wine, red wine, both (perhaps only relevant in choice of the Cote de Beaune over the Cote de Nuits, or vice versa)? Far too much to try to cover all or even half of the areas. Focus on one or two of the areas is good and will leave you feeling most satisfied, IMHO.

Lyon's at the south of the area, Dijon at the north, lots in between. If Lyon, focusing on Beaujolais and the Maconnais and the excellent related joys of Lyon itself would be more than enough for three or four days. Dijon is a better base for the Cote d'Or .

Chateauneuf du Pape is a whole other region too far downriver if you're also heading north into Burgundy on a short trip. It's in the 'southern Rhone' and opening on to other neighboring regions with interesting wines, too, while the 'northern Rhone' (just north of the 'southern' but south of Burgundy) makes better wine, IMHO. Both 'Rhone' areas focus on very different grapes than the pinot noir and gamay and chardonnay of Burgundy. That's another trip, not to be confused with Lyon-into-Burgundy within a four-day timespan! Unless you just like to sit behind glass in a car or coach or boat and snap photos of scenery passing you by far too quickly, drinking lesser wines found and served up to you by others (with their own economic interests), not through your own efforts.




What wines of Burgundy do you like most? What made you want to head there, rather than some other wine region?

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 1, 2017.

I knew I could count on you guys! Thanks so much for such great insight!

I've been to Burgundy, spent 4 wonderful days with a designated driver and was able to taste some spectacular wine. Which in a way is a disservice, because now I keep wanting to drink the same wines here in NY, but they are way more expensive.

In any event... I am a bit of an ADD traveller (just a bit). I know I will love Lyon and I intend to devote 2 full days to explore it. But being so close to such wonderful wine, I will want to get me some! Beaujolais and Maconnais sound great! I love whites and reds. I actually have a thing for Roussanne (Stolpman turned me on to it) and I was hoping to find some on this trip.

Also, I did write to the Lyon tourist office! I would take a tour, if I found the right option...

Reply by GregT, Nov 1, 2017.

I second the rec to hang around Lyon. It's an old Roman town that's worth exploring. Also, traditionally it's known as the place where French traditional cuisine was centered. Lots of great chocolate shops in the town. It's also where Beaujolais was mostly consumed and you're really close so I'd definitely visit some places in Beaujolais. Lots of B&Bs around and wonderful country food.

Reply by Really Big Al, Nov 1, 2017.

ALINEALMEDIA, the Viking Cruise did include the tasting and wine tour at Skalli in Chateauneuf du Pape.  

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 2, 2017.

Thanks Greg! Yes, as usual I stumble upon the driving issue... I'm hoping the tourism office in Lyon will be able to recommend a decent tour. 

Thanks everyone for the insight!

Reply by GregT, Nov 3, 2017.

Hey it's the home of coq au vin, quenelles, and pommes lyonnaise, which are basically just potatoes fried with onions and herbs but somehow become delicious. And lots of rabbit dishes too.

I'd go to les Halles and have lunch there - last time I was there I had sea snails in a broth. Delicious. And there are wine bars around town too, to cut down on the driving. It's the capital of French cuisine, so you really owe it to yourself to eat well!

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 3, 2017.

Agreed and thanks for the restaurant tip! I know it's probably best to go to a wine bar and talk them into letting me taste a few of the wines before I order a glass. Works in New York! :)

Unrelated: when are we having a Snooth NYC party again?

Reply by dmcker, Nov 3, 2017.

Here's the Les Halles indoor market which always (rightfully so) gets a lot of play by overseas visitors, including TV and movies. Very upscale but you've gotta go once--or more than once. The city even asked Paul Bocuse to brand it, something that elicits various reactions, but really has little to do with the markets and drinking and eating places in it. Hard to find much higher quality markets together in once place anywhere on earth.

St. Antoine and La Croix Rousse are outdoors, and the type of markets I like to visit wherever I go and the produce and food are good and varied. Big farmer's markets every day, not once a week. If you really want to get aggressive (and are staying longer!) then there's this comprehensive list for Lyon and environs--pretty much all worth visits if you're into food at all and have the time and are staying in accommodations where you can cook or at least prepare something simple to accompany all that wine you're picking up (can't take it all home!). They all also provide good reference points for understanding what chefs are up to when you go to any of the numerous high-quality (and not all high-priced) restaurants and cafes and bistros and bars that Greg alludes to.

Usually when I've gone to Les Halles I've ended up consuming a lot of oysters and escargots and white Burgundy, from Chablis down to Meursault then further south into the Maconnais....  :-)

Have bought wine here:

Oysters and escargots here:


Cheeses here:


Charcuterie here:


White asparagus here:


Etc., etc., guessing you get the picture.  This is a pretty upscale place, though, so I only visit it once or twice a trip. Pick up wines and brandies and cheeses and olives and other veggies and breads and tapenades and chocolates and ...  at other shops and markets around town.


Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 3, 2017.

Yes DMCKER, you guessed it: I will probably want to bring too much back home. Which reminds me: I'd better buy the luggage on my Norwegian flight back!

Thanks for the market tips: I, too, am fascinated by them! I'll be alone and 3 nights at an Airbnb, but don't have a problem cooking just for me!

Reply by duncan 906, Nov 3, 2017.

I hope you report back here after your trip?

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 6, 2017.

Yes, I know I've been bad in the past, but I will!

I'm doing Airbnb and my hosts are saying: you don't need to drink Beaujolais... So I think it still gets a bad rep, which I was not expecting! This is a young couple too!

Anyway: lots in my Lyon itinerary - inspired by DMCKER, I will buy produce at one of these markets (likely St Antoine, which is a few blocks from where I'm staying) and cook for my hosts one night.

Will be sure to post pictures of my adventure!


Reply by dmcker, Nov 6, 2017.

Unfortunately it seems your hosts are probably not all that in-the-know about wine, but just reflecting common group-think on what's fashionable, or not, in traditional wine snobbery. Lots of good wine in Beaujolais, and also good chard and PN made by Beaujolais winemakers and their families in nearby areas (e.g. the Maconnais). 

Do be sure to spend what you're able on meals out, too. So much to glean from the efforts of Lyonnaise restaurateurs. Aside from how good it'll all taste you'll be wanting to reproduce some of those efforts once back home. Plus instead of spending all that time prepping and cooking in your rooms, you can be interacting with different locals and drinking more wine!  ;-)

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Nov 6, 2017.

I agree - that was my feeling as well when they turned their nose to Beaujolais wine! I have to say I am hoping to find good Roussanne and Marsanne too...

I am going to give myself two dinners and two lunches at restaurants (it's 4 days!). But... I do have one restriction that will be significant: I do not eat meat!

As to meeting locals, I am a little shy (believe it or not) about approaching strangers when travelling alone, but hopefully I will find some friendly people -- fingers crossed!

Reply by dmcker, Nov 15, 2017.

So are you in Lyon now?

Reply by AlineAlmeida, Dec 1, 2017.

Hi everyone! I am back from my incredible trip to Lyon...  will send pictures later, but wanted to go ahead and say that Lyon is, indeed, a MUST!! I was completely in love... 

A few things:

* I attended the Marche Saint-Antoine on Saturday... A-mazing!  . One of the things I bought at this market was a bottle of a Coteaux du Lyonnais ( I don't care what anyone says: 6 Euros for this bottle is a pretty great deal! I paired that with all the amazing cheese, produce and bread I bought at the market and had one of the best lunches of my life (it helps that I was at an Airbnb with some amazing people!)

* Speaking of Airbnb: I stayed close to Place Bellecour. As far as I'm concerned, the location was very good! I only took public transportation twice: once to go up to La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière (highly recommended, great views, but I am glad I took the funiculaire, because even the walk down was a bit of a trek) and once to the Opera (because I was late)

* Wine (glass or bottle) is super cheap compared to the US (I should say NYC). I had a really good Crozes Hermitage at the Opera for 3 Euros! By the way: even if you don't go to the Opera (which you should), make sure to go up to the rooftop bar. Great views, bites and wines (and an enclosed area and heaters for the chilly weather)

* The Visitors Center at Place Bellecour is great: free wifi, bathrooms and good information

* I went to Rue Merciere and thought it was pretty touristy and overpriced

* Bocuse's market is, indeed, incredible (and saved me on a dark, cloudy, cold day). Thanks for the tip!! So amazing... I ate and drank so much that I went back home to pass out at 6pm!

* Vieux Lyon: yes, yes! Ask the people at the Visitors Center to show you the map with the Traboules ( and have fun!

* TGV to/from Paris: easy, fast, but pricey. Still, I think totally worth it (3h in Lyon or Paris are priceless!)

* Wine Tours: they were expensive for my budget and involved a lunch, which was not a great deal for me because I am vegetarian. So I passed. But the Visitors Center can offer several alternatives and also some good maps for those driving (which I really want to do one day)

I probably could write a whole essay about my time there... I will say this: if I wrote a novel about Lyon it would be called: Eat, Drink, Walk :)

Pictures to follow!! Thanks again for all the help, guys!

Reply by rckr1951, Dec 1, 2017.

Thanks for the report.  Awaiting your pics and further commentary.  Congratulations on a successful and completely enjoyable trip.  Paul

Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2017.

Seconding the congrats on a successful trip (as if you wouldn't enjoy that paradise for food and wine appreciation!), and the hope that we'll see some photos and more commentary.  :-)

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