A 30-minute drive south of Lyon is Côte-Rôtie, home to some of France’s most historic vineyards. This region dates back to the Roman Empire, so you’ll still find ancient artifacts around the town of Vienne, gateway to the northern Rhône. Says Boulud, “This is syrah country, a noble grape that yields intensely aromatic, complex wines that go well with roasted meats and game. I adore the Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie 1991.”
The best chefs in town get their cheeses from La Mère Richard (102 Cours Lafayette; 33-4/7862-3078), a little fromagerie in Les Halles best known for its hometown favorite: Saint-Marcellin. Boulud adores it too. “It’s a disk of cow’s-milk cheese with a runny, strong, nutty center and a moldy rind (which should be cut off). Sometimes it’s wrapped in chestnut leaves or in a little ceramic crock.”
Give it a Rest
There are several pleasant hotels in Lyon, but none better situated than the Sofitel Lyon Bellecour (20 Quai Gailleton; 33-4/7241-2020; sofitel.com; doubles from US$200), located in the middle of town on the banks of the Rhône.
Lyon also offers the full spectrum of art, from classic to contemporary. For the latter, Boulud recommends visiting soon to catch the Biennale de Lyon, which runs until January 5. Otherwise, head to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (20 place des Terreaux; 33-4/7210-1740), whose collections range from Egyptian antiquities to mid-20th-century paintings by the likes of Matisse and Miró. “It’s set in a former Benedictine abbey that is a marvel in itself,” Boulud says of the museum he’s been visiting since his days as a young apprentice in Lyon’s finest restaurants.
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2013 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Lyon’s Share”)