Vieux Lyons – Rhone-Alpes, France

Enclave of Medieval and Renaissance France

Recently restored and once again fashionable, the square-mile old quarter called Vieux Lyons showcases the glory days when Lyons was Europe’s mercantile and financial center. A series of narrow streets form a picturesque labyrinth lined with more than 350 buildings, considered the country’s most extensive and homogeneous grouping from the late Gothic period to the 17th century.

Quaint traboules (covered passageways), unique to Lyons, hark back to the days when they helped people move precious bolts of silk during inclement weather. The traboules con­nect streets lined with arcaded galleries, antiques shops, charcuteries, Italianate court­yards, and La Cour des Loges, one of Lyons’s most stylish hotels.

The dazzling concentration of some of Europe’s highest-rated restaurants in and around Lyons have made it a magnet, second only to the gastronomic capital, Paris. Of the city’s more than 700 dining establishments, a good number are casual bouchons, Lyons’s traditional bistros.

The homey, family-run Cafe des Federations, with its sawdust- covered floors and sausage-strung dining room, has been a longtime favorite for its wonderful, earthy fare. But it is stellar, inno­vative chefs like Jean-Paul Lacombe, whose family has run the renowned and charming Leon de Lyons since 1905, who have contri­buted to Lyons’s fame as France’s mecca of fine dining.

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