This year promises to be a year of culinary tourism for the French city of Lyon. The city located in Rhone-Alpes, France with a population of 472,317 is lovingly referred to as France’s second city. But in many ways it competes with and beats Paris as a destination. Lyon has long attracted chefs and food lovers with its wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants, elegant bistros and access to the some of Europe’s finest ingredients. And now, with the Grand Hôtel-Dieu’s reopening, the city is getting a new culinary hub. And this means Lyon’s culinary scene will be hotter than ever.
Located on the banks of the Rhône River, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was originally built by the Catholic Church in the 12th century for clergymen before being updated in the 15th century to one as France’s most renowned hospitals. It was further expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries and continued to operate as a hospital all the way until 2010.
The new development took eight years of construction and painstaking restoration to transform this iconic landmark into a culinary showcase for Lyonnais cuisine. It is now a village of nearly 13 acres in the heart of the city, with boutiques, restaurants, gourmet food stores and a convention center.
A number of notable restaurants opened last year in its first phase. Café Mokxa and Beefhouse are not to be missed. But the most exciting part is yet to come. This year more facilities will open in time for the summer holiday season. This includes a five-star InterContinental Hotel, located in the building’s 17th-century wing with 144 rooms and a restaurant specializing in modern twists of classic Lyonnais cuisine. But perhaps most exciting for gourmands, the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie will cover 42,000 square feet and host workshops, temporary exhibitions and permanent collections related to food, nutrition, health and French art. Its goal is to elevate Lyonnais culture and culinary expertise.
But this isn’t that only part of Lyon to explore. The city’s center reflects 2,000 years of history from the Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules to the medieval and Renaissance architecture in Vieux (Old) Lyon, to the modern Confluence district on Presqu’île peninsula. It’s a city which is rich in history and tradition and is easily walkable. the additional of the newly envisioned the Grand Hôtel-Dieu only adds to an already special destination.
The restoration and revitalization of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu was an ambitious project and one which should again remind wine lovers and foodies about how special Lyon is. This is a city of art and culture, stunning architecture and some of the best food and wine experiences anywhere in the world. That’s why we say 2019 with be Lyon’s year of culinary tourism.