Gérard Collomb, Senator and Mayor of France’s second largest city, Lyon, shares some of his favorite spots with Holiday Goddess editor Vicki Arkoff.

Lyon-France-france river night

Paris has always been the most-visited city in France, but ask any true epicure expert and they’ll tell you that Lyon is the true culinary capital of not just France, but of the world, making it the #1 top recommended destination for traveling on your stomach. Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb is the first to agree, naturally, adding that there’s much more to love about France’s second largest city, especially lately. Here’s why.

Lyon Museum

Lyon Museum

Holiday Goddess: What are the distinctive features of Lyon that make it uniquely appealing?

Mayor Collomb:“The light is truly incredible in our city. When the sun shines, the sky is extraordinarily luminous, and the sun’s rays are reflected on the rooftops and the yellow and ochre tones of the houses. Our city, which in the past was described as black by the great writers of the day, is now bedecked in a bright range of hues, from the gray-white of the apartment buildings along the Rhône to the Italian colors of Saint-Jean and the Croix Rousse. I don’t think that many city dwellers get the chance to admire such a sight. Lyon is continually evolving, and now boasts a number of extremely contemporary buildings designed by some of Europe’s leading architects in the Confluence district. The Part-Dieu district is currently acquiring an elegant new skyline, but Lyon’s traditional identity remains strong, and the architects are successfully taking elements of Lyon’s unique identity in order to offer solutions today for the city of tomorrow – solutions that blend harmoniously with the city’s historic heritage. Also, the sunset on the Fourvière or the Croix-Rousse hills is breathtaking, while in the Confluence district it is simply astounding.”

Lyon at magic hour

Lyon at magic hour

Which are the best districts in Lyon for exploration on foot?

Mayor Collomb: “Like the vast majority of Lyon residents, I’m particularly fond of our river. Lyon is a city of river banks. It’s also a city of bridges, boasting no less than forty-five, from the Pont de l’Université to the footbridges that cross the Saône. Thanks to these bridges you can visit Lyon while staying close to the water. I am always spellbound by the banks of the Saône, which are wilder than those of the Rhône, and by its unique color. I love the île Barbe, which remains a quiet and peaceful place to take a stroll. On Sundays, I like to walk in the new Confluence district, a unique 150-hectare site that will double the area of the Presqu’île. Lastly, the Antiquaille offers magnificent panoramic views over Lyon.”

Birdseye view of Lyon from Tetedoie

Birdseye view of Lyon from Tetedoie

Lyon is admired as being the epicenter of French cuisine, and therefore, of the world. What are your top tips in terms of local gastronomy?

Mayor Collomb: “As a first course, I am particularly fond of the pâté en croûte served at Daniel et Denis by Joseph Viola, the official world champion producer of this traditional dish. I adore our chicken demi-deuil, or ‘chicken in half-mourning,’ which is always subtle and delicious. Regarding specific addresses, I like to stop off in Lyon’s traditional bouchon restaurants, but I also enjoy sampling the dishes of our great chefs, such as Mathieu Vianney at Mère Brazier. And when I really want to show the city off at its best, I take my guests to dine at Chef Christian Têtedoie’s restaurant, Têtedoie where they can both eat and enjoy one of the very best views of Lyon, on the famous Antiquaille site.”

Chef Christiane Tetedoie

Chef Christiane Tetedoie

Vicki Arkoff

About Vicki Arkoff

Vicki Arkoff’s magazine work includes MAD, Daily Variety and Entertainment Weekly. She is the author of authorised biographies on Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra.