The elegant city of Lyon, which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from our little corner of France, is the ‘big city’ we go to the most for city stuff, where closer towns like Avignon and Aix-en-Provence won’t do. (Marseille is about 20 minutes closer, but I still haven’t quite gotten a handle on that brash and scruffy city. Besides, parking there is horrendous.) We usually just go for the day, but in June my mom, who was visiting us, wanted to do some shopping there. So we splurged and spend a night at the beautiful and very French Hotel Le Royal Lyon.
Le Royal Lyon is owned by the legendary chef Paul Bocuse, a titan of the city. It’s also one of the most affordable hotels you can stay in in France where you can experience a kind of full-on Frenchness: gracious 18th century style architecture, beautiful furnishings and drapery and wallpaper, old fashioned big bathrooms from another era (but with modern plumbing), and polite, unobstrusive service. You can experience that kind of thing in the best hotels in Paris, but for many times the price. Le Royal Lyon is not cheap by any means, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to stay there either. The reason for this is that the hotel and its restaurant are partially staffed by students from the l’Institut Paul Bocuse , a culinary arts and hotel management school.
There are many special touches at Le Royal Lyon, but one that I particularly liked was the tiny cannelé (note: I thought it was a tiny baba au rhum but several readers corrected me. You can stop sending the emails now, thanks ^_^;) that were left for us in our hotel room, in lieu of the usual chocolates or mints. They came in little clear plastic boxes, and were perfectly formed.
Here’s one on my hand so you can see how tiny it is. It was delicious too - and quite alcoholic.
Here is the room we stayed in. It was all in shades of blue, as you can see. You can actually specify if you prefer a ‘blue’ or ‘red’ room if you make your reservation via the hotel’s website.
Another special touch: the adorable teddy bear shaped room key ring. He was so adorable, I was sorely tempted to sneak him home with me, but I resisted.
Even the bathroom amenities are very French, from Fragonard .
Breakfast is served in a small yet beautiful Belle Epoque style room, buffet style. The buffet area itself had the most beautiful cabinets which I have to take a photo of next time. The only downside was that the student-servers were awfully flustered, and the girl who was in charge of making omelettes took about 30 minutes to make each one and forgot to put salt in the egg. Ah well. But the ready-made breakfast things were wonderful. The beautiful surroundings make it a lot easier to just relax and go with the flow.
Some more vignettes from the hotel. I think this is what a lot of people envision when they think French Style.
I would love to have a room, let alone a house, that’s elegant enough for this wallpaper. (I wonder it would go in my laundry room…)
This is the reception area - yet more gorgeous toile de jouy wallpaper and drapery. Being a modernist/minimalist of sorts when it comes to interior desing preferences, I’ve never been a big fan of toile de jouy before, but this place converted me. (Maybe in my toilet room?)
A cozy little sitting room….
Majolicaware figs in a wire basket. I would love to find out where to get these.
Blue and white ceramics, wire mesh armoire, silk tassel…almost too perfect.
Lyon is a city that gets overlooked by many tourists from overseas, but it’s a beautiful, vibrant and very French city. And it’s the gourmet capital of the country in many ways too. (Bocuse is not king there for nothing.) Another plus: the weather in Lyon is considered Meditteranean, so you get a lot more sunny days than you do up north. We got there quite a lot as I said, so perhaps we’ll run into you there sometime!