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The word “Bouchon” in French has several popular meanings. Looking it up in Larousse, the word bouchon means, among other things, a “plug” (1. Objet qui, réalisé en diverses matières (bois, liège, plastique, métal, caoutchouc, etc.), sert à clore un contenant), and a “traffic jam” (2. Accumulation de véhicules qui gêne la circulation ; embouteillage), etc.; and according to Wikipedia, “A bouchon is a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France, that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork”. In one recent weekend, we managed to appreciate almost all these meanings.

bouchon weekend-7

It all started when we decided to see the annual Fête des Lumières (the Festival of Lights) in Lyon (see next posts for more pictures). Leaving after work on Friday night, our friend F drove four of us to Lyon. It is normally a drive that is about two and a half hours from Lausanne. But snow started falling around Friday noon and did not stop. After some hesitation and studying the live traffic information on Google Map, we decided to take a chance.

bouchon weekend-2

And – we were punished, it took us three hours to reach Annecy which is only about one third of the way. The traffic radio kept saying there is a bouchon here and there… everywhere… essentially start and stop traffic as soon as we crossed the border. We stopped for dinner in Annecy hoping the volume of traffic would thin out. The roads were empty by midnight so we continued to Champery, eventually reaching Lyon at about 130 AM.

We were in a bouchon (#1) for more than three hours.

bouchon weekend-1

After we parked the car, we decided to celebrate our belated but safe arrival in Lyon with a bottle of wine from the corner grocery store (which was the only thing open at 2 am – remember this is not NYC, buying something at this time is rarely possible). While there were a variety of wines to choose from, we knew it was a bad idea …

bouchon weekend-3

Back at the apartment (which we had for the weekend), we discovered that the cork was so dry that it was impossible to remove it. Using a corkscrew and a knife, F struggled with the bouchon (#2) for a good ten minutes before giving up. In the end, we had to break  it. There were bits of bouchon in F’s glass – see the floating bits ?

bouchon weekend-4

On Saturday, we walked around the city to see the lights and wandered into the touristy district where the bouchon-style restaurants can be found. Many of the restaurants put a table outside selling hot food and warm wine, and blocking half the street. The food and wine attracted crowds who stood there sipping the alcohol, effectively plugging up the narrowed streets.

bouchon weekend-5

Sue:  Many of the four million tourists on that day had the same idea and the narrow streets in the area were packed.  So, there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on.  One dude was playing the “guard” by having his back to the people and literally shoving people out of the way for his group to move forward.  When he got to me, I (Sue) elbowed him.  Sorta hard and pushed back really hard.  He actually turned to look at me.  I was this close to saying “WHAT?  I’M FROM NY, WANNA MAKE SOMETHING OF IT?”  Maybe it showed on my face?  He turned back and walked away.  From that moment on, I was seconds away from F-bombs flying left, right and center – Lol.

We were in a human bouchon (#3) while looking for a bouchon-style dinner (#4).

bouchon weekend-6

In the end, we went to one of a chain of kaiten-zushi restaurants (回転寿司, restaurant that serves sushi on conveyor belt or restaurant japonais de type comptoir tournant) – Matsuri Presqu’île (7 rue de la fromagerie) – in addition to the usual fare, they put macarons on the conveyor.

Conveyor in Lyon-1

As it was so cold walking around in the wind and with snow on the ground, the plates of sushi were not enough and got us thinking about noodles which were not available in Matsuri. When we finished, we crossed the street, turned a couple of corners and totally by chance stumbled across a fast food-takeout noodle joint on 12 rue Neuve – Goramen! We stepped in and had our second dinner of miso ramen and tempura udon.

bouchon weekend-10 Here’s the menu – goes from shio ramen, tantan mien to kimchi ramen, etc. while the place looks like a McDonald, the service was anything but “fast”.

bouchon weekend-11

There will be many more pictures of food and the light shows to come, come back in a few days time.

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One Comment

  1. Don’t envy the travelling or the crowds but the taster picture of the lights looks beautiful – looking forward to seeing more 🙂


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