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Marseilles or Lyons

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Ive got three days in the second week of February to do some eating in either Marseilles or Lyons. Where should I go?

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I've not been to Marseilles but I have been to Lyon twice and have another trip planned to end there this year. It's a terrific food city--in addition to being a nice place to visit for sightseeing reasons. The old buchons are fantastic and satisfy my hunger for great old fashioned nose to tail dining. On our most recent trip there last holiday season we dined at:

Le Sud, one of the Bocuse sponsored places--salad nicoise and grilled seafood, reasonably priced

Garet--my favorite buchon, very tightly packed and convivial--saucisson chaude, herring in oil, skate, quennelles

Les Halles Paul Bocuse, the gigantic and very classy market hall at Chez Lyon--oysters and rose crevettes

Jope--one of the modern foodie darlings with incredible effort on a multi-course New Year's Eve dinner for a bargain 70 euros, best dish--duck breast over mashed celery root with brussels sprout leaves

Bistrot de Lyon on Rue Merciere with over the top old-fashioned decor, very art nouveau--saucisson chaude with lentils, tete de veau

Leon de Lyon, former two star now turned bistro--boar terrine with salsify, lamb with mushy lyonnaise potatoes, Nicely sauted bar, marcellin cheese

Le Merciere also on Rue Merciere with grand, kitschy decor--saucisson chaud (can you tell, I love this stuff), pigs feet with mashed potatoes.

Enjoy

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That's a tough one. Given the odds of terrible weather I'd probably not choose Marseilles. Don't really expect "the capital of gastronomy" in Lyon, that's just marketing BS. It's a fairly dead city with good traditional food but that's about it.

 

p.s. Beware the ski tourists and try to be there Wed-Fri. The train ride to Marseilles and Paris is only a couple of hours, so you can always change your mind, or go for a meal :)

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I remember Lyons being a quiet place, but the small old city is interesting. There's a great food market along the river, but I don't know which days.

 

Never been to Marseilles.

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Closures on Sat-Sun, and some on Monday (I think Les Halles may be closed on Monday and only partially open on Sunday, but I could be misremembering), followed by very weak Tuesdays meaning restaurants aren't going to have specials on their menus.

 

The one thing that is pretty big on Sundays is the market that Wilf mentioned.

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the market is also on Wednesdays (although maybe not "big")

 

Les Halles - i second the seafood but also two great macaron & chocolate places - the big one in the front Seve had very good savory macarons (foie, mushrooms, etc.) and a tiny spot in the back (can't recall the name), which had better sweet ones, esp. rose, cassis and salted caramel.

 

near the oyster place in the back, there is a great cheese counter - i wish we could have consumed more but just picked up some St. Marcellin for breakfast the next day with rustic rye from a bakery at Les Halles

 

also at Les Halles - a bouchon Chez Les Gones, where we had terrific andouillette

 

for cocktails, if you feel so inspired - Soda Bar

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Don't really expect "the capital of gastronomy" in Lyon, that's just marketing BS. It's a fairly dead city with good traditional food but that's about it.

Not worth it for the trip to Roanne?

 

Not been to Marseilles but Lyon is a charming city.

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Yes, the oysters are a must. As for cheeses - I was surprised to see La Mère Richard looking substantially less appealing than the counter nux mentioned. If the weather is good you can head to the park (la tete d'or) from the market, but if you plan on a picnic there keep in mind that the swans are very aggressive. laugh.gif

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I have been to both -- from a food point of view Lyons wins, though it is not as great as it used to be.

But I have always found it rather charmless.

 

I posted a few notes on Marseilles restaurants a few years ago.

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Depends on what you are seeking. Lyon is quaint with good, if typical and traditional cuisine, (that's a positive in my book) and most places have really solid wine lists. Marseilles is probably not what you are expecting. It is a rather gritty, industrial, working, port city. Lots of grafitti, buildings in need of repair, and a fair amount of petty street crime. I don't think it is dangerous, but it is not Aix or Nice by any stretch.

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A lot more seafood in Marseille, (best bouillabaisse in France) or an opportunity in Lyon to try a bouchon, a very localized type of casual dining place that offers a whole lot of offal dishes.

 

Weather is a lot better, especially in February, in Marseille.

 

N.B. There is no "S" on the end of the name of either city.

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Yes, the oysters are a must. As for cheeses - I was surprised to see La Mère Richard looking substantially less appealing than the counter nux mentioned.

 

we tried st. marcellin from both and while they were both very good, if i had to choose, i'd likely go back to Marechal for the sheer selection - well over a hundred cheeses.

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Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to Marseille tomorrow for just two nights before spending four in Paris. May eat boullabaisse but will definitely eat cous cous and buy some berber spice. Certain to wander the fish market assuming there is one. This is a hilariously under-researched trip.

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