Something old, SOMETHING NEW

France|July 2020

Something old, SOMETHING NEW
Find out why historic Lyon was crowned one of the first European Capitals of Smart Tourism with Karyn Noble
Karyn Noble
When Unesco recognised a proportion of Lyon’s neighbourhoods as World Heritage sites in 1998, there was a marked increase in tourism. In 2019, Lyon (along with Helsinki in Finland) became one of the first cities to be selected from 38 contenders as a European Smart Tourism Capital, part of a new, EU-wide annual competition. But what does this award mean for the average visitor to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes capital?

For a city to be considered a Smart Tourism Capital, it needs to demonstrate outstanding achievements in four categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, and cultural heritage and creativity. I took my first trip to Lyon in 20 years to see what the fuss was about.

Gastronomic giant

There’s no disputing that a key part of Lyon’s cultural heritage is its gastronomy; in particular, its bouchons. Sipping a communard (Lyon’s version of kir, but based around Beaujolais and crème de cassis), I marvel at the hefty slabs of lardons on my salade Lyonnaise – and the serving that’s rather massive for a starter – at Les Culottes Longues, where the chef has been here for 35 years.

This is not unusual for a certified bouchon (there are 25 bouchons in Lyon since the certification launched in 2012), traditional restaurants where there’s a guarantee of ambience, quality and good value. Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises (toques-blanches-lyonnaises. com) is also a significant force in Lyon’s dining scene, formed in 1936 to both defend and promote the city’s gastronomy, now boasting 4,000 restaurants.


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July 2020