Like many places in France, there is so much you can do in the Rhone Valley that it can be overwhelming. While I would like to suggest that you simply go wine tasting and gorge yourself in the amazing wines and cheeses that France has become so famous for (for a good reason), realistically, I should give you more to go off of (especially if you are lactose intolerant or cannot drink wine). So here is my list of the best things that you should do while you are here (yes wine tasting is included).
1.) Take a stroll…around Vieux Lyon. That translates to “Old Lyon,” as in the oldest area still around from the Renaissance. Did I fail to mention that Lyon is in the Rhone Valley? Because it is amazing. Lyon is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means that there has been an urban settlement there for more than two millennia. So walking around Lyon is literally walking around in history.
2.) Check out La Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. Lyon’s premiere art museum has some of the best sculptures in the entirety of France and is the best collection of paintings in France outside of Paris. Now Paris is hard to compete with, but that does not mean what Lyon has is chopped liver. The museum in Lyon has more than 70 rooms that visitors can check out with art from antiquity to modern art. Some of the more noteworthy art includes works by Gaugin, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Delacroix, and Max Ernst among many others.
3.)Drink wine. Seriously. I am not even remotely joking about this. The wine from the Côtes du Rhône are fantastic and you are getting them straight from the source. There are vineyards littered all around the valley that are just waiting for you to come by for a delicious tasting. The city of Beaujolais which is north of the Côtes du Rhône hosts a great festival every fall that is the annual uncorking of the newest harvest of wine, celebrating that the wine harvesting season is over.
4.)Eat the food. Of course you are going to eat while you are travelling, but that is not what I mean. I mean you really need to eat the food. The gastronomy around Lyon has long-defined what is great about French food. The reputation that people hold around the rest of the world saying that French cuisine is state-of-the-art is defined completely by Lyon. While Paris may get some credit, the truth is the food is grown and raised right in the Rhone Valley, so you are getting fresh food from people who have been creating the flavors for endless generations. The bouchon is a traditional kind of restaurant you will find in Lyon which has all of the traditional Lyonnais cuisine, including sausage, charcuterie, roasted pork, and duck pâté. You need to try as much food as you possibly can!
5.) Try out the Nougat de Montélimar. This is not just any ordinary candy. Nougat has been made since at least the 12th century, dating back to when the Phoenicians crossed the Mediterranean Sea. The Nougat de Montélimar was created in the 18th century, though nougat has been made in France much longer. This specific kind of nougat is made up for almonds, honey, and egg-white mousse. Unlike other types of nougats, Nougat de Montélimar is mostly made in home kitchens, but there are dozens of Nougatiers in the Rhone Valley with an estimated annual production of 4,500 tons of nougat. So around the Rhone Valley, try out the nougat as much as you can; there’s nothing else like it in the world.