Lyon is the world capital of cuisine: a bold statement, but one that is borne out by the sheer quality and diversity of food on offer. In every corner of the city's ancient Roman centre, the cobbled alleyways – or traboules – are alive with cafés and restaurants where the food is of a quality and value for money unmatched anywhere in the world. A three-course meal in a restaurant in St Jean, plus a carafe of agreeable house red will set you back just €20 (£17).
As France's second (and most bourgeois) city, Lyon has no shortage of good hotels to match the cuisine. The newly relaunched Le Royal, in the city's grandest square, Place Bellecour, caters for foodie travellers, offering a comfortable hotel with excellent food. It is a "concept" hotel, and like most concepts it benefits from a little explanation.
On the first floor is a home-style kitchen – the Côté Cuisine – complete with state-of-the-art equipment. Here, you can prepare and cook your own meals under the guidance of the executive chef, Kevin Eigl, who trained at the nearby Institut Paul Bocuse. Though largely unknown here, Bocuse is a legend in France, the original superstar chef. Students of his school (from no fewer than 37 different countries) hone their skills at the Côté Cuisine, and produce classic French cuisine.
If you cook for yourself, it's a little like having your own sous-chef, supplying you with the sharpest knives, and freshest ingredients, and you can try recreating Bocuse's trademark moules and saffron soup. They will also prepare your breakfast and dinner without you lifting a Sabatier if that is your wish. Staggering distance from the dining area is the bar – the Côté Bellecour – which is tricked out in deep reds inspired by the East – opium-den chic.
Le Royal Hotel, 20 Place Bellecour, Lyon, France (00 33 4 78 37 57 31; lyonhotel-leroyal.com). Lyon is a Unesco World Heritage city. The hotel is a short walk from the historic area of St Jean.
Time from international airport: The hotel is a half-hour taxi ride from Saint-Exupéry airport (around €40/£33). The train takes five to six hours from London St Pancras and the station is five minutes' drive from the hotel.
The hotel is part of the Accor hotel group, and Le Royal sits under its newly rebranded M-Gallery umbrella, aimed at people who don't want to pay top dollar, but are not on a B&B budget either. But despite its enormous parent company, Le Royal manages to feel homely. The hotel has recently undergone a major renovation under the auspices of Pierre Yves Rochon, who has been responsible for many a Four Seasons hotel and most of Joël Robuchon's restaurants. All 76 rooms and suites are decorated in red or blue silk print wallpaper that echoes the history of the town, which built its wealth on textiles. The heavy curtains are all made from ornate toile and the theme is carried through to the wallpaper, which depicts scenes of 18th-century life.
Freebies: Soaps and shampoo are supplied by Fragonard.
Keeping in touch: All rooms have TVs with international channels (BBC, CNN, etc) and telephones. Broadband access is available near the reception.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Standard double rooms start at €200 (£167) per night, including breakfast.
I'm not paying that: The Hotel Carlton, 4 rue Jussieu (00 34 478 42 56 51; mercure.com) offers B&B from €109 (£91).Reuse content