Lyon in 5 Shops: wine, cheese and bookshop cafes


Once upon a time, Lyon was the city that kitted out the royal wardrobe, thanks to the silk trade.

Now, its offerings are much more varied. This is a city of creators, where the sewing machines still clack on the slopes leading up to Croix-Rousse, the former silk-weaving district, and where artists set up easels by the side of the river to capture the Vieux Lyon’s hotchpotch of tightly-packed buildings. It’s a city renowned for gourmet produce: wine from Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley, cheese from Auvergne and Savoie, poultry from Bresse.

Lyon can be frustrating regarding its shopping hours. Many of the independent boutiques are closed Sunday to Tuesday, and staff often take extremely long lunch breaks the other days. Here, writer Anna Richards shares her favourite shops — but check the opening hours before you go.

Best place to buy a souvenir: Satriale

It would be a sacrilege not to buy wine in Lyon. Started by a group of five friends who wanted to combine their two big loves – wine and music – Satriale is a wine and vinyl shop with a pint-sized bar. Keen to promote lesser-known wine regions, there’s plenty from Auvergne, the Ardèche, and even Austria, and fewer wines from Bordeaux and Bourgogne (although the Lyon region is well represented).

The music comes from a record player, meaning you can play real-life Shazam and buy the vinyl you’re listening to as you select your wine. All of the wines are natural, and the selection is ever changing, but I recommend buying the house wine, Satriale. Supplied in large kegs from a vineyard in Savoie, you can fill your own bottle from the tap and “cork” it (using a beer capsule) on-site. A bottle costs just €14, or €13 if you return your last bottle.

Looking for things to do in Lyon? Here are the city’s top experiences

Collage of images from a boutique showing women's clothes, bags and tiny plants

Best local design store: Les Artpenteuses

A collective of 13 artists, none of whom come from further away than Vienne (35km/22 miles), Les Artpenteuses is a heady mix of ceramics, cyanotypes, clothing, prints, and recycled glassware. Each month, it showcases a local designer outside of the collective in its window display. It’s my go-to for gifts, so I buy from a different designer most times I visit, but I’ve got my eye on one of the handmade bumbags (€64) for myself. They’re almost as spacious as a handbag, and I love the corduroy fabric. 

Collage of images from a vintage shop showing women's dresses, shirts and accessories

Best secondhand/rental store: Les débraillé.e.s

Here’s an idea: you could come to Lyon without luggage. Ideal if you’re arriving on a low-cost airline. That’s because Les débraillé.e.s has a commitment-free month-long €49.99 deal where you can rent three pieces at a time, and change them as many times as you like. Maybe buy a suitcase for the return journey though, because everything is available to buy if you fall in love. Womenswear only, it’s about as far from the French couture monochrome stereotype as it’s possible to get, and much of the stock is bold shades of tangerine, magenta and royal blue. I can’t tell you what to buy, but rent it first for a trial run.

Collage of images from deli showing wine and boxed cheese platters

Best food: Au Chien Sous La Table

Au Chien Sous La Table, or the Dog Under the Table, as this cheese shop translates, is the source of the best cheese I’ve ever tasted. And believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of cheese. When a friend turned up at my party with a creamy Cœur de Neufchâtel, I dreamed in cheesy reveries for nights to come. They only got more vivid when I discovered it’s only €5 a piece, and that Au Chien Sous la Table also makes cheese platters to order. Inside the ceiling-high fridges are enormous wheels of Comté, almond-shaped Provençale cheese with sprigs of thyme inside, and tubs of cervelle de canut, a soft, Lyonnais cheese, yoghurt-like in texture and infused with spring onions and herbs, which translates as the unappetizing “silk workers’ brain.” The store is named after the dogs of one of the owners, who regularly are given the croûte (cheese rind) under the table. Lucky dogs.

Looking for other places to eat and drink in Lyon? Here are our favorites

Collage of images from a bookshop and cafe showing books, tables and chairs and a coffee machine

Best bookshop: Damn Fine Bookstore

Bookshop-cafes are a slice of heaven for me, and Damn Fine Bookstore was one of the first places that I sought out when I moved to Lyon three years ago. The latest must-read releases are always there, and while the majority of the selection is in English, there’s a smattering of books in Spanish, German and Italian, too. The kitsch cafe in the back room is a great place to curl up with a coffee and enjoy your latest purchases (or mull over what to buy). Take a toilet break to learn some new vocabulary; the walls are decorated with pages from the dictionary. My latest purchase was The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty for €12, a fictional portrait of people living in a social housing complex in Indiana.



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