South of Perrache: Marché Bayard
Poulet Basque to go at the Marché Bayard
A few years ago a man struck up a conversation with me in what was a rather down and out area just south of Perrache station. I was visiting a poor starving just-promoted-to-saucier friend renting out a studio there by the prison. The man I met on the street outside my friend's place boasted that he was purchasing everything he could get his hands on in the neighborhood. This propriétaire from Paris was brimming with optimism that property value in the area was really going to explode just as soon as they turned the prison into a public garden.
Whiting, which is excellent braised in sparkling wine, looked excellent and was priced quite well.
From the way things looked at the time, I thought he was suffering from delusions, but the truth is that now, 7 years later, it is clear that the city has stepped up to the plate and is cleaning up the area. Our current leadership has made a whole lot of progress and the best is yet to come. The Confluences neighborhood, where the Saone and the Rhone rivers meet, is up for a complete overhaul that will include the building of not only a public garden, but apartment complexes, shopping villages, floating restaurants, an athletic field, and a protected harbor for small boats.
What state is the area in now? A couple of years ago Cours Charlemagne was a mess, because they had dug up the entire avenue to extend the no. 1 tram line down through the area. The Best Western on the street hosted international guests for the World Pastry Cup in 2005 and some of the international team members were stuck there in what seemed to be a post-apocalyptic waste land, forced to pick their way through 4 blocks of road work to get to any public transportation. The fact that they didn't inform the people making reservations from abroad about the work in progress was embarrassing. It was not a very nice introduction to the city of Lyon. But that work is done now, and there is a hint of life back to normal.
The tram line work is done.
A producer's stand at Marché Bayard.
The Marché Bayard is a neighborhood meeting place, where residents come to talk. Knowing this, canvassers for mayoral candidates were out shaking hands this morning. The development project of course is on everyone's mind. What's in it for the people who live here? Improvements to the area have been high profile, for example last year's decision to go in and remove the trucks and campers that had slowly begun to take over the entire riverside on the left bank of the Saone - you know, those trucks with candles burning in the windows... But the extensive work to come also has some residents concerned about their quality of life.
From the smiles at the market, it seems that for now people in the neighborhood are holding on and are enjoying what's good. The market is located just past the church named after the Lyonnaise Sainte Blandine, the early Christian martyr who was fed to the lions in the year 177. The story goes that instead of devouring her as the crowd of Romans expected, the lions sat around her, as if to protect her. The scene is represented in a beautiful bas relief above the doors of the 19th century edifice, something you should check out on the way there, when you get off the tram.
A block down the road, the Marché Bayard sets up on Thursdays and Sundays. This market provides everything the neighborhood needs, with 22 vendors, including a fish monger, two butchers, two sellers specializing in charcuterie, two fromagers with excellent examples of the goodness from neighborhing regions, plus one actual cheese producer from the Savoie selling two unique artisan goat cheeses you won't find elsewhere: a semi-soft bleu and a unique herb infused tomme. In addition to several fresh produce stands, a farmer and his wife sell their fare and free range eggs direct.