Michelin guide. Anthony Bourdain boasts about it, chefs proudly carry their stars with beaming pride.. it's been around for a little over a century. For myself I find it an aged and antiquated way to determine quality in restaurants and while the ancient ways of French cuisine lay interwoven into our French society, I find for my generation Le Petit Paumé represents more of what I find important and interesting. Since internet has been around, reviews have been careening out and it's difficult to determine which to read. Yelp France? Google Reviews? Good ol' Michelin? Personal reviews?
Le Petit Paumé is a specialized guide for the city of Lyon. Living in Lyon but being American makes it difficult for me to make discoveries. Often I sit and leaf through my Lyon Yellow Pages, trying to determine a place that is not listed on Google (and there are many). It was in November that I came across my little golden Lyon city bible; the Paumé. Created in 1968 by a true Lyonnais, the book circulates a new edition every year and makes an effort to bring about the best quality meals, clubs, loisirs and museums in Lyon. IN LYON. It's a bible for me because often I am left racking my brain trying to determine which club or bar is the cheapest, what restaurant can I go to for the best sushi?
It works simply... a group of writers edit/create the book yearly. All a multitude of different French personalities, their goal is to simply bring out the honest truth about each establishment. In using humorous quips and anecdotes on their personal experiences at the places, it brings in a personal feel to the review. Icons in the book (and the website) determine the quality, some places get the "RPPP" symbol, which means cream of the crop in the given category. Some even tell a bad experience, such as the quality of service.
Best part of the Lyon Bible is the fact that several places listed will offer a little 'somethin'-somethin' for readers. A free cocktail here, a digestif there, a snack tray... all for simply showing the Bible to the places. I like free.
So what are some places I've discovered in my Guidebook?
Auberge de Jeunesse du Vieux Lyon: Youth Hostel of Lyon, 18€ a night with breakfast included in the heart of Vieux Lyon.
Special Section on "Students in Lyon": Lots of information of schools for students, services, places to go for 'apprenticeships'.
Information on Tabacs: Specifically, which ones are open the latest in each arrondissement.
Free Time: Listing of gyms, dance halls, places to go shopping (although what's missing here is all the 'occasion shops' that I still am looking for.) places to get vacations, skiing equipment, places to get your hair cut and.. Speed Dating...
The FOOD: In typical Gastronome fashion my absolute favorite part of my Petit Paumé are the endless listings of bars, restaurants and cafés in Lyon. There are 100 pages of reviewed restaurants alone, that's not including all the regional specialties.
In the regional section I was able to find a Sushi restaurant (Yzumi OR Sushi King) that had a 15€ lunch buffet (read: all you can eat!!) as well as an 'RPPP' rated Indian restaurant (Le Village Indien) with a 12€ lunch buffet... oooohhh yeeaahhh. I love this whole 'menu à volonté' thing; it's like stuffing yourself with favorites- in my case Indian and Sushi.
Now, I won't say that le Petit Paumé is the only reviewing source of Lyon- but I certainly find it to be the best for living in Lyon. As the editor says proudly in the intro of the book: "One time that one is the east (in Lyon), we are the east forever." Lyon is one of those places you fall in love with and the Paumé successfully details life here.
Other Review Sites in France:
Good luck in discoveries..