Published on August 15th, 2014 | by Magalie Lopez1
The « Lyon’s share » !
I grew up in the Beaujolais region, surrounded by vineyards. The river ran through the entire village sheltered by a huge castle made from yellow stones. These “golden stones” when the sun shines in all its glory, may pass small modest villages off as large cities of gold.
Lyon, “the big city” as we called it, was impressive for me, I thought that I would probably visit this distant city “when I grow up.”
In order to see my eyes shine, my grandfather spoke of his youth, one where a train named Le Tacot ran upstream of the village. On Saturday, he forsook his winemaker outfit for his fine clothes and boarded the Tacot to the city. Le Tacot progressed so slowly that we could easily have gotten out to picking a flower and get in a few cars away. My grandfather first visited his younger sister who ran a bar in a neighborhood of Lyon, then he went to the theater and then he went to the Brasserie Georges to enjoy sauerkraut and a pint of beer.
As an adult, I left my village to settle on top of Lyon and I finally discovered this famous brewery, Brasserie Georges.
It sprung up out of the earth in 1836, or 140 years before I put my nose outside for the first time (we do not care a bit, but it was to emphasize the age of the thing. I’m talking about the brewery of course, not me, you understand). His father, Mr. Georges Hoffherr was a young Alsatian brewer. He knew that since the Middle Ages, Lyon has not been only a city where wine like the Rhone and Saone rivers, flowed but was also renowned for the quality of its waters. And what can an Alsatian brewer do with cubic meters of H2O? Beer, of course!
So “hop’la” (typical Alsatian expression) he settled in the former wetlands of Perrache.
Today, at least we can say that the surrounding buildings have grown a lot since 1836. The advantage is that Perrache station is just next to the Brasserie Georges. This is beneficial for travelers from Paris who only have to jump onto the first TGV Paris-Lyon to return in less than three hours at their door under the table and the hand on the fork. The disadvantage is that the Perrache is not beautiful : it is far from it.
In the midst of this modern urban jungle, the immense Brasserie Georges seems frozen in the Roaring Twenties. Frescoes, gold and mirrors adorn the walls and ceiling (700sqm pillarless held by three huge fir beams, transported by ox-carts from the mountains of the Chartreuse), while tables and chairs from another age completely fill the room, yet still leave enough room to move. In this interior, lit by impressive fixtures, glass tinkles gently in the air, and customers sound like travelers pausing between two trains.
Now that we have entered the Holy of Holies, can you have a pint with me until the sauerkraut is ready? On the right, the bar awaits you. Raising the chin a little (before drinking) you will see the beautiful and shiny copper vats in which the Georges beers are brewed. Once our half (40cl) or our little half (25cl) Pils, Gold, Brown or controlled Season, we sit in leather chairs to plunge our lips into the foam that will leave us with beautiful Gallic mustaches.
Eating makes you thirsty, but drinking makes you hungry! And if we want to eat?
Georges Brasserie is famous for its succulent and gargantuan sauerkraut, topped with pork, fish, shellfish and crustaceans such as lobster, but what I love above all is the steak tartare! An elegant server as discrete as a penguin on ice, will slide noiselessly up to you to prepare tartar in front of your very eyes! You must admire the fast and precise movements that make you salivate… but still expect that the server will finish his work before eating, otherwise it will be worse.
Naturally, as we are in France and we will wash it all down with a good wine… or a good beer (or two or three but reserve a taxi : “drink or drive, you have a choice).
It’s your birthday? Remember to specify when booking as a surprise awaits you … come on, you have been nice, I’ll explain.
When the time arrives for dessert (even if you have already unbuttoned your pants to let your stomach expand at ease), the lights will go down in the brewery. The barrel organ that you saw in the hall, intone a small catch tune that is. In the distance, you see a candle. Under the candlelight, you can see candle, a baked Alaska (another specialty of the house). In order to enjoy the sweetness of this famous dessert, the server will slide it on your table while everyone in the restaurant applauds (As I have said, the place is always crowded!). If this is not a glorious moment, I don’t know what is! Nevertheless, you should not try to hide under the table, everyone has already seen you. You should not say that it really is not your birthday at this point.
Well, I hope I made you want to abandon Paris to go to Lyon and the beautiful Georges Brasserie for a day by train.
Who knows, maybe you will stay longer? And if you are wise (and you offer me a beer) I’ll let you discover other wonders of my city !