By  on August 1, 2005

SHOPPING FRENZY: Lyon's tony shopping area between the rue Edouard, rue des Archers and rue Emile Zola shines with luxury shops such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Cartier. But hip designer boutiques are crowding the area, too.

As It Is is Lyon's answer to Paris' Colette, an airy space with Pop Art hung on the walls and a water and sushi bar in the basement. It carries sweet French brands like APC, Vanessa Bruno, Paul & Joe and Fifi Chachnil alongside art books and CDs.

One of the most interesting finds there is a unisex fragrance, Absolut Absinthe, which is made in Aix-en-Provence with hints of absinthe and cannabis notes. Next door is Simone, stocking brands such as Isabel Marant, Karine Arabian, Antik Batik and Notify jeans.

Meanwhile, Graphiti Dames offers brands like Stella McCartney and Barbara Bui. Though there are few cutting-edge lingerie stores in Lyon, Tazia is the best place for elegant undergarments. Its pearl-clad owner, Madame Odette, makes customers feel like a queen.

As It Is: 3 rue des quatre Chapeaux, 69002 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 72 41 93 69.

Simone: 1 rue des quatre Chapeaux, 69002 Lyon. Tel: +33 4 78 38 61 48.

Graphiti Dames: 9 rue du Plâtre, 69001 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 28 57 94.

Tazia : 102 rue Pres Edouard Herriot, 69002 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 37 39 90.

COCKTAIL HOUR: The futuristic-meets-neoclassical opera house in Lyon, renovated by Jean Nouvel in 1992, has the coolest bar in town: a vast carbon-black space illuminated by ruby lanterns.

A great stop for a pot of mint tea in the afternoon, it's also the ultimate spot for sipping an aperitif while listening to jazz, with concerts taking place each evening between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. For dinner, take the lift up to the rooftop restaurant, Les Muses de l'Opéra, which offers a view of the city.

Another hot spot is Apericlub, the trendy watering hole of the moment. It has funky sofas and a disco ball and a wood terrace for summer nights. Next door is First, a stylish nightclub with an electro-house vibe for those who want to kick up their heels.L'Opéra de Lyon: 1 Place Comédie, 69001 Lyon. Tel: 04 72 00 45 58.

GOURMET TIME: Gourmet delicacies are Malleval's specialty. Established in 1869, it's an Aladdin's cave of regional goodies, from baskets of costly dried mushrooms to olive oil and frog legs pâté.

And then there's the wine cellar. While pretty bottles of Poire William line the store's shelves, more impressive is the 100-year-old collection of Armagnac. Ask for a trip to the cellar, where a woody 1955 armagnac can be sampled. Just smelling the wonderful aroma is well worth the visit.

Lyon's legendary chocolatier, Bernachon, meanwhile, should provide a warning label for the waistline. The chocolate fumes alone are intoxicatingly naughty on the nostrils, while the sight of a "President" cake, loaded with praline, is enough to send one into a frenzy. Stop by in the morning for a short tour of the chocolate factory behind the shop.

Malleval: 11 rue Emile Zola, 69002 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 42 02 07.

Bernachon: 42 rue cours Franklin Roosevelt, 69006 Lyon. Tel : + 33 4 78 24 37 98.

HOT HOTELS: The Radisson hotel may be popular for its view overlooking Lyon, but the red-brick-and-glass architecture of the Hilton makes for a smart choice, too. It's a hop away from Lyon's contemporary art museum and features a Blue Elephant Thai restaurant with a man-made river running through it.

La Tour Rose, however, is a charming alternative. Tucked away in the cobbled streets of the old district, Molière is said to have penned his first play in the hotel's imposing stone-floored salon. While its terraced gardens and raised balconies have a hacienda feeling, the 12 suites have been decorated in homage to the city's silk industry, with rich silk tapestries on the walls. The master suite comes with a bathroom whose walls are entirely dotted with silk cocoon shells.

La Tour Rose: 22 rue Bœuf, 69005 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 92 69 10.

Hôtel Radisson SAS Lyon: 129 r Servient 69003 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 63 55 00.Hilton Hôtel : 70 quai Charles de Gaulle 69006 Lyon. Tel : +33 4 78 17 50 50.

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