The illuminated artwork that wraps around the walls and ceiling of the city’s Markethal is a sight to behold. As is the covered market beneath it, home to more than 100 food stalls – look out for Madame Cocos and its warm coconut pastries. Try a ‘Burgeresse’ burger with truffle mayo at Ter Marsch & Co, or go meat-free (noodles with kimchi, shiitake and tempeh) at sustainable hotspot Op Het Dak, which has turned a disused rooftop into a kitchen garden and bee farm. Visser & Ko gets Rotterdam’s morning sun: soak it up at one of the al fresco tables, with a view of the city’s old harbour.
Where to stay?
Suite Hotel Pincoffs, located near the Erasmus Bridge, is a light and airy boutique hotel, with a swish lounge bar adorned with cast-iron pillars, antique cabinets and Chesterfield sofas. Sign up to the hotel’s Saturday Culinary Experience for an overnight stay with breakfast, plus a tasting menu dinner at nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, FG.
Your first meal in Rotterdam should be at Restaurant De Jong, a 10-minute walk from Rotterdam-Centraal train station. Fittingly, it’s set in a former train tunnel, and is made cosy with vintage lights. The menu revolves around whichever vegetables are in season – in springtime, try the buttery white local asparagus.
How to do it
Catch the Eurostar from London St Pancras direct to Rotterdam-Centraal in 3 hours, 16 minutes. Single fares from London to Rotterdam start from around £40 (eurostar.com).
The city’s best food producers, from bakers to wine merchants, can all be found at Halles de Lyon – start by nibbling on rosette (cured sausage) from the Sibilia stall. Book a table at Les Frangins and order the Captain Jack burger (the beef is marinated in Jack Daniel’s), indulge in fine vegetarian dining at Culina Hortus, or head to Terrasse de l’Antiquaille, high on Fourvière hill, for views of a twinkling Lyon as you dine. Terre Adélice sells an impressive range of handmade ice-creams (pick basil, lavender, smoky bacon or Armagnac), and savour a real, handmade, oh-so-buttery croissant at Partisan Boulanger.
Where to stay
The defiantly quirky Collège Hotel, in the Vieux Lyon district, features an art deco facade and back-to-school interiors – there are giant wooden pots filled with giant wooden colouring pencils at reception. Many of the bedrooms come with private balconies, and the downstairs restaurant is reminiscent of a school refectory.
Arriving by train? Stroll north up Rue Garibaldi for 20-minutes-or-so to reach Bernachon, one of the rare French chocolatiers that makes its own chocolate. The aroma of cocoa envelopes its boutique and adjoining tearoom, luring clients towards extraordinary chocolate eclairs or the signature Gâteau President.