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A foodies guide to Lyon

Indulge in the food capital of France

Lyon, France

Posted on

16 Jun 2017

Known as the food capital of France, Lyon is the place to be if you dream of fragrant cheeses, delicious charcuterie and decadent Lyonnaise cuisine. This dreamy city is a blend of Gothic-style buildings and opulent landmarks, interspersed with bouchons - traditional Lyon restaurants.

At the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the city is a prime stop on your river cruise. To help you make the most of your time in Lyon and navigate the myriad restaurants, we’ve created a handy foodies guide to Lyon:

Traditional Lyonnaise cuisine

From its mature, gooey cheeses to its decadent confectionary, Lyonnaise cuisine is packed full of flavour. As well as Lyon’s most famous delicacies, including rosette de Lyon (a traditional sausage) and Lyonnaise potatoes, the city is also geared towards the more adventurous foodie.

Lyon doesn’t shy away from its love of tripe (the edible lining of the stomach of cattle) but it does transform what could be potentially intimidating into a delicious, flavoursome meal. To kick off your food adventure, try gras double, a dish made of thin strips of tripe, finely chopped onions, parsley and white wine. If you’re looking for something a little less tripe-y, quenelle is another popular dish that you’ll find easily in any of Lyon’s bouchons. The dish is made of dumplings, butter, eggs, creamed fish or meat and breadcrumbs.

Meats

As well as delicious cured meats such as rosette de Lyon, saucisson de Lyon and sabodet, the city is very adventurous with meat. The local cuisine is extremely resourceful, using almost any part of any animal and creating a delicious meal from it. Try the tablier de sapeur, a very popular meal of beef tripe, white wine and potatoes or saucisson chaud, indulgent dry-cured meat served with potatoes and butter.

Gratins

On most authentic Lyon restaurant menus, you’ll find some form of gratin. Whether it’s gratin dauphinoise, an indulgent dish of thinly sliced potatoes layered in gruyere cheese, cream, garlic and herbs, or gratin de cardon, made with winter vegetables, don’t miss out on sampling this Lyonnaise dish.

Cheeses

No trip to Lyon would be complete without tucking into some of its most famous cheese. Lyonnaise cheeses are often soft and made with cow's milk. Try tomme du beaujolais from the north of Lyon or saint-marecllin from the region of Dauphiné. If you can’t resist goat's cheese, try rigotte de Condrieu. A popular Lyonnaise cheese speciality, cervelle de canut is made of cheese, chives, garlic, shallots and white wine and is a must-try for anyone visiting the city.

Desserts

Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed as Lyonnaise cuisine incorporates the likes of decadent praline tarts and cousin de Lyon, a confectionary made of chocolate and marzipan. Some of the more traditional desserts include les bugnes, aptly translated to ‘angel wings,’ which are sweet, crisp pastries shaped into ribbons, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. One of the most popular sweet treats is the marron glacé, a candied chestnut.

Restaurants in Lyon

Bouchons are the best place to enjoy a traditional Lyonnaise meal. Small wooden tables lined with checked cloths and cosy, dimly lit interiors are typical of bouchons, which were traditionally small inns visited by silk workers passing through Lyon in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can’t walk far without stumbling upon a bouchon and when you do, it’s your duty to stop and indulge.

First things first, you must remember that mealtimes and eating habits are slightly different in Lyon. For example, just before lunchtime, you might stop for a mâchon. This is typically a heavy meal of pate to start, a main course of meat and a tasty sauce and cheeses for dessert. Some restaurants begin serving mâchon at 9 am.

Chez Cabert

13/14 Quai Romain Rolland, 69005

Chez Chabert is a cosy family business run by a father and son. Serving tasty Lyonnaise specials such as pike quenelle, sausage with Beaujolais sauce and veal liver with parsley, be prepared to indulge. On top of its authentic main course menu, save some room for dessert as Chez Chabert serves an exceptional flan au caramel, or if you prefer, a selection of local cheeses.

Le Café Des Fédérations

9 Rue Major Martin, 69001

Recommended time and time again by visitors and chefs in Lyon, Le Café Des Fédérations is a homely Bouchon with a mouth-watering menu. Tuck into Lyonnaise charcuterie while you choose from the menu of traditional dishes. The staff will recommend the perfect local wine to accompany your meal.

Le Garet

7 Rue du Garet, 69001

Popular with locals, Le Garet is a beautiful, traditional Bouchon serving rich Lyonnaise dishes. Expect plenty of offal and some more adventurous cuts of meat but plenty of flavours. If you’re feeling brave, try grenouilles fraîches (frogs legs), a renowned French delicacy. For those seeking a traditional yet more conventional Lyonnaise meal, Le Garet serves classics such as quenelle. To round off your Bouchon experience, you can order a small round of local cheese, all for yourself.

Paul Bocuse

40 Rude de la Plage, 69660

Dubbed ‘the pope of French cuisine,’ Paul Bocuse is a French chef based in Lyon famous for his institution of high-quality restaurants. Trained by Eugenie Brazier, one of the most prominent chefs associated with nouvelle cuisine, evidence of Bocuse’s iconic food career can be found throughout Lyon. If you’re willing to splash the cash on a fine-dining experience, you can’t go wrong with L’Auberge du Pont de Collognes, Bocuse’s flagship eatery. The chef refers to it as ‘the Sistine Chapel of French cooking’, a bold claim, but it’s difficult to argue with his decadent menu. Expect traditional Lyonnaise and nouvelle cuisine dishes with added flair such as Roquefort mousse with hazelnut, truffle soup, foie gras and apple tatin.

Chocolatiers and patisseries in Lyon

You can’t explore Lyon without stopping to sample some of its finest chocolates and pastries. Jill from Mad about Macarons told us, “Lyon is famous for les pralines roses and you’ll see them sold in pretty packets in all bakeries and chocolate shops. My favourite way of enjoying them is in the bright pink filled tarts and in buttery brioches. The best is from Pralus - try the award-winning Praluline (invented by August Pralus in 1955). Made with Piemont hazelnuts and almonds from Valence, you’ll want to take some home.

“I particularly love the vanilla flan, financiers and chestnut and rum crumble tart at Sebastien Bouillet’s ‘Gouter’ shop in Place de la Croix-Rousse - many cakes are even sold by the metre! And if you love macarons, Richard Seve also makes some pretty incredible savoury versions too.”

Bernachon

42 Cr Franklin Roosevelt, 69006

Recommended by chefs and foodies all over the world, Bernachon is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Bernachon’s silky chocolates are made from the cocoa bean on the premises, meaning they're difficult to find outside of their tiny Lyon shop. One of their most famous chocolates is the palats d’Or - rich, ganache-filled chocolates flecked with real gold. These beautiful chocolates make the perfect gift but don’t forget to buy some for yourself!

Chocolats Voisin

28 Republic Street, 69002

Founded by Leon Voisin, Chocolats Voisin creates truly opulent chocolates. “Since 1897, Voisin has been roasting chocolate and coffee beans,” Jill told us. Renowned for inventing the bright green Coussin de Lyon, a soft cushion of chocolate ganache covered in Curacao marzipan, it was made a patrimonial French speciality in 1960. So you can’t leave without tasting one.”

Sebastien

Boulet 3 Rue d’Austerlitz, 69004

It’s impossible to walk by Sebastien Boulet without stepping inside. This boutique patisserie showcases a vibrant display of chocolates and sweets in all forms - elegant chocolate lipsticks, chocolate caviar and decadent rows of pastries. Striking colours and oozing caramels feature in many of the shop’s pastries, including their delectable macarons.

“No foodie trip to Lyon is complete without a visit to Sebastien Bouillet, the chocolatier and pastry star of the region,” Jill explained. “Not only are his pastries scrumptiously picture-perfect, his chocolate shop, Chokola, will mesmerise you with a chocolate fountain and chocolate-coated macarons. His new shop, Goûter, will have you craving for the more traditional French cakes at teatime.”

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