The idea of the food court developed in the alleys of American and Asian shopping centres in the mid-70s. The objective was clear: feeding as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Customers arrive at any time of day to snack, order from one of the many counters and eat standing, sitting, resting cross-legged in the grass, watching a show, etc. They can eat quickly and, often, well.
The best known include Dinerama in London, the superb Time Out Market in Lisbon, Eataly in Italy — subsequently exported worldwide — or the new Paris venue, La Felicita.
The famous French (and particularly Lyon) fine-food scene has taken forever to catch up with this trend.
Rightly or wrongly so, but since autumn 2018, food courts have seemed to gather pace and grow.
The pioneer of this “new” way of eating is La Commune. In the bustling 7th district, the imposing building, complete with its beautiful architecture, houses more than a dozen equally-tasty eateries. Customers can tuck into locally-sourced burgers, tasty treats from Japan, the best of Arab-Andalusian cuisine, etc. Let your taste buds travel! Once your tray is full, you head off to find a spot to eat. A highly refined yet relaxed venue with a busy cultural programme — because life’s not all about eating, even though it’s central to our happiness.
The other food courts
Food courts continue to spring up in La Commune’s wake.
The team from Arty Farty — organiser of the Nuits Sonores festival — opened Heat. This imposing catering zone (600m²) is part of the H7 project (start-up incubator) in the old Halle Girard (Confluence, Lyon, 2nd district).
Almost every week, the programme changes for the six containers that are taken over by different restaurateurs. There are always some great surprises to be tasted, be they exotic, Far Eastern, Lombard, sweet or savoury - there is something for everyone. Combine this with quasi-daily events (sports, music, etc.) and you get the recipe for good living!
The Part-Dieu shopping center has also inaugurated its foodcourt! The Food Society opened its doors in 2021. On 3000 m², it hosts a dozen street food and bistronomy counters: La Mère Bazier, Le Café Terroir, Taybé, Blend, Lady Bao, Rivière Kwaï, La Broche, Papa Gusto, Dorner Frères, La Fabrique Givrée and Bouillon Maurice. Nothing but that!
Chefs Tabata and Ludovic Mey have transformed the Tour Rose, one of the most beautiful buildings in Vieux-Lyon, into a food court. The duo compiles in these magnificent places 12 of the best of the best of the new generation of Lyon's cooks. Code name: Food Traboule. The place makes you salivate.
As you can tell, Lyon hasn’t heard the last of food courts.