A marriage of old and new
A little bit of history…
Lyon’s reputation for food stretches back to Antiquity, when Lugdunum (as the city was named by the Romans) had a monopoly on the wine trade and already boasted a famous chef: Septimanus!
Lyon lies at the heart of agricultural regions that supply it with an abundant and varied range of produce, such as Charolais beef, Bresse chicken, Auvergne cheeses, Alpine lake fish, fruits from the Côteaux du Lyonnais and the Drôme, and game from La Dombes. Not to forget the outstanding vineyards nearby: Burgundy, Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu, Côte-du-Rhône, and the list goes on.
Lyonnaise gastronomy owes much to women, in particular the Mères Lyonnaises. After working as cooks for well-heeled families of the bourgeoisie, they began to set up their own businesses in the nineteenth century. They thereby made it possible for all to discover simple, yet subtle dishes, such as poularde en vessie (chicken cooked inside a pig’s bladder) and cardons à la moelle (cardoon and marrowbone). “La Mère Brazier” began welcoming gourmet diners in 1921. Distinguished guests, such as Charles de Gaulle and Édouard Herriot, Lyon’s mayor, brought her cuisine to a wider audience. Paul Bocuse, the world-renowned Lyonnais chef, began his career working in her kitchen.
Among the other famous Mères Lyonnaises were “La Mère Guy”, “La Mère Blanc”, “La Mère Fillioux”, “La Mère Poupon”, “La Mère Léa” and “La Grande Marcelle”.
Food trends in Lyon today
The secret of Lyonnaise cuisine is to “preserve the taste of what things are” (Curnonsky).
While it has a strong grounding in tradition, Lyonnaise cuisine is creative and open to the outside world, new techniques and modern approaches.
From bouchons to fine restaurants, various influences can be seen emerging (Japanese with Takao Takano** and Le 14 Février*, Korean at Le Passe-Temps*, and Peruvian at Miraflorès*… This is fusion cuisine, or even “gastronomic art” with
Le Neuvième Art**.
While chefs embrace influences from overseas, they always give a central role to local produce. Big Fernand and King Marcel elevate burger-making to the level of a fine art, using regional, seasonal and quality ingredients, in the manner of Lyon’s Gourmet Food Trucks.
Similarly, the brunch trend has been adapted to local tastes by offering a wide variety of fresh sweet and savoury products.
A few recommendations from the blogger ‘Faim de Lyon’ Cour des Loges (buffet, exceptional setting), Mama Shelter (all-you-can-eat brunch, nice atmosphere); and, in summer, the terrace of Café de Gadagne. For an authentic Lyonnais experience, try the mâchon at Le Café du Peintre.
Bistronomy: a major trend
This combination of gastronomic cuisine with the laid-back atmosphere of a bistro is growing in popularity. It offers a chance to enjoy fine food at reasonable prices, without the formality of high-class restaurants.
Renowned regional excellence
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is the region with the most Michelin stars in France, with a grand total of 104, including 24 in Lyon and the surrounding area. Paul Bocuse**, Mathieu Viannay (La Mère Brazier**), Christophe Roure (Neuvième art**), Guy Lassausaie* and Christian Têtedoie* are among the most well-known. Not to mention Georges Blanc*** in Vonnas, Patrick Henriroux (La Pyramide**) in Vienne, Troisgros*** in Roanne and Yannick Alleno (1947***) in Courchevel, internationally renowned chefs who have shaped the reputation of Lyon’s and the region’s cuisine. A number of young, talented and inventive chefs are ready to take over the reins: Jérémy Galvan*, Gaëtan Gentil (Prairial*), Terrasses de Lyon*, Les Loges* and Takao Tanako**.
Bocuse was a key figure and an ambassador of Lyon around the world. He was named ‘Cuisinier du Siècle’ (cook of the century) and ‘Pape de la Cuisine’ (the godfather of cuisine) by the guide Gault&Millau, and maintained three stars in the Michelin Guide for more than 50 years! He managed to instil a desire to pass down knowledge, in particular by creating the Institut Paul Bocuse and the Bocuse d'Or international cookery competition, which is held in Lyon during Sirha (the hospitality and food service trade show)
Fine dining in Lyon...
Lyonnaise salad, Quenelles (dumplings), pork-based products (Lyonnais, Rosette and Jésus saucisson) and offal (such as Andouillette (chitterlings sausage) and Tablier de Sapeur (breaded tripe)), cardoon gratin, Cervelle de Canut (cheese spread), Bugnes (sugar-covered fritters), and praline tart. Lyon also boasts a number of famous chocolate-makers (the ‘Papillote’, a chocolate sweet wrapped in silver paper, was created in Lyon).
Where to find the best Quenelles?
Chez Abel, Daniel e Denise, Chez Chabert, al Poêlon d’Or…
To take away: Giraudet
Our favourite praline tarts? At the confectioner’s Sève!
A few addresses...
Places to buy good quality produce
Where to eat authentic Lyonnais fare?
The Bouchon Lyonnais quality label
Keep an eye out for this sticker in restaurant windows!
It offers a guarantee that you will be served 100% Lyonnais, 100% authentic and quality food!
Projects ans news
Currently trending in Lyon!
These are lively places where you can eat dishes made with local, often organic and seasonal ingredients, at all times of day. Combining quality with a responsible approach, they are highly popular in Lyon.
This food hall serves as an incubator for up-and-coming talent on the food scene. It offers a huge 400 m² kitchen, which is shared by 15 young chefs in residency, a dining area with 250 seats and 15 themed stalls, as well as a stage, a conference room and a 500 m² terrace.
Its philosophy is to promote local, fresh and quality food, as well as creativity and a responsible approach. It brings together French tradition with flavours from around the world and street food, while giving young talent a platform to shine.
This 600 m² space offers a warm welcome and mouth-watering food. Its four containers serve as a work space for four young chefs, who serve up a new and varied offering every week, with exotic food, Italian and Far Eastern influences, and sweet and savoury dishes. It is also a venue for events, including concerts, DJ sets, sports and more.
Further information on HEAT
The chefs Tabata and Ludovic Mey have transformed one of the most beautiful buildings in Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon) – the Tour Rose – into a food court. This superb location welcomes 12 of the most talented chefs of Lyon’s new generation. It is a must-visit place to sample Lyon’s new gastronomy.
Further information on Food Traboule
Major food-related events
This international trade show brings together some 185,000 professionals from 138 countries. Events such as the Bocuse d’Or competition and the Pastry World Cup are also held at the show.
- The Lyon Street Food Festival in September
- Numerous shows and events related to gastronomy and wine