As if superlatives were not enough in matters related to art and culture, eating places are another of Lyon’s great attractions. The so-called ‘belly of France’ was home to the top chef, Paul Bocuse (1928-2018), who was the pioneer of ‘nouvelle cuisine’. The more than 4,000 restaurants in the city include numerous ones with at least one star. In addition to the undoubted local talent, the reason for this high density of ‘Michelin’ stars is certainly found in the products from the surrounding region: fruit and vegetables from the Rhône Valley, beef from Charolais cattle and cheese from the Auvergne region are just some of the quality products available. Direct proximity to the famous wine-growing regions such as Burgundy account for the rest.
Tip No. 1: If you are following in the footsteps of Paul Bocuse, you cannot avoid the traditional restaurant called ‘L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges’. It is impossible to miss the glaring red-green façade and the huge luminous sign with the name of the founder. The menu includes classic items of French cuisine such as foie gras.
Tip No. 2: Anybody who wishes to enjoy high-quality food but does not want to spend quite as much money should pay a visit to various brasseries linked to Bocuse. The Brasserie l’Est, Brasserie le Sud, Brasserie le Nord and Brasserie l’Ouest combine outstanding cuisine with easy-going bistro flair.
Tip No. 3: The best place to eat typical Lyon specialities is in the numerous ‘Bouchons lyonnais’. These small, country-style restaurants conjure up dishes for sophisticated gourmets and people who are just plain hungry. Visitors should definitely try out the following delicacies…
- Lyon salad consists of lettuce, smoked bacon, croutons and a poached or soft-boiled egg. The dish is eaten all year round and is ideal as a starter to stimulate your appetite for the rest of the meal.
- ‘Pâté en croûte’ roughly means pâté with a crust. This sausage and pastry dish was created in the medieval period: the crust was originally not meant to be eaten, but was used to preserve the meat for longer. The complete dish is enjoyed nowadays and making it has become a real art: there is even a world championship for making this pastry delicacy!
- The rosette de Lyon is a dry sausage seasoned with garlic and red wine – one of the most symbolic culinary specialities of Lyon. The saucisson brioché is a real delicacy too: it is a boiled Lyon sausage with pistachio nuts, encased in soft brioche bread.
- The Lyonnaise quenelles are long dumplings, which are traditionally made with fillet of pike. They are served in the famous Nantua sauce, which consists of crayfish and tomatoes.
- The coussin de Lyon (‘Lyon cushion’) is a typical dessert, which was created by the chocolatier, Voisin, in the 1960s. It takes four whole days to make this masterpiece consisting of chocolate ganache, marzipan and curaçao liqueur. Its shape and its name recall the cushion, on which the aldermen of Lyon are supposed to have placed a candle weighing seven pounds and a gold crown in 1643 to pray to the Virgin Mary to spare the city during an epidemic caused by the plague.