Lyon has long been known as the culinary heart of France. From traditional bistros known locally as bouchons to Michelin-star fine-dining options – French chef and restauranteur Daniel Boulud shares his expert guide to France’s gastronomic capital.
Home to more than 4,000 restaurants, it’s no wonder that for the past 80 years Lyon has been deemed “the world’s gastronomic capital” by chefs and food critics alike. To help you refine your foodie itinerary, Culture Trip asked born-and-bred Lyonnais chef Daniel Boulud to share his favourite food spots in his home city. From sweet praline treats to fish wrapped in puff pastry, these are the dishes to try in Lyon.
For true French gastronomy, chef Boulud recommends a stop at L’Auberge, which he considers to be “a temple for French cuisine”; he’s even dubbed it the “Sistine Chapel of French cooking”. At Paul Bocuse’s iconic restaurant, he recommends the loup de mer en croûte feuilletée, which is a whole fish baked inside puff pastry, meticulously designed to resemble the shape of the fish. Each dish is served in a sauce choron – a béarnaise sauce with tomato. Chef Boulud suggests finishing your meal with oeufs à la neige, a delicate dessert of egg-shaped meringue in a pool of crème anglaise.
At Michelin-star Mère Brazier, the mousseline de brochet is chef Mathieu Viannay’s take on the essential Lyonnaise dish of pike quenelle – a classic dish of elegantly shaped fish dumplings in a tomato-based cream sauce. At Mère Brazier, it is served with fingers of lobster meat and a seafood sauce laced with herbaceous local absinthe.
The signature dish at La Meunière is named l’oreiller (pillow) thanks to its shape. It’s a take on a traditional pâté en croute – a dish you will find frequently in the city. Here, the pastry is stuffed with “foie gras, duck heart, chicken and veal,” according to Boulud. The mixture is shaped, and then a blanket of puff pastry is laid over the top. It’s baked until the top has a buttery brown hue. Chef Boulud suggests pairing it with bowls of lentils, celery remoulade and a pickled ox muzzle.
Boulangerie Jocteur is a must-visit for Lyon’s famous praline tarts. “Also, for pains au levain,” declares Boulud, referring to the French sourdough loaves. Pralines in Lyon aren’t your average saccharine sweet treat – here, they are blush-coloured and made with almonds, orange blossom, sugar and pink dye. At this bakery in Les Halles de Lyon, expect gooey pralines baked into a perfectly nutty almond flour crust.
This friendly fine-dining spot in the centre of the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood serves one of chef Boulud’s favourite beef tartares, made with diced beef mixed with black olives, capers and candied lemon. Lyon is located in proximity to the rolling hills of the Alps, so expect free-range, locally sourced beef from the region.
One of Lyon’s most iconic dishes is the sabodet – a rich, fatty sausage made using a pig’s head. Pigs have become an important staple in Lyonnaise cuisine and play a vital role in French farming. In vineyards, pigs are used to prune vineyard vines, and because of that, are often roasted on the vineyards vine trimmings. The pork dish sabodet is cooked using a mixture of fortified wine with the skins and stems of the grapes. Once the cooking is complete, the meat is then wrapped in a casing and served. It’s a no-waste, nose-to-tail process Boulud greatly admires. The version at Daniel & Denise is far more elevated than the provincial fare, served lightly grilled with local vegetables. While you’re seated at Daniel & Denise, chef Boulud recommends rounding out your meal with pâté en croute, and clapton d’agneau, a dish of chilled, shredded lamb’s feet served with a salad. Finish with a classic gras-double à la lyonnaise (a dish of slow-cooked tripe in garlic, white wine and its own fat).
In 1975, chef Maurice Bernachon created Le Président, a cake to celebrate the admission to the French League of Honor of Paul Bocuse. “It is an incredible ganache dessert topped with shaved chocolate,” says chef Boulud. The cake is now famed in culinary circles the world over, but you can try the original recipe at Bernachon pâtisserie by the Foch metro stop. While you’re there, he recommends also indulging in palets d’or. “They are discs filled with ganache and flecks of real gold,” he says.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.