If Paris is the heart of France, Lyon is the stomach; which I personally think is where the soul is more likely located. The gastronomic capital of France is just a 2 hour train ride from pumping Paris, have a wander around the still buzzing, yet unhurried cobble stone streets of Lyon, and indulge yourself in the famous Lyonnais gastronomy. Bouchons are a special type of French restaurant specific to Lyon and its own cuisine which consists of all things warm and cosy such as sausages, duck pâté and roast pork. They are not worried about adhering to the sharp touch of haute cuisine but rather to a warm and convivial atmosphere and a personal relationship with the owner that welcomes you into the soul of France. Those who are looking for paradise on Earth should come and see Lyon.
One particular experience I had which embodied this very principle was in the cosiest little restaurant called Le Tibouren, located in one of Lyon’s most multicultural suburbs, Guillotiere, and only one metro stop from the city centre, Bellecour. This is a true hidden gem of Lyon, not very well known but always very well received. The chef personally introduces his weekly customised menus to each guest, in either French, German or English at your convenience. Eating in this restaurant is like being invited to dine in the home of an authentic French chef, so be sure not to show up late and bring an empty stomach as it will sure be satisfied by the end.
If you haven’t heard of Paul Bocuse, you should – he is the Lyonnais legend of high quality and innovative French cuisine. You have a few choices to honour his work, if you’re feeling fancy book yourself a table in his 3 Michelin star restaurant located just outside of Lyon, a 40 min train ride to Les Collonges au Mont d’Or, for the meal of a lifetime. If your wallet is sore, go to L’institut Restaurant located in the centre of Lyon, Bellecour, which is the training restaurant of the Paul Bocuse Institute – think of it like being a guest on Masterchef – only the best cooking students serve up their dishes here. Alternatively, food shop like the French do and go to Les Halles de Lyon, a Paul Bocuse founded indoor market place esteemed worldwide for the freshest produce of fish, meat, cheese, charcuterie, breads,sweets, and chocolates; including ready-to- eat food and stalls to nibble your way through.
Finally, Lyon’s selection of gastronomy is not exclusive to its multicultural influences. If you’ve had enough French cuisine and want to try something different, La Mangue Amère, meaning “the bitter mango,” comes highly recommended under African cuisine, Senegalese to be specific. Located just near the gorgeous Jardin des Plantes in Croix- Paquet, this cosy little restaurant brings you delicious and authentic Senegalese spices and flavours. After your meal take a stroll around the corner to the quaint little wine bar, Le Vin des Vivants, meaning “the wine of the living,” which will keep your taste-buds alive and buzzing through the night.
Contact the crew at The Travel Project to add a stop in Lyon during your trip through Europe.