Lyon is the culinary capital of France. A gourmand’s dream destination. We were told this many many times before our visit to the city a little while back.
Where does Lyon’s gastronomic reputation stem from? Is it the famous Les Halles de Paul Bocuse market named after the city’s most famous chef? The abundance of bouchons scattered throughout the city? Perhaps it’s not because of what’s in Lyon but rather what is nearby – world class wine regions such as the Rhône Valley and Beaujolais are in close proximity as well as the Bresse and Charolais regions providing wonderful poultry and cattle.
Or simply it comes down to the Lyonnais people: they love their food and spend a great deal of time eating and talking about it.
Let’s talk about bouchons. In a bouchon you will eat deliciously simple Lyonnais food on checked tablecloths, washed down with a Côtes du Rhône or Beaujolais. Typical Lyonnais cooking is working man’s food, classically meat-centered with dishes such as oxtail with red wine, boiled chicken or lamb’s tongue.
We had this quenelle de brochet sauce nantua (a specialty of the Rhône Alpes region) at a bouchon named Le Musée. The oval-shaped dumpling of fish had a creamy soufflé-like centre and was poached and served with sauce nantua which is made from crayfish shells which have been cooked and then crushed, capturing all those exquisite juices. This dish is incredible. One of the desserts was this crème caramel, it was sweet, fresh and eggy. We had a wonderful time at this bustling little bouchon.
Vieux-Lyon is one of the world’s largest Renaissance districts. Many of the buildings and houses in this historic neighbourhood have been restored and renovated over the past few decades. It is a magical part of Lyon to explore. Perched atop Vieux-Lyon on the Fourvière hill is the beautiful Notre Dame offering views down to the riverside streets below.
Like a rabbit warren, there are passages called traboules that pass through the heart of the houses. These passageways were built way back in the 4th century enabling silk workers to get to the river faster for transportation of their goods.
Lyon really is beautiful. We fell in love with it. I’m determined to go back one day and spend a bit more time getting to know this wonderful city.