Lyon's share of gourmet delights

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Eurostar's latest service takes you straight to the heart of foodie France. Andy Lynes climbs aboard

In 1925, the French food critic Curnonsky named Lyon "the world capital of gastronomy". Located in the Rhône-Alpes region of east-central France, midway between Paris and Marseille, the city has been trading on that reputation ever since. But nearly 90 years later, can it still hang on to the title when Tokyo, Copenhagen and San Sebastian lay equal claim?

The launch of Eurostar's direct service from London St Pancras to Lyon, running each Saturday until 29 June, provides a great excuse to find out. In five hours you can travel from the Thames to the Rhône and discover the flavours of French gastronomy's sweet spot for yourself.

The map of Lyon's nine arrondissements looks like a daunting urban sprawl. With only three nights in the city I wondered how I'd ever navigate my way to famous culinary treats such as quenelles de brochet (pike dumplings in crayfish sauce) and salade Lyonnaise, made with poached egg, bacon and frisée leaves.

A little research revealed that I needn't stray too far from the Saône and Rhône rivers that meet at the city centre's south-west corner, cutting a "V" into the heart of Lyon. All the markets, food shops, restaurants, bars and cafés I could want were within a manageable walk of my base in Vieux Lyon, the old town in the fifth arrondissement on the west bank of the Saône.

Lyon's gastronomic reputation partly rests on its location; it is surrounded by some of the finest raw materials in France. Head north for the vineyards of Beaujolais; the lakes of Ain, which provide Lyon with carp and crayfish; Bourg-en-Bresse, where much-lauded chicken comes from; and Charolles, home of Charolais beef. Go south and you're in the Rhône Valley with its appellations of Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu. To the west is the farmland of Monts du Lyonnais; beyond is the Loire Valley where the Lyonnais' beloved pork comes from.

Much of this bounty finds its way to Les Halles de Lyon – pleasingly close to Part-Dieu station, where the Eurostar train arrives at 1pm.

Opened in 1971, the vast indoor market in Lyon's Part-Dieu business district was renovated in 2006 and renamed in honour of the city's best-known chef and restaurateur, Paul Bocuse.

My guide from OnlyLyon Tourism, which runs group visits to the market by arrangement, tells me that the 87-year-old chef is still a regular at the market. Mr Bocuse can be seen chatting to some of the 58 vendors who supply his three-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, a 15-minute drive north of Lyon. He also has numerous bistros, dotting the city centre, including Le Nord.

The real star of the show, though, is the produce. One vendor, Gast charcutiers, pays homage to the pig with a display that includes all the cured and fresh sausages most closely associated with the city. There's the coarse-textured, pear-shaped Jésus de Lyon, said to resemble the swaddled baby Jesus; Sabodet, made with pig's head and flavoured with brandy; and the rosette de Lyon, made with a casing from the lower intestine and which, my guide tells me, gets its name from the pink colour of a pig's anus.

At Cellerier's stall there are typical local cheeses on display, including the St-Marcellin and St-Félicien varieties from nearby Isère, and Cervelle de Canut (or "silk weaver's brain", thought to be an insult from affluent 19th-century Lyonnais directed at the city's silk workers). This is a dip made from fromage blanc mixed with chives, vinegar, garlic and white wine.

Les Halles also offers the opportunity to indulge in the city's great tradition of mâchon. From nine in the morning, Chez les Gones restaurant serves a three-course meal that would have been eaten by those hard-working silk weavers and might include pâté, followed by andouillette with mustard sauce and cheese to finish, all washed down with a glass of Côtes du Rhône.

The city is dotted with outdoor markets. One of the best is on Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. Unless you're a particularly energetic gourmet, it's advisable to take the bus or metro to the bohemian Croix-Rousse district in the 4ème; I discovered that it's situated on a steep hill only after walking there from Vieux Lyon. Once I had recovered my breath, I enjoyed strolling around dozens of stalls that featured similar produce to Les Halles but at lower prices.

I discovered numerous foodie gems too. Tête de Canut is a smart charcuterie/traiteur; Fromagerie Galland has a stunning display of regional cheeses; and Chocolatier Bouillet has a fabulous selection of macaroons.It's a great area for dining, containing some of the city's more modern restaurants. L'artiste et le Cuisinier serves seasonal tasting menus, while chef Frédéric d'Ambrosio's eclectic creations at Balthaz'Art include a tartare of Charolais beef with olives and candied lemon.

For a more tradition Lyonnais meal, I made for one of the city's celebrated bouchons, a type of bistro specific to Lyon which dates back to the 16th century. Over the years, the term has become abused; if you find yourself in a bouchon with pizza on the menu, run. According to food critic Pierre Grison's Association de Défense des Bouchons Lyonnais, in a bouchon you will eat Lyon products washed down with Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône in small room with a friendly atmosphere, red-and-white checked tablecloths and charcuterie hanging near the counter.

That describes Daniel et Denise to a T, where I devoured their superb pâté en croûte and had my first ever encounter with tripe. Sautéed à la lyonnaise, with onions and parsley, it has the texture of octopus and a mildly gamey flavour.

Grison currently lists 20 bouchons, but the rival organisation Les Bouchons Lyonnais launched in 2012 includes just 17. Only five establishments appear on both lists (Le Café du Peintre, Le Café du Jura, Le Poêlon d'Or, Café Comptoir Abel, and Daniel et Denise). Café des Fédérations, beloved of chef Raymond Blanc, appears on neither. A very affordable meal at Bistrot de Lyon, not considered to be a bouchon, doesn't help clear the matter up. Although the decor is a little more formal, the food is pure bouchon. A plate of charcuterie is followed by a super-rich main course of breaded pig's trotter galette and a carafe of Côtes du Rhône.

As well as bouchons for the working man, Lyon has a long tradition of fine dining for its better-off inhabitants. Mère Brazier, one of les mères Lyonnaises or "Mothers of Lyon" who left private service to open restaurants in the late 19th and early 20th century, was the first woman to win two Michelin stars. The restaurant that bears her name still holds that accolade today.

I tried two of the more recent additions to the city's fine-dining scene, Têtedoie and Les Loges. Both reinforced my belief that no one does haute cuisine quite like the French. Têtedoie, a contemporary glass, steel and stone box sitting atop Lyon's other hill, Fourvière, boasts dramatic views and chef Christian Têtedoie's technically brilliant cooking, exemplified by a plate of suckling pig that includes everything but the oink – and tastes heavenly.

At Les Loges, the dining room of the luxury hotel Cour des Loges, the flavours are equally memorable. An asparagus starter comes with a dainty Comté cheese and truffle croque monsieur, and crispy skinned cod is accompanied by barigoule vegetables and a frothy sauce made from vanilla-scented tonka beans.

Given the 21st century's infinitely mutable global gastronomic scene, no one city or region can now really claim to be the world capital of gastronomy. But if tradition, passion and dedication to the gastronomic arts still count for something, then Lyon should continue to top many foodie travellers' lists for years to come.

Getting there

Andy Lynes travelled with Eurostar (08432 186 186; eurostar.com) which serves London St Pancras-Lyon until 29 June; from £109 return. Before his departure, he stayed at the St Pancras Renaissance (020-7841 3540; stpancrasrenaissance.com) which offers a complimentary Eurostar VIP transfer service. Doubles from £410 including breakfast and butler service. Or fly from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester or Stansted to Lyon.

Staying there

Cour des Loges, 6 Rue de Boeuf (00 33 4 72 77 44 44; courdesloges.com). Doubles start at €200, without breakfast.

Collège Hotel, 5 Place St-Paul (00 33 4 72 10 05 05; college-hotel.com). Doubles from €125, excl breakfast.

Eating there

Restaurant Paul Bocuse (00 33 4 72 42 90 90; www.bocuse.fr).

Le Nord (00 33 4 72 10 69 69; nordsudbrasseries.com).

Les Halles Paul Bocuse (00 33 4 78 62 39 33; www.hallespaulbocuse.lyon.fr).

Fromagerie Galland (00 33 4 78 39 98 84; fromageriegalland.com).

Bouillet (00 33 4 78 42 98 40; chocolatier-bouillet.com).

Tête du Canute (00 33 4 78 28 44 16).

L'artiste et le Cuisinier (00 33 4 72 26 35 56; lartisteetlecuisinier.com)

Balthaz'Art (00 33 4 72 07 08 88; restaurantbalthazart.fr).

Daniel et Denise (00 33 4 78 60 66 53; daniel-et-denise.fr).

Le Café du Peintre (00 33 4 78 52 52 61; lecafedupeintre.fr).

Le Café du Jura (00 33 4 78 42 20 57).

Le Poêlon d'Or (00 33 4 78 37 65 60; lepoelondor-restaurant.fr).

Café Comptoir Abel (00 33 4 78 37 46 18; cafecomptoirabel.fr).

Café des Fédérations (00 33 4 78 28 26 00; lesfedeslyon.com).

Bistrot de Lyon (00 33 4 78 38 47 47; bistrotsdecuisiniers.com).

Mère Brazier (00 33 4 78 23 17 20; lamerebrazier.fr).

Têtedoie (00 33 4 78 29 40 10; tetedoie.com).

More information

onlylyon.org

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform