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
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
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

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn