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Lyon has it all; culture, beautiful architecture and above all, incredible food and wine. The vineyards of Beaujolais are just a 40-minute drive away so you can combine a city break with a rural retreat in one.
Don’t leave Lyon and Beaujolais without trying…
Cervelle de canut
A dip made from creamy white cheese, garlic and herbs, good with crusty bread. The name translates as ‘silk worker’s brain’, so-called because these craftsmen were generally looked down upon by the affluent classes.
Quenelles de brochet
Lyon’s signature dish of pike dumplings served with a creamy crayfish, lobster or mushroom sauce. You’ll find them at every bouchon in the city.
These hang from the ceilings of every bouchon and wine bar in Lyon. Rosette de Lyon is the most famous, and for good reason — a garlicky sausage air-dried for up to six months, it has a deep, rich flavour. Other local specialities include Jesus (tied in a pear shape, said to resemble a swaddled baby Jesus) and cured sausages with truffles and pistachios.
Tablier de sapeur
Tripe marinated in white wine, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. It’s an acquired taste!
A sweet, deep-fried treat. Strips of dough flavoured with vanilla, lemon zest, orange water or rum are twisted into different shapes, fried and dusted with icing sugar. Traditionally made for Mardi Gras, they are now so popular that many bakeries, including A La Marquise, sell them all year round.
A perfect combination of bitter frisée lettuce, crisp salty lardons, poached eggs and a sharp mustardy dressing.
Gâteau de foie de volaille
Another bouchon staple. Chicken livers are blitzed with cream, garlic, eggs and herbs, then baked to make these light, moussey ‘cakes’. Often eaten as a main course with a tomato sauce and salad.
Château de la Chaize Brouilly
The 17th-century Château de la Chaize is surrounded by the Brouilly hills where pink granite soil and old wines (half of them are over 50-years-old) produce a silky red wine. The estate’s owner, Caroline de Roussy de Sales, runs tours of the eco-friendly vineyard and holds tastings in what is the longest cellar in Beaujolais. Buy some brouilly to take home and after a few months (if you can wait that long), it’ll taste even better.
Tête de veau
Calf’s head, including the brains, is simmered in a broth for hours and served with a mustardy sauce. Try it (if you dare) at Daniel & Denise which does such Lyonnaise classics very well.
Locals love these rosy sugared almonds that are often used to adorn brioche or stuffed croissants and come mixed with cream in the hot pink tartes aux pralines found in bakeries and on dessert menus across Lyon.
5 foodie travel tips
- Explore the Beaujolais wine route. Driving routes wind through scenic countryside and medieval villages, with vineyard tours and cellar tastings along the way. For a map of the route, visit beaujolaisvignoble.com. Most of the wine in the region is produced from the gamay grape, but forget Beaujolais Nouveau — the older wines are far superior. You can hire a car with a chauffeur (from £245 per day) who will arrange your route and book tastings and meals, at gatelyon.fr.
Eat in a B&B. Lots of vineyards have B&Bs attached, and most offer table d’hote: a fixed-price dinner, often eaten with the winemaker and their family. At Domaine David-Beaupere (domainedavidbeaupere.fr; doubles £77 per night) in the village of Juliénas, hostess Claire serves a four-course supper made from local, organic produce for £22 per person.
- Shop at a local market. The main market in Lyon, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, is crammed with high-end local produce. Make a beeline for La Mère Richard — the creamy Saint Marcellin cheese is the region’s best, and staff will vacuum-pack it for you to take home; and Charcuterie Sibilia, where local legend Colette Sibilia makes the city’s top charcuterie.
- Slow down. Locals love to linger over a meal. Eat a relaxed lunch at neighbourhood favourite AOC (+33472607957), a wine bar at Les Halles that uses produce such as platters of charcuterie and succulent steaks staight from the surrounding stalls, or pay homage to chef Paul Bocuse with a visit to his popular bistro, Le Sud.
- Go grape picking. Visit in September to take part in the harvest. At Domaine Paire in southern Beaujolais, join the charismatic Jean-Jacques Paire for a morning in the vines, then sit down to a three-course lunch, followed by a tour of the wine museum and cellar, and a tasting of his organic wines. £43 per person. To book, email email@example.com
Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below…