My Food Diaries - Lyon's Restaurants

Known as the culinary capital of France, the city of Lyon is strategically placed to receive only the gastronomical best France has to offer. Restaurants are abuzz, offering traditional and not-so-traditional Lyonnaise and French cuisine - therefore much research is required before visiting this city to discern the traditional eateries from the tourist traps. Here were some of my favourite places:

This establishment located at the iconic Les Halles Paul Bocuse (a review of that to come soon) in the district of Part-Dieu, serves up a wide array of fresh shellfish. Whether you're in it for a Plateau de Fruits de Mer, or for some oysters - you can be assured of a wide selection to chose from and friendly faces to be serving you. They also seem to have a decent selection of complementing wines available.

Allowing my health to take a backseat for the night, I had myself Two-Dozen Oysters with Bread and French Butter. Simple yet absolutely satisfying in itself, if you adore your shellfish like I do. One could arguably get cheaper shellfish elsewhere, but you can rest assured that an establishment's quality and freshness will always remain stellar when located at Les Halles Paul Bocuse.

Address: 102 Cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon, France

Literally meaning "Like Mathilde's Home", this establishment in the rather touristy UNESCO district of Vieux Lyon is a diamond in the rough - and provides an open invitation for a person to experience unpretentious, pre-Escoffier French food stripped to its bare essentials - and believe me, such stripping is worth lusting over.

The ambiance of the place is truly remarkable - blending in perfectly with the district of Vieux Lyon. It almost reminded me of visiting a grandmother's decades-old house in an old French countryside town. Absolutely no souffles or foie gras here. Instead you will have to make do with some rustic soup, or a French cheese platter.

I had myself an Assiette de Jambon, served with a side salad and some baguette from the self-service station. The waiters took time to explain each variety of meat, with each possessing its own flavour. Comme Chez Mathilde is a great place to experience authentic French charcuterie for a light lunch.

Address: 66 Rue Saint Jean, 69005 LyonFrance

This bakery located outside the metro station in the district of Croix-Rousse seemed to have a reputation that preceded them, judging by the long queue which filled overflowed onto the streets. I was naturally drawn towards the queue, coming out with some viennoiserie and little cakes called 'bouchons'. The pastries were lovely, but the bouchons were mind-blowing!

Having finished whatever I had in hand, I queued in line again - only to end up with 30 of those bouchons to bring back with me - call me crazy, but I don't care. You would do the same too. These bouchons come in a myriad of flavours: from nutella to raspberry, strawberry and salted caramel - and are perfect for munching on as you stroll through the nearby market, or Traboules (alleyways) of this charming district.

Address: 159 Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69004 Lyon, France

Nothing touristy remains about this market by the French, for the French. To be frank, if you have no command of basic French, you WILL struggle with basic communication. It is what I'd call an honest market: honest produce, at honest prices, brought to you by honest Frenchmen, who honestly don't speak much English. 

I was fortunate enough to have had some prior experience with conversational French, and so I was able to immerse myself in the sights, smells and sounds. If you are a fan of pork, then you might notice a giant plate with just about everything pork-related. Take your pick, sit down and indulge in finger-licking porky goodness. 

Alternatively, for Muslim visitors who are unable to indulge in pork or those who adore Middle Eastern or North African cuisine, there are many stalls (not pictured) operated by those of Algerian or Moroccan descent offering halal alternatives - such as authentic couscous and tagine stews.

If you love your cheese, look out for this friendly woman who certainly knows her stuff. I simply told her what I was hoping to use the cheeses for, and she instinctively brought out varieties which proved to go amazingly well with the potato gratin and sandwiches I had made upon returning from France.

Address: Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, 69001 Lyon, France (Closed on Mondays)

Have a look at two of my other posts on Lyon, one of a lovely Michelin-starred restaurant I visited which boasts some of the best views the city of Lyon has to offer, and another about Les Halles de Lyon - and some of what it has to offer.





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