15+ French Dishes You Need To Try On Your Lyon Food Tour

It had been our dream to visit Lyon, France for the longest time, and we finally made it happen this year!! Dubbed the “food capital of the world,” Lyon is every foodie’s dream come true. Home to many top chefs like Mère Fillioux, Paul Bocuse, and Mathieu Viannay, Lyon is no doubt the ideal place for you to fall in love with French cuisine!

Les Trois Domes Michelin Restaurant Lyon France-2
Lyon France Restaurants

Before you embark on your Lyon food tour, make sure to familiarize with the Lyonnaise cuisine. This introductory food guide highlights the typical French dishes you will find in Lyon as well as a list of the best bouchons in Lyon and top Michelin restaurants in France to add to your itinerary.

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A Guide to Classic French Dishes Lyon

Salade Lyonnaise

Let’s start with appetizers!

You’ll find Salade Lyonnaise (Lyonnaise salad) at almost every restaurant in Lyon. What’s so special about Lyonnaise salad?

Typically, the bowl comprises of fresh lettuce with small pieces of bacon, poached eggs, croutons, and vinaigrette dressing, but every restaurant does it a bit differently.

Some bouchons (old-fashioned bistros) have their own magic recipe to tempt diners’ taste buds. For example, at Daniel & Denise, the salad also comes with snout slices, lentils, smoked herring, and potato amandine. It is the most unforgettable Salade Lyonnaise we have ever tried!

Classic French dishes - Salade Lyonnaise from Daniel et Denise
Classic French dishes – Salade Lyonnaise from Daniel et Denise

Cervelle de Canut

Don’t gross out by its literal translation “silk worker’s brains,” there is no component of brains in Cervelle de Canut whatsoever. Instead, this specialty is more like a cheese spread, made of fromage blanc, chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. It is enjoyed with sliced baguette as an hors-d’œuvre.

Cervelle de Canut Lyon specialty
Cervelle de Canut

So, where did the name “silk worker’s brains” come from?

Back in the day, silk production was the pillar of Lyon’s economy. The city was known as the silk-weaving capital of France. When the silk industry reached its peak in the 19th century, there were over 100,000 looms in business!!

Silk workers, known as ‘canuts’, would start working before dawn. To recharge, they would visit bouchons for a hearty morning meal (mâchon), and the seasoned cheese spread was typically served on the table.

Rosette de Lyon

Along with baguette and Cervelle de Canut, it is common to find dry-cured pork sausage (Rosette de Lyon) served as an appetizer. This signature specialty is made with a casing from a pig’s lower intestine, stuffed with coarse ground pork. It makes a tasty addition to sandwiches and charcuterie boards.

Rosette de Lyon Sausages
Rosette de Lyon

Andouillette

Speaking of sausages, you will come across andouillette in markets or on restaurant menus. The famous Andouilette is made entirely of pork (sometimes veal) intestines and stomachs, seasoned with pepper, wine, and onions.

It is known to have a very strong, distinctive smell so be prepared. Most of the time, it is served hot, either boiled, panfried or barbecued, but it can be eaten cold as well.

Andouillette
Andouillette / Photo credit: Bobosse

Fonds d’Artichauts aux Foie Gras

Another classic starter is Fonds d’Artichauts aux Foie Gras. First created by la mère Filloux, later modified by Eugénie Brazier, this dish combines delicate melting foie gras and crisp artichoke hearts, providing a remarkable depth of flavour!

Fonds D'Artichauts Aux Foie Gras
Fonds D’Artichauts Aux Foie Gras / Photo Credit: @bouchon_bistro on Twitter

Pâté en Croûte

Literally “pâté in a pastry crust,” Pâté en Croûte is a popular cold dish. Typically, the pâté is made of pork, but sometimes it can be veal, poultry or rabbit. Between the meat pie and pastry crust, chilled transparent jelly is added to fill the top cavity.

The end product is rich, dense and divinely good.

Lyonnaise Bouchon Daniel & Denise
Le pâté en croûte (foie gras and sweetbread pâté in a pastry case)

Saucisson de Lyon Brioche

One of our favourite French dish in Lyon is Saucisson de Lyon Brioche (sausage in a brioche). Salty and sweet, it is amazing how something simple like this can be so satisfying. Cooked sausage stuffed in a wonderfully soft and buttery brioche, it is a taste you can never forget!

Saucisson de Lyon Brioche
Saucisson de Lyon Brioche

Quenelles

You will see Quenelles everywhere in Lyon bistros. This football-shaped specialty is typically made with pike (a freshwater fish), mixed with butter, flour, milk, and eggs. It is cooked with tomato sauce, béchamel, or the famous Nantua sauce (prepared with crayfish, carrots, celery and cognac).

Quenelle Lyon Specialty
Quenelle

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin (Rooster in wine sauce), another legendary dish in Lyonnaise cuisine. Essentially, it comprises of chicken seasoned with herbs and vegetables. The meat is then slowly braised in a Burgundy wine sauce until it is tender on the inside. The stew dish promises textured, juicy meat!

French Dish Lyon Coq Au Vin
Coq Au Vin

Soupe aux Truffes Noires V.G.E.

When speaking of French dishes, we can’t leave out Chef Paul Bocuse, the pope of French cooking and the founding father of modern French cuisine.

His most famous dish was Soupe aux Truffes Noires V.G.E. (black-truffle soup named after former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing). This famed soup contains foie gras, mushrooms, truffles, and chicken broth;all held captive under a dome of puff pastry.

Paul Bocuse Restaurant Lyon
Black truffle soup from Paul Bocuse Restaurant

You can try this classic dish at his three Michelin-starred restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or located just 4km north of Lyon.

Poulet En Vessie

Another one of Bocuse’s iconic dishes is Poulet en Vessie (truffle-stuffed bresse chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder).

We know what you’re thinking: Cooking in pig’s bladder? How? This is a technique pioneered by Brazier (remember we mentioned her earlier?). It begins by stuffing slices of black truffles and foie gras under the chicken skin. The chicken is then enclosed in the bladder and packed in an aromatic broth. The method makes the meat extremely flavorful and moist!

At Paul Bocuse Restaurant, the staff will deflate the bladder and debone the entire chicken in front of your eyes. In case you are curious about how it is done, check out the clip below:

Bugnes Lyonnaises

Now, let’s move onto desserts!

Bugnes Lyonnaises is a classic Lyonnaise dessert, similar to beignet but not quite the same. This lemon-scented pastry is thinner and crunchier, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Lyon dessert - bugnes lyonnaises
Lyon dessert – bugnes lyonnaises / Photo credit: Belula Cuisine & More

Pralines

You will see pink pralines (almonds with pink sugar coating) everywhere on the streets of Lyon. This traditional French confection is unique to Lyon, can be eaten alone as it is or added to desserts.

Pralines Lyon Dessert
Pralines

Tarte aux Pralines

The most common pralines dessert is Tarte aux Pralines (Pralines Tart). The combination of crushed pralines and all-butter shortcrust pastry delivers an irresistible taste!

Pralines tart
Pralines tart / Photo credit: Cuisine Actuelle

Coussin de Lyon

Shaped in a pillow, this sweet specialty of Lyon is made with chocolate, marzipan, flavoured with curacao liqueur. It can be distinguished with its aqua green colour.

Coussin de Lyon Dessert
Coussin de Lyon
You Might Also Like: 15 Secrets To Help You Visit Lyon, France Like A Local

Best Restaurants in Lyon for Classic Lyonnaise Meals

All those sound delicious, but where can you have a classic Lyonnaise meal? below are a few bouchons and Michelin star restaurants in Lyon we recommend you stop by!

Daniel Et Denise

To try traditional Lyonnaise food, we highly suggest putting Daniel et Denise on your agenda. As one of the best bouchons in Lyon, the bistro is dedicated to serving local specialties. Their delicious Lyonnaise dishes like quenelle and salade Lyonnaise are sure to dazzle taste buds!

The restaurant has four locations across the city. Reservation is recommended as they can get quite busy (even on weekdays)!

Daniel et Denise, bouchon to have classic French brunch
Daniel et Denise
Note: You will see many bouchons in Lyon but it is important to choose certified bouchons for the best culinary experience. How to identify a certified bouchon?

Make sure to select a restaurant with “Les Bouchons Lyonnais” certification (can be identified with the label below on the window). You can also visit the Les Bouchons Lyonnais website to search for the best bouchons in Lyon!

Les Bouchons Lyonnais
Les Bouchons Lyonnais quality label

La Mère Brazier

We mentioned Eugénie Brazier a few times earlier. She is the mother of modern French cooking and the first woman to be awarded six Michelin stars! Many renowned chefs including Paul Bocuse were her student.

To get a taste of her recipes, visit La Mère Brazier – her first restaurant, which was established in 1921 when she was only 26 years old. Today, the establishment holds two Michelin stars and is run by executive chef Mathieu Viannay.

La Mere Brazier Lyon Michelin Restaurant
La Mere Brazier

Auberge Du Pont De Collonges

The Paul Bocuse Restaurant in Lyon is a destination itself, attracting foodies around the world year-round. This luxury establishment has held three Michelin stars continually since 1965. It is also the only one in Lyon to receive three stars.

You will quickly understand why it is worth a special journey as soon as you arrive. The dining rooms in Paul Bocuse Restaurant is pure elegance. Service is impeccable. Each dish is carefully planned to balance tastes and textures. The entire dining experience is unmatched by any other Lyon Michelin restaurants.

Paul Bocuse Restaurant Lyon - Top Michelin Restaurant France
Paul Bocuse Restaurant

Today, Chef Bocuse is no longer there, but a trio of chefs, Christophe Muller, Gilles Reinhardt, and Olivier Couvin, carry on his legacy so that you can enjoy his classic dishes like black truffle soup and sea bass stuffed in puff pastry shell.

Les Halles De Lyon Paul Bocuse

For casual eateries, we recommend Les Halles De Lyon Paul Bocuse, a well-known indoor food market in Lyon, named after the famous chef Paul Bocuse.

The market houses 48 food stalls impressing you with gourmet delights, like cured meat, pastries, cheeses, and chocolates (perfect place to go food shopping in Lyon, France!). There is also a good selection of casual bars and restaurants to enjoy a sit-down meal.

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, Lyon food market
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Cooking Classes in Lyon, France

Want to learn to make classic Lyonnaise dishes? We recommend book a cooking class on eatwith with chef Thierry.

We did a 3-hour cooking class with him. Aside from learning the traditional cooking technique, Thierry gave us an informative introduction into the history of Lyon and its influence on the Lyonnaise food culture. He is very passionate and knowledgeable!

Lyon Cooking Classes
Cooking Class with Chef Thierry

You can choose between 3 different options – market tour, cooking class, and pastry class. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with Lyonnaise cuisine and we recommend doing this at the beginning of your Lyon vacation!


We hope this article incentivizes you to visit Lyon, the gastronomy capital of France! Lyon is truly unique and has surprised us in so many ways!

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16 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Pingback: 15 Secrets To Help You Visit Lyon, France Like A Local | For Two, Please

  2. Such a great read, thanks for sharing. OMG those desserts – how can you choose between the tarte or the Coussin de Lyon? I would definitely enjoy the cooking class and visiting the restaurants in your article. So much to do I would be in ‘foodie heaven’.

  3. That’s interesting. I live in Belgium currently, neighbour to France and we’re planning to explore the country soon and ofcourse Lyon is in the list!
    Cervelle de Canut sounds horrible with ‘brain’ in it, but super happy to know that its vegetarian!
    Oh! I didn’t know Coq au Vin is from Lyon. I know it from SATC movie when Carrie Bradshaw says, ‘I’m more Coco Chanel than Coq au Vin’!!!

  4. Food in Lyon and your cooking class look amazing – I love Coq au Vin personally, it is such a classic. I would love to return to France sometime. I’ve spent months living in France but that was working in the Northern France refugee camps. When I wasn’t working, I was in a very suburban area that felt very much like the UK. I ate a lot of oatmeal and sandwiches and random Ethiopian curries, LOL! So I don’t think I really have gotten a “feel” for France or its more cultural sides – like the amazing food! You’ve definitely inspired me to investigate this for my October travel plans, Cat….

  5. I loved the article! Also made me so hungry!haha, cant wait to go to Lyon to try that soup with foie gras!!!! 

  6. So typically French, where as much care is taken with the food as with its presentation. Though I have not ventured to Lyon , I have a friend from there and he is a top-notch chef and no wonder judging from your article. The Foie Gras serving is gorgeous but what I would really like to taste is the Coq Au Vin. And of course the French Desserts (your photos make my mouth water) – who can resist them ?

  7. My mouth’s watering after reading this post!! The Saucisson brioche looks wonderful, and is something I’d devour in 10 seconds! As I’ve a sweet tooth, the Bugnes Lyonnaise also looks interesting. They’d also make some nice gifts to take home.

  8. I just love the “silk worker’s brains” story. And I could imagine enjoying the cheese spread with a fresh baguette, a bottle of wine, and a nice dried pork sausage, sitting on a bench and watching Lyon pass me by…until I headed off to buy some Bugnes Lyonnaises and chase a few down with a cup of coffee. Mmmmmmmmmm.

  9. Brains of silk workers. Only the French… I just read how Buckingham Palace was built on a mulberry field. The mulberry trees were to feed British silkworms to oust French silk. The praline pie looks amazing.

  10. I think about the only thing I’ve heard of in this post is Coq au Vin. Which is great. Nice to be introduced to some innovative new cooking. I guess Lyon is the place to go. I still haven’t been, so I must add it to the list.

  11. A lot of people don’t know that Lyon is the food capital of France – they always assume it is Paris. I used to live 2 hours from Lyon so I had plenty of opportunities to visit, eat and explore! I So miss the praline tarts – I have not seen them in the US anywhere and they are SO delicious!

  12. This looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never been too keen on French dishes but then again these pictures make me reconsider. La Mere Brazier and the Coussin de Lyon are my top choices but the Tarte aux Pralines looks really delicious as well. I’m positively surprised to be honest, I guess I need to give french cuisine another chance!

  13. I never knew that Lyon is foodies paradise. It would be great to taste all those things here in Lyon. I would love to taste the Lyon dessert – bugnes lyonnaises and Pink pralines. Even the ambiance of Daniel Et Denise is beautiful. Thanks for sharing wonderful list.

  14. wow loved the article thanks

  15. Your food photography is always on point! I’d love to try the Bugnes Lyonnaises – they sound delicious! And, I love that beautiful mural!

  16. I have not visited Lyon before ad only done Paris but this post surely puts it on my list to visit places in France. Being a food buff and enjoying French cuisine it makes it the perfect destination I must say. Truly an understated destination and one which needs more promotion like the capital and Nice.  I would surely want to get involved in the Cooking Class with Chef Thierry.  Thanks for sharing this great culinary journey. 

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