The traditional restaurants in Lyon are called bouchons. The first time I tried eating in one I went with a French girl from Lyon who warned me that the service can be slow and the waiters rude but that this is part of the typical bouchon experience. It’s almost like a performance. Unlike normal French restaurants, bouchons are noisy and lively!
After the French Revolution, many female chefs, mères Lyonnaises, opened their own restaurants serving hearty dishes for the men needing a good meal after a day of manual labour such as ‘quenelles de brochet’ (pike dumpling with a crayfish sauce), ‘andouillettes lyonnaise’ (tripe sausages) and ‘tarte praline’ (praline tart). And so today the bouchon tradition continues.
The atmosphere is supposed to resemble authentic bouchons of the 18th century – informal cafés where workers would come after a long tiring day to enjoy hearty, home cooked meals.
It’s a unique eaterie full of history which is why eating in a bouchon is part of our Cooking and wine tours in Lyon.
Here are our 3 top bouchons:
1) La Mère Jean
5 rue des Marroniers (M: Bellecour)
Mon-Sat 12 to 2pm and 7pm to 11pm. Open for ‘mâchon’ (9am) upon booking.
Menus start at 11.50€
+334 78 37 81 27
Why go: Very authentic bouchon on one of Lyon’s most popular streets for good French cuisine. Very few tables so worth booking ahead
2) Café Comptoir Abel
25 Rue Guynemer (M: Ampère – Victor Hugo)
Mon-Sat 12 to 2.30pm and 7pm to 10pm, Sun 12 to 2.30pm
Menus start at 23€
+334 78 37 46 18
Why go: The most ancient bouchon in Lyon, a hidden gem
3) Le Café des Fédérations
10, rue Major Martin (M: Hôtel de Ville)
Mon-Sat 12 to 1.30pm and 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Menus start at 19€
+334 78 28 26 00
Why go: Popular with the locals, good value and great atmosphere
Montée du Chemin Neuf, Site de l’Antiquaille (F: Minimes – Saint Just)
Mon-Sat 12 to 1.30 pm and 7pm to 9.30 pm.
Menus start at 58€
+334 78 29 40 10
- It is where our very own chef, Simon Huet, produces inventive traditional cuisine
- For the breathtaking views of Lyon
- The delicious food. Check out the video on their website for an idea of the type of dishes you can expect
Paul Bocuse, Auberge du Pont de Collonges
40, rue de la Plage, Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or (Take a cab)
Mon-Sun 12 to 2pm and 7pm to 9.30 pm.
Menus start at 145€
+334 72 42 90 90
- Located four kilometres north of Lyon on the Banks of the Saône River, this family house has become an obligatory stopping point for foodies from every corner of the globe
- A chance to find out why chef Paul Bocuse is a culinary legend
6 rue du Boeuf (M: Vieux-Lyon)
Tue-Sat 7pm to 10 pm
Menus start at 75€
+334 72 77 44 44
- Located in the heart of Lyon’s old town, the gastronomic restaurant at the Cour des Loges hotel has just gained a star in the 2012 Michelin Guide
- Authentic French cuisine from the young chef Anthony Bonnet in a setting that perfectly blends historic charm and contemporary design
- Incredibly romantic atmosphere with candlelit tables and a hidden courtyard setting
During my time in this wonderful town I have eaten at many of the local restaurants (all in the name of research, of course!) and I have come up with a short list of my personal favourites.
1) Best for Gastronomy – Restaurant Richard et Christopher Coutanceau - La Rochelle’s most famous chefs run this 2 Michelin star restaurant right on the seafront. Address: Plage de la Concurrence, La Rochelle
2) Best for Value – Les Flots – With 3 restaurants in La Rochelle the chef Gregory Coutanceau is another famous export, this restaurant I think is really good value for money. Book a table by the window for views of the harbour. Address: 1 rue de la Chaine, La Rochelle
3) Best Off the Beaten Track – La Marie Galante – Great value restaurant located in the Minimes area, away from the bustling port but still offers great views of the water. Lively atmosphere on the weekends. Address: 35 av Minimes, La Rochelle
4) Best for International Cuisine – Pattaya. If you want a change from French cuisine, try Pattaya. A lovely, Thai restaurant with a huge menu, I recommend the chicken with cashew nuts. Address: 11 Rue de la Chaîne, La Rochelle
5) Best for Crêpes – Crêperie La Galletière – If you fancy dessert after your Thai dinner, walk a few paces to the neighbouring crêperie. They have a large choice of both sweet and savoury crepes. Address: 9 Rue de la Chaine, La Rochelle
If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to get in touch and share them with me.