A great day in Lyon begins at the lively food market Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse, where you can sample oysters for breakfast, followed by sea urchin, tripe, offal or even tête de veau, and perhaps a glass of wine. All the chefs go there to shop and start their day, and it’s a wonderful place to get picnic ingredients before heading to the Parc de la Tête d’Or in the sixth arrondissement.
For any picnics, I’d also stop at Charcuterie Sibilia to buy meats, particularly the sausage with pistachio and truffle in brioche, and the local minced pork speciality, Jésu de Lyon. For cheeses, La Mère Richard is a must-visit; its Fourme d’Ambert, Cantal and Saint-Nectaire from the Auvergne are among the best in the world. For pains au levain and praline tarts, go to Boulangerie Jocteur, which also offers beautiful prepared foods.
The historic Croix-Rousse area is home to all kinds of wonderful restaurants, including Balthaz’art, a retro-chic bistro with a creative Montbéliarde beef tartare mixed with black olives, capers and candied lemon. Lunch at Daniel & Denise – an authentic bouchon, complete with red check tablecloths – is another highlight; clapeton d’agneau (chilled, shredded lamb’s feet served atop salad) is a speciality. La Meunière is a similar kind of place, where most things are served communally: meals begin with bowls of lentils, celery remoulade and pickled ox muzzle, followed by thick slices of a house pâté en croûte that’s called l’oreiller – “pillow” – de la belle meunière and is filled with foie gras, duck heart, chicken, veal and more.
A newer place is Le Suprême, a modern bistro started by one of my former chefs from Daniel in New York – full disclosure: I’m a minority investor. It offers an inventive, affordable tasting menu focused on poulet de Bresse prepared in many different ways – such as chicken liver mousse or stuffed chicken legs – all with wines from producers such as Jean Foillard and Saint-Joseph. For a fancier lunch place, there is La Mère Brazier – the chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder is a highlight.
I recommend a visit to Bernachon for a coffee and the best chocolates and sweets anywhere. It was founded in the 1950s, and the family has been making “bean to bar” chocolate on site since the 1970s.
No trip to Lyon is complete without a meal at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, a temple of gastronomy that sits right on the Saône. The restaurant resembles a colourful Thai palace, and the food is just as elaborate. Loup de mer en croûte feuilletée with sauce Choron – a Béarnaise with tomato – and the oeufs à la neige are two of my favourite dishes, and you must have Bernachon’s signature Le Président cake: an incredible ganache dessert topped with shaved chocolate. It’s basically chocolate atop chocolate atop chocolate, and it’s sublime.