A Foodie Tour of the Rhône: Exploring France’s Culinary Heartland

Lyon has earned a reputation as the foodie capital of the world. And, when you consider its location at the heart of some of France’s finest agricultural regions, this is hardly surprising.

After all, the city is surrounded by renowned producers of some of the finest produce, livestock and wines on the planet. From the famous Bresse chicken to the north of the city, to the legendary cheesemakers of the Dauphiné region to the south; Lyon’s culinary resources are almost without comparison.

So, join us as we take a foodie tour around Lyon and the Rhône Valley and get a taste of what Lyonnaise food is all about.

Sample the Region’s Speciality Dishes

With access to all this incredible produce, it’s safe to say there’s nothing dull or bland about Lyonnaise dishes. Classic Lyonnaise food is simple, rustic and hearty. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Rosette de Lyon: A rich and flavourful seasoned dry pork sausage, typically cured for 30 days and blended with sea salt, fresh garlic and black peppercorn. A delicious addition to any riverside picnic.

Cervelle de Canut: ‘Silk worker’s brain’, is a speciality cheese spread dish named for the silk workers of the 19th century who were called ‘canuts’. Smooth, silky and unimaginably moreish, this delicious dip combines cream cheese, fresh herbs, oil, garlic and seasonings.

Visit the Markets

No visit to Lyon is complete without a trip to one of the famed food markets, where you’ll find row upon row of fresh produce and locally-made gourmet delights.  

Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse: More than 60 stalls line the halls of Lyon’s most well-known indoor food market, Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Arrive early to beat the crowds and you will have your pick of the finest local produce in the region, including St Marcellin cheeses, handmade chocolates and freshly baked breads. 

Marché Saint-Antoine: This glorious street market is well worth an early morning visit if you’re a food lover. With more than 100 vendors on site from 6am, you’ll be able to stock up on authentic French gourmet items before dawn and then head off to a local café for a pick-me-up espresso.   

Dine Out at a Traditional Bouchon Eatery

If you really want to understand what makes Lyon’s culinary heart tick, pay a visit to one of the city’s traditional bouchon bistros. Finding these quaint restaurants isn’t always easy, but follow the trail of locals off the beaten path. Your taste buds will be richly rewarded.  

Le Musée: An intimate, authentic bouchon, this charming bistro serves up a wonderful selection of Lyonnaise classics. Expect to dine alongside locals.

Daniel et Denise: Located in the Old Town, this renowned bouchon is run by award-winning chef Joseph Viola. Expect garden-fresh ingredients and fine wines. 

Experience French Fine Dining

Established in 1921, La Mère Brazier is the place to go for a taste of French haute cuisine. It is also the only restaurant in Lyon that holds two Michelin stars. Food lovers travel from all over the world to dine here, enjoying traditional Lyonnaise cuisine with a delightful modern twist.

Almost every region, city, town and village in France has its own proud foodie history, leading to a very competitive culinary atmosphere. However, all regions of this proud gourmet nation seem to agree on the wonderful offerings of Lyon.

We spoke to the team at Perfectly Provence, a website dedicated to the Provence region of France, and they had this to say about the food of Lyon.

"Even the most devoted Provencal foodies can be tempted to leave behind ratatouille and bouillabaisse for a trip up the Rhône River to France’s capital of gastronomy -- Lyon. As France’s third largest city (after Paris and Marseille) Lyon has a lot to offer its visitors. From the traces of Roman inhabitants to modern street art, Lyon’s museums, parks, art and architecture offer a broad range of entertainment. However, many visit Lyon for its food first with the cultural alternatives as distractions between meals.”

Sample Regional Wines

Lyon provides wine lovers with easy access to some of the best wine regions in France, including the Burgundy wine region and the Rhône Valley. Are you a wine connoisseur? Guided walking and biking tours of the region are highly recommended.

Explore the Burgundy Wine Region

Some of the world’s finest wines originate from the Burgundy region of eastern France. The most well-known red and white wines from this area are made from Pinot Noir grapes and Chardonnay grapes respectively. Tours of the vineyards in the region are an incredible treat, where wine lovers can share their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for Burgundy wines with like-minded devotees.

Visit the Vineyards of the Northern Rhône Valley

The Rhône Valley is a vast winemaking area that produces an immense variety of wine styles. The northern Rhône Valley consists of eight main appellations, however there is only one allowable red grape permitted for production in this northernmost area, Syrah. Wine tours of this region explore the valley from Hermitage to Côte Rôtie, offering a complete overview of the vineyards, wineries and winemakers of the region.  

Would you like to wine and dine in the world’s capital of gastronomy? Scenic can take you there in complete luxury and comfort. Our Rhine river cruises are perfect for foodies and wine connoisseurs who want to experience the very best France has to offer. For more information, browse our Rhine river cruise itineraries, or call us on 0808 231 4901. 

Laura Barlow-Edwards
Laura Barlow-Edwards
Laura is Scenic's Digital Marketing Exec. She loves travel; her first river cruise was on the Danube, and she fell in love with Budapest at first sight. In her free time, Laura is usually reading, travel blogging, or planning her next adventure.