Only Lyon - Tourism and Conventions

Paul Bocuse ©  Stéphane de Bourgies
Soupe VGE de Paul Bocuse © Nicolas Villon
En bord de Saône, Jean-François Mesplède avec Georgy Gouttes (Bol d’Air, Dardilly), Jean-François Malle (La Rotonde, La Tour-de-Salvagny), Gaëtan Gentil (Prairial, Lyon) de gauche à droite © Marie-Eve Brouet pour Page d'Ecriture
Paul Bocuse © Stéphane de Bourgies ©
Soupe VGE de Paul Bocuse © Nicolas Villon
En bord de Saône, Jean-François MESPLÈDE avec Georgy GOUTTES (Bol d’Air, Dardilly), Jean-François MALLE (La Rotonde, La Tour-de-Salvagny), Gaëtan GENTIL (Prairial, Lyon) de gauche à droite. © Marie-Eve Brouet pour Page d'Ecriture

Lyon capital of gastronomy

Paul Bocuse

The famous VGE soup. Paul Bocuse created this soup in 1975 for a meal held to celebrate his being awarded of the Legion of Honour by the French President at the time – Valéry Giscard d’Estaing ... 

... – and to which he invited all his friends from the Nouvelle Cuisine Française

He is the uncontested master of world gastronomy. Paul Bocuse is also the man who really put Lyon on the map.

In the end, was ‘Monsieur Paul’ (as he is affectionately known) the pioneer of territorial marketing?

“When we wanted to create a buzz around the Salon des Métiers de Bouche (food trades show), we needed an idea.

So we created the Bocuse d’Or. This was back in 1987. That goes to show that the combination of events and promotion is nothing new.

I’m delighted with this great adventure which has enabled Lyon to shine on the international food scene. Because cuisine is a universal art, but each type of cuisine is rooted in a local area.
And in Lyon, we are lucky to have exceptional local produce. I’ve always said that cuisine is nothing without good ingredients. That’s a fact.
And cuisine is nothing without generosity in the dishes.
If you ask me, the same goes for a town. Ingredients... And generosity. »
Paul Bocuse


Author, publisher and chronicler, not to forget his role as Director of the Michelin France Guide between 2005 and 2009... A man whose passions are divided between the quill and the fork. Jean-François Mesplède unravels the history of “Lyon – the capital of gastronomy” for us.

What do people mean when they say “Lyon – the capital of gastronomy”?

In a word, ‘history’! Even going back to the Roman era, people ate very well in Lyon.
And as the centuries have unfolded, the culture of good food has always been there in the background.
In Lyon, the bourgeoisie didn’t invite guests to their homes to eat. It was customary to eat out.

The local area has also played an important role.
With Bresse chicken, crayfish, river and lake fish, morel mushrooms, and Charolais beef all nearby, not forgetting wines from Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley, and the Côteaux du Lyonnais, the surrounding area has no shortage of fine produce.

Has this culture of eating out survived?

There are nearly 2000 restaurants in Lyon alone, not including the surrounding urban area!

Here, people don’t celebrate the signing of a contact at the restaurant.
First they go to the restaurant, negotiate over some good food, and only then do they sign the contract. It’s part of the culture.

How about the diversity of flavours available?

While Lyon’s gastronomy has a rich history, it is also rich in flavour! You’ll find many pleasant surprises in your plate. It has become much richer over the years. Many chefs move to Lyon because they know that it has a strong shared culture.

But ultimately, what is it that makes Lyon unique as a food destination?

People talk about the cuisine of Lyon, while I prefer to say the cuisines of Lyon. There’s something for all tastes, whims and budgets. Cuisine here verges on religion.

Mais qu’est-ce qui fait la singularité de cette destination gourmande finalement ?

On parle de LA cuisine lyonnaise, moi je parle DES cuisines lyonnaises.
Il y en a pour tous les goûts, pour toutes les envies, pour tous les budgets.
Ici la cuisine est une sorte de religion.

Photo : Jean-François Mesplède publishes the annual ‘Lyon Restaurants’ guide. Here are his favourite picks from the 2016 guide: 
On the banks of the Saône, from left to right, Jean-François Mesplède with Georgy GOUTTES (Bol d’Air à Dardilly), Jean-François MALLE (La Rotonde à La Tour-de-Salvagny), Gaëtan GENTIL (Prairial à Lyon) de gauche à droite.

Some figures...

  • 20 stars in the Guide Michelin for 16 establishments in 2015
  • 2015, Paul Bocuse: 50 years of 3 stars in the Guide Michelin
  • 4 vineyards in the Rhône-Alpes region: Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Côtes du Rhône, Savoie
  • 58 AOC -geographical indications) in the Rhône-Alpes region.
  • 48 food markets in Lyon.
  • 19 major world cities federated around Lyon, leader of the Délice network.
  • 4300 restaurants in Greater Lyon.
  • 185 000 visitors at Sirha, the world hospitality and food service event, in 2015.
  • NO. 1 French city for Gastronomy (The Times UK, 2015)
  • 5th "Best Food City" in the world (National Geographic, 2015)
  • 5th most passionate city in the world about gastronomy (Traveller, 2015) 
  • 14th favourite world destination among travellers for Gastronomy (Condé Nast Traveler, 2015)
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