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Restaurants in Lyon France Dining Guides

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Lyon is situated at the crossroads for three important and rich agricultural regions: Burgundy, known for its wine, Charollais, known for its beef cattle, and Dauphiné, known for its dairy products. Restaurants in Lyon therefore have a plentiful supply of fresh, quality produce. Lyon is also the meeting point for southern and northern influences in cuisine and so it is no wonder that the city is known as the gastronomic centre of France, and that many top chefs have chosen it as their base.

However, Lyon's reputation for culinary excellence is not only due to the fact that some of the world's top chefs, most of them men, work there. Women, the mères lyonnaises, have been running restaurants serving traditional fare for generations and it is the work of these women that has set Lyon up as the place to eat.

To most French people a bouchon either means a cork or a traffic jam, but in Lyon the word refers to the small, friendly, traditional and unpretentious restaurants that serve regional dishes. When travelling to Lyon, try and find yourself one of these bouchons in order to sample some of the delights of the local menu. Order a communard, an aperitif made from red wine and crème de cassis (in the rest of France, this aperitif is made with white wine and called kir) and examine the handwritten carte (menu). As these handwritten menus are often tricky to decipher, here are some examples of what you might find.

Lyonnais cuisine is very meat and offal oriented, with sausages and cheese forming part of the staple diet. A salade lyonnaise will be made with bacon and soft boiled eggs, and potatoes are often cooked with cream, cheese and eggs. A very traditional dish is the boudin blanc (veal sausage) or the quenelles which are light dumplings made from either meat, fish or cheesecheese, poached and sometimes served with a sauce Nantu, a creamy crayfish sauce. Andouillette is a sausage made from pigs' intestines and cervelle de canut is cream cheese with garlic and chives.

These culinary delights should be washed down with some local wine from the Rhône valley, so order a pot (46cl glass bottle, priced from €6) of either Côtes du Rhône or Beaujolais, as these will be good value for money.

For dessert, try one of the pâtisseries for which Lyon is famous, especially the exquisite gâteaux au chocolat.