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You can't question my very serious introduction: I'm a local and I've got more than 20 years of experience in this perfect lovestory!
Warning: If you end up desperately starving for French food before the end of this article, the only way to calm down is to take a flight to Lyon. (#SorryNotSorry)
I'm going to make a delicious top 8 of the different foods you will discover around here... It won't be exhaustive, since I'll just share what I love eating. Childhood memories inside, this article has been approved by Marcel Proust himself!
I won't translate the names of the different specialities introduced in this article, out of respect for la langue française, which gave so much to other languages in terms of food vocabulary.
The "coussins" and "quenelles" from Lyon are sweet specialities that you can find at any chocolate shop in Lyon, but they were originally created by VOISIN le maitre chocolatier de Lyon, capitale de la gastronomie - Chocolats fins, Cafés et spécialistés lyonnaises. Voisin was created in 1897, so it's a part of Lyon's gastronomy landscape for more than a century now.
The "coussins de Lyon" (see below) are little chocolates made in the shape of little green cushions. It represents the cushion on which Lyon's county magistrates put their offering to the Virgin Mary in 1643, when they begged her to save Lyon from the terrible plague that killed half of the city's population then.
This speciality is part of the national culinary heritage since 1960.
It is a ganache truffle with a bit of Curaçao liquor inside. The green part is made of marzipan (almond paste).
The "quenelle de Lyon" (see last picture of the article) is another small chocolate that I couldn't stop eating when I was little (didn't have the right to eat Coussins since there is alcohol inside). It's made of praliné chocolate, covered with white chocolate. It represents, in a sweet version, the official "quenelles" created by Brillat-Savarin in the 18th century, another speciality from Lyon.
Each region in France has its own version of a big sausage cooked with different sauces, spices, etc. However, my favourite will always remain the one made in Lyon, with pistachio inside. In my family, we traditionally eat it with steamed cooked potatos on December 8th (for the "Festival of Lights", a traditional event in Lyon). Just thinking about it brings all the memories back. Including the taste of this typical dish. It's really easy to cook and it's perfect for dark and cold winter days. It's also perfect when you have friends coming over, since the sausage is rather big.
6. Les Croquants.
The "croquants" of Lyon are a speciality that you could happen to miss, unfortunately, during your stay in Lyon. The historical bakery where it was first created is rather small, on a corner of a street in the historical city centre called "Saint Jean".
It's a kind of dry brioche with "pralines roses" and almonds inside. It's a huge part of my childhood as well, since my sister and I always asked for one when we were going to this part of the city with our parents. I managed to find an article about this speciality, with a recipe in English! Here it is: Croquant aux Amandes ~ Almond Crisps from Lyon | Wives with Knives
Honestly, it's worth coming over to Lyon to try the real ones in the historical city centre. Might become one of your best travel memories ever!
5. Nardone's icecreams.
So, that's the little exception in my list. It's not 100% from Lyon.
René Nardone's father, Loretto Nardone, was an Italian immigrant who created his icecream business in Liège (Belgium) in 1899. His son then moved to Lyon where he created his own icecream business in 1929. The current main address (see below) is the historical one where it was first created!
It's another of my forever-lasting memories of Lyon: eating some icecreams or drinking some milkshake at Nardone's. You can read more about it on their website.
The hugely large choice in the menu will give you a hint on why it's such a great place to have a break during your city tour in Lyon. My favourite icecream would be the Chartreuse one (oh, yes, another typically French taste, but from another city!), though I really like the spéculoos one (it's my Belgian DNA talking here).
How could I actually introduce this one...?
Great Master of Gastronomy Worldwide?
Perhaps, yes, it would definitely suit him well. Paul Bocuse is a person, a chef, the best French chef the world has ever known, but he's kind of a speciality as well in Lyon. Indeed, you have no less than 5 official Paul Bocuse restaurants in Lyon.
4 "brasseries" named according to the cardinal points they refer to (east, west, north, south). Each one focuses on a different aspect of French gastronomy. I went to one of them once, I can only recommend it! (I don't remember which one it was, though...)
1 top-high-deluxe quality restaurant, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges. You might want to make some savings before going there, since the cheapest menu costs 165€. The most expensive one? 265€. Per person, yes, of course. Enjoy your meal (really, enjoy it, it might be the last one of your student life)! The brasseries are more reasonable, price-wise, count around 20-25€ for a menu there. But for that price, you won't get to meet Bocuse himself, of course.
His son, Jérôme Bocuse, manages the Chefs de France restaurant at Walt Disney EPCOT.
3. Valrhôna chocolates.
Lyon is all about chocolates. I'll be quick with this one, though. It's one of the best chocolates you'll ever get to taste in your whole life.
Created in 1922 near Lyon (in the department called "Ardèche") under another name, the brand Valrhôna itself (which means "valley of Rhône", the river that passes through Lyon and its region) was created in 1947. It is specialised in dark chocolates, but you will also find many milk chocolate versions, of course. Learn more about it on their website.
Since I've always been addicted to dark chocolate (nothing below 70%, thanks, up to 100%, thanks), it's a part of my region's heritage I'm really proud of.
2. Papillotes, by Révillon.
Chocolate, again. Not even sorry about it, I just love chocolate and I'm sure many of you love it as well!
So, what are those "papillotes"? Well, most Frenchies will answer it's a cooking technique which involves an oven and some aluminium foil. You will recognise the Frenchies from Lyon by their huge smile when hearing the question: for us, it's a chocolate that symbolises CHRISTMAS!!!
Though you can buy them in Révillon's store all year long, they're only found in all shops and supermarkets during Christmas time. There is a wide range of different sorts of papillotes (milk chocolate, praliné, dark chocolate, with almonds, with nuts, etc.), but there is one thing they all have in common: inside the papillotes, you will find a chocolate and a piece of paper with some quotes written on it. The quotes are nowadays from various writers, philosophers, etc. However, the original papillotes had small love letters written on them! I told you, it's a lovestory we have here! Indeed, a man found this very original way, a few centuries ago, to send loveletters to his beloved lady (who was far too rich for him to marry her): he wrapped chocolates in papers on which he was writing his thoughts. How lovely, isn't it?
1. La Praluline, by Pralus.
It's a bit similar to the croquants, in a way.
It's a brioche filled with almonds, nuts and "pralines roses" (see first picture of the article). When I was little, it was my favourite cake ever. I could only have some at my grandparents', so going there was a double-dose of excitement! Now, you can find it even in Paris.
Pralus is also famous for its chocolates: he owns its own chocolate factory and cocoa fields!
Learn more about him on his website, available in English.
Lyon is the French capital of gastronomy. It's a true and basic fact. These 8 examples are only a small part of the whole gastronomy waiting for you here.
Still sceptical? Come over & see (or taste) it for yourself!
Are you into traveling and love exploring different countries? Then you should definitely visit and join the new travel community at Voyagehacks and start sharing your experiences today!
Praluline | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Coussins de Lyon | fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coussin_de_Lyon | Jean-Marc ALBERT | Flickrflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Deux glaces | David | Flickrflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Sweet quenelles de Lyon | Liliana Fuchs | Flickrflickr-free-ic3d pan white