Big name hunting in Lyon..

Five days of five courses has led me to believe that the current medical sound byte of “five a day for a healthy lifestyle” has been misinterpreted by the Lyonnais. The five pieces of fruit are replaced by five easy pieces …of offal. Cocks combs, calves heads, tripe, brains and udder things are all on the daily menus of the plethora of wonderful cafes, bistrots, bouchons and  restaurants étoilés. For those who can’t stomach stomach there is always a good range of noses, ears, feet and tails. I am of course writing this tongue in cheek, which is also very good and on the menu today.


I am smitten by this amazing city that is analogous with good eating and drinking and I should mention simultaneously that I dislike the term “fine dining” as much as the word “moist” which I dislike a lot.The people of Lyon know how to eat and they know how to enjoy themselves as they are eating. This joy is reflected by the people who produce the food for their enjoyment, who are all masters of their trades and crafts whilst those who cook and serve these delights in the proliferation of wonderful eating places are, many would declare, the very best at producing French food.If that sounded a bland term it shouldn’t have. French food is hard to come by because, at it’s best, it is uncompromising and therefore not acceptable to many palates. The fact that Lyon has so many places that produce virtuoso examples of this cuisine at every different delicious level, and that these places are full morning and night, is a tribute to the gastronomic tradition that is part of the life blood of France. I cannot remember eating and drinking as well, ever, in my life.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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49 Responses to Big name hunting in Lyon..

  1. I am very jealous. Lyon sounds like my kind of place. I have never been there, but I have visited Paris many times and agree that the food is wonderful. A rifle through the shelves of Shakespeare and Co and some fine dining. What more does one need in life? Emma.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I’m very very jealous – I was watching Anthony Bourdain (in his recent series) visiting Lyon and even the school meals are worthy of a star. I particularly loved the 88 year old Paul Bocuse taking Anthony Bourdain duck hunting 🙂

    • We went to the Maison Paul Bocuse where I photographed the famous Truffle Soup VGE ( Valerie Giscard d’Estaing) which goes for 90€ a serving! Bocuse was just being brought down for lunch ( in his wheelchair) as we were leaving. I saw and learnt so much. Amazing 5 days shooting for Food&Travel Magazine.

  3. cecilia says:

    These images today are startling. Your work always inspires me to better my own loose quickly shot work. Not to be so lazy about the tripod and to get a good fixed lens. But your eye, my friend, sees far more than mine. Your work is superb. Having said that, I do hope that the eye is not on any of Lyon’s gastronomic tomes. In light of my present struggles with Daisy my milk cow, the thought of udder on any menu did incite a little cringe, however I have often looked at the roosters combs and wondered if they were chewy or crunchy when cooked. Did you taste one for me?

    • I had them cooked two ways..once in a rich sauce with a chicken liver gateau and tiny chicken livers ( too rich and it spoiled the cocks’ combes ) and then quickly fried in a pan with parsley and garlic. The last were delicious. Not at all gelatinous…soft and full of flavour. I should mention that I shoot really fast and as I was travelling light didn’t have a tripod. You just don’t have time on a job like that…I was shooting about 700 pictures a day 🙂

  4. Michelle says:

    Wonderful, Roger! I think the favorite meal I’ve ever had was at a Lyon bouchon. Complete with a neighboring table of elderly gentlemen (some napping afterwards) and the delightful proprietor who told us both that we needn’t feel compelled to eat everything in the huge bowls they brought out and (even better advice) that drinking lots of red wine would aid digestion!

  5. This is killing me. We were all set to go to Paris in November, with two days in Lyon. (My chef friend Nico is from Lyon, and his dad and stepmom live there.) We were going to stay with them. Nico emailed me yesterday, and they’re going to be HERE while we’re THERE. Harrumph. I’m trying to figure out how to ask them if we can stay in their flat………….We’re still going to Paris, though.

  6. Landing in France in pursuit of my gastronomic dreams 7 years ago changed my attitude toward food forever. I was lucky enough to travel to every corner of France and observed how they ate and enjoyed food. I really respect their respect for food and now I am cooking more closely to the nature rather than doing fancy tricks. Your post reminded me of all the foods I ate in Lyon. I adore your work. Thank you.

  7. argone says:

    Je suis si contente que tu as aimé ton séjour dans ma ville. C’est vrai qu’on peut très bien manger dans des restaurants chers comme chez Mathieu Viannay (la mère Brazier), Paul Bocuse ou à la Villa Florentine les délicieux plats de Davy Tissot … mais il y a aussi des tables aux prix plus modestes et aux spécialités bien lyonnaises comme Daniel et Denise ou un bouchon comme le Café du Peintre ou chez Abel qui valent le détour aussi ! Tu auras peut-être l’occasion de les essayer lors d’un prochain séjour où j’espère te voir ? bien amicalement, Virginie

    • Il me faut dire que j’ai bien mange partout…chez Daniel et Denise, La Voute, La Meuniere et plusieurs d’autre. J’ai rate le Cafe du Peintre parce que le dejeuner etait prevu le lundi a 12.00 et il me fallait prendre le train a Paris a 11.30..tant pis. Mon collegue a mange un gros quenelle en ma place! En outre, j’ai mange le plus gros os a moelle chez un excellent resto mais je peux pas rappeler comment il s’appele:)

  8. margaret21 says:

    Lyon’s been high on my list of must-visit places for ages. You’ve just moved it to Number One.

  9. sabine says:

    Lyonnais Food ? Oh how jealous I am right now!

  10. Wow, that is quite a statement and must have been a wonderful experience! Somehow or another we absolutely must hold on to good ingredients, good food, good craftsmanship, all things not outsourced or made the cheapest way possible!

    • It was a wonderful experience indeed. It’s a cuisine that originates from poverty. Lyon had the biggest abattoirs in France, but the meat went elsewhere and the abats/offal were all that was left. As a result a complex cuisine of offal is the basis of Lyonnais food. Of course, the starred Michelin restaurants do a “take” on this. The real food is in the small “bouchons” and restaurants in the city.

  11. “Udder things”
    “Tongue in cheek”
    I fucking love it. Nice work my friend!

  12. Eha says:

    How absolutely wonderful for you . . . . for me so many memories: altho’ actually not of cocks combs and cows’ udders! Have not had either. But love tripe to bits, add sweetbreads, kidneys and [too fatty] brains any day. Think the same way with you about ‘fine dining’ and from my visits to Lyons so agree with Virgine that oft the best local specialities are found in the more modest places. Just to walk around the speciality shops and the markets would be mind bending for me at the moment. Thank you for the wonderful post: perhaps another one in the offing from those memorable five days . . . ? [and have to look up my Bourdain tapes . . . ]

  13. Any pictures of Paul Bocuse you could share, I know he is the pope ( if there is a pope at all LOL) of French cuisine.

  14. MELewis says:

    Never been a huge fan of offal but we lived in Lyon for many years and especially loved the ambience of ‘les bouchons.’ My husband would always order the andouillette (tripe sausage?) and wash it all down with multiple pots lyonnais. Fond memories. Sounds like a wonderful trip!

  15. Excellent post, Roger. I agree with your sentiments. One of my happiest eating experiences was in Lyon. We were there for the week of the Beaujolais Noveau (we were young then) and threw ourselves around the local eateries. One exceptional meal was had when we ordered only things that we did not recognise. Given Suzanne’s excellent French and knowledge of things gastronomic, this was challenging. We did not let the waiter tell us what it was until after the meal. I cannot remember all of the dishes; I recall a veal calf’s private parts being among them, and all were delicious. We must go back — your blog has awakened some longings.

    • It was my first visit and certainly not the last…..La Meuniere or Danielle et Denise are both very good bouchons. We ate at starred restaurants but they are not really my thing…very good food and lovely people but not really for me:)

  16. Mary Frances says:

    Lyon looks amazing. I’m not that big on offal as it tends to be a little rich for my taste, but every once in a while and when it’s done well it can be a spectacular experience.

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a spectacular time, Roger. You’ve managed to shoot 700 captures daily and still find time to enjoy Lyon’s wonderful cuisine. None of this “all work and no play” stuff for you! Did I mention how jealous I am? 🙂

  18. I need to go to Lyon, Right now woud be a good moment….

  19. EllaDee says:

    Nose to tail eating. I like it 🙂

  20. Hi Roger,
    I don’t know if you are a theatre fan or not. If you are I would be interested to know what you thought of my recent review of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ at the Gielgud theatre on my blog. I’ve had over 70 likes through Facebook. I am an occupational therapist and my specialism is Autism so the review is a bit more personal that what you would normally expect. I really like your writing and would be interested to hear what you think. Don’t worry I can handle constructive criticism. Emma.

  21. When I saw your post pop up last week, I immediately thought back to my failed trip to Lyon that didn’t happen in the midst of the “volcano-gate” when I was living in London. And, sadly, somehow I have never made it back since then. But I really, really should.

  22. platedujour says:

    I go to Lyon a few times a year, my boyfriend’s parents live there. I absolutely love the city and the restaurants. Our favourite is Chez Danielle e Denise, which is a typical bouchon and the food is spectacular. I wrote about Lyon on my blog as well, and I agree that it’s beautiful place. I’m happy to say it’s my second home now 🙂

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