Lyon: make the most of the culinary capital of France

Whether in the noisy throng of its food markets or in the quiet calm of its bouchons, you'll experience the full gamut of French gastronomy in Lyon.

Our top picks at a glance

  • Le Halles Paul Bocuse
    • Nearly 60 top-class food stalls selling countless gourmet delights. Sit down and get a snack or lunch, or just fill your picnic basket.
  • La Garet
    • The three-course lunch for €19.50 is a great introduction to the regional specialties.
  • Les traboules
    • Explore the city's 19th-century secret passageways for pastries, chocolates or a bottle of wine to take home.

What's so special about food in Lyon?

To put it simply, Lyon is where chefs go for inspiration. Its covered food markets are legendary: a swarm of delicious smells, noise and waving arms. It has more than 2,000 restaurants, including its characteristic bouchons – little traditional bistros that offer the perfect place to hole up for an afternoon. And if you know your food history, you'll have heard of the city's most famous resident, Paul Bocuse. The godfather of modern French cooking, Bocuse invented nouvelle cuisine in the late 1960s, has a string of Michelin-studded restaurants and has a food market, Le Halles Paul Bocuse, named after him. Lyon is his turf of choice.

The markets

On entering, the first thing that hits you is the smell. Fresh seafood, pungent cheeses and dry-aged charcuterie fill the air, as does the lively chatter of friends and family, catching up over a table of steaming lobsters, mussels and white wine. This is a wonderful place to see those founding French values of friendship and family, plus a love of good food and drink, played out in person. Fruit and vegetable displays are works of art, with gleaming piles of red peppers and black aubergines piled up next to fluffy green carrot tops and yellow sweetcorn. Saucisson hangs down in white nets from meat counters, with endless varieties of pies and patés stacked underneath. Rounds of waxy yellow cheeses, rustic baskets of fresh bread and strategically placed bottles of red wine create a bustling foodie atmosphere that you will want to take home with you.

Good for: Cheese, charcuterie, seafood, wine.

Don’t miss: Le Halles Paul Bocuse. Buy a small round of the country's finest Saint Marcellin cheese from specialist Mère Richard, taste artisan chocolate from Maison Sève and regional saucisson Jèsus de Lyon from charcuterie Maison Cellerier.

The shops

Intro: The narrow, winding lanes of Lyon’s old town are filled with promising little cafes, bakeries, chocolate shops, delicatessens and bars that are made for people-watching. Wander down some of the city's famous traboules – secret passageways used in the 19th century by silk traders, particularly around the Croix-Rousse district – to get a sense of how history enlivens and enriches this city. Then sit and ponder it over a coffee and a macaron.

Good for: Hand-crafted confectionery, flavoured liquers, edible souvenirs.

Don’t miss: On Rue de la Bombarde, artisan pastries and meringues dazzle from the windows of A La Marquise. Round the corner, Le Comptoir de Mathilde offers handcrafted chocolates and outlandishly flavoured rum drinks. Want to pair that charcuterie with a nice bottle of something? Head to Antic Wine on Rue du Boeuf to consult with an expert sommelier.

Discover Lyon for yourself on a river cruise in France

Burgundy and Provence - Paris to Côte d'Azur

Most popular

from £3,620 per person

  • 11 days
  • Price based on 21 Apr 19
  • 10 dates available

Take a wonderous river cruise through beautiful France along the Rhône and Saône Rivers with guided sightseeing in the well-known French treasures and some hidden gems too! This France river cruise adventure begins in style with two overnights in Paris—one of the world’s most romantic and vibrant cities! The City of Light has Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid contrasting its ancient architecture. A guided city tour will show you all the must-see sights. You’ll visit Lyon, a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture, as well as France’s gastronomic capital! Situated at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, Lyon offers wonderful sights, including the popular Place des Terreaux with its famous fountain seen on postcards. Beautifully nestled among vineyards, you’ll find the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage, where you’ll go on a guided walk of Tournon, a medieval treasure with plenty of Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. Continue your river cruise to historical Avignon and see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world. On the Rhône River sits Arles, France—famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheater, which hosts plays and concerts to this day. You’ll conclude your historical and delightful French river cruise with an overnight stay on the picturesque Côte d’Azur. Explore this captivating area and relax along the remarkably blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll revel in the relaxing and inspiring sights and culinary delights during your French river cruise and Mediterranean holiday!

Burgundy and Provence - Côte d'Azur to Paris

Most popular

from £3,511 per person

  • 11 days
  • Price based on 01 Apr 19
  • 12 dates available

Take a wondrous journey through beautiful France along the Rhône and Saône Rivers with guided sightseeing in the well-known French treasures and some hidden gems too! Begin with an overnight on the captivating Côte d’Azur. Explore this elegant area and relax along the remarkably blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. On the Rhône River sits Arles, France—famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheatre. On a guided tour of historical Avignon, see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world. The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are beautifully nestled among vineyards and you’ll go on a guided walk of Tournon, a medieval treasure with plenty of Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers and is a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Visit the popular Place des Terreaux and stand in front of the famous fountain you’ve seen on postcards. This river cruise vacation across France would not be complete without a stay in Paris—one of the world’s most romantic and vibrant cities! The City of Lights has Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid contrasting its ancient architecture. A city tour will show you all the must-see sights and you’ll have free time to bask in the lavish cafés and enjoy the city at your own pace. Take time to leisurely take in the graceful lifestyle in Burgundy and Provence, enjoy the specialities of the region and the warmth of its residents while sailing through France’s exquisite shores.

Grand France - Paris to Côte d'Azur

from £5,714 per person

  • 16 days
  • Price based on 16 Apr 19
  • 7 dates available

This French river cruise highlighting the best of France is certainly grand! Enjoy wine, cheese, beautiful scenery, and stops in the most charming and historical parts of France. Set sail on the Seine River and go on an excursion to the historic Normandy Landing Beaches, including Omaha Beach, the Point du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery. Visit Joan of Arc’s Rouen, and choose between Claude Monet’s Giverny or the Bizy Castle, nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles”; Vincent Van Gogh’s Auver-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison. Before you depart the beautiful Seine River, you’ll spend time in Paris—one of the world’s most romantic cities! The “City of Light” has Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid. Go on a guided walk through the historic Île St. Louis. Lyon, is the third-largest city and a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture. The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are beautifully nestled among vineyards. Go on a guided walk of Tournon, offering plenty of Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. On a guided tour of historical Avignon, see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world. Situated on the Rhône River, Arles is famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheater. As a perfect finale to your Seine river cruise vacation, spend time in the captivating Côte d’Azur. Explore this elegant area and relax along the remarkably blue water of the Mediterranean Sea.

Rhine & Rhône Revealed - Amsterdam to Côte d'Azur

from £6,047 per person

  • 16 days
  • Price based on 20 Aug 19
  • 6 dates available

Immerse yourself in French and German culture on this fabulous Europe river cruise vacation along the Rhine, Saône, and Rhône Rivers. The views will be spectacular so be sure to pack your camera so you can capture the romance and splendor of this magical journey. It all begins in Holland’s popular, modern capital of Amsterdam. The best way to see the treasures of this 700-year-old city is on a canal cruise along the elegant grachten. Cologne, Germany, a 2,000-year-old city best known for its gothic architecture and famous twin-spired cathedral, comes alive on a guided walk. Sail through the dramatic Rhine Gorge, the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River dotted every mile with ancient castles standing majestically on cliffs 400 feet above the water. Strasbourg, France, located on the French-German border, perfectly blends the cultures of both countries. Stroll through the picturesque La Petite France district with its quaint shops, delightful bistros, and peaceful waterfront promenade. Breisach, Germany, is the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest—an area of unrivaled natural beauty—best known for Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and the cuckoo clock. Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, is a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Explore the Old Town with its maze of medieval alleyways. Continue to the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage beautifully nestled among vineyards. Here, you’ll go on a guided walk of Tournon—a medieval treasure with Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. In Avignon, visit the Palace of the Popes and take pictures of the bridge in the famous song “Sur le pont d’Avignon.” Enjoy your last night in France on the captivating French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur. Relax along the remarkably blue water of the Mediterranean Sea—a perfect ending to this once-in-a-lifetime European river cruise!

Grand France - Côte d'Azur to Paris

from £5,473 per person

  • 16 days
  • Price based on 28 Oct 19
  • 8 dates available

This Seine and Rhône River cruise highlighting the best of France is certainly grand! Begin your adventure on the captivating French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur. Explore this elegant area and relax along the remarkably blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. On the Rhône River sits Arles, France—famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh—and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheater, which hosts plays and concerts to this day. On a guided tour of historical Avignon, see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world–and, later join an excursion to the wine region of Châteauneuf du Pape. The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are beautifully nestled among vineyards, and you’ll go on a guided walk of Tournon—a medieval treasure with plenty of Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers and is a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Take then a guided tour to Beaujolais and the following day to Chardonnay, where you will have the opportunity to taste local wines. After disembarkation, taste some of Burgundy wines before reaching Paris. A Master of Wine will travel with you on this first portion of the cruise and will hold lectures, tastings and will introduce you to food and wine pairing. On the Seine River, you’ll have the choice of seeing the historic Normandy Landing Beaches, including Omaha Beach, the Point du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery; the delightful Les Andelys, Joan of Arc’s Rouen, Vincent Van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise, or Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison. And your adventure would not be complete without a stay in Paris—one of the world’s most romantic and vibrant cities! The “City of Lights” is home to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid contrasting its ancient architecture. Enjoy a guided walk through historic Île St. Louis with its narrow streets and Île de la Cité where medieval Paris was founded.