Join now

What to Eat in Lyon

Lyon is a diverse place which offers a lot: great food, historical heritage, modern architecture and exceptional events. But what I love most about Lyon is the original and authentic French feel and the Lyonnais people. So get ready to visit Lyon …because there are 15 reasons why you should do so!

So, I understand it can be a bit difficult to pack and come over to The Capital of Gastronomy to taste all those delicious, traditional Lyonnais meals. All of the dishes served in Lyon can be tempting (in the taste rather than the name but I am sure you will be encouraged to try them out when you see and hear about them). So let me share the top dishes with you that Lyon is famous for and the ways you can actually make them yourself.

But first I would like to introduce you to the way the Lyonnais people eat. Obviously, they will start with the ‘Entrée’, followed by the ‘Plat Principal’ and  a choice of ‘Fromages’ and finally, my favourite part, the Lyonnais desserts. Be prepared for long feast! You wait long, as French people usually eat late, but then there is a proper feast!

The Most Popular Entréess Lyonnais

  • Salade de foies de volailles: a salad made of lettuce and chicken liver fried on the pan.
  • Fromage de tête: also called pork-head-cheese and not a cheese actually! It is a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, sheep or cow.
  • Groins d'âne salad: literally means "Donkey snout". It is a bacon and eggs salad.
  • Groins d'âne salad: so-called sheep’s trotters salad.
  • Tête de veau: a poached calf’s head made of beef, veal, or calf's brains.
  • Salade Lyonnaise : a green salad served with bacon strips, croutons, mustard dressing, and a poached egg.
  • Gateau de volaille: a cake made of the chicken liver.
  • Boudin noir : a blood sausage served usually with warm apples.
  • Cochonnaille de porc : a selection of Lyonnais cold cuts with its regional saucissons.
  • Saucisson de Lyon brioché :  a sausage cooked in a brioche, served warm.
  • Soupe à l’oignon Lyonnaise: famous French onion soup made in Lyon.
  • Fonds d’artichauts aux foie gras: artichoke hearts served with foie gras.
  • Gougères au fromage:  delicious French cheese puffs.

 Top Famous Lyonnais Main Plats

  • Quenelles: dumplings made of creamed fish or meat such as veal or chicken. Combined with some fat, light egg and breadcrumbs they are poached in boiling water and then baked in the oven. They are best served with the traditional sauce nantua.
  • Tablier de sapeur: so-called breaded tripe. It is the honeycomb-shaped part of the beef stomach, boiled and marinated in white wine, covered in the bread crumbs and fried.
  • Poulet de Bresse aux morilles: these are chicken legs of Bresse chickens stuffed with morels.
  • Gras double: this is a tripe cooked with onions.
  • Gâteau de foies de volaille et quenelles sauce  aurore:  this is a chicken liver cake and dumplings in aurora sauce.
  • Poulet au vinaigre à la lyonnaise:  this is chicken in vinegar sauce.
  • Sabodet et pommes de terre à la Lyonnaise: this is a sabodet sausage served with Lyonnais potatoes.
  • Tripes à la lyonnaise: this is an assorted offal gratin of thin pieces of tripe which are pan fried with onions and garlic, and grilled in the oven with bread crumbs.
  • Cardon à la moelle: so-called cardoon in bone marrow; this is a very typical vegetable gratin prepared with béchamel sauce and flavored with bone marrow.
  • Gratin Dauphinois: this is a potatoe gratin; it’s a very typical Lyonnais dish made of thinly sliced and layered potatoes and cream, cooked in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic.
  • Coq au vin: chicken seasoned with herbs and vegetables cooked in a Burgundy wine sauce.
  • Pot au feu: stew of beef meats (oxtail or marrow bone) combined with turnips, potatoes, leeks, celery and carrots.
  • Poulet de Bresse à la crème: bresse chicken with cream sauce.
  • Gras double : tripe cooked with onions.
  • Oeufs en Meurette: poached eggs prepared in red wine sauce.
  • Petit salé aux lentilles:  salt pork with lentils.
  • Paillasson de pomme de terre au jambon: fried cake or small cakes made of potatoes and ham.
  • Gratin de cardon: a gratin made of vegetables, topped with a browned crust.

Main Lyonnais Cheeses

  • Cervelle de canut: so-called‘worker's brains’  is the most traditional Lyonnais cheese spread. It is made of fromage blanc, seasoned with chopped herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
  • Saint Marcellin: a soft white cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a mottled creamy-white exterior.
  • Saint-Félicien: a cow’s milk cheese. Its creamy interior is encased in a flower-style casing.
  • Mont D’or Lyonnais:  a small goat's milk cheese with blue mould and reddish rind.
  • Galette Lyonnaise: a cheese made of cow’s milk. It has a soft, gentle flavour, and a melty texture.
  • Bresse Bleu is made from cow's milk in Bresse. This is a soft cheese, with a bloomy, edible rind and an aroma of mushrooms.

Top Delicious Lyonnais Desserts

  • Bugnes de Lyon: fritters with powdered sugar.
  • Pralines: pink hard sweets made of almonds and cooked sugar. They are the base of many Lyonnais cakes and desserts. Looking great and tasting very sweet!
  • Tarte aux pralines : praline tart which is the best when you get it from Jocteur Boulangerie.
  • Brioche aux pralines:  soft cake with pralines.
  • Coussin de Lyon: traditional sweet Lyonnais speciality. It is made of chocolate and marzipan. It is green and shaped in a pillow, filled with chocolate and flavoured with curacao. It is made by the Lyonnais chocolatier Voisin.
  • Beignets de fleurs d'acacia : fritters with acacia flowers.
  • Papillotes: another chocolate pralines and Lyonnais sweet speciality. It is sold only during Christmas season. They are produced by Revillon Chocolatier.
  • Galette bressane:  sweet pie dough.
  • Matefaim Lyonnais: a big pancake with apples.
  • Tarte au citron meringue: this is a lemon meringue pie.

Are you now encouraged to come over to the Capital of Gastronomy? If you don’t visit Lyon for being the best French city with amazing architecture, history and lovely French people, do it for its food! There is plenty to choose from and taste, so many different flavours, yet always with the best quality! Bon appetite!


If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!

Paul O'Doherty

"I am excited about meeting so many open-minded people, who are willing to help a total stranger enjoy Lyon. "

Maria Cristina Alves

"If you don't speak French, it is difficult to find friends here. But InterNations helped me to meet other expats and get tips to improve my language skills. "

Global Expat Guide