FrenchToGo – Lunch in a Lyon bouchon

Following the amazing first afternoon of scurrying through the traboules of the old-town of Lyon and emerging to marvel at stunning buildings, I was really in the mood to immerse myself further into Lyonnais life and French conversation. So, when I heard that we would be going for traditional lunch at Les Lyonnais Bouchon with our FrenchToGo teacher and tour guide I was very excited.

frenchtogo lyon

I had heard of lyonnais bouchons before but for those of you who haven’t, a bouchon is a type of restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. Compared to other forms of French cuisine, the dishes are quite fatty and heavily oriented around meat.

Lyon bouchon

As soon as we sat down I immediately took opportunity of engaging our tour guide in a long conversation in French about the history of the Lyonnais bouchons and this is what I learnt:

The tradition of bouchons came from small inns visited by silk workers passing through Lyon in the 17th and 18th centuries. Apparently the name bouchon derives from the 16th century expression for a bunch of twisted straw and when pictures of these began to appear on restaurant signs, the restaurants became known as bouchons. The modern day classificiation of bouchons is also a very provocative issue for the people of lyon as there are many that spring up to attract tourists but that dont have the history of being family-run bouchon on the same site. This has become so much of an issue that two societies have been created to help maintain the authenticity of lyonnais bouchons- Association de Défense des Bouchons Lyonnais created this label in 1997 and the Les Bouchons Lyonnais label by the Lyon Tourist Office in 2012.

Lyon bouchon

Typically, the emphasis in a bouchon is not on haute cuisine but a convivial atmosphere and a personal relationship with the owner and I really got a taste of that during our lunch with our FrenchToGo teacher and tour guide.

When the food arrived it was a veritable feast and a real insight into lyonnais cuisine, life and history. To start, I had les oeufs meurette, a delicious casserole of 2 poached eggs on top of a slice of bread in a red wine sauce.

This was followed by a selection of mains for us all. There was madame knell– dumplings of artisanal pike and lobster sauce, magret de canard- duck breast roasted with honey, and also andouillette artisanale – really good sausages with an old-fashioned mustard sauce.

And to top this all off we finished with a selection of desserts- I had the delicious red fruits tart, so light and perfectly bitter-sweet to wash down a very unique meal.

Thank you FrenchToGo and alpha.b for allowing me to have such a unique experience discovering a new city whilst also getting to practise my French!

Ian, 61, Scotland


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