In 1920 Justin Godart, a distinguished local lawyer and political figure, once the mayor of Lyon, published a collection of sayings called “La Plaisante Sagesse Lyonnaise” under the pseudonym Catherin Bugnard.  One of the sayings in this little book is “Vaut mieux prendre chaud en mangeant que froid en travaillant”, roughly translated as ‘It’s better to get hot whilst eating than cold whilst working’ - a sentiment we can all agree with!  It is especially apt for this long-established centre of French gastronomic excellence.


Situated where the Rhône and Saône rivers converge in central Eastern France, Lyon has everything that’s best about the French ‘art de vivre’ with exceptional food, wine and culture.  Vieux-Lyon is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest Renaissance neighbourhoods.  The city boasts more than 2,000 restaurants including a veritable galaxy of Michelin stars, as well as the more traditional bouchons.  Originally set up by the Mères de Lyon, these are small bistros serving traditional local dishes such as quenelles, chicken liver terrine, all manner of pork products and Cervelle de Canut – literally translated as Silk worker’s Brains, actually a cheese dip!   Many of today’s Michelin-starred chefs in Lyon were heavily influenced by the Mères de Lyon, women who were often cooks to wealthier families and lost their jobs after the first world war and the depression and decided to set up their own restaurants serving the simple but refined cuisine they cooked for their own families. 


Mère Fillioux, born in 1865, was the first to establish a wide reputation.  She had worked as a cook for an insurer and opened her own bistro where her Volaille demi-deuil (hen in half-mourning!) made her famous.  It was the slivers of black truffle inserted in the white flesh of the chicken that gave it the ‘half-mourning’ appearance.  Mère Brazier worked for a pasta manufacturer before learning her craft from Mère Fillioux.  Her first restaurant became the most famous in Lyon, and at her second she trained the great Paul Bocuse.  She was the first woman to be awarded three Michelin stars for both restaurants, simultaneously.  Quite a feat. 


The Salade Lyonnaise is typical of the type of simple but refined dish that would be served in a Bouchon and it can be found on the menu of small restaurants and bistros all over France as both an appetiser and a main course.  Its popularity is down to its pleasing contrasts: the saltiness of the crispy lardons, the creaminess of the runny poached egg, the crunch of croutons and the punch of a wholegrain mustard dressing, all combined with a tasty selection of the freshest green salad leaves. 


You don’t have to travel to Lyon to enjoy it – it’s available in our bakeries in time for the lovely warm weather – but we do recommend a visit to this great city and experience some of that Lyonnaise wisdom for yourself.