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I cannot believe that it has taken over 12 years of us visiting the wonderful city of Lyon to discover the delights of 'Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse', named after the famous chef and son of Lyon.
More than anything else, it has been a case of normally 'diving' into areas of Lyon with which we are already familiar, and which were within close proximity of our favourite, small, (and very good value-for-money)hotel – L'Hotel des Celestines – to be exact.
Time is often a constraint, so better to know where you are headed than risk uncertainty and disappointment .
Not on this occasion, though!!
Having been to the airport early one Sunday morning we were determined to investigate this locally famous indoor market. As on many times before, we were very pleasantly surprised.
The normal promotional, tourist brochures describe 'Les Halles de Lyon' as "Escale gourmande au royaume du goût" – translated as a "Gourmet pit-stop in the kingdom of flavour" (Yes, it doesn't quite sound as romantic in English!). It is, however, not far from the truth.
To be fair, from the outside, 'Les Halles de Lyon', with its modern glass frontage, could be just another contemporary office or retail showroom. Once inside, though, it is a 'paradise ' of French gastronomy! I can guarantee you will be enthralled.
There are some 58 establishments showcasing the very best of Lyonnais traditional cuisine and products. The atmosphere is lively and festive, and as the brochure says, " Les Halles de Lyon unites the whole food spectrum through as shared passion for excellence"
Entering the halls from Cours Lafayette, the first stall that caught our eye immediately was the chocolatier, Séve.
And wow! What a sight! I can never understand the difference between food shopping in France and with what we often have to 'put-up' with in the UK. You can simply not compare the two (unless, perhaps, you are visiting the likes of Harrods, or Fortnum and Mason, in London.) Okay, so Lyon is the second city of France, but even in London you would probably struggle to find such a similar, extensive, quality market under one roof.
Anyway, back to Séve, established in 1905.
What can I say!? Yet again, a rainbow of colour, quality, and spectacular design and display. So artistic, the array of handmade chocolates. The macaroons (in over 20 different combination of colours and flavours), are perfection.
The packaging is simply beautiful, and having tasted a sample of 'macaroon au citron' we were smitten.
Rather interestingly, they also had a selection of savoury versions of these macaroons to serve as aperitif, with flavours of foie gras, mushrooms, and olive.
As you pass down the various aisles you are visually inundated with magnificent displays of many varieties of produce – quality and perfection. Stall after stall, an abundance of cheeses, meats, charcuterie, fish, coffee, bread (of course!), flowers, bars specialising in 'fruits de mer', seafood, oysters and crustaceans – some, the likes of which I have never seen before!
We were also delighted to find that our local, Roannais-based cheese company, 'Fromagerie Mons', was well represented with their own beautiful displayed presentation in association with Fromagerie Marechal. We love this high quality company which also supplies many of the regions top reataurants.
Their selection of cheeses is mind boggling!
So, at 'Les Halles de Lyon', along with the other 5 fromageries, you really are, literally, spoilt for choice.
The 14, yes 14, charcuteries and epiceries offer an array of cured meats, saucisson, and various delicacies from around the world, including Italy and Spain, as well as France.
There is a large shop in the market called Bahadourian which offers exotic spices, herbs, and a myriad of sweet and savoury delicatessen products. Shelves are stacked high with interesting items from the 4 corners of the world.
Bahadourian also have a little 'restaurant exotique' next to their shop in the market ,called Insh'ka, which has distinct north African influences in its cuisine.
We had lunch here – chicken tagine for me and chargrilled lamb with rice for my husband, Brian. Superb!
Down one side of 'Les Halles' there are specialist stall, bars and restaurants serving oysters, and other various shellfish, all beautifully arranged on large platters with mountains of crushed ice – crabs, lobsters, sea anenomes, langoustine – the list is endless!
And it doesn't stop there! You can also dine at 'Les Garçons Bouchers', predominantly a meat restaurant, or at 'Resto Halles' , or at one of the 3 other alternative cafe/snack bars.
The choice is all yours!
There are also seven stalls selling fruit and vegetable, there are 2 fishmongers, a merchant specialising in the sale of foie gras. 'Pétrossian' sells only caviars, and 'Rolle' offers salmon, marinated and preserved. There are three purveyors of poultry and game, and if you are in need of more liquid sustenance, there are, of course, a good choice of wine merchants.
One could easily spend the day here at 'Les Halles de Lyon'.
Les Halles de Lyon is open week days from 8am to 7pm, and on Saturdays from 8am to 2pm. Closing only on Mondays.
The oyster sellers and restaurants are also open on Mondays, and during the evenings.
If you are spending a few days in this wonderful city of Lyon, then be sure to set aside part of your time to discover the delights of this amazing 'jewel' of Lyon, that is 'Les Halles de Lyon'.
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, 102 cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon