Who can resist a French market – especially one as impressive as Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse? Not me. It proved one of the highlights of our trip to the city this month.
This covered market offers the public access to around 50 masters of gastronomy posing as market traders. They include bakers, confectioners, cheesemakers, butchers, fishmongers and wine merchants.
The halls date back to the 1850s, when the city of Lyon decided to create a covered market on Place des Cordeliers, on the peninsula. The market officially became a hall when, in 1859, traders were given permission to leave their stalls out overnight.
A century or so later, the city’s mayor backed a move to upgrade and increase the facilities – and to move them east, to their current location, on Cours Lafayette, in the Part-Dieu district.
The new 13,500 m² hall, spread over 3 levels, opened to much fanfare in 1971.
By 2004, the venue needed a makeover – and local chef Paul Bocuse was invited to lend his name to the renovated result. Bocuse is the most famous of Lyon’s many Michelin-starred chefs. Indeed he is sometimes referred to as Le Pape de la Gastronomie Française – which is quite some accolade!
The link between the chef and the market wasn’t some random bit of PR: in the past, Bocuse would buy the ingredients for his restaurant kitchen there.
Some of his old suppliers are still on the site – including the Maison Pupier. By chance, we found 3 seats at the counter of this high-class fishmonger as we explored the market two weeks ago today.
“Pouce-pieds are a type of barnacle I had never heard of before, let alone eaten. Dipped in mayonnaise, they were delicious”
Within moments, the staff were explaining our options to us, including how to eat pouce-pieds (pictured). This is a type of barnacle I had never heard of before, let alone eaten. Dipped in fresh mayonnaise, they were delicious.
We also stopped off at wine merchant Fac&Spera, where I bought myself a birthday present: a 2014 Côte-Rôtie from the Jocelyne and Yves Lafoy vineyard.
A box of exquisite little treats was the order of the day at Chocolats Richart. At Maison Rolle, we came away with a foie gras mousse with figs, and at Fromagerie Mons, we stocked up on enough smelly cheese to drive Gatwick’s baggage handlers crazy.
Before we went to Lyon, I had heard the city described as the food capital of France. I think food heaven would be a better description – and Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse were part of what made it such a terrific gastronomic getaway.
If you haven’t been, go.