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With a focus on simple and hearty meals, les mères lyonnaises (the mothers of Lyon) pioneered a way of cooking that helped transform Lyon into the gastronomic capital of France. Beginning in the mid-1700s, Mère Guy started serving her speciality – eels stewed in red wine – at an open-air guinguette on the banks of the Rhône River. Then, in the mid-1800s, Mère Brigousse became famous for her quenelles de brochette (boiled pike dumplings). By the 19th century, Mère Fillioux had perfected the quintessential Lyonnais dish: poularde demi-deuil (a hen in half-mourning), poached inside a tied-up pig’s bladder. (It is so named because the slices of truffle under its skin give it the appearance of wearing a veil.)

Here are our favourite spots serving up mère-inspired dishes, from bouchons (the local name for small taverns or bistros) to Paul Bocuse’s three-Michelin-starred temple of gastronomy.

Inside La Mere Braziere Michelin star restaurant in Lyon La Mère Brazier

La Mère Brazier
Eugénie Brazier opened this tiny eatery on Lyon’s Rue Royale in 1921, preparing home-cooked meals so good that she quickly became the first woman to earn three Michelin stars. Today Mathieu Viannay runs the restaurant, where he reverentially reinvents her classics. (He calls it “modernized traditional cuisine – of our time but full of respect for the past.”) Case in point: Her original pairing of foie gras and artichokes is now served on a long tray, and the flavours are interpreted through small dishes like fried artichokes, artichoke consommé and delicate foie preparations.

12, rue Royale, 33-04-78-23-17-20

The terrace at l'Auberge des Brullioles in LyonL’Auberge de Brullioles

L’Auberge de Brullioles
Aude-Marie Copin could be considered the present-day embodiment of a mère lyonnaise due to the rustic, seasonal and simple dishes she serves at her inn on the outskirts of Lyon. Be sure to try her cervelle de canut (silk workers’ brains): a dish of fresh cheese mixed with scallions, chives, garlic and herbs that is so delicious – and filling – it could easily serve as an entire meal to 19th-century weavers. Like all of the best bouchons, her cooking follows the seasons, but their €29 menu of greatest hits (Le Grand Classique) is always available.

Place Neuve, 69690 Brullioles, 33-04-72-54-55-24

Isabelle Comerro and Laura Vildi at Le Bouchon des Filles in LyonLe Bouchon des Filles

Le Bouchon des Filles
When Isabelle Comerro and Laura Vildi decided to open their own restaurant – they both worked at Lyon’s Café des Fédérations – they wanted to give the food a lighter, more feminine touch. The result, which hardly anyone outside of Lyon would consider light, is still a tad less heavy than elsewhere. It’s the perfect place to sample traditional fare like quenelles in crayfish sauce, andouillette and tablier de sapeur (pressed and fried veal intestines). And it’s precisely what the mères lyonnaises would be making were they around today.

20, rue du Sergent Blandan, 33-04-78-30-40-44

Exterior of the Paul Bocuse restaurant in LyonL’Auberge du Pont de Collonges

L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges
At this three-Michelin-starred auberge (a distinction it has held since 1965), France’s most celebrated chef, Paul Bocuse, still serves dishes like poularde demi-deuil, which he learned under the tutelage of Mère Brazier. Working with her, Bocuse has said, was “the school of life.” Eating his food today is like tasting the best of the past, whether it’s the auberge’s signature fricassee of Bresse chicken in cream sauce with morel mushrooms or their outlandishly vast selection of cheeses from La Mère Richard (a renowned cheese shop in the city).

40, rue de la Plage, Collonges au Mont d’Or, 33-04-72-42-90-90



Getting There

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Comments… or add another


Monday, August 12th 2013 11:13
My wife and I were on a river cruise in 2012 which stopped in Lyon and we went to Paul Bocuse restaurant. Without a doubt it was one of our most memorable experiences with a wonderful ambiance and superb food. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the area or indeed to make a special trip to enjoy a unique and unforgettable experience.

Larry Harding

Monday, August 12th 2013 11:31
Your article on the Mothers of Lyon was both humorous and inspiring. I have not visited Lyon since I covered the World Figure Skating Championships there three lifetimes ago. This feature, however, has given me the desire to return to taste more of the city's delights.

Nancy Black

Monday, August 12th 2013 13:27
We spent 9 months in Lyon recently, and had the privilege of living near La Mère Brazier where we treated ourselves once to a delicious and perfectly attentively served meal (just two of us). Other meals in the region were very good. Be prepared for less-than high brow ingrédients: tripes and other organ meats are rarely served in North America and even more rarely in a high-cost high class environment, but in Lyon are par for the course and served in terrific and tasteful sauces. Definitely worth trying!

Lover of Lyon

Tuesday, August 13th 2013 02:28
This article brings back memories of my visit to Lyon where there are many, many incredible bouchons serving foods I had never tried before. It is a very beautiful city; the food is what is most highly praised but there is plenty to enjoy in Lyon besides eating. The people were very warm and friendly as well!

Nicole Dargère

Thursday, September 26th 2013 11:28
Lyon... my hometown. I now live in Vancouver, Canada and every year, I go back to my roots. Each year I rediscover this fabulous city that is Lyon" The Lyonnais say that there are three rivers flowing in Lyon : The Rhône, The Saône and the Beaujolais ! Les petits bouchons of the old quarters of Lyon are decorated in old fashion. The food is varied and exquisite. Many times, Lyon has been recognized as the capital of gastronomie of the world. Vive Lyon !
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