If you travel to France, and you love French food, be sure to add Lyon and Dijon to your destination list. Seeping in rich culinary delights and traditions, both of these cities are about 3 hours from Paris (by train or car).
If you’re really short on time, you could do a day trip from Paris in each city. You could take the train from Paris, or, if you’re on a budget, the bus. There’s also BlaBla car—Europe’s famous rideshare service.
For my journey from Paris to Lyon, Lyon to Dijon, then back to Paris, I took the bus, a way-too-crowded SNCF train, and rented a car from Enterprise (my boyfriend drove, thankfully). All modes of transport suited us fine—how you travel really depends on your tastes and budget.
Now the food. Lyon, as I discovered, is famous for many famous French food specialities. According to some sources, its the French capital of gastronomy. Some famous dishes include salade lyonnaise, coq au vin, and lyonnaise potatoes. Carnivores and sausage lovers in Lyon will not be disappointed at all—there are way more famous Lyonnaise meat dishes than non-meat dishes.
As a most-of-the-time vegetarian, I decided to try the most vegetarian-like dish I could find at a restaurant called L’Atelier d’Yvonne: a “salade lyonnaise”. It arrived at the table with huge chunks of greasy bacon; I hope the pigs were happy pigs. Lettuce, seasoned croutons and a slightly-runny pouched egg also joined this tasty salad party. It was quite delicious and filling, too. Highly recommended—and if you don’t eat bacon, you can just pick it off! Dessert was a very classic crème caramel.
Apart from salads, I’m a fan of pastries and sweets (if you couldn’t tell already). While out walking my dog one day, my sweet tooth was drawn to large round loaves of bread with bright pink colours through a bakery window. I learned that brioche aux pralines (praline brioches) had caught my attention (pralines are another speciality in Lyon). I bought a small loaf, brought it home, and curiously cut in half. It was with trying, but just alright. To be honest, I think pralines and brioche may be better off if they simply aren’t together.
Of course, you can also find classic French pastries in Lyon. After visiting the famous “Fresque des Lyonnais”, a stunning mural on the facade of a corner building, one morning, I satisfied my early hunger with a chocolate-almond croissant at Boulangerie Saint Vincent in the bottom corner of the building. It was divine!
There are sooo many other famous food specialities from Lyon. If you’re really interested, this blog post here from French Moments sums up Lyon gastronomy excellently!
Now Dijon—another city famous in France for its culinary richness. I’ve visited many cities in France, and Dijon truly amazed me. And it wasn’t just the food—this picturesque city is rife with history and stunning architecture too. Known as “human sized” by the locals, Dijon is a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
If you can make it to Dijon, I highly recommend a visit. And, if you’re into food and wine, you won’t be disappointed at all. Located in the world-famous wine region of Burgundy (Bourgogne in French), Dijon is perhaps most famous for “dijon mustard” (you can find it in cute shops everywhere) and boeuf bourguignon (literally burgundy beef).
I didn’t get a chance to go to many restaurants in Dijon, but any online search will bring up countless suggestions with great reviews. I did try some unique cheeses from a nice shop, Le Chalet Comtois on Rue Mussette, and some local wine of course. I also was lucky enough to attend the 2018 Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair ( the Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon) as I was there in November. I also made it on the Route des Grand Crus—Burgundy’s stunning wine route.
As you can see, Dijon is a foodie city, and it should be on any foodie’s travel bucket list. Other culinary specialities from Burgundy and Dijon include crème de cassis (blackcurrant liquor), gougères (choux pastries filled with cheese) and oeufs en meurette, eggs poached in a red wine sauce called “meurette”.
All in all, Lyon and Dijon are just ozzing with so many famed dishes, food specialities and eating experiences. These two beautiful cities will especially delight those interested in discovering some of the most authentic and famous French food specialities out there.