‘Bernachon, the best chocolatier in France.’ This is an astonishing claim. However when researching foodie ‘must dos’, various sources (including Raymond Blanc) all seemed to agree. So, off we trotted to see what all the fuss was about. The beauty of this institution is that the chocolate is all made exclusively on the premises, from bean to box. They even individually wrap every single chocolate, a process that we saw being carried out by the ladies behind the counter whenever they had a spare minute and a free hand from serving customers. Fascinating for the consumer, but I expect rather tedious for the ladies involved! This triumph was founded by the grandson of the city’s celebrity chef Paul Bocuse. A master of his art, even the likes of Raymond Blanc are humbled by the pure skill of the greatest chef in France. His skill and dedication have gained him three Michelin stars every year since 1965. Our next venture took us to a gastronomic institution in his name, the Paul Bocuse Market. This wonderful place is also the haunt of some other stars of the city’s culinary scene, Les Mères de Lyon.

Gala Eyeing up the Chocolate Artwork
Attention to Detail at Bernachon

These ‘Mothers of Lyon’ are a community of female chefs who are pioneers of the city’s gastronomic reputation. The town had a heavily industrial history with a male dominated demographic and no aristocracy. Therefore the local mountain girls would bundle down to the big lights to even out the demographics a bit and provide food glorious food. Some of these women moved on to become Michelin star chefs, not least the first female chef to gain three Michelin stars, Eugenie Brazier. Their haunt, other than sharing their gourmet finds each other’s houses, is the Paul Bocuse Market. As you can imagine, I was keen to hunt down these ladies…

This upmarket market (and I emphasise the ‘up’) is like the food halls of Harrods and Fortnum & Masons, offering the best of quality which is on great demand in the local area. First stop was chez Mère Richard where we bought some Saint Marcellin cheese, a creamy and buttery variety with no chalk that was traditionally saved for special occasions. Then onwards to another ‘mother’, Colette Siblia, adopted by us as ‘the sausage lady’… another of our extremely original names! As we approached the stall, we caught sight of an eccentric lady (huge earrings and lipstick, hair done and all) running shop, peering over the shoulders of the staff serving customers and showing everyone who was boss! She was such a character and perfectly encaptured the market matron mould! We chose some delicately sliced Rosette sausage that is cured in the surrounding hills. The young man who served us even brought our purchases around to our side of the counter and personally handed them to us. This tiny gesture did wonders for our experience, making it that more personal.

Sausage Diva Colette Siblia
Our Friend the Sausage Man

For our finalpisode we bought a café crème that we carefully carried around the busy market, weaving our way in and out of the morning shoppers with great skill so as to preserve the treasured liquid to enjoy with our chocolate brioche from Bernachon. Flakey chocolate breakfast heaven, enough said. Once our breakfast was all done and dusted (fingers and plates licked clean), the key was slipped back into the ignition and off we went to Burgundy… Can this trip possibly get any better…

Café Creme to Go!