A Chef’s Guide to Lyon by Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex

A Chef’s Guide to Lyon by Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex

Hailed as the gastronomic capital of France (and by extension, the world), a trip to Lyon is on every foodie’s bucket list. Chef Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex takes us around the city’s buzzing food scene where his restaurant, Auberge de L’Ile Barbe, continues to pave the way for gourmet globetrotters.

saying goes that if Paris is
the heart of France, Lyon is its stomach. Nowhere is this more
apparent than at Auberge de L’Ile Barbe, a gourmand’s haven where
dishes such as cold foie-gras brioche and quince ketchup with
grenadine or lobster with fresh figs in a sweet wine reduction are
served in the most charmingly romantic setting – a 17th-century
auberge (guest house) perched on a tiny, lush, green island nestled
between the banks of the river Saône.

The building dates back to 1621 and has been in the Ansanay-Alex
family since 1968. In 1991, aged 25 Jean-Christophe took the helm
of the family business and began to transform it into the
gastronomic reference point it is today. The restaurant was awarded
its first Michelin star in 1993 and has continued to go from
strength to strength, as Ansanay-Alex develops his unique brand of
creative yet subtle French cuisine using the finest local, seasonal

But it hasn’t always been plane sailing for Ansanay-Alex. In
1990, he was seriously injured in a moped accident and lost the use
of his right arm. This could have been a disaster for the young
chef’s budding career, but Ansanay-Alex turned what might have been
a weakness into strength.

“Where others might have given up, I worked harder than ever to
learn new techniques and find ways to be even better than before
the accident,” he recalls. “I remember being at the hospital and
thinking “I need to get out of here, I need to get my kitchen
back”. Cooking is and always has been my special passion, so there
was no way I would quit. In fact, it was this passion that helped
me recover.”

Today, l’Auberge remains a member of the prestigious families
Michelin, Relais & Châteaux and Les Grandes Tables du Monde,
with Ansanay-Alex celebrating his 25th year heading up the kitchen
in 2016.

Ansanay-Alex’s insider guide to Lyon…



Ansanay-Alex’s former second in command, Thomas Ponson, heads up
four gastronomic proposals in the same street. The restaurant
serves classic French fare, while the bistro is set up like a wine
bar, offering a huge selection of local grapes alongside platters
of cheese and charcuterie. The café serves small, tapas-style
dishes for sharing. Last but not least, the bouchon (butcher’s
house) is Ponson’s take on the most classic of Lyon eateries, in
which regional wines and the meatiest of meat products (sausages,
pâtés, roast meats and offal dishes) take pride of place.


6/8/3/1 rue Laurencin


Bocuse Brasseries

Chef Paul Bocuse has four brasseries in the city of Lyon: “Bocuse brasseries have set the new standard for day-to-day food, and many of the staff have worked for me in the past. I always go with the chef’s suggestion,” says Ansanay-Alex.


18 Rue Neuve


Les Halles Paul Bocuse

Lyon, France

Although not a restaurant per se, Lyon’s prestigious indoor food
market is a must for any visiting gastronome. With some 60
independent vendors selling the finest regional market produce,
from cheese to oysters and local wines, this is an absolute

“Les Halles Paul Bocuse is not to be missed. I recommend oysters
with a glass of wine, especially a weekend morning around 11AM.
Buying produce from Charcuterie Sibillia and fromagerie Mère
Richard is also a delight – make sure you ask for vacuum packing if
you’re going to transport it.”


102 Cours Lafayette


Les Bouchons Lyonnais

There are quite a few traditional Lyonnais bouchons dotted around the city of Lyon. You can’t go wrong if you select one that bears the “authentique bouchon Lyonnais” label.

Discover More
City Guide: Lyon, France