What is a Machon? Discovering Lyon Culinary Tradition

Lyon, often hailed as the gastronomic capital of France, is a city that boasts a rich culinary heritage. While many are familiar with the delights of French cuisine, there’s a unique breakfast tradition in Lyon that remains a well-kept secret among locals: the Mâchon.
If you’re a tourist with a penchant for authentic culinary experiences, diving into a traditional Mâchon is a must.
But what exactly is a Mâchon in France?


What is a Machon? Cervelle de Canut, a tasty dish to eat during à Machon in Lyon, France

The Origins of Mâchon

The history of Mâchon is intertwined with the city’s vibrant past. Rooted in the daily lives of the Canuts, or silk workers of Lyon, the Mâchon was more than just a meal—it was a ritual.
After toiling through the night, these workers would gather in the early hours of the morning in local bouchons, the Lyon traditional Lyonnaise restaurants.
Here, surrounded by checkered tablecloths and the comforting hum of conversation, they would indulge in a hearty breakfast that was both a feast for the palate and a balm for weary souls.
Over time, this tradition transcended the silk workshops and became an integral part of Lyonnaise food culture, celebrated by locals and tourists alike.


The mâchon is a true part of Lyon’s heritage: it filled workers’ bellies after a long night’s weaving. And since employers weren’t always generous when it came to pay, we had to be ingenious in order to feed everyone as cheaply as possible: that’s how our ability to make pig’s trotters tasty became part of Lyon’s reputation.
– Quote from a Lyon Chef during a Machon


The Culinary Delights of Mâchon

At the heart of Mâchon lies a spread that is a testament to Lyon’s gastronomic prowess.
The meal often starts with “Cervelle de Canut“, a delightful dish made from fromage blanc seasoned with herbs and shallots. But that’s just the beginning.
As the meal unfolds, you’re introduced to “tablier de sapeur“, a breaded beef tripe that’s a favorite among locals.
Then there’s “grattons“, or pork scratchings, and “andouillettes“, sausages made of calf’s ruffle.
Each dish, rich in flavor and steeped in tradition, tells a story of Lyon’s culinary journey.

But what’s a French meal without wine? Mâchon is no exception.

The dishes are typically paired with wines from the Beaujolais and Mâcon regions, adding a touch of warmth and merriment to the meal.
As you sip on the wine and savor each bite, you’re not just eating; you’re partaking in a tradition that has been passed down through generations.


Graton: typical Machon dish in Lyon



Mâchon in Modern Day Lyon

While the world around may have changed, the tradition of Mâchon remains alive and well in Lyon. The Machon is a social event. It’s about laughter, stories, and bonding over shared plates.
Modern-day bouchons, with their cozy ambiance and nostalgic decor, serve as custodians of this age-old tradition.
For locals, Mâchon is more than just a meal—it’s a celebration of Lyon’s culinary heritage, a nod to the city’s past, and a testament to its enduring love for food.

For tourists, experiencing Mâchon offers a unique insight into the city’s soul. It’s a chance to break bread with locals, to listen to stories of old, and to understand why Lyon is often dubbed the gastronomic heart of France.

Where to Eat a Machon in Lyon?

If you’re in Lyon and looking to experience Mâchon for yourself, you’re in for a treat. The city is dotted with bouchons that offer this traditional meal, each with its own unique twist. It’s essential to discern authentic bouchons from the tourist traps.

Here are just a few of the many establishments where you can indulge in a traditional Mâchon.
Remember, it’s not just about the food—it’s about the experience, the stories, and the memories you’ll create.

  • Le jura, 25 Rue Tupin, 69002 Lyon
  • Le Garet, 7 Rue du Garet, 69001 Lyon
  • Le Musée, 2 Rue des Forces, 69002 Lyon
  • Le Vivarais, 1 Place Gailleton, 69002 Lyon
  • Chez Paul, 11 Rue Major Martin, 69001 Lyon
  • Au Café du Peintre, 50 Bd des Brotteaux, 69006 Lyon
  • Les Marionnettes, 14 Rue François Génin, 69005 Lyon
  • Le café des Fédérations, 9 Rue Major Martin, 69001 Lyon
  • Au petit bouchon chez Georges, 8 Rue du Garet, 69001 Lyon
  • Au Poêlon d’Or, 29 Rue des Remparts d’Ainay, 69002 Lyon
  • Chez Daniel et Denise Croix-Rousse, 8 Rue de Cuire, 69004 Lyon


Lyon is a city that beckons travelers with promises of unforgettable experiences. And Mâchon, with its rich flavors, heartwarming traditions, and tales of yore, is a gem in Lyon’s culinary crown.
So, the next time you find yourself in this beautiful city, ask yourself: “What is a Mâchon in France?” Then head to the nearest bouchon, and discover the answer for yourself.
Bon appétit!