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Affordable Michelin-Starred Dishes At The Lyon Street Food Festival

Published 17 June 2024 by Leyla Alyanak — Parisian by birth, Lyonnaise by adoption, historian by passion

Each year, thousands flock to the Lyon Street Food Festival, a four-day celebration of food at prices low enough to taste it all, perfect if you happen to be in Lyon in mid-June. I go every year and here’s what I found on my latest visit.

You’d think that a festival with “street food” in its name would be all about burgers and brochettes – but no. This is France, and we do things differently! 

Of course you’ll find plenty of these fresh finger foods at the Lyon Street Food Festival, but you’ll also uncover jewels of French gastronomy in its broadest sense, including gourmet food, fusion food, regional food and yes, a few food trucks for good measure.

If I sound enthusiastic, it’s because along with the annual Lyon Festival of Lights, this is my favorite Lyon outing of the year.

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The festival

The festival is not a new tradition in Lyon and has been going yearly since 2016 with a single goal: pulling chefs out of the kitchen and bringing them to the people.

The brainchild of two foodie travelers, the inspiration came from the night markets of Hong Kong and the food trucks of San Francisco. It’s all about building community around food.

The event succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams and is now a huge four-day extravaganza mixing food, culture and music (with bands and dancing in the evening to work off all those calories), and on the agenda of Lyonnais every mid-June.

If you’re planning a trip to Lyon and happen to be a foodie, why not build part of your visit around this fun event?

Lyon Street Food Festival venue from the outsideIn 2024, the festival moved to an abandoned railway yard after years in its original venue, an abandoned appliance factory. Not the expected backdrop for a food party! ©Leyla Alyanak/OffbeatFrance

The concept is simple: a huge venue, filled with stalls, offering fresh food in small portions at low prices.

It’s also educational, with plenty of workshops, and explores not only food but wines too – how could it be otherwise, with Lyon smack in the middle of the Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône wine regions? Drinks, by the way, were every bit as present as food…

As soon as the annual festival dates are announced, you can buy your tickets online on their site, for now only in French, but I think you can muddle through. French for ticket is “billetterie”, and there’s usually a big button to click.

Once you’ve bought your entrance ticket, you can also buy a so-called “Cashless” card. You determine how much you want to spend, pay online, and pick up your card when you get to the festival. You can also top it up on site if your hunger or curiosity get the better of you and you run out of funds on the card.

If you get there early, you’ll probably have to stand in line to get in, but things move quickly.

Inside, you can sign up for cooking workshops (they’re all in French), and then the wandering begins. Some people (like me) plan out their journey beforehand, knowing which chefs they want to taste. You won’t know the actual dishes until you arrive, though.

Basically the festival is divided into four themes during the day:

  • French gastronomy
  • Foreign specialties
  • Sweets and desserts
  • Wine and other drinks

How you empty your card is up to you! In the evening, it’s party time.

My own experience

I’m not the world’s greatest festival-goer because I don’t like crowds, but this one is special and I never miss a year.

Standing in line to taste something by Anne-Sophie Pic or Christian Têtedoie or to listen to the musings of Mauro Colagreco is worth every painstaking minute. Also if you’re a fan of the French edition of Top Chef, many of the finalists participate in this festival, and it’s a bit strange to meet them and feel you already know them so well.

It's not all about gastronomy, and there's plenty of street food and offerings from lesser-known or newer chefs, most of whom have restaurants in Lyon, so you can sample here first, and they head for a full meal if you liked what you tasted.

I usually map out what I want to try, because the more popular or better-known chefs will soon have crowds lining up, and I want to make sure I’m in!

I tend to choose 2-3 main dishes (remember, these are small portions) from chefs I admire, and then head off to sample 1-2 new and upcoming chefs I’ve never heard of but who are offering something that catches my eye. This is a great venue for them to test their latest combinations, by the way. 

I always head for Denny Imbroisi's rigatoni with truffles. He’s there every year, they’re cooked right in front of you, and he’s not stingy with the truffles, a perfect appetizer. I also wander over to the Spanish stand for some croquettes, one of my favorite tapas, although I’m not sure they’re as good as those those I’ve eaten in any good tapas bar in Madrid.

Lyon Street Food Festival offering of rigatoni with truffles
lyon festival croquettesTop, Denny Imbroisi's extraordinary rigatoni with truffles and below, ham and spinach croquettes ©Leyla Alyanak/OffbeatFrance

All of this is eaten at long communal tables, with enough space to be on your own if you’d like, but plenty of opportunities to chat with others, since everyone is here for the same reason: to sample great food.

That said, getting a word out of anyone is difficult – the best you’ll do is “Wow!” or “mmmmm” and a few ecstatic hand gestures. We’re busy eating, right?

People walking around and eating at the Lyon Street Food Festival

I don’t drink so the wine stands are lost on me, but the festival is a good way to sample wines from a variety of regions and discover new flavors.

The so-called Sugar Palace, a section populated by pastry chefs, is usually my final stop and I make sure I’ve left some room both in my stomach and on my card to do a bit more research.

Pastry chef serving a customer at the Lyon Street Food Festival

A dozen or more are hard at work.

While everyone has assistants, this is your chance to see the actual chefs at work.

Some stands have a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker of France, an elite group you have to pass a diabolical test to join), distinguishable by the tri-color band around their collar.

Chef Christian Tetedoie prepares food at the Lyon Street Food FestivalChristian Têtedoie preparing food at the Lyon Street Food Festival - notice the MOF band on his collar ©Leyla Alyanak/OffbeatFrance

At another stand, I watched students from a culinary school (under the watchful eye of their chef) scoop up a bit of (homemade, of course) grapefruit sherbet, blanket it with strawberry purée, sprinkle it with crumble, and top it with vanilla spuma straight out of a siphon, as casually as using a stapler. Having tried this myself and had to nearly repaint my kitchen as a result, I understand just how artful it all is…

Another sample (yes, I did plenty of research) involved a raspberry brioche (mitigated response: very tasty, but too much brioche and not enough raspberry), and a chocolate upon chocolate concoction whose name the sugar hit has made me forget but for which I’d gladly stand in line for an hour.

mathieu viannay

My greatest regret of the festival?

Not having enough room to try the andouillette by Mathieu Viannay of the Mère Brazier, one of Lyon’s most famous restaurants. Next year, if he’s there.

What exactly is street food, anyway?

By now you may be wondering...

According to streetfoodcentral.com, “street food is cooking and serving fresh food, drink, or dessert from a converted food truck, food cart, or food stall for immediate consumption.”

Here are some of the characteristics of street food:

  • It’s informal and casual. You’ll find it in food trucks, of course, but also in markets or, in many countries, at hawker stalls along the street or in food courts. There may even be seats, but this is the opposite of a formal restaurant. No one cares what you look like or what you’re wearing. Often, when there’s seating, you’ll share a small communal table – it can be a social experience, if you so wish.
  • It’s local, made by locals and usually (but not always) reflecting local specialties. In Thailand, you’ll find a variety of skewers or fried chicken pieces, but you’ll also find these in North America and Europe. But mostly, because these stalls cater to locals, you’ll find everyday favorites that mirror local culture.
  • Street food is usually affordable. It is within everyone’s reach, and is sometimes even cheaper than eating at home. Tourists love it, but so do local people.
  • It varies. While some street foods are ubiquitous, like falafel in the Middle East, usually you’ll find variety of different dishes, with stalls competing with one another (not formally though) to attract the most customers.
  • Street food is fresh and prepared on the spot, although some pre-cooked and reheated dishes do sneak in. Mostly, though, it’s cooked right in front of you so you’ll be sure it’s hot, filled with flavor, and possibly adjusted to your own taste (more chilli? less?)

So does the Lyon Street Food Festival qualify?


It’s extremely informal, with entire families steering strollers around the food stalls and enjoying a day out. While there are some tourists, most people who visit are locals, here to discover new cuisine or taste offerings from celebrity chefs in a relaxed atmosphere – no candlelight, liveried waiters or tablecloths here!

Most of the food is local, although each year, the festival does pride itself on highlighting the foods of other countries. In 2024, for example, the focus was on Korea, Puebla in Mexico, and Spain. It changes each year (although I’ve been seeing Spain as a constant).

lyon festival korea
lyon festival puebla

Street food is meant to be affordable, and this is one of the joys of the Lyon Street Food Festival. Each dish is around €6 (USD 6.50), with a very few as high as €8 but many as low as €4. You can sample a lot without breaking the bank.

There’s certainly plenty of variety, from culinary delights prepared by Michelin-starred chefs to smashed burgers and light finger food, all prepared for immediate consumption.

And almost everything is fresh. Most of the food is prepared on site, although, in a few complicated cases involving domes or sophisticated constructions, a dish might be partly prepared ahead of time but cooked on the premises.

So although it’s a bit offbeat when it comes to street food, this festival has it all.

Before you go…

If you’re a foodie and love the foods of France’s gastronomical capital, make sure you include this festival in your Lyon itinerary. Not only is the festival enjoyable, but you’ll get a unique chance to watch the locals and imbibe some French culture.

Mid-June is an ideal time to visit, and you can also enjoy many of the city’s other attractions… 

If you plan on staying more than a day (and I hope you do) make sure you book a hotel or apartment well ahead of time!

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