The Top 15 Wonderful People of Lyon
Let me tell you today about Famous Lyonnais People! As you probably know I really found French people & Lyonnais especially good, generous, helpful, and funny. I have been fortunate to meet in Lyon French who were always kind for me, all of them helpful and all of them speaking or trying to speak English with me as I have been struggling with French a lot. I met random people who would say Bonjour to me, the bus drivers who would wait for me, people in the shops, the doctors, nurses…busy people who would always find the time to take me a photo and show the way. But this is not all; I have always felt welcomed in Lyon. And the most of all, I appreciate and respect the French way of enjoying the life & being funny and loving their home town! So yes…I pretty much J’adore not only Lyon but also its people! That is why I started to explore this area of Lyon as well. I came across pretty good names of real Famous Lyonnais. Some of them I know, some are a really and nice surprise for me. Have a look at the Top Famous Lyonnais People! There are many that Lyon can be proud of!
The Top 15 Wonderful People of Lyon
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – writer & the French pilot whose whole name is Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupéry. He is an author of the worldwide famous – The Little Prince. During 1921-23 he was working in the France’s air service. He flew postal routes across Spain into Africa. He was flying in Brazil and Argentina. He came alive from the crash in Sahara in 1935. During all that time he kept writing the novels. He started with Southern Mail (1929), Night Flight (1931) and Wind, Sand and Stars (1939) and that has already brought him worldwide success and respect. During the Second World War he was sent to US and Canada by German who occupied France. He didn’t stop writing. In 1943 he wrote The Little Prince. At the end of the WW II he started to fly for the Free French and Allied air forces II. And this was his last air service. He was sent on a mission to find out about the German troop movements in the Rhone valley on 31 July 1944. He has never returned! It was Marseilles, much later, in the late 1990s that his aircraft was found. But his body has been missing. So yes, this is kind of tragic story for Saint-Exupéry who brought us a wonderful story about the true friendship that people all over the world know very well. And yes, he was a true Lyonnais whose statue can be found in the centre of Lyon. He is with his little friend in the Bellecourt and at the mural painting of the Famous People of Lyon!
- The ‘Mères Lyonnaises’ – this is actually a group of very famous women of Lyon that deserve our attention. Lyon Mothers arrived in Lyon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and brought to Lyon its gastronomic specialities. And we know how food is important for French and that is why the ‘Mères Lyonnaises’ are very important for France as well. The story of those Mothers is really interesting. They were hired by the Lyonnais bourgeois families who have to let go their cooks who wanted to go into restaurant business themselves. So the families needed help and they hired the new and different cooks: – women. They worked together and started to offer the home made cooking, mainly for the silk weavers. The service wasn’t perfect, the menu was limited but the meals were delicious. This brought the beginning to the Lyonnais worldwide famous cuisine: the combination of grand bourgeois cuisine and family style cooking. And that is how Lyon started the grounds for becoming the Capital of Gastronomy. You can still discover this family friendly atmosphere and homemade meals of local specialities in the local bouchons and the experience is unmissable!
- ‘Mère Filloux’ – the Mother of Lyonnais Mothers! The One who Started it All. So, as a typical women she has been giving a feminine touch to the man business. That how she become popular. Her husband had a café and she was serving her homemade and delicious meals in it. They become more and more popular and so the café turned into a prestigious restaurant on the rue Duquesne. Her meals were outstanding, she introduced to the Lyonnais cuisine: vegetable velouté with truffles, pike quenelles casserole with crayfish butter, artichoke hearts with foie gras and the celebrated pullet hen with black truffles. All her meals become the best specialities of Lyon gastronomy. Her success inspired other cooks who also started to open and run restaurants.
- Mère Brazier – She is the last one ‘Mères Lyonnaises’ who contributed to the Lyon’s culinary history significantly. She was the first woman to receive three Michelin stars. She started her carrier by working for Mère Filloux’s restaurant, but we all know that the kitchen can have only One Women Cook!…so the 2 strong characters struggled to work together and finally in 1921 Mere Bazier opened her restaurant in the rue Royale and another at the col de la Luère in the verdant hills outside Lyon. She continued to shape the Lyonnais Cuisine which has become more and more popular in the whole France. Her another great contribution to French Cuisine was that she trained Paul Bocuse. After having his apprenticeship at her restaurants & thanks to his talents and ideas he has become of the greatest chefs of the century. What is more & worth mentioning about this Mere is the fact that Lyon Mayor – Edouard Herriot noticed her contribution to the city and said that it was actually Eugénie Brazier – ‘other mayor’, who did more than he did to promote their city. How nice of him…
- Paul Bocuse – the true Pope of the French Cuisine! The best French chef born in Lyon in 11 February 1926 and has stayed totally loyal to Lyon. He has been celebrating his 90 birthday this year. He is famous for serving the high quality food, keeping the best standards in all restaurants. To carry on…he has been working with the innovative approaches to the cuisine; he has been working with so-called the nouvelle cuisine. So the type of the gastronomy which is less calorific than the traditional cuisine classic, and for which the fresh ingredients of the highest quality are very important. And he learned from the best – Eugénie Brazier as I mentioned. I am not able to list of his achievements and contributions to the Lyonnais & French Cuisine as there are too many. But I will try to name the main ones: he has created the best Lyonnais restaurant, numerous, reasonably priced brasseries all over the city, and the new gourmet restaurant of his cooking school. He has set up culinary schools, SHIRA contest and he is a Patron to the Lyonnais famous indoors food market, Les Halles of Lyon – which has been named Les Halles of Paul Bocuse. And if you want to see him…well he is on the most famous mural painting of the Famous Lyonnais located at Place Saint-Vincent, but also next to the Halles, there is a new, huge picture of the Chef Bocuse. So you cannot deny he is an undeniably the most celebrated chef. Lastly…did you know that he served a meal to the French president? It was a truffle soup in a footed soup bowl and topped with a dome of puff pastry which became a huge success and actually is being served in his restaurant nowadays. And we cannot forget that Mr. Bocuse retains three Michelin stars and together with his Team, students, they keep on making sure that the principles of Lyon’s food culture are preserved.
- Jean Michel Jarre – French composer, performer, and music producer whose whole name is Jean-Michel André Jarre, was also born in Lyon, on 24 August 1948. The pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, famous for organizing his amazing spectacles of his music and lights, laser displays, and even fireworks outdoors. Since his childhood, which he spent in Lyon, he was connected with music. As a kid, he was learning to play the piano, he played guitar. He joined the band. He has been discovering many different music styles: the street performers, jazz musicians, and the music of the artist Pierre Soulages. And finally he has created his own music style which was inspired mostly by Pierre Schaeffer (the pioneer in musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales)
- Jean-Claude Trichet – the French civil servant, the Lyonnais, born 20 December 1942, in Lyon. During 2003 and 2011 he used to be the resident of the European Central Bank. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank for International Settlements. In 2008, he received the fifth position in the Newsweek’s list of the world’s most powerful people. He was among such names as Ben Bernanke (fourth) and Masaaki Shirakawa (sixth).
- Bertrand Tavernier – the French director, screenwriter, actor and producer. Born 25 April 1941 in Lyon, he is a person who contributed a lot to the French cinema. His talent and work has been noticed many times and awarded. He received the BAFTA for best film in a language other than English in 1990 for the film – Life and Nothing But. He was also awarded the total of four César Awards. In 1995, at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival he won the Golden Bear Award for the movie L’Appât, And this is not all, in 1999, at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival his another film – All Starts Today received an Honourable Mention. And one year later, at the Cannes Film Festival, his next production – The Princess of Montpensier competed for the Palme d’Or award.
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes – the French painter, Lyonnais who was born on 14 December 1824 and died on 24 October 1898. His work was more popular in the early Third Republic. Émile Zola was one of many his biggest admirers and has been openly expressing his appreciation to Chavannes’ art. Although his reputation has declined, Chavannes was a very appreciated painter and he inspired many other artists. On top of that Mr Chavannes was the co-founder and president of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
- Auguste Marie and Louis Nicolas Lumière – the famous Lumière brothers, the inventors of the cinematography who spent almost the whole their lives in Lyon and died here. To be more précised, Auguste Marie was born on 19 October 1862 in Besançon, and died on 10 April 1954 and his brother Louis was also born in Besançon in 5 October 1864 and died on 6 June 1948 in Bandol. So they were among the earliest filmmakers. They were actually the first ones to make a movie! Yes, they follow their father’s passion for photography and spent their lives on researches and experimenting with the picture. Nowadays, you can admire them on the mural painting of the Famous People of Lyon and discover their work at the Lumiere Museum! Did you know that the museum is located in their family house? This is a pretty impressive building definitely worth a visit!
- Tony Garnier – the Lyonnais famous architect who designed the urban area of Lyon and then set up the Urban Museum . The museum which is a typical open-air museum represents his work – the Cité de Tony Garnier of 1930s. There are 25 murals displayed in the museum and they show the different phases in the city’s urban development. He was appointed by Edouard Herriot and started his work in 1917 creating the urban area and he finished his project in the 1933. Tony Garnier has been undertaking some other works for the urban project under Edouard Herriot and for which he had received many awards, and most importantly he was awarded with the World Decade for Cultural Development label in 1991 by UNESCO itself! On top of that, next to the museum there are more frescos which are connected with the 4,000 inhabitants of the neighbourhood. This monumental artistic creation is open to public and it has been managed by the “Cité de la Création. Go and see yourself!
- Dan OHLMANN –the current Lyonnais who stays loyal to Lyon and contributes to the city with his and other artists amazing work. He is a significant artist and very interesting man actually. Why? Well, he used to be a cabinetmaker and inner architect. In 1985 he began to work on the scale furniture. But he was just about to discover his real passion and talent. In 1987 he made his first world famous creation of totally different size. It was the 1/12th-scale model of the world famous Chez Maxim’s restaurant in Paris. It turned out to be a great success! So he left the business of big furniture and followed his real passion. Two years later he set up the Palais de la Miniature (The Miniature Palace) in Paris. He collected and displayed there about 1,000 miniature creations from the whole world around! And finally he brought his French museum to Lyon and he has totally expanded it! The Miniature and Cinema Museum you can easily find and visit in Vieux Lyon. It is actually located in very spectacular building – the Maison des Avocats. It collects and presents the work of miniatures’ artists from all over the world but also the real expositions from the Hollywood’s productions and the latest movies’ hits. It’s a great experience to see them all!
- Ampère – yes this one who discovered the Amper metric! Born in 1775, André-Marie Ampère was the French scientist, the well-known mathematician and physician and Lyonnais who died in 1836. Lyon has been lucky to have such an scientist and what is more you can visit his home nowadays. It has been turned into the Ampère Museum; Museum of Electricity and it is located on the Route Ampère, in Poleymieux-au-Mont-d’Or. You can discover all his work, see the historical documents, the operating models of Ampere’s basic experiments in electromagnetism. But this is not all, the house of Ampere will let you see the exhibitions of others. You will be able to explore the electrostatic machines, generators, motors and telecommunication systems, as well as electrical lighting and photovoltaic technology. Sounds interesting? Well, still more to come, you can find out about the Volta, Oersted and Faraday in more details. So did you expect that…in Lyon?
- Marcel Mérieux – the one of the most respected businessman in Lyon. The member of the very famous Lyonnais Mérieux family who has been working and contributing biology and scientific projects, pioneering in the interest of public health and medicine as well as they have been actively involved in developing many other companies. The most famous of which is Bio Mérieux founded by Marcel himself. This Institute has become the world leader in biology and the real proud of Lyon. On top of that the famous family Mérieux opened Doctor Mérieux Museum ( The Museum of the Doctors of Merieu) located just next to the company in Marcy-l’Étoile. It is a place dedicated to the Biology where you can learn more about the discovery of the vaccine and understand more about the infectious diseases, their diagnosis and treatments. The museum tells you also the story of the founders and the company.
- Lastly, the one I have recently discovered – Bérengère Krief. She was born in Lyon and stays loyal to the city. But at the age of 21, she left Lyon for Paris. She wanted to develop her acting carrier. She has started to shine and becomes more and more popular. She played in few theatre performances but it was her one-woman show which opened the doors to the real success. She played the role of “sex date“ on the Canal+ show “bref“ and it is just the beginning for her acting and comedian career….but again, you can see her in Lyon as she loves coming back, visiting family & friends and enjoying Lyonnais cuisine…as she admits.
Are you surprised by the names of Lyon Famous People? Did you know any of them? Maybe you know some new ones? I would really appreciate if you could share them with me! I am inspired by the names. I am proud to know I live in a city where those famous people come from and lived but also I am proud of living in the place whose inhabitants are such a good people…as you don’t need to be famous, popular to contribute to the city…I think Lyon can be really proud of its all people! Thank you Lyonnais for a warm welcome and continuing to make my life here wonderful! I love my Lyonnais friends!