Well, we’ve been here about a week and are settling in. I love Lyon and am sad that we have to leave in a few days to start our trip down south to Montpellier, where we will be for Sept. and Oct. I have felt very comfortable here and at home, in some ways. I have this energy that makes me feel stimulated and alive, wanting to experience all, but, at the same time, calm and just taking it all in as it unfolds. I really am being much more spontaneous and just going along (one of my goals…hey, didn’t say I had totally given up my goal driven/planning self!).
So, we went to the movies. Saw the movie about Steve Jobs, which was in English with French subtitles. The thing that hit me first was how they sold the concessions. Everything was self serve, and you pick out what you want and then go pay for it, eliminating the service of someone getting it for you directly.
The place where the movie theater was (10 movies being offered simultaneously) is in between the two rivers of Lyon: the Saone and the Rhone. A big shopping district with department stores and chains (Sephora, Claire, etc.) sits among older buildings housing the Chamber of Commerce, the art museum, etc. The two big department stores, which I’ve seen throughout Europe, Monoprix and Printemps, are there, too, as well as smaller, more targeted stores, like shoe stores, dress shops, etc. We did some window shopping on Sunday since everything was closed, and the clothes in the window blew me away with their material quality, design, and workmanship, and of course the price reflected that. They weren’t weird clothes, like you’d see on a fashion runway, but just that wonderful classic, timeless style that makes you look the best you can look. Very stylish, even for younger people (see picture, not very good, taken through a window, but you get the idea). Everyone around seems young, thin, stylish and a smoker!
Speaking of clothes, my little “dryer” seems to work well in this dry climate and things have been coming out well in spite of the lack of conventional clothes dryer. Everything dried in a few hours (except the jeans, of course, that took overnight). So guess we learned to do daily small batches so that everything would fit on our rack. It’s that “time vs. money” thing again. We have the time, so we can save the money (used to be the total opposite for most of our life, of course).
One thing that is weird is not having TV at all or knowing anyone (except our landlady, who lives outside of town and speaks little English). I tried pulling Netflix or Hulu off the laptop, but neither of those are offered in France, so since we are going through a WiFi here in Lyon, neither of those things can be accessed. We listen to Sky.fm a lot just to have noise. Mostly classical, as other music genres just don’t seem to fit with the background of the church bells and the view outside our window. I sometimes “worry” late at night if we need help or have a medical emergency, what we would do. No 911 (who would come up all those stairs anyway??!!) and no one to help, plus the language barrier. Don’t even know where the nearest hospital is or where to get a doctor. I’m usually so careful about those things, even asking my brother to supply that info. for us while we were at his house for the month. But, just trying to be careful while walking, going up and down stairs, etc. and letting go of worrying about scenarios that hopefully won’t even happen. Keeping my fingers crossed, I guess, since we’re only here 10 days. At least when you stay at a hotel, the hotel people can help you. Feel a little adrift here. In Montpellier, we have a personal contact through a friend of my son’s, so I feel like there is someone I could call for help (and who speaks English) if we need it. Of course we’ll be there much longer, so it’s more important there.
Was interested in taking a cooking class that I saw offered, but, forgot that it would probably be in French, of course, so not for me. I did email in my awful French asking if they hold any classes in English. No reply yet. Continuing to throw together meals from anything we find at the Outdoor Market. I seem to put olive oil on everything, and have used half a big bottle of the stuff in just a few days! Well, at least it’s “good” cholesterol!
Getting used to different everyday appliances. The toaster holds the bread vertically with a little wire clip, all unenclosed. In our next apartment, it is advertised that it includes a Raclette Machine, whatever that is, as a kitchen appliance.
Since Lyon is the gourmet capital of France, we visit the Halle de Lyon Paul Bocuse (a famous French chef): a very upscale indoor food market. The prices are much higher than the outdoor (Farmers’) market, but of course, the quality is superb. There are different vendors for meat, cheese, olives, sweets, fruits and veggies, fish and seafood, bread, etc. , all displayed attractively. It was fairly empty and many of the booths are closed for vacation (French usually take August off). The market also closes from 12-3, as do many stores in general…long lunch, which is their big meal of the day.
We also see Coussins de Lyon, which means “Lyon Cushions”. It is a sweet made of marzipan on the outside and a chocolate ganache on the inside. It commemorates an event in 1643 when a plague epidemic swept Lyon. The alderman of Lyon vowed to organize a procession to one of the famous churches, in the Fourviere area to implore the Virgin to save the city. They carried a seven pound candle of wax and a gold crown on a silk cushion. This gave the chocolatier, Voisin, based in Lyon since 1897, the idea of using the shape of the cushion to create this confection in 1960. This delicacy has become very popular and you can buy them individually or in velvet boxes which recall the original form of silk. (Silk used to be made a lot in Lyon.)
Finally broke down and did some “touristy” things for our last few days here. Went to some interesting museums about history of Lyon, and things the city is known for (silk, marionettes, printing, violin making, electricity, and cinematography, among other things). I love learning stuff like that.
One museum that was very painful to go to was the Museum of Deportation and Resistance. Didn’t know that Lyon was the heart of the Resistance during WWII. The building in which the museum was housed was the actual headquarters of the Nazis, where Klaus Barbie, who was one of the first to be accused of “crimes against humanity”, tortured and killed many right within those walls. I felt sick to my stomach; it was heartbreaking. To be in the actual building where that took place sort of freaked me out. It is good to never forget, though.
On a lighter note, a nice boat ride down the Soane River was included in our tourist tickets, so it was nice to see a different part of Lyon and be on the river.
Tomorrow is packing, cleaning up, etc. and getting ready to make the move south to Montpellier on Sunday.
Happy Labor Day to all (no holiday here). Will Post again next week after we get settled in our new apartment in Montpellier. Au Revoir, mes amis!