La Vie Lyonnaise #1 | Frauds and Flat-hunting

Already, it’s been a week since my (delayed) flight touched down on French soil. The old adage of time flying when you’re having fun is, so far, holding true. The sight of Flybe’s automated baggage-drop machines at Manchester Airport was a relief, not least because it meant no-one was ever going to know how overweight my hand luggage was! A hot chocolate and a teary goodbye to Laurence later, and the baggage scanners at security were having the last laugh. My bag was scanned not once, not twice, but three times – by two different machines – before it was hand-checked and my large number of chargers and plugs were deemed to be the culprit.

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Off to Fourvière we go . . .

As far as I was concerned, flight time equalled sleep time – so by the time we boarded the flight an hour later than scheduled, I was ready for a snooze. I woke as we were flying over Paris, and ended up spending the rest of the flight chatting to the man next to me who was off on a river cruise down the Rhône. When we landed at Lyon-Saint-Exupéry (named after the bestselling author of the children’s classic, Le Petit Prince) an hour later than scheduled, Flybe were quick to dish out free chocolates to apologise for the delay. Security was a speedy process, so it wasn’t long before I was on the Rhônexpress destined for Lyon Part-Dieu.

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Inside Fourvière

Half an hour later, with two wheelie suitcases in tow, I was making my way towards SLO Living Hostel, my home for two nights while I navigated the infamously challenging French housing scene. SLO Living Hostel is one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed at – light, airy and complete with giant beanbags and a hammock in the outdoor common area.

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View from Le Parc des Hauteurs (surrounding Fourvière)

Next up: dealing with the multi-faceted nightmare that is French Bureaucracy. It’s the ultimate chicken-or-egg scenario, whereby you can’t get a bank account if you don’t have a house, and you can’t get a house if you don’t have a bank account. Unfortunately, France, like many other countries, has its fair share of escrocs (frauds) who capitalise on the dire predicament that foreigners find themselves in. To cut a long story short, just before I flew out to France, I had been in touch with a woman about a flat in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. The flat was in the heart of Presqu’île, had been recently re-done, and was going for €350/ month, all bills included. This woman then asked me to make a security deposit via Western Union, on the premise that she didn’t want to come to Lyon for it to be a wasted trip. The mention of the words “Western Union” had alarm bells ringing and red flags up for my dad – and, sure enough, when I went to the Post Office to investigate I was warned by an employee that this was a classic case of l’escrocerie (fraud) and that any money sent would likely disparaître dans la nature (disappear into thin air, if you were wondering). So there I was, back at square one – but fortunately having lost no money in the process. Moral of the story: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Feminist graffiti, Montée des Chazeaux

My first evening in Lyon was thus spent Googling other potential options, including the agency Chez Nestor, recommended to me by another assistant at the university where I’ll be working. Whilst housing was proving problematic, I managed to obtain a French carte SIM with relative ease – when they needed an address to register it for administrative purposes, I simply used my former address in Alsace and hey presto, my prehistoric phone was given a new lease of life.

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Glorious stained-glass window, Cathédrale St John

My bureaucratic nightmare was fortunately resolved the following day, when I managed to view and sign for a flat in the 6ème arrondissement and set up a bank account all within the space of a few hours.

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Jardin botanique, Parc de la Tête d’Or

Since then, I’ve wandered up to Fourvière, marvelled at the stained glass windows in the Cathédrale St. John, spent many hours in the Parc de la Tête d’Or (literally, the Park of the Golden Head) visiting the botanical gardens and the zoo (both free), read Le Petit Prince cover-to-cover, began my quest to see all of Lyon’s famous fresques and moved into my new flat.

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Fresque, «La bibliothèque de la cité»

All photos in this post were taken over the course of my first week in Lyon. This series will be updated periodically with snippets of expat life, under the title ‘La Vie Lyonnaise’.

Tips:

  • The Rhônexpress is the fastest public transport link between Lyon-Saint-Exupéry and Lyon Part-Dieu (Lyon’s main railway station). It’s €13.20 one way, if aged between 12 and 25 (inclusive), and takes 30 minutes.
  • If you fancy a hotel experience for hostel prices, look no further than SLO Living Hostel (5 Rue Bonnefoi). Both dorms and private rooms are available, the shared facilities are squeaky clean, and there are plenty of events going on throughout the week. Pétanque, anyone?
  • When house-hunting in France, beware of the scammers; use sites such as appartager.com and roomlala.com with caution. If you’d prefer the security of an agency, although the initial deposit and fees err on the expensive side, Chez Nestor (formerly known as My French Lifeguard) is worth a look (Lyon and Montpellier only).
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16 thoughts on “La Vie Lyonnaise #1 | Frauds and Flat-hunting

  1. Wow how exciting you’ve moved to Lyon! Hope you have an amazing time there!! I’ve heard such good things about the city and almost chose it for my Year Abroad but didn’t in the end. Hoping to visit it at some point in the next year anyway 🙂 Can’t wait to read about what you get up to!

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    1. Thanks- it is such a lovely city, and remarkably doesn’t feel as big as it actually is! I really like how pretty much everything is within walking distance (even though a lot of people just take the metro instead haha) If you make it to Lyon and fancy meeting up, drop me a message 🙂

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  2. Hi, you have written about some of my favourite places (born in Leeds, grew up in Ilkley) so I have really enjoyed reading your blog! – never been to Lyon though – look forward to hearing of your adventures 😄 Jenny

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    1. Glad you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, Yorkshire is a beautiful area so I’m gutted I no longer live there – having the Yorkshire Dales and so many other green spaces on my doorstep was incredible! Lyon is gorgeous – a very cosmopolitan city, but with a lot of history and Roman relics still in tact – I’m looking forward to exploring more over the course of the next year!

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  3. How awesome that you’re returning to France as a lectrice! And in Lyon as well; I visited there back in January and loved it, despite it snowing a bit. I’ll be returning to France as well to teach again this year, and I’m looking forward to French soil again. Hope to see more posts from you on your lectrice job!

    …and love the penguin art on the wall!

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    1. It’ll be nice having a year in France before entering the rat-race in the UK! Lyon’s beautiful (but so hot at the moment!), I’m looking forward to exploring more of this region 🙂 That’s cool – whereabouts will you be based again? I remember you saying not Normandy but couldn’t remember where! I love the street art/ graffiti that you come across in Lyon, there’s something about it which just amuses me 🙂

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      1. I can imagine that Lyon’s super hot right now; in a matter of months, it’ll cool down, I’m sure. I’m actually planning to return to Normandy, but not in the same town where I worked last year, so it’ll be a different experience!

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      2. I think I’ll be in for a similar climate experience to Alsace – hot in summer, cold in winter. But at least it’s just hot, not humid! Awesome, it’s been years since I’ve been to the north of France – look forward to reading about your experiences up there!

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  4. Oh, what a shame, those “escrocs” … I am happy to know you didn’t lose money in the end . As I’ve understood while reading your article, you are going to be in Lyon for a relatively long time (studies maybe?). If so, I wish you good luck and an easy adaptation but I am pretty sure you will have a great time there. By the way, I studied in Lyon for two years and it is still my “ville de coeur” and I can’t explain why!!! Maybe it’s because the Lyonnais are very friendly in spite of the first impression. If you are patient, you may make real lyonnais friends 🙂 Sorry for my hesitant English, I am looking forward to reading your next adventures. Actually, it’s always a pleasure to read your writings, you have a “je-ne-sais-quoi” that make it always a nice moment …

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    1. It was certainly a relief to not have lost any money, though it did put me off sites like appartager.com a bit. I’ll be in Lyon for about a year, teaching English as a ‘lectrice’ at Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, which should be good fun 🙂 It’s such a lovely city – I’ve only been here a week, but the people I’ve encountered so far have been so friendly (and have been prepared to speak French to me rather than immediately reverting to English)! Thank you for your lovely comment, I’m glad you enjoy reading my posts!

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      1. It’s nice to hear lots of positive comments about Lyon 3, I’m looking forward to working there for sure! However badly some Frenchmen speak English, it’s better than the English who on the whole don’t tend to speak any other languages!

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