April has passed in a whirlwind. The last thirty days have been absolutely jam-packed: with job applications; with stacks of papers to mark; with seemingly endless sights to see. I have exactly two months left here in Lyon – give or take a day since I’m yet to book my flight back to the UK – to finish exploring the nooks and crannies of each and every arrondissement, visiting all the municipal museums with my Carte Jeune Musées and eating my way through Lyon’s boulangeries.
For the last two weeks of term, I was up to my eyeballs in papers to mark; I had almost four hundred to mark in a single week, and by the end of it I was completely brain-drained. (I then celebrated with a Domino’s. How French.) While contending with the copies, I also had more contact hours, as I’d had to reschedule classes in order to attend an assessment centre in London at the end of March. (Unfortunately, for one reason or another, it didn’t work out. Luckily, I’ve still got other applications on the go. We’ll see how things pan out.) On the whole, I’ve enjoyed this semester – I’ve had carte blanche with the postgraduates (I think they were just as pleased as I was about that), filled in some gaps in my own knowledge and got closer to striking a sustainable work-life balance. Outside of classes, I went to see the English department’s play Harvey with Carole (an absolutely brilliant performance) and attended the final Language Café of the semester. One of my students gave me a box of chocolates for helping her with her Erasmus+ applications; another thanked me – I quote – “for being so nice and kind”. (I won’t lie, it left me wondering what his other teachers were like.)
Towards the end of the semester, I squeezed in a trip to Vienne, a short twenty minute train ride away; to say the town exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. Whether or not you have an interest in Roman relics, Vienne is worthy of a visit and is an entirely feasible day trip from France’s gastronomic capital.
When the thermometer hit 26°C a few weeks back, the Lyonnais flocked to the Parc de la Tête d’Or in such great numbers that Carole, Audrey and I had difficulty finding a semi-shaded spot for our picnic. All sorts of things came up in conversation – from Portakabins (un bâtiment préfabriqué, for anyone who’s interested) to current reads – and it was a lovely afternoon.
After months of walking past Sanctuaire St. Bonaventure en route to Marché Quai St. Antoine, I finally ventured inside a fortnight or so ago. Located in Place des Cordeliers, this modest church is somewhat overshadowed by the Palais de la Bourse de Lyon. For curiosity’s sake, I decided to stop in on my way home. Inside, the stonework was dark in colour and light streamed through the colourful stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes in jewel-like hues.
Before I knew it, Easter was upon me. I’d been looking forward to showing my family round Lyon for quite some time, and couldn’t quite believe how quickly their visit came round. (Much to my delight, a bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs also made an appearance.) As they had a full four days out here, we also spent time exploring Annecy and Pérouges. We may not have had the authentic gastronomic experience in a bouchon while they were here, but we unanimously agreed that it was something we were only too happy to miss! (Though if you’re a keen offal eater, they’ll be right up your street.)
Things by no means wound down during the latter half of the month; if anything, they picked up. I made the most of a string of sunny days by going on a couple of (long) hikes. A couple of days after my family left, I headed over to the Parc Naturel Régional du Pilat alone to summit Crêt de la Perdrix, which at 1430m is the park’s highest peak. Two days later, I went on an equally lengthy walk, this time in the company of Olivier, Austin and Sinead, in the Vallée du Gier following the traces of the Aqueduc du Gier – and came back spectacularly sunburnt. In the next month or so, I’ll get round to writing more detailed posts on both of these hikes, but for now here are a couple of photos to whet your (digital) appetite.
To round April off, I headed over to Germany to visit Simone, a friend I made while working as an English Language Assistant in Colmar two years ago. Unfortunately, when she was in the UK last summer I was in the midst of finals (and then on the other side of the world exploring Hong Kong and Japan) so we didn’t find the time to meet up. Once I moved to Lyon, I vowed that I would make it over to Bamberg to see her – and, at long last, I made it! I had a fantastic few days exploring Bamberg and Nuremberg with Simone, though I’m currently feeling rather sleep-deprived after my sixteen hour bus journey home. On the upside, it’s a bank holiday weekend, meaning I have plenty of time to recover ahead of invigilating and assessing oral exams later this week!