This time tomorrow, give or take a few hours, I’ll be flying home to the UK. I’m simultaneously ready to leave and try something new, apprehensive about The Future (due in part to the ongoing quest to find a job) and sad to be leaving one of France’s most beautiful cities. (That said, the prospect of leaving the humid heatwave behind is an immense relief.) Summer is already in full force here, and I’ve been busy making the most of the new season peaches, nectarines and local cherries on sale at the local market. (Can cherries for the equivalent of €2.90 a kilo be a thing in the UK too, please?) Alongside revisiting some of my favourite haunts across Lyon, I have (of course) found the time to venture out to other corners of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes before my stint abroad comes to an end.
Having drawn up a rough calendar to ensure I made it to the spots still on my to-visit list, I scheduled a trip to Le Palais Idéal in Hauterives at the start of June. It had spent the best part of nine months on the list and was definitely worth the wait. Ferdinand Cheval may not be a household name, but his palace is an absolute gem. If you missed it, this post will bring you up to speed.
Amidst the invigilating and the latest batch of resit papers to mark, I’ve been spending even more time than usual in the park, more often than not devouring a pastry from a nearby boulangerie. (I had everything from “the virtual sicker” to “the digital sick” to “the sick geek” scrawled across the latest exam scripts, all unintentionally comedic translations of le malade virtuel, which in the context of the text would roughly translate as the “the digital addict”.) I also had lunch with Noémie (the programme leader for the postgraduate course I taught) and Clare (my replacement) at L’Authentique, a lovely little café-come-restaurant just down the road from the university.
Over the past ten months, I’ve been on a mission to leave no stone unturned (or boulangerie unvisited) in my quest to experience all that Lyon has to offer to its inhabitants. I’m currently in the process of drafting a number of Lyon-based posts which – if all goes to plan – should be coming to a screen near you at some point over the summer.
A fortnight or so ago, I tootled over to Chambéry for a final taste of the Chartreuse. (Sadly Chamechaude will have to wait for another trip, as my leg is still on the achy side after a particularly long hike I went on a month ago in the PNR du Pilat.) Somewhat precarious leaf-covered trails were involved – as was a fruity sorbet to round off the day – and all in all I had an enjoyable day out. As per, a post will be devoted to this trip in due course!
Shortly after my hike in the Chartreuse, I went on a gastronomic hike through the Monts du Lyonnais with Olivier and a French woman (whose name I cannot remember for the life of me). Several kilometres into our hike, the heat haze lifted and we could admire the views over the surrounding mountain ranges. Regular stops to indulge in assorted windfall more than compensated for the intense heat. Rest assured, there’s more to come on this randonnée gourmande soon.
Last week, I had two friends from home visit me in Lyon. We explored the Croix-Rousse, Vieux-Lyon and Confluence, frequented a market or two and spent a lot of time relaxing in the sunshine in the park. Despite the oppressive heat, Sally, Olivia and I clocked up over 20,000 steps a day (and lived to tell the tale). Having decided that none of us were all that keen on sampling offal in a traditional bouchon, we opted for tea at a quaint pizzeria on our final night in Lyon. Casa Nobile ticked all the boxes – it was reasonably priced, had a nice atmosphere and delivered tasty grub.
After three days in Lyon, we caught a train to Geneva. Switzerland’s second largest city is fairly compact, so two days there proved sufficient. (I had, in any case, already been to Geneva, as I visited Olivia there on her year abroad, so for me it was simply nice to experience the city in warmer weather.) We stuck fairly close to the tourist trail – think Lac Léman (more commonly referred to as Lake Geneva), the Old Town and the UN – but this didn’t detract from our trip one little bit. I’ll devote a post or two to our Swiss adventure at some point over the coming weeks (or months, as the case may be).
Over the past week, I’ve been making the most of living down the road from France’s biggest urban park (that would be the Parc de la Tête d’Or, in case you were in any doubt), having my last croissant/ pain au raisin/ tartelette aux framboises (delete as appropriate) and squeezing last minute must-sees into my remaining time in the city. Having already done the rounds of Lyon’s municipal museums, I had just one cultural spot left on the list: La Maison des Canuts. A compact exhibition spread over just one floor tells the tale of Lyon’s canuts (silk workers) and how the silk industry both shaped the city and served as a catalyst for social change. Entry is only €2; the information boards are in French, though booklets with translations in English, Spanish and German are available.
Life in Lyon has been full of highs and lows, and as I prepare to move on to pastures new, I can’t help but find myself reflecting on them – in all probability, I’ll conclude this saga with one final, reflective post. The airwaves won’t be going silent here at La Grenouille Anglaise HQ, so stay tuned for more adventures, culinary escapades and musings on anything and everything that takes my fancy.