If you’ve ever wandered the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon or meandered up the Pentes de la Croix-Rousse, chances are you’ll have seen the odd person peel away from the crowds and disappear behind a heavy, oak door. Some of these people will have been doing just what you assumed: entering their home. Others, usually with a map in hand, will have been touring Lyon’s vast network of traboules.
Lyon is a city that rewards visitors prepared to stray from the beaten path by the bucketful. While Lonely Planet has your back for most of the key attractions, it does – from a temporary resident’s perspective – overlook two of Lyon’s hallmarks, one being the impressive fresques (frescoes) which adorn the façades of numerous buildings across the city, the other being the city’s traboules (more on the latter in my next post). Over the course of my ten month stint in Lyon, I both stumbled upon and intentionally sought out two dozen or so of the city’s fresques. Since they’re scattered all across the city, many of them are but a minor detour away from the well-trodden tourist trail.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] After a blissfully sunny weekend, the heavens opened just in time for my birthday and I’ve been experiencing a classic (aka rainy) British summer ever since. Fortunately, the drizzle eventually dried up and our plan to hike up Moel Famau and enjoy a slice of cake at the summit wasn’t rained off. Back in the UK, I have ready access to a wider (and crucially, cheaper) range of ingredients, so the lime and coconut cake that had spent the best part of a year on my to-bake list was now well and truly overdue. Although I’m partial to a slice of cake any day of the year, a birthday needs a cake – an ideal opportunity to trial a new cake, if ever I needed one. While my parents and I enjoyed every crumb, my sister branded me a freak for my choice of cake. (She wasn’t actually around to sample it, so she doesn’t know what she’s missed out on – which is a lot, if my levels of cake satisfaction are anything to go by.) If you’re in need of a cheap getaway to the tropics, pick up a bag of desiccated coconut and some limes and have a tropical afternoon tea with this recipe!
My life in Lyon was punctuated by visits to the city’s many boulangeries. Had a terrible time battling the infamous Administration? Or a bad day at the office? Need a bite to eat for that interminably long bus journey? Boulangeries are, in my experience, the answer to many of life’s problems. There is, quite simply, nothing a pain au raisin/ chausson aux pommes/ torsade au chocolat (delete as applicable) can’t fix, or at least remedy somewhat. The boulangeries have gone head to head in the Battle of the Boulangeries, and the results (following months of dedicated sampling) are in. (Disclaimer: 80% of these are located in the 6th arrondissement, as that’s where I lived. If you’d like a broader range of top-notch bakeries, check out this post by CatherineRose.)
My time in Lyon was full of ups and downs, highs and lows. At times, it felt like a game of snakes and ladders: I would triumphantly ascend a miniscule ladder with each email written in error-free French, only to slide down the longest snake known to mankind two squares later. Living abroad is a steep – and occasionally unforgiving – learning curve, and I’ve learnt a lot from this particular séjour. With that in mind, it’s time for Nine Lessons (and one Carole*) from Lyon . . .
Not too long ago, Kia from Aspire to Amble nominated me for the ABCs of Travel Tag. I hadn’t heard of this tag before, but I really enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane in order to put this post together. Kia’s blog is jam-packed with wanderlust-inspiring destinations and beautiful illustrations alongside tasty recipes and thought-provoking posts on language learning (such as this one). Without further ado, un grand merci à Kia for the nomination and here’s my alphabet of travel . . .
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.