Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Lyon’ Category

Why is it that you often have to leave a place to fall in love with it just a little bit more?

Lyon (photos taken my Mum!)

In two weeks time I will no longer be Lyonnais as I up sticks and move in with my in-laws whilst we wait to complete on the house in the country. I’ve been desperate to get away from Lyon, its pollution, traffic and some of the ignorant inhabitants whom I have recently written about, so why is it that I’m now feeling so nostalgic?

Probably because I have had had a love hate relationship with the city for the last 14 years and it is the only place I have ever lived in France. The unknown of our new home and lack of familiarity of nearby towns, not to mention I have never lived in the countryside before, are becoming daunting as I watch my city loft become stuffed with removal boxes waiting to go into storage. Have we made the right decision?

My renewed passion for Lyon has also been fuelled by this weekend’s glorious weather, a stark contrast to the cold, grey days we’ve had recently. Also I’ve been able to enjoy some of my favourite activities here: the restaurants, shops and theatres Lyon has to offer… just yesterday I enjoyed cupcakes from Candy Cookie Boulevard and although not quite as special as I had hoped, they certainly did the trick in terms of satisfying my cravings!

Cupcakes: Fraises Tagada, Nutella & Coco, White Chocolate and Speculoos!

I also love wandering around the small backroads in Lyon centre and discovering small shops selling all sorts of wonders. Yesterday I found a great wine shop (I know, no wine for me at the moment, but I can store!), a craft shop and a doll clinic!

The Doll Clinic: such a cute shop to look at!

The fact that a British foodstore called Little Britain has also opened here has done wonders in helping with my cravings for British food products and taken away the feeling of homesickness that I’d been having, as I’ve been able to enjoy bacon sarnies, chicken pies, proper custard, Cadburys cream twirls and other much missed British goodies on demand (you wouldn’t believe I left the UK when I was 16 would you?).

Little Britian: Boulevard des Brotteaux, Lyon 6

"Little Britain" British food store heaven!

Despite my nostalgia I know that it is time to move on. A chapter of our life is coming to an end and a new chapter will soon open with the arrival of Little Miss Piglet. Life in the French countryside will be much better suited with a little one and our daughter will be able to enjoy greater freedom and various activities which she could only dream of if we stayed in the city.

And all is not lost. Lyon will be just a 40 minute drive or 30 minute train journey from the new place so it’s hardly as if we’ll be cut off from city life, British food or my favourite Thai restaurant! We’ll also be able to explore the nearby towns of Chambery, Aix Les Bains and Grenoble, not to mention wakeboarding and sailing on the lakes of Lac de Bourget, Lac de Paladru and Lac Annecy. Next winter we’ll be 40 minutes closer to our favourite ski resorts so really we’ll be getting the best of both worlds.

Now we just need to sign the Compromis de Vente tomorrow and cross our fingers, toes and arms that we get a mortgage!

Read Full Post »

Lyon: a beautiful city, shame about some of the people... Photo credit: Piglet in Portugal

Lyon city is fantastic but due to the high density of people living here, you also get a high density of jerks! One of the things I am looking forward to in the countryside is a slower pace of life and hopefully a less “dog eat dog” attitude from fellow inhabitants.

I had two encounters last week that made me desperately happy to be leaving city life, although of course, I do realize that jerks are everywhere but I really do seem to be living in jerk central currently!

Jerk 1:Carrefour! Down the road we have a mid sized Carrefour where I often go to do my grocery shopping. I popped in at about 5pm at the end of the week to buy a pack of cheese and the place was absolutely heaving. I dodged all of the trolleys and avoided tripping up over peoples bags and those pull along baskets. Queues at the checkouts were at least 5 people long so I finally made my way to the priority till and proceeded in requesting each person if I could go to the front, signaling my pregnant belly, my one packet of cheese and the fact that I had the correct change in my hand. All was well until I reached the front when I came across a big lady with the fullest shopping trolley you could ever imagine. You name it, she had it in there, it was that full! When I asked her, she curtly said no, I couldn’t go in front of her and that she had a disability card and had as much right as me to be in the queue.

I’m not normally one for quick witty answers, normally they come to me two hours after the occasion has passed, but on this occasion my pregnancy hormones did the trick!

“ah bon?” I quickly retorted “maybe so, but on this occasion I do believe that I am considered to have more of a disability than you, for starters I couldn’t even push that trolley round! Plus I only have a pack of cheese AND I have the correct change, surely it wouldn’t hurt you to wait 30 seconds longer?”

After much encouragement by the other shoppers the lady finally caved in and I paid for my cheese and left her to it. I felt a bit guilty afterwards – but the lady didn’t look disabled in anyway so if she truly did have a disability then it may not have been obvious to the eye, but surely if she could push that big heavy trolley around she could wait 30 seconds longer?

Jerk 2:Driving back from Carrefour, I had a near accident which could have wiped out both me and little miss Piglet. We get lots of greasy haired, self important jerks in the city that drive large cars and consider themselves superior to everyone else and that the world revolves around them and them uniquely. They are the type of people that park in disabled spots, outside my garage door or that try and run you down on a zebra crossing. They talk loudly into their mobile phones and never turn up at an appointment on time. They don’t consider it necessary to queue in banks or at cash points and can often be seen with trophy wives. Unfortunately this was an encounter with one of them.

I was driving calmly straight on when I had a green light, when suddenly I had to swerve and miss a huge BMW 6 series that was aiming itself at my door! I was absolutely petrified and my heart was going ten to the dozen as I swerved to miss him, leaving me in the middle of a busy road at a standstill, heart thumping as I narrowly avoided being run into. On closer inspection I saw that not only was he holding his mobile phone to his ear but he was also smoking a cigarette! He must have thought he had super powers to be able to drive a car as well… He seemed totally oblivious to the accident he had nearly caused and didn’t even have the courtesy to stop or hold his hand up to apologise.

I wonder what countryside jerks will be like? Tractor bust ups perhaps?

Read Full Post »

I just realized today that I have not posted or been very present on the blogosphere over the past week and wish to apologise to all. I haven’t forgotten you, there’s just been so much going on here that it has zapped all of my energy and left me a quite tired.

Silly pregnant brain has been behaving itself quite well this week, except I did nearly take the tube in the wrong direction after meeting up with fellow Lyonnaise blogger Charley Appenzellar from 365 things I Love About France. Charley is an American writer who has been living in Lyon for the last 8 years and I was absolutely delighted to meet her. Charley is the first expat I have met in Lyon through blogging and I am really pleased that I did. I love her blog as it’s everything mine isn’t and gives me a constant reminder of the reasons I like France and enriches my cultural knowledge of the country at the same time.

We met to have a coffee in one of Lyon’s best pastry shops, Bernachon. I’m so glad Charley suggested it as a meeting place as I enjoyed the liquid chocolate hot chocolate and the most delicate of apple tarts I have ever tasted and have been having cravings ever since. Unfortunately I do not think it would be very wise for me to return anytime soon as strangely enough my weight took a giant leap up over the last week… If you want to indulge yourself in some visual goodies have a look at her blog post here.

Last week was also the week of the famous Lyon illuminations. I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I have never done the “touristy” thing and made a special effort to see them (Mr Piglet is convinced that we went there one year with my parents but I am sure I was ill and that we didn’t go… either way, I have no recollection of going). I did get to see some of them in 2007 but it was different as I was working in the city centre, it wasn’t as if I had made a special effort to see them. With little piglet on its way and our move to the country, I decided that this year we absolutely had to see them.

So, we wrapped up warm and drove head on into the huge traffic jams in the quest to find a parking space not too far away from the city centre as it was freezing cold outside and I was tired. Luck was on our side and we quickly found a space but that was where our luck ended.

We started off our tour by the Chambre de Commerce near Place de la Bourse which wasn’t lit up but is still a gorgeous building and meandered down the Rue de la Republique which is Lyon’s main pedestrian shopping street.

I had hoped to take lots of pictures to share here but after spending a few minutes to set it up so that the flash didn’t go off constantly, I managed to take one photo of Le Printemps building and then the battery died and I was left lumbering around a great big camera for nothing.

Le Printemps - The one photo I managed to take!

Not that you missed much finally. I was grossly disappointed by the few light displays that we managed to see, notably the one near Printemps, which was a water display where you could see a weird film projected on the water – you had to be standing in exactly the right place to see what it was otherwise it was just like looking at green coloured water. It was too arty farty for me and not practical as a display – how on earth were hundreds of people meant to view it at a time when you could only fully appreciate it from one view point?

The other display at Bellecour where a film was being projected on to the big wheel and foam headstones were being squirted out into the air by a big machine was also a let down. Compared to the snowball and ice rink of which I had seen photos of for previous years and had experienced seeing briefly in 2007 I was bitterly disappointed. Freezing cold, craving mulled wine and really peed off with the human traffic jams and people elbowing me constantly, Mr Piglet and I decided to call it a night before I decided to physically assault someone and headed off to seek out a table at our favourite Thai restaurant, Le Petit Siamois where we indulged in not one, but two spicy chocolate fondants for dessert…

If you would like to read someone else’s more positive experience of the illuminations I noticed that Le Franco Phoney had some good pictures and got to visit more of the displays than I could be bothered to.

Read Full Post »

All house hunting has been pretty much on standby this week as Lyon and most of Europe got a major dumping of snow and roads and motorways became best avoided if possible.

So I’ve been able to enjoy a nice relaxing week of home and work and what better way to start the month of December than with a blanket of snow? Even my blog has snow on it although I’m not quite sure how that happened but I’m not complaining!

Major snow dump in my back garden

I’d been feeling pretty down in the dumps because we’ve decided to have a stay at home for Christmas this year and I hadn’t been feeling at all Christmassy. But snow in December is not something I can remember ever having seen before and it has really got me in the mood for Christmas. Poor Mr Piglet however is getting rather fed up of me constantly singing out of tune Christmas tunes and I’m sure he’ll soon be ready to pay me to stop.

Prize from Littlewoods Europe

We’re off to get our Christmas tree today, but in the meantime I’ve been enjoying setting up an advent calendar. I was lucky enough to win this hand crafted, wooden advent calendar on the Littlewoods Europe Wordless Wednesday competition. I’m really glad I did, so a big THANK YOU the LW team! There’s nothing more magical for me than the opening of an advent calendar each day and I’m sure little Piglet will enjoy it for years to come also when she arrives!

Better not eat too many of these... Delish!

I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been having a moan about something though. This time it was the lack of British Christmas products in France that set me off as I had yet another craving for a Mince Pie. In the good old days when M&S were still here, I needn’t go without anything, however, not many expats live around here and there aren’t any Brit food stores (the closest one I know of is Jim’s near Geneva). So imagine my surprise when I was in Monoprix yesterday and came across Mince Pies?! I yelped with excitement causing a stir amongst fellow shoppers who all turned round to investigate what was causing my excitement. I stuffed four boxes of them into my trolley, vowing to go back and get more if they were nice. At 3.50 Euros for 4 they weren’t cheap but they made my day and sometimes happiness doesn’t have a price.

Whilst I was out and about in the city, I was full of admiration for how beautiful Lyon looked under the snow and managed to brave the ice like temperatures outside of my car to take some pictures:

Have you had snow this week and has it made you feel festive?

Read Full Post »

I just went to post about how I’m becoming fed up of living in a show home when I realized that I hadn’t yet posted that Mr Piglet and I had decided to leave our city loft and move on to pastures greener (literally).

As some of you may have gathered from my last post when I revealed how I could easily have moved to The Grenadines, I have been restless lately and Mr Piglet and I have a common disease known as La Bougeotte. We are completely incapable of staying in one place for more than a couple of years and always looking to move on.

Since I was 14 I have counted that I have moved homes no less than 14 times in 16 years, including three international moves (two to France, one to the UK). That’s a lot of moves, most of which were motivated by ice skating but even so, Hubby and I managed to move 3 times in 4 years in the UK and it’s a miracle that we’ve managed to stay put for the last 3 ½ years in Lyon!

I sincerely thought that our current house would be our forever home but it just hasn’t turned out like that. The recession has meant that our mortgage now seems huge and staying here just doesn’t make financial sense. Couple that with the fact that I am having more and more difficulty in coping with everyday city life and my road rage outbursts are ever increasing, I have been yearning to be surrounded by green fields and trees for a while now. Finally, if you throw in the mini piglet that we’ll hopefully be having in April then we just have to get out of the city.

Life in the city has become something that I no longer enjoy; I no longer get the buzz from the late opening hours, the smell of pollution or the hustle and bustle. It just annoys the hell out of me. People look grumpy, the streets smell, there’s dog pooh everywhere and no-one smiles or says hello. Just plain, miserable city living.

I no longer go out and dine in nice restaurants or sip cocktails in hip bars, have great parties at the house that last all weekend, and cinemas have become synonymous as a place to fall asleep and have a nap whilst comedy clubs and theatres just start too late. Maybe this is all part of growing old or simply growing up? Basically everything I love doing in the city costs no longer interests me or costs too much money. Money which I don’t have (I did try to grow a money tree but it didn’t work) right now and looking into the future and how expensive babies are, money that I’m not going to have anytime soon!

So, we have decided to sell our forever home and move away to the countryside where properties are far cheaper (because no-one else wants to live there maybe?) and we can dream of possibly living a mortgage free (or almost mortgage free) lifestyle.

We would like to live in a house like this...

However, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m actually really looking forward to the new country lifestyle and have already planned many activities. Where we’re looking at, we will be close to no less than three lakes where we enjoy water sports, nearer to the mountains for skiing and still within easy reach of cities like Lyon, Chambery, Aix Les Bains and Grenoble so it’s not as if we’re going to be cut off from the world.

I can already imagine spending our weekends lazing in a garden (where I can do proper gardening), out on a boat (that we’ll be able to afford to buy one day), fishing, walking or cycling. I can also imagine myself with cash to spare at the end of the month and organizing little trips to Paris, London and Milan for shopping sprees!

But to realize this dream of moving, first of all we have to sell the city pad. This is not going to be an easy task as it’s not an easy property. Think modern factory conversion loft style, big open spaces, metal structure with polished concrete floors and a big price tag.

For Sale

We’ve only had it on the market for a few weeks and have already had a lot of interest, a very low offer and a few visits. Unfortunately however, French strikes got in the way and visits were cancelled but now we’re in business!

We’re marketing the property ourselves and have an agent onboard also; however, that was an experience in itself! After meeting a few we decided to go with one that would actually speak to me! You can read about my run-in with a chauvinistic French estate agent over on Expat Focus.

The house is totally depersonalized and all my knick knacks are hidden away discreetly at the back of cupboards. Nothing is left out, ever, and I clean every day. Cleaning has become a full time occupation for me. Dust is my enemy. The cats have been taught how to act friendly towards potential visitors and everything is neat and tidy. You would never believed that I lived here as I’m the messiest person in France (probably), however, it’s amazing how old habits die fast when you’re motivated enough!

Since yesterday we have had three visits and are currently awaiting an offer. Fingers crossed something will come through soon as I really, really would like to move before being too heavily pregnant!

Has anyone else realized a dream of moving from city to country or vice versa, or experienced moving home whilst pregnant? How was it for you?

Read Full Post »

So, back to school, back to work, back to getting on with your life now that the relaxed, do nothing, don’t bother months of July and August are rapidly becoming nothing more than faint memory – it’s “La Rentrée”.

La Rentrée is like a second start to the year in France. It not only marks the start of a new school term but more like a start of a new year for all. A new year that runs between September and December of course.

La Rentrée was a non event for me because I was in Lyon all throughout August and spent most of my time moaning how my local butcher, hairdresser, tabac, boulangerie, traiteur, market and you name it were all closed. Oh, how I now wish I had cherished those moments of peace and quiet and free car parking now that the craziness of city life has taken over again.

Never was there such a reminder as to what hell living in a city can be as this Monday. A simple trip to the garage and back to pick up my car. When we dropped it off before La Rentrée, a round trip took a maximum of 40 minutes. This was to reach the other side of Lyon, driving through the city centre and back.

Not to be this Monday. No, it took no less than 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the drive there and back. This was certainly not helped by the fact that the education workers were striking and had decided to march right through the centre of Lyon, exactly the same route that we were trying to take!

Each time we turned into a street we were greeted by the barricade of police blocking the street so that those who were on strike could march their way through. As we weaved our way desperately around the city, swinging a left turn here and a right turn there we gained speed on the procession but lost lots of time on the clock. It was rather like starring in our very own PacMan arcade game; desperately trying to escape the demonstrations and reach our destination before they did.

When we did finally reach the garage I was dumbfolded to see that the protestors had arrived before us. Upon closer inspection it didn’t look like they were protesting at all, they had a marching band, a singer and seemed in very good spirit, not upset about anything at all! Maybe they were extra pleased as they’d beaten us there?

On a side note, I didn’t realize that this was not the main strike and that there was a national strike on Tuesday. I doubt those that protested on Tuesday were in such high spirits mind, it absolutely peed down with rain all day long…

Read Full Post »

With the intense heat of the last week and my crazy schedule it’s been a bit manic with not much time to blog!

Wedding Cruise

Last Tuesday I attended a wedding party of one of my first French friends I met when I was just 16 on one of the boats on the Saône river in Lyon. Despite living here for many years, a river cruise is something I had never done we were lucky that the day was so perfect for such an activity. The weather was just hot enough to spend the whole evening on deck, cruising along without feeling any chill whilst coiffing back champagne and enjoying delicately prepared nibbles from a well known traiteur (which I don’t know and need to find out!). I didn’t get chance to take too many photos as conversation was flowing and I hadn’t seen a lot of people on the boat for 10 years plus, but if you’re ever in Lyon it is definitely something I would recommend.

Then last Friday I dashed off on a last minute business trip to Paris on what was to be the hottest day of the week and the last day of school for Parisian kids. What a nightmare! The heat in Paris was so intense you literally melted, I thought things were tough in Lyon where it is often hotter than Paris, but mix in the Parisian pollution, tall buildings and that many people everywhere and the heat feels far more intense.

Whilst I was in Paris I was lucky enough to be able to meet up with Karin from An Alien Parisienne in a Starbucks close to Opera Garnier. It was great to meet Karin and it is a shame that she’s in Paris (or that I’m in Lyon) but I’m sure we’ll get other opportunities to meet up in the future. I’m sure Karin won’t mind but I’ve pinched one of the photos she took of us to share here (below).

Karin was excellent in guiding me from the tube to Starbucks and then she kindly accompanied me to my meeting as I didn’t have a clue where I was going (I’d forgotten to take any maps, duh!). It is only thanks to her that I know I have seen the Opera Garnier now, I have often wondered what the building was!

Another thing I have to thank Karin for is introducing me to Picasa for my photos – it’s great and I love it. Picasa is another reason why I have not blogged this week!

At the end after all my meetings, I was a melted, tomato sauce splattered wreck and wanted one thing and one thing only – to be back home. Alas, I was not going home tonight though, I was off to friends for a weekend! As I waited in the crowded Gare de Lyon with everyone who was going South, I started to wish for rain. This is most unlike me, but the heat was just so intense and with all the people standing waiting for their late trains it was extremely claustrophobic and I could barely breathe without touching other people as my lungs expanded. I ventured outside to try and get some fresh air before I fainted and was overjoyed to feel spots of rain on my bare arms. ‘Hurrah’ I though as I stood there embracing the rain. It was a short-lived sensation though, my train had been announced and the platform was the other side of the station – not an easy feat trying to cross Gare de Lyon during the peak traveling period like that! I have now made note never, ever to travel again by train during peak periods such as last day of school.

Saturday the hot weather persisted and I was unable to do much, but come Saturday evening I had a new lease of life and we enjoyed a boat trip with friends around Lac de Bourget near Aix-Les-Bains. Now, this is somewhere I would love to live if I ever left Lyon… I did get one of those free property magazines but I don’t dare open it and look just in case I see somewhere I really like the look of as I think I may just be tempted!

Lac du Bourget

Aix-Les-Bains is only an hour or so drive from Lyon and it is a fantastic thermal spa town sitting on the Lac de Bourget. We weren’t staying in Aix itself but in a nearby village at one end of the lake. I love being around water when it’s very hot and I can say that we definitely appreciated being on water Saturday evening and most of Sunday as temperatures soared past 34 degrees celsius.

Since returning from the lake, the hot weather has persisted in Lyon and yesterday I registered 36 degrees, so it’s now been officially declared that the canicule (heat wave alert) is persisting in Lyon and as I write this the temperature is increasing steadily and yet the sky is slowly being covered by large, grey menacing clouds. I think we’re going to be in for one heck of a storm later! I miss the fresh air from the lake and all I can inhale here are car fumes. I may just sneak a peek at that property magazine this weekend after all…

Where would you like to be during this heat wave?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 123 other followers