Ironically I left gloriously sunny London to arrive in wet and grey Lyon – not what an English girl would expect, though after the freaky year of weather I had during my year abroad in Paris I am starting to think that I prompt a change of wind…
I’m in Lyon for the next three weeks with a company called City Travel Review and will be working on an online travel guide aimed at young people visiting Lyon. So far we’ve been stuck in quite a lot of introductory meetings which I will not bore you with!
What has really struck me about Lyon so far is how friendly the people are. Having lived in Paris for a year, I have already noticed a certain warmth here that you don’t get in the capital. Whilst I love the fast pace and no nonsense attitude which is very much the same as in London, when you are discovering somewhere it is lovely to have people who are happy to take the time to help you out and to stop and chat.
With my rather poor orientation skills I managed to get a little lost after going to the supermarket and went up to a couple of French guys for directions who were more than happy to help. Instead of awkwardly pointing vaguely into the distance muttering là-bas, they keenly got on google map and asked what I was doing here in Lyon. When one of them realised my residence was near to where he worked, he offered to walk with me (umbrella at the ready) and we got chatting.
Despite my detour I was the first one back and starting talking to a tour guide who was taking us a tour to introduce us to the city. Being the only person on the project who speaks fluent French, I am craving every opportunity to stray from the group and do what I love most: parler français. The tour was a bit of a bore as I have to been to Lyon once before and had to be in English for the others, but I chatted in French to the guy in between. This was also not particularly enjoyable in the pouring rain – I am really hoping the weather will pick up soon as I only have shorts and t-shirts packed…Otherwise I think an emergency trip to H&M is on the cards!
After the tour was over I found the café that I went to with a friend– a really typical quaint café with an array of patisseries and sweet treats. Our work group had pretty much stuck together so I got talking to the café owner and told her about visiting the café January last year. Before I knew it, I had bagged tables for the group and was playing interpreter. The woman was so lovely and patient – not something you would necessarily get in Paris.
With Lyon being the French capital for gourmandise, I am determined to goûter as much as possible. I started with patisseries bien sûr – anyone who knows me will know that I have a sweet tooth. Lyon is known for its praline desserts so I opted for the tarte à la praline – a tart with a pink praline filling.
As we were leaving I thanked the café owner for putting up with such a large group. I was surprised to find that she had prepared me un petit cadeau – a little bag with some chocolates and biscuits from the region. She said she was so touched that I had remembered her petit café and had come back after all this time. I told her that I was here for three weeks and that I would most probably be back – this should be a good place to start to meet some more locals.
Back at our residence we had another group meeting to start organising ourselves and deciding the content for the guide. I’ve already had a couple of ideas – including a Lyon version of Humans of Paris which I thought could be quite fun and different. I’ve also been a major eager beaver and emailed the French project leaders for local tips. There are a lot of summer festival-themed activities going on in the next couple of weeks so I am planning on going to as many as possible. My French teacher is also thrilled to have someone who has already lived in France and has suggested that I do exposés each lesson, something I have become an expert in after studying at the Sorbonne and Warwick.
Hopefully I’ll have some more time to wonder around and explore this week and the weather will pick up! I am looking forward to spending the weekend in Vichy with my French friend Caroline and lapping up the sun and taking a dip in her pool!