Lyon–Day 7

The last day in Lyon, before I head out tomorrow (too early) in the morning. Dave will stay on through Wednesday morning, but this is my last chance to enjoy this city. First glimpse of the morning from our balcony window.

I pass on eating breakfast at Paul’s in Ampere Square (kitty-corner from McDonald’s, which is always packed at lunchtime) and head to the artisan bakery: Le Boulangerie D’Ainay, near my favorite little church–the Carolingan (which is how I refer to it).

Cleaning the small square in front of the church, the squirter guy wields the hose from the washer truck.

I pick up an orange drink at the market across the street. These are everywhere–about every four blocks and stock just about all you’d need.

I walk to the river Saone and across from me are the ancient Roman walls of the upper city. At night, they are illuminated. I walk down the steps to the banks of the river, perch on one of the steps and enjoy my breakfast in the chilly morning air.

The pain du chocolate went first (the half-eaten roll in the front) and the other, a soft chewy bread studded with chocolate chips lasted me all morning and until my late afternoon lunch, one delicious sweet mouthful at a time.

The sky is filled with clouds, the water like a looking glass, so I take some photos to remember Lyon by.

The sun crept out for a few minutes from behind the clouds, and I was amazed at how it changed the colors of the walls and water.

My artsy shot of the reflection.

Upstream is this sturdy bridge, washed clean in the morning light.

On Dave’s last day, he snapped it in the afternoon, the low warm colors reflecting off the underbelly of the bridge.

Further up the banks, the Marche (market) was just getting going. See the other posts for photos from there, including the baskets at market.

Pedestrian bridge leading from the left bank, where the marche was being held, to the right bank, and the old town of Lyon.

I spent some time in St. Jean church in the heart of Vieux Lyon (Ancient Lyon) and saw my first hot chestnut stand when I came out. Dave had told me about them (he had them while on his mission) and they are a sign that fall has arrived. I thought this one was interesting to get Quasimodo (from Paris) with Guignol the puppet (from Lyon).

The Lawyer’s Court, in Vieux Lyon.

I pushed open the heavy wooden door in the corner of the Lawyer’s Court and saw this perfectly lit scene–I was a little shaky though, so it’s not completely crisp. Below is the underside of the next floor’s staircase–all in stone.

(Still the Lawyer’s Court)

As I walked up the cobbled street, I remembered that I’d put my traboules and courtyards map in my backpack and pulled it out. I ran into someone from IARC (actually, a wife of someone in Dave’s conference) and together we explored some old courtyards.

We parted, and I walked up to the next pedestrian bridge, crossed it and was headed to buy the Japanese toys that Christi
ne and I had found earlier. But Wow! another painted building. Lyon’s famous for these, if I haven’t already said so, and I’ve only scratched the surface in finding them.

All these balconies and the people (from Lyon’s history) are all painted.

I posed with Paul Bocuse (in the chef’s regalia) in his doorway.

A group playing Ring a Round a Rosie, only the song was different. They all dropped to the ground at the end, so same idea–different language.

Although the large trompe l’oeil (trick the eye) buildings are the norm, even the smaller grocers get in to the act of painting. Both of these are painting, but the picture below–even though it could be a still life–is the real thing.

Not trompe l’oeil, but interesting, nonetheless. Each city has its themes, the things it replicates in some fashion or another, throughout its blocks and buildings. Painting is one thing that Lyon “does.” Good food is another.

Christine and I found this store of collectible Asian toys and I was going back to retrieve a couple more. It’s not that the toy hunt was the object of this day, but I’ve found that sometimes if you are on the hunt for something different, it moves you out into different areas that you wouldn’t normally stay in as a tourist.
Molly Qee was the item on the Big Game hunt today.

Too quirky.

(To prove they’re popular in Asia, I’ve taken a “snapshot” of the comments this picture generated, seen below.)
When I showed my class back home, one student asked, “And what’s the point?”
“Point?” I replied.

Okay, back to France.

I’ve finished off my breakfast roll, it’s now almost 2 p.m. and I’m tired. So I find the metro–this one’s a tramway on a hill and I like the colors and the angles.

This train/tram is going into the tunnel, up the hill to Croix Russe. I’m waiting for the one to take me downtown.

I exit “Ampere”, grab a Le Parisienne sandwich–buerre and jamon (butter and ham)–from Paul and the refreshing soda (recommended by Christine, who had it recommended to her by Jeremy) and head to the hotel.
I blog a bit, then come to my senses and head out for the last afternoon. I stop by some favorite shops–one advantage of going somewhere twice is that you know some favorite shops to stop by twice.

One of these is Tousoie, which Dave tells me means “all silk.” It’s a shop full of all kinds of tubular bolts of silks, some retailing for upwards of $100, all of which are gorgeous, some of which are hand-painted and embellished. I head for the scarves, little luminous drapings of silk by which to remember Lyon’s once ubiquitous silk industry. Tousoie is a “factory store,” a place where one of the last silk factories has a place to sell its wares. The shop owner also informed me (when I asked) that some of their silks went up to Paris, to the designers. I was fascinated with the two-color scarves; the warp thread in red and the weft thread in turquoise, or aqua.

Then she said “aqua like duck?”
I must have looked confused because she said this color was named for the French ducks, who were this blue-green, and they say “A-Qua, A-Qua.” Her voice took on that sharp quacky-edge of something imitating a duck.
The light went on inside my head. Our word aqua came from what French ducks say. Okey-dokey. I believe it.

After strolling around France for a week, I see so much that is exported to our language and to our country (we return the favor by exporting McDonalds!). The food and fashion style are only the most visible. I think of how many people in my area say “wal-la,” not realizing this two-syllable sound is a mangled version of the French “voila” (see there). There’s a real temptation to assist with more importing by going crazy in the shops, but it’s getting dark, Dave will be coming home and we’re heading to the final Paul Bocuse restaurant for our last meal in France together.

Our street, normally.

Our street, today. In Place Bellecour they were having an event of some kind, with several large white tents set up. Dave took these shots.

We change, get on the Metro and head for a new area of Lyon. Upon exiting, we see that this was an old train station that has been converted to shop
s and restaurants.

We’re at L’Est–the East–and it is called the food for “Les Voyages.” Around the ceiling’s perimeter runs a small electric train on a suspended track.

In each of the Bocuse brasseries, they bring out this little dish of marinated goodies. We couldn’t figure out the interesting one with the stem. They kept telling us it was a caper, but it was like none we’d ever seen. The best info I could gather is that it’s a “caperberry,” or a semi-mature flower bud.
Okay, maybe. It was about the size of a thumbnail in some cases, tinier in others, but all had the stem. (If you really want to educated about these, head to this page with pictures of their flower.)

The kitchen at L’Est.

We always play a game called “Who’s the Winner?” It’s after each course, when we decide who was the winner for that dish. Dave won tonight for his Courge Soup (pumpkin) with tiny croutons. (I had a plain salad, and lost.)

He had the white fish with potatoes and I had a salmon with a creamy sauce. We both won.

We shared our desserts. First up was the Grand Marinier souffle; I had to quickly take the photo as it was beginning to deflate. Sugar on top–delicious.

And a perfect closer: their merigne dessert with three types of sorbet, chantilly and fruit on top, with a berry coulis puddle around the outside.

We walked home, vowing to eat gruel in Riverside to atone for this delicious food. But the interesting thing is the size of the portions are mostly manageable–the don’t pile the food on the plate, overstuffing you as is the tradition in our mainstream restaurants here in the U.S. Sometimes smaller, more savory courses, satisfy better.

I hate to think of leaving Lyon–who knows if or when we’ll come back? It’s what Dave and I call a “second tier” tourist site, with not too many recognizable tourist sites to see. Because of this, the pace is slower and more relaxed. I could take a morning walking the Saone, browsing the markets because there’s not a rush to the next attraction. I could linger in the St. Jean cathedral, photographing the changing colors of the stained glass windows on the stone. By the time I leave Lyon, I’m refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle the next difficult chore of my life–getting home!

Lyon–Day 6

This last day we started easily as Christine had to pack and bring her luggage to my room. It’s go-slow day, but we launched ourselves finally on the Quest to L’Ouest for napkins.

L’Ouest–the West–had a small boutique that sold all of the four brasserie’s napkin styles, and we were collecting. We’d started with Le Nord, walked to Le Sud, but still had two more to go. So Christine and I took the red Metro line to the end and found our way to the river, which would lead us to the restaurant.

She stopped into a market to buy 2 clementines, and the young man heard us talking English.
“You like Bush?” he asked.
I shook my head and he grinned.
“Obama,” I said, and he grinned again, giving us a thumb’s up sign.
Everyone likes to talk about our elections.

After a brisk twenty minute walk (When did I ever start walking so slowly? Compared to Christine, I’m a tortoise, I think) we arrive. Unlike the small charming brasseries in the town center, L’Ouest caters to the business lunchers, the busy suburbs.

We sat across from the kitchen–perfect ringside seat to the action. We were directly across from the dessert prep area, which when we arrived was nearly idle. By the time we finished our lunches, this area was hopping, and we had fun watching the chantilly (whipped cream) being piped from a gleaming silver machine, dressing up the presentations.

This restaurant had a palate of soft jewel tones, and the glowing lights in the front of the kitchen echoed these colors.

Christine’s lunch of foie gras–perfection.

My salad was a work of art. Underneath the mushrooms and cheese was a coil of split haricot verts, cooked & chilled. Artichoke hearts, quarters of romaine, asparagus and tomato rounded out the feast.

Walking along the Saone river, after leaving the restaurant.
We relaxed at the hotel room for a while (she checked in for her flight) and then we were off to the train station, via the Metro. She had her carry-on, with straps like a pack, over her shoulders and carried her straw bag. I managed her suitcase. One transfer, two more stops and we were there at Part Dieu. The tracks were a crush–Friday afternoon rush hour. Christine figured out where our car would be, and we snaked our way to the approximate place. The train stopped and a wild crush of people crowd the door. She got on, I lifted her suitcase up, kissed and hugged her good-bye and stepped off the train. Within 3 minutes, the train slowly pulled out. They don’t mess around with late schedules, here.

I waved good-bye and walked over to the Mall, intending to tackle Carrefours (their version of Wal-Mart) but was too tired to face it. I bought the folders I needed at the local stationers, and headed down the escalator to the Metro, hearing English–but with an accent.

It turned out to be two young men down from Ireland for the weekend to help a friend celebrate his birthday. They followed me along through the transfers to Place Bellecour, where we said good-bye. It was a bit wild, for I’m fine if I’m bumping around trying to find places, but when I have to show others, it’s a bit nerve-wracking that I’ll mess up. I did fine, though, in the Metro’s Friday night rush hour.

I gathered up the clothes and headed to the laundromat–just a few steps away from our hotel (another reason I like it so well). They’ve upgraded dramatically: their control machine (for soap and the washers/dryers) now accepts paper bills. Yay!

Thirty-five euro later (three loads, wash and dry) we have clean clothes. (Good thing, because at home is still my broken washer.) Dave finds me at the laundromat, carries some laundry home.

We think about Christine on her way to Paris, then home, and miss her already. We walk the neighborhood, looking for a place to eat, and decide to try the restaurant at Institut Paul Bocuse (it’s a theme, yes) where they have a hotel/restaurant management school.

I thought of our daughter Barbara, and her love of chickens when I saw the display behind Dave’s chair.

The warm breadsticks were brought in this crushed plastic cup–only it was ceramic!–which instantly made it Very Cool.

This was “millefeuille de legumes grilles et marines au pistou” and remember that Blogger doesn’t do accent marks, of which there were many in that phrase. It was a multi-layered stack of grilled vegetables, with a garlic pistou, or sauce.

It was topped with a prosciutto-type ham, and it was delicious.

We each had “thon rouge a la plancha et ratatouille” in other words, grilled pink tuna atop ratatouille. On the side was risotto, and the wild looking garnish was an anise-tasting vegetable (can’t think of it’s name).

Okay, this one’s “macaron chocolat, coulis fruits de la passion” and it’s delicious with a great presentation.

It’s a giant macaroon, with passion fruit sauce and some bananas for garnish.

We walk home. The weather’s turned colder today, and the street’s quieter. We have both had to sleep with earplugs to keep out the street noise (we keep our windows ajar), but maybe not tonight. We call Christine in Paris to make sure she’s safe and sound–she is.
And so the week’s coming to an end. Last day for Christine and one more day for me. Dave’s staying until his “conference” is over, coming home next Wednesday.

Lyon-Day 5

In the hallway of our hotel by the elevator, Christine had seen an intriguing modern art poster. With her encouragement and a morning of train hassles, we finally got out of Lyon. We went to St. Etienne to see the Modern Art Museum, a low-slung building set on a hill over this industrials city (of which we didn’t see).

The artists were Anthony Gormley, which we both quite liked and Jean-Michael Alberola. While we waited for the taxi to take us home, we posed in front of the museum, enjoying the beautiful clouds (it had been raining earlier).

Christine by the advertising posters, which are all over the hotels and the metro stations.

Christine had fun photographing this art (at the train station), with its transparent and opaque plastic leaves.

We zipped inside the station, hunting for our quai (platform), got it. Nope! Wrong one. Down the stairs, and up the stairs and into the waiting train. It left about 4 minutes later. Christine had a close call with her Paris-Lyon train, and was determined not to repeat that.

Paul Bocuse is a famous Lyonese chef, who has had a great impact on fine dining the world over. We frequent his brasseries because they are well-priced with high quality ingredients and inventive, good food. Tonight’s brasserie is Le Nord, which features traditional Lyonese dishes.

Christine had sausage inside brioche. Dave commented that it looked like a duded-up pig-in-a-blanket. We all shared bites of everything and the taste of this was far beyond that.

We had squash soup. When we were trying to figure out what type of squash the soup was made of, the waiter smiled and said “Halloween.” Ah, pumpkin.

Being the adventurous one, Christine had a quenelle. It was light, delicious, and the best choice of all the entrees at dinner.

The pièce de résistance–the best? The dessert of merigne with fruits rouges. Okay–it’s two five-inch long piped merigne “logs” with three flavors of sorbet pressed between them: mango, vanilla and and chocolate (I think). Chantilly, or whipped cream is piped on top, with berry coulis (sauce) puddling around the creation and more berries for garnish. Heaven.

Christine wanted a souvenir of a napkin, and then thought how fun it would be to have one from Le Sud, another Paul Bocuse brasserie where we’d eaten on Monday evening. So we walked down Rue des Republique, through Place Bellecour and to Le Sud.

They had the happy birthday organ grinder box out again.

It’s a Paul Bocuse theme show, I think, because we found the Institute Paul Bocuse on our way home. It’s a hotel (Hotel Royal) and restaurant that the Paul Bocuse Institut runs. It’s basically a school for hotel and restaurant managers. They don’t have any fancy napkins to buy (just kidding), so we head home.

[Christine’s not the only one with Paul Bocuse brasserie napkins. More on that in the next post, but I’ve got to go out and enjoy my last day here in Lyon.]

Lyon–Day 4

First stop of the day is back to the Paul Smith store. We’d seen some fun stuff there, and after thinking about it a night, decided to act on it. As I was finishing my purchase, the owner disappeared around to the back room, came out with something in his hands and cut off the price tags.

They were bracelets. One for Christine, which coordinated with the necklace she’d purchased.

And one for me, to go with the necklace I’d bought. I held up my hand to show the bracelet, and he clasped it. Very charming, these French.

After stashing them back at the room, we walked down to Perrache Metro/Gare to head out for the day. There was a demonstration of apprentices. Many orange-helmeted guys in groups of 4 or 5 busy cutting out the same shape, bending their set of rebar in the same curve, busy hammering. And of course, one official guy overseeing each group. Quite a display.

We took the Metro red line to City Hall, then transferred to the yellow, which truthfully was like an underground funicular. We could feel the steepness of the climb in the tilt of the train car. We were heading up Croix-Rousse, an ancient hill of this city, established in Roman times. We paused to get our bearings at the top, and behind Christine was. . .

. . . this fabulous group of French ladies.
We keep noticing the style, which seems to be DNA-coded in the women here. A scarf casually rolled, the shoes perfectly matched, the jacket just so. Of course there are others without that, but we seem to agree that there is a predominance of good fashion and classic style sense that doesn’t seem to exist on a national level in the United States.

A street fair was set up, with La Petite Serene sign atop one of the fairway games. It reminded me of my granddaughters.

The previous few days, Christine kept saying, there’s this drink that Jeremy told me to get. And we’d try this one, or this one. But today–we found it. Agrum. I took a photo so we could remember. We paused in this sliver of a park atop Croix-Rousse to enjoy the view of the neighboring hill, where the Notre Dame du Fourviere basilica is sited.

Why did we head up here? To see the traboules, the stairways and passageways where the silk workers from earlier days passed from one factory to the next, always staying out of the rain. It’s a World Heritage site collectively.

One of the more famous. It’s on all the brochures.

Sometimes we’d head through small courtyards on our trek. I couldn’t resist photographing Christine against this perfectly pinky-beige wall.

This stairway was locked, so I looked up and caught the symmetry.

I saw this doorway last time: CSL. I pointed it out to Christine and she said: Cynthia Sessions Lippincott! Yep. I thought so too.

Passage Thiaffiat leads down from double stairs, through a small narrow courtyard. We paused here to window shop (okay, okay, I bought some perfectly quirky earrings with Eiffel towers dangling from a small jewel) and in front of our store as we stepped out, a lady in turquoise stockings was comforting a weeping friend. She quickly stepped across the courtyard to usher her friend into another storefront.

We continue on, through Moire courtyard–yes, the man who developed the process did it here. I like the cart paths on the side of the stairs.

Our eventual destination is Place des Terraux. This fountain (photo taken from a museum window) was designed by the same man who designed our Statue of Liberty. Facing this fountain is the Beaux Arts museum, housed in the 17th-century Palais St-Pierre, a former Benedictine convent for the daughters of the nobility.

The museum is a square, with a large courtyard in the center. This is a view of one of the “hallways” on the lower floor, just to my right as I entered (but before we were in the courtyard).

We were tired, so the first stop was the terrace. This little refreshment stop was typically French, with a long wait for the waiter (is that why they call them that?). He took our order, another long wait. I had orange juice, and Christine had lemon juice. They brought me water and sugar (it needed the sugar!) and I was supposed to dilute the juice with the water to make an orangeade. I told Christine that I was from Southern California and we don’t dilute our orange juice there. I ended up doing it, not only to be “with it,” but also because I needed some hydration. Another long wait for the check. We gave up and went inside and paid.

A painting in the Musee des Beaux Arts, detailing virtures and
vices. Check out the devil blowing red smoke in the lady’s ear on the right, as well as the anger box (to the right of that), with a thorny border.

A window to a stairwell.

A lower salon with beautiful stone statues alongside the windows.
We went home, tired from the day. Shopping and sightseeing is hard work. We checked email and talked until Dave came home and off we went to Momento, a restaurant we’d found on our last trip. The owner experiments a lot, and most dishes are successful; some are not, but it’s always an adventure.

Salmon atop toast and greens–Dave’s appetizer. A winner.

Three tastes: mushroom soup (good), panna cotta with mushroom and dried, cured beef (wierd), and fresh greens.

A roasted chicken leg with swirled pancetta and mashed potatoes. One of the interesting things to notice is the use of drizzled sauces and chopped garnishes to make the presentation really interesting.

Fig cake. It was delicious, but the lunch version was superior.

Christine had molten chocolate cake with a basil sauce. I don’t know if that one “worked” for me, but it was adventurous.

Good night.

Lyon–Day 3

We leave our windows open at night to get the cool fresh air (the A/C has been disabled for the season) and every morning the street washers wake us up. A large truck slowly moves down the street as two men wield firefighter-sized hoses, sweeping the street with water in front of them, spraying some down the side streets to clear away the previous day’s debris and dirt. Although it looks like it’s the middle of the night, it’s about 7 a.m. The sun doesn’t rise here until nearly 8 a.m.

It was a day to Go Slow, so we did. I blogged, dressed and we finally left mid-morning. We stopped by the Post Office for timbre (stamps) and then went right over to Momento for lunch.

Christine’s dish of dried thinly sliced beef with shards of cheese.
I had the salmon atop a bed of camelized onions and shallots, with three potato chips on top.
For dessert, we shared the fig cake. It was amazing.

We decided to go and write our postcards, since we now had the stamps, but detoured when we saw this dress salon. Everything is custom-made, but the hand-painted silk dress fit Christine. The owner, from Tunisia originally, had worked in the couture shops in Paris (his mother still works at Balenciaga) and he assured us he could have the dress done by tomorrow or Friday. Tempting. We floated out after an enjoyable few minutes talking clothes. All his things were so exquisitely made and inventive. Lyon is known for its food, but its design and fashion can’t be far behind. We’ve seen so many interesting pieces of clothing. We’re limited by our budget and the size of our suitcases, so we admire a lot, but don’t indulge.

We sat in Place Bellecour and wrote postcards, enjoying the day and the sun. Afterwards, we walked by the Paul Smith shop, admiring his jewelry and clothing and we went in. Pretty soon the owner had us trying on all sorts of coats, jackets, etc. Some went home with us, but we left a promise to return after we thought about a few others. Home, via Leonidas to get some chocolates for Dave: medallions that are two or three raisins and a nut or two atop a chocolate circle.

Our street from the hotel window, looking out to Place Bellecour.

We checked email, wrote and whiled away the pleasant afternoon, waiting for Dave to arrive. Heading to dinner through Place Ampere–named for Mr. Ampere who discovered amps, I guess–we enjoyed the changing lights on his statue.

The Carolingan abbey belltower.

Dinner was at Little Italy, a place we discovered just by walking around after we couldn’t find our first choice. Menu: green salad, and we all shared a dish of ziti and a pizza. We walked home along the Saone river, through Place Bellecour, where work, then sleep, awaited us.