We settled in for a week in a second floor apartment overlooking one of Lyon’s quiet pedestrian-only streets. After bulleting through Palermo, Rome and Barcelona for just a few days at a time, it was a welcome relief to slow down, disregard the clock and walk at the pace of the locals. We rise and visit the local patisserie across the street for fresh bread and pastries. Some mornings I walk to the nearby market and pick up just-picked strawberries and cherries. Each day we try a different local cheese, pate and wine. Folding into the French lifestyle seems embarrassingly cliché but at the same time so comfortable and easy.
Lyon has a brilliant bicycle share scheme with kiosks all around town. With a small deposit, you buy your ticket into the labyrinth of city streets and riverside promenades on easy and cheap transportation. We rode for miles along the Saone and the Rhone that straddle Lyon’s main peninsula. Luke found a favorite riverside playground. Several days we explored Parc Tete d’Or, larger than NYC’s Central and bursting with rose gardens, a lake and even a zoo.
When our legs were tired, we ate. The Lyonnaise know how to eat! Bouchons are small, local, red and white checkered tablecloth establishments where the owner sits beside you when describing the myriad of meats he’s prepared, often using every organ and body part of each animal. But even the most timid tourist can find delicious plates that don’t turn your stomach, but fill it heartily. Some of the Lyonnaise specialities I preferred were Quenelles de Brochet (like a fish souffle in a lobster bisque) and duck or pork terrine. Mitch had an amazing pig’s cheek and escargot. For those of you wondering, we fed Luke at home and he tasted a few bites unwillingly! He preferred the pastries and managed to eat an eclair, croissant or brioche every day.
I could get used to the Lyonnaise way of life. In a small way it reminds me of home. A smaller city than Paris, it has all the charm and none of the traffic, a laid back lifestyle with great food and outdoors to enjoy. Another city we’ve added to the list of those to which we will return.