La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Préfecture ? No problem !

Wait, what ? No problem ? This time last year, going to the préfecture was a big problem. Huge. Well, the powers that be finally realised that there must be a better way and boom. Out with the old system and in with the new. Now, when you need to go to the préfecture, the lists of required papers have been condensed and you can make an appointment. Yes, that’s right.






I needed to go to renew my carte de séjour earlier this month. From the comfort of my couch, I checked the préfecture website, created an account and chose an appointment from several available dates and times. I received a confirmation email, printed it off and voilà. I was ready. I didn’t even have to organise a new translation of my birth certificate because let’s face it – that thing’s not gonna change !

My appontment was at 10:30. We got there at 10:25, showed the confirmation email at the door, got a ticket and were settled in the waiting room by our appointment time. Sure, we had to wait (our actual face to face, 15 minute meeting didn’t come up until 11:45) but still, 1.5 hours at the préfecture is an out of this world improvement. The atmosphere, usually so tense and hostile, had changed too. It’s wonderful what not having to spend the night on the street just to be sure of an appointment can do for one’s morale.


I need to go back in March to pick up the actual card. But who knows ? Perhaps La Préfecture will learn how to use La Poste between now and then !

Bisous !

Getting ready to say goodbye

I’m home alone, enjoying the silence of no football on TV, putting the finishing touches on my school reports, watching a storm roll in from the west and making the most of my final month in Francheville.

No no, I’m not moving back to Australia (sorry Mum and Dad). I’m moving into Lyon proper – Sim and I have bought a flat in the 5th arrondissement. It’s a good time to buy in France. The interest rate is quite low at the moment – not low enough to be worried, but low enough so that housing is quite affordable for us. It’s the main reason we decided to buy. Mortgage payments are not much dearer than the rent we’re paying now – why not spend that money on something that’s ours ?

We’ve had a good couple of years here in Francheville. Our flat is in the centre ville of Francheville le Bas. It’s close to everything – bus, school, bakery, patisserie, hairdresser, vet, pizza shop, bar, markets, kebab shop, French style 7-11, supermarket, countryside…I’m going to miss it.

Our new flat isn’t far from Francheville. Like Francheville borders with Oullins, Francheville borders with the 5th. It’s 10 minutes away from here; 10 minutes closer to the city. I’ll be able to walk or bike to school (I can technically do that now, but my school is on top of a big hill and I dislike arriving at work one big sweaty betty).

Our new neighbourhood is on the border of le Point-du-Jour and Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon. It’s a great area, and should be easy enough to sell when the time comes (as much as I frowned upon the idea of buying to sell but hey – we’ll need to finance our farm-house-with-swimming-pool somehow, right ?!).

Here :-)

Here 🙂


See you when you come to visit !

Bisous !


Vive les vacances !

School holiday wise, France is divided into three zones. Summer, autumn and Christmas holidays are the same across the country. Winter and spring holidays, however, are staggered. Here in Lyon, we’re Zone A. As I write, we’re nearing the end of our two-week break. Zone C are nearly halfway through and Zone B will be starting as I head back to work on Monday. Each year the zones rotate – Zone A is not always the first ‘zone off the rank’ !

So yes, I’m on school holidays at the moment and am loving hanging around at home, in my own space and doing..well, a whole lot of nothing ! Although that’s not strictly true, I am doing things – I’m

  • making my way through the complete works of Jonathan Kellerman,
  • pinning home deco ideas for our up-and-coming flat (and maybe some cute pictures of foxes too !),
  • planning for the third and final trimester at school,
  • enjoying the spring sunshine on our balcony,
  • cooking, crafting, writing, scrapbooking…

The list goes on, but the common theme is that everything I’m doing can be done from the comfort of my own home.

Some well-meaning people wonder aloud if I’m not too bored with my ‘stay-cation’ but I shake my head, no. In fact, I’m happiest when I have an empty calendar !

Anyhoo, I have this little goon to keep me company !

Bisous !

What to write ?

Life in Lyon has been pretty, well, life-y ! We’ve just been cruising along –métro, boulot, dodo, as they say here – meaning commute, work, sleep ! For me, school’s cool (I’m already on autumn holidays…) and Sim’s been working like a crazy man in his new-ish job at Intersport. There hasn’t really been that much to write about – things aren’t so new anymore and the adventures are less frequent.

We’ve had a couple of misadventures, however – let me tell you about those !

It’s préfecture time again. Until 2016, I have to renew my titre de séjour anually. That means getting the birth certificate translated, getting some new mugshots, photocopying any letters even slightly official-looking (especially if they’re addressed to both of us) and hoping that the list of required documents hasn’t changed since last year. Once that’s done, it’s time to gear up for an early start and a few hours of waiting in the queue.

We usually arrive around 7 for an 8:30 opening time. We shuffle through the queue, get our ticket, take our seat, wait a few hours for a 10 minute meeting, get our receipt and go, grateful that we only have to do this once a year.

Turns out, 7 is no longer early enough. Nowhere near early enough. At 8:40, sill far from the door, we were greeted by a booming police officer with :

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen ! There are no more tickets for today ! There are no more tickets ! You’ll all have to come back another day ! Thank you !”


So we did – what else can we do ? Only we went a bit earlier, arrived at 6:30 – and gained about 2 metres in the queue ! We were greeted by the same police officer a few hours later, her speech word for word.


We're at the traffic light section of the queue. No chance !

We’re at the traffic light section of the queue. No chance !

We’re trying for the third time tomorrow. Aiming for an hour earlier; lining up at 5:30.

Third time lucky, right ?

Bisous !


Update: Turned out it was fourth time lucky. We arrived at 3:30. Yes, you read that right…

Quack quack !

Remember this post ? Well, I spotto-ed a little exhibition by this artist, and took a look last week.


It’s small and bright, with pieces ranging from a collage to a two-metre high totem pole. The graffiti nature of the ducks is evident, with road signs and small slabs of concrete used as bases for a few of the works. If you want to grab a piece of Lyonnais street art, or just a few photos, t-shirts or badges, the exhibition in on until March 23 at U and I Gallery in the 2eme.

Bisous !


If you’re not sure what to offer someone for a special occasion, a Smartbox is an interesting take on the traditional voucher. Smartboxes are theme based, so you can give an adventure box, a relaxation box, a weekend away box…the list goes on.

The box has a booklet inside, which lists all the offers from participating organisations all over France. An adventure box, for example, might contain an offer for jetskiing in Nice, a drive in a race car in Le Mans or paragliding in the Alps. There are hundreds of things to choose from. The lucky recipient just has to decide and make the booking.

Our friends know me us so well, the ones we’ve received have always been in the gastronomie theme…

Bisous !

Happy New Year

Yes yes, it’s February (almost March !) but I did start writing this post in January – I promise ! I know it’s cliché, but I can’t believe how fast 2013 went. Here’s a little post about the year that was.

We welcomed 2013 in Grenoble with Seb and Clo, Ludo and Louise, and a rabbit named Mojitos. I started job hunting and was successful – I got a post teaching CE1 English, to start in March.

I was thrown in the deep end at school in February, filling in for the CE2 teacher who’d broken her ribs. I kept all my tutoring hours on top of my new work schedule and wound up run down with the flu, just in time for the holidays !

In March, we welcomed baby Luce into the world, and Sim became her godfather. I started teaching my own grade, and was flat out getting my classroom set up and routines in place. I moved all my tutoring sessions to Saturday, and really didn’t have much time for anything else !

In April I blew out 34 candles and had school holidays. We took a hot trip down South, and began the Parc de la Tête d’Or picnic season.

May was unseasonably cold, and we even had a tiny bit of snow on Clo’s hen’s day. I officially became a godmother at Léo’s bapteme, and made my French public speaking debut at the church. There were several public holidays, and Sim and I bid au revoir to Oullins and bonjour to Francheville.

In June, Mum and Dad came to visit. They stayed for a couple of weeks and they had fun at Seb and Clo’s wedding, in Nîmes, at the Fête de la Musique and at my school’s Fête de l’Ecole. School finished for the summer (just after our school camp), and Knacki came to live with us.

July was quiet and hot. We watched le Tour, and even went to see the riders pass by. We had many apéros on our little balcony, and many bottles of rosé were consumed !

August was more of the same. We spent a week house sitting in Rioz, and I spent four days in Paris with and old, dear friend.

The beginning of September was la rentrée, and school got off to good start. So good and so busy, in fact, that I stopped writing my blog ! My school hours were different (that means I did NOT continue supervising études after school !) and I spread my tutoring hours out during the week.

In October, one of my best friends came to visit and I showed off lovely Lyon. Sim and I had a mid week trip to Grenoble and Aix les Bains, and we also spent time in Rioz with the nephews.

November saw Lyon’s first (and – dare I say it – only) snow for the season, and we snuggled down. It was a quiet month, with the monotony of work being broken up with some fun birthday parties and dinners with friends and colleagues. We celebrated our 1 year PACS anniversary.

Lyon was a madhouse in December during the Fête des Lumières, which was beautiful as usual. The highlight though, was going home to Australia for two wonderful weeks ! I spent Christmas and New Year’s at the beach, with my family and friends. It’s been far too long since I’ve done that, and my New Year’s resolution is not to leave it so long between drinks again !

Bisous, and all the very best for 2014 !

Biking in Besançon

Don’t let the title of this post lead you astray. I’m not particularly sporty and I think it was the first time I’ve even been on a bike in France. When Sim and I house-sat for Pierrick and Nelly, we spent an afternoon in Besançon with cousine Laura and her family. After a picnic lunch by the Doubs River, we headed to a little bike rental shop on the Nantes – Budapest Véloroute (bike track). We were fitted out with bikes, Sim and I opting for good old pushies while the others went with the tandems.

We took off in the direction of Nantes, rolling along au bord the Doubs, passing through small villages and stickybeaking in the backyards. We had a few drink stops, a couple of tandem readjustment stops and an escargot farm stop.

PicMonkey Collage Véloroute 2

At the 11 km mark, we came to a river tunnel with a ‘waterfall’ and a couple of Mary shrines. We decided that this would be our halfway point – it was hot and we wanted to get back, have a few rosés and watch the swimming championships. We rested, entertained by watching a boat waiting for the ‘waterfall’ to be turned off so that it could pass through the tunnel.

PicMonkey Collage Véloroute 3

If you’re ever in Besançon, or indeed cycling from Nantes to Budapest (as you do !), stop in at Le Relais Vélo along the way.

Bisous !

There’s a camp ?

One of the downfalls with my replacing someone halfway through the school year was that things that had been organised with them were suddenly my responsibility. Which was fine – when people remembered to tell me on time !

So when it was casually mentioned a week beforehand that I would be heading off on the CE1/CE2 overnight camp during the last week of school, I frowned and asked if the kids knew about it – because I sure didn’t.

Turns out yes, yes they did. Since December. Alrighty then !

So we left Lyon bright and early on the Monday morning and headed south for our séjour in Provence. The kids were great on the bus, loaded up with their gadgets, and we rolled on down to Mornas in the Vaucluse region of France. Mornas is a small medieval town next to the autoroute and it has an excellent clifftop fortress. We visited the fortress with a ‘knight’ and learnt about defence, food, punishment and fighting in medieval times.

After a picnic lunch, we headed into town to do a medieval treasure hunt. The kids had a ball finding different bits and pieces around Mornas (me too !), and a sneaky history lesson was thrown in at the same time.

Next stop was the park for afternoon tea, then back on the bus to our home for the night – a holiday village in Vaison la Romaine. It was fabulous. I shared a 6 bedroom house with 12 giggling girls. The grounds were huge – these city-slicker kids went wild ! Even I did some handstands and cartwheels on the grass ! We had a great dinner, and made the most of the grounds and the long summer day – we packed the kids off to bed around 10 when it got dark.

Tuesday was spent at a circus training park, Parc Alexis Gruss. Alexis Gruss is an equestrian and circus director from way back; he (and his family) put on a very impressive day –  horse training, an educational show (in that they explained the training required between each act – no photos allowed, unfortunately), a picnic, a clown/magic show, a dog show, a horse show and, finally, the elephant’s shower.

Then it was home time. The trip back to Lyon was uneventful: the kids slept, scrounged the last of their lollies from the bottoms of their backpacks and enjoyed the novelty of the toilet on the bus. We got back safe and sound, albeit 90 minutes late (hey, it’s France, that’s how they roll) !

I originally thought, ‘Wow, isn’t there enough to do during that last week?’  but in hindsight, camp was a really nice way to finish off the school year.

And no, not just because the teachers can drink wine !

Bisous !

We love Rioz !

Sim and I (and Knacki !) spent last week in Rioz, in the Franche-Comté region of France. Rioz has a population of around 2000, and is one of our favourite places to go to escape the city, look at the stars and just breathe. It’s situated between two of the larger cities of Franche-Comté, Vesoul and Besançon. People who live there are called Riolais/e.

Sim’s brother lives there, with his wife and their two little boys, and we try to get up there regularly. This time, we house-sat for them while they went on holidays.

We arrived on a 36° Friday afternoon. So much for escaping the heat, but it’s that bit more bearable when you have a shady terrace, a big grassy yard and fresh country air. We had a ball playing with our nephews, bare-foot on the grass.  A simple foam water frisbee and Knacki’s misbehaviour squirt bottle kept us entertained for ages ! After beers and kebabs on the terrace, we had an early night. Les Riolais wanted to get going at 4am the next day, to avoid the amazing traffic that builds up on holiday weekends.

We went out and about most days, visiting and sight-seeing (more detail in later posts !), but also made the most of having a terrace, a yard and a barbeque. We slept with the window open every night and stargazed before sleeping. No traffic passing by, no people mucking around on the street. Bats, yes, but noise, no !


It was a relaxing  week, well spent, and the couple of cool, showery days we had were very refreshing !

We’re back in Francheville now, and the city has that calmness that only August brings. It’s a far cry from the calmness of Rioz, but gives us a chance to slowly get back in to city life !

Bisous !

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