La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the category “The Family”

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 !


Kitty cat Knack

Meet the newest addition to the family. Knacki. She was a birthday present from Sim’s mum back in April and moved in with us at the end of June. She’s a normal, feisty kitten who loves nothing more than playing ambush. Under the bed, under the oven, from a bag, around the corner…

PicMonkey Collage Knacki 2

She’s curious, it’s a cat thing, and has already fallen in both the toilet and the bath. She likes people-watching from the balcony and can often be found in front of the washing machine as it’s doing its thing. I think she’d appreciate a window on the dishwasher too as she always tries to stickybeak inside it when it’s unloading time.

PicMonkey Collage Knacki

She keeps us entertained, that’s for sure. I’m loving having a cat again !

Bisous !


Update 24/07:

We took Knacki to the vet yesterday to start the vaccination process, and it turns out that she is a HE ! Whoops ! The vet tells us that if she’s wrong, we can get him/her desexed for free !

Weekend at Big Bum !

We recently spent yet another weekend with the family, this time however, it was with Sim’s dad’s (Yves) side. This side is much bigger than his mum’s, as Yves is the youngest of six. With three people unable to make it, we numbered 48, plus one in-utero !

We headed off to Larajasse – not far from St Sym – on a foggy Saturday night, after Sim had finished late, and arrived just as the musical instruments were being taken out of their cases. We were treated to a violin recital by 10 year old Marion, then a few hours of acoustic French hits, old and new (well, not so old, perhaps) from Yves and other assorted family members. I was singing and bopping along quite happily until Sim pointed out, to everybody, that I was singing the wrong words -“Ohhh, Champomy” (non-alcoholic ‘champagne’) instead of “Aux Champs-Elysées” (Parisien main drag) !

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We headed off to bed around 1am, but as our room was next to the older kids room, didn’t drift off until around 2:30, when they conked out. I felt like I was on school camp ! Sim and I shared a room with Nelly and Evan (who talks in his sleep !) and we slept until around 10 on Sunday morning. After stomping around our room, banging on the walls and some shrill giggling (take that, little sh**s kids next door !) we headed down to breakfast, only to receive a round of applause from les lève-tôt (early risers). Cheeky !

After breakfast, Sim, Evan and I took a stoll around Larajasse, which was still covered in fog and a little eerie. It’s a lovely typical French village, smaller than St Sym, and the people who live there are called Jarsaires. When pronounced with an English J, it sounds like large arse !

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The grandparents arrived at midi (12:00) and the next hour was spent trying to organise family and generational photos, with still more people arriving, lunch being prepared and kids running around everywhere ! We got there in the end, and gratefully swooped on the grapefruit rosé apéritif ! The kids treated us to a spectacle, with skits, jokes and songs; then it was time to eat. It was a light lunch, by French standards, with salad, cold meats, terrines and patés, cheese, galette, wine and coffee. I got three new fèves to add to my collection !

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Then it was time to start packing up and saying our goodbyes and see-you-next-years. Big family gatherings like this are exhausting for me , but it is nice to see everyone and now that I know Sim’s cousins better, there are quite a few of them I’d love to see more than once a year.

Maybe that can be a resolution for 2013 – organise more family gatherings, just little ones !

Bisous !

Looking after Léo

Meet Léo. He’s my filleul (godson), the second child of Sim’s brother Pierrick and his wife Nelly. Léo has a 3 year old brother, Evan. He’s 7 months old, weighs 9 kilos (Evan weighs 13 !), can sit, roll, scratch, pinch and headbutt !

PicMonkey Collage Léo

Over the Christmas period, Léo has been passed around from family to family; all of his aunts, uncles, grandparents and even great-grandparents wanted to spend some time with him while Nelly was at work and Pierrick was off skiing with Evan !

Sim and I had our turn on Friday afternoon. After picking him up from Nelly’s sister, we took him to Sim’s mum and dad’s for a play, lunch and sleep – all those baby things. He was very agreeable, even though he’s teething – he got his first two teeth for Christmas – and let us drag him around, take photos of him and stick our fingers in his mouth to feel his new choppers.

Sim’s mum left us with a cheeky comment as she returned to work for the afternoon, while we were changing his nappy:

“It’ll be you two next, it’s important to get some experience !”

Yeah right !

Bisous !

Weekend with my French family

Sim’s family are big on, well, family. Few of them have strayed far from St Sym, and there’s always something family-oriented going on. Last weekend, for example, was the annual country weekend with Sim’s mum’s side. Yes yes, St Sym is in the country, but I’m talking village of 200 inhabitants – Chissey lès Mâcon, to be exact, an hour and a quarter north of Lyon. That put us in the departement of Saône et Loire, in the Bourgogne region, and in some of the prettiest countryside I’ve seen in France.

Sim had to work all day Saturday, so I headed up early with his uncle Christian and auntie Sylvia (who is German). The drive was nice once we’d left Lyon – we drove through Cluny, stopped in a cute village to pick up the keys to the gite we’d booked, and I saw two TGVs plus a squirrel playing in a paddock ! We arrived around 11 and welcomed the rest of the family as they trickled in over the next hour or so. After a typical French picnic lunch (and a toast to the pregnancy announcement from one of the ladies!), we spent the afternoon having siestas, catching butterflies, exploring the village, trying to kick the soccer ball into the wheelie bin, playing pétanque and sneakily changing sleeping arrangements ! Apéro started outside around 7, moved inside at sunset and carried merrily on until around 9, whilst we waited for the last person (Sim!) to arrive so we could start tea. There were quite a few red cheeks around the table by the time the entrée was served – half because of the long apéro and half because of the hand clap game we played whilst waiting ! Lively games of Cranium and Belote followed, until the whole group crashed around 1:30am – grandparents included !

Gosh I had a good sleep !

Sunday morning started with a wakeup call from Sim’s cheeky three year old nephew, who was put up to it by Sim’s equally cheeky dad ! We stumbled down to breakfast which, thanks to Sylvia and her German-ness, included stras and cheese – I’m not a fan of nutella or jam on sweet bread ! The day was spent much like the previous one, with some badminton and cleaning thrown in. We explored the village again, plus the neighbouring one, Lys, and dreamed about buying one of the abandoned-but- still-beautiful stone houses.

I still find it tiring, interacting with a big group of Frenchies for an extended period of time. This particular group understand and accept though, especially Sylvia, who’s been-there-done-that and is always there with a quick squeeze of the hand and some English conversation ! I’m so lucky. If it wasn’t for these people, I wouldn’t be half as happy as I am here !

I’ll introduce you to as many as I can when you come to visit !

Bisous !

Grand weekend…

Last weekend was spent in Rioz and Besançon, with a group of Sim’s siblings and cousins, and his grandparents. The weekend was organised as a Christmas gift for his grandparents – an opportunity for us to all spend time together. And what a time we had !

The weekend kicked off on Friday night for most, but as Sim had to work until lunchtime on Saturday, we didn’t make it up there until mid-afternoon.

We expected to meet everyone, ranging in age from 2 month old Léo to 80 year old Papy André, in the middle of their sightseeing tour of Besançon, but when we arrived and  rang to see where they were, everyone was still in Rioz and in a state of great excitement – Sim’s 26 year old cousin had just split her head open by banging it on a branch whilst straightening up from pitching her tent !

Once her tête was taken care of, we met up as planned and had a great look around Besançon – shopping, waving to firefighters, splashing each other in the fountain, walking along the quai, playing spotto fish in the Doubs river, and having a rest in the playground, with the adults complaining about the swing seats being too small for their bums !

After a fish n chip dinner at an Irish pub, we headed back to Rioz and – our tent !

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Sunday consisted of a late breakfast, backyard cricket (try explaining the rules of cricket in French!), a pétanque tournament, an awesome BBQ lunch, siesta, trampoline (even a siesta on the trampoline!), card games, reading, playing with baby Léo and packing up for the 3 hour drive home.

Sim’s grandparents were rapt with their weekend, and I bet they slept well on Sunday night. I know we did !

Bisous !

Pique-nique pig-out

Summer is here, and the season of picnics, or generally dining al fresco, has begun. Joëlle’s family kicked it off last weekend, with a huge picnic in Linod (near the French Alpes) at her aunt and uncle’s place. It was actually reminiscent of an Aussie Christmas, with wine instead of beer and pétanque instead of cricket. Hot weather, good cheer, too much lunch, an afternoon walk and an attempt at eating dinner. We even saw a snake!

Joëlle’s mum is the oldest of 6 – all the aunts and uncles were there, plus her cousins and most of their children, plus two large Berenese Mountain dogs – I think we were 40!

As is requisite for French meals, we started with an apéritif – a delicious cold white from Savoie, cassis and fruit juices. Snacks varied from Lyonnais grattons (bite-sized pork crackling, by far my favourite – and, of course, by far the unhealthiest!) to prawn crackers and salty peanuts.

Lunch consisted of typical picnic fare – cold quiche, potato salad, cold roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, chacuterie, saucisson, chips – and a deceptive punch, just like Chrissy makes! It was difficult to stay awake afterwards; indeed, lots of people were scattered around the garden with their towels or blankets, taking a cheeky 40 winks.

We took a walk along the country roads and bush tracks, picking wild strawberries and having one of the grandmas shooing us ahead so she could wee, to a gorgeous little waterfall. We stopped to dip our feet in the chilly river water and Sim’s great-uncle was the biggest kid of the lot, splashing everyone wildly!

It was tea time when we got back and, in spite of not being the slightest bit hungry, I managed more quiche, meat and wine, plus 4 pieces of different cake/slice for dessert!

Roll on summer!


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