La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “France”

The third river of Lyon

A popular saying about Lyon is that it actually has three rivers : le Rhône, la Saône and le Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a wine-making district north of Lyon, in the Bourgogne region. We decided to explore this area in more detail, and booked a day tour with Kanpai in Lyon – check them out at .

Guignol, one of the creepiest symbols of Lyon.

We met Olivier, our trilingual tour guide, at Place Bellecour and joined a mother and daughter from Singapore and two other Aussies, who’d all been picked up at their hotels prior. The tours are limited to 8 people and are done in French, English or Spanish.

Our first stop was the town of Oingt which, in spite of the name, is one of France’s prettiest towns.

Oingt, surrounded by vineyards.

Next stop was a winery, Domaine des Averleys. Here, we learnt about…wine stuff…and tasted 4 of their different wines – a rosé, a white and two reds. Many bottles later (purchased, not consumed!), we headed off to a little country restaurant.

Etienne, explaining why it’s good to have grass and flowers between the rows.

Taking over the bar!

The one on the far right just wouldn’t fit in our bag.

Lunch was a very typical French affair. I had rabbit terrine and frog legs, and the vegan in our group had to give in when his potatoes weren’t just potatoes, they were scalloped potatoes! Ah, la France – it’s not an easy country for vegans!

Most of us had a siesta during the hour-long drive to our last stop, the medieval town of Pérouges. Once there, we had a little tour then were left to our own devices for an hour – wandering around, checking out souvenirs, taking photos and expecting Belle or the Three Muskateers to appear at any moment. Perhaps they do in the high season.

I was too full of rabbit and frog to try the galette au sucre, speciality of Pérouges!

Once back in Lyon (and 2012), everyone was delivered to their hotels – the final service of an excellent tour! If you’ve got a spare day in Lyon, jump on board!

I wonder if there’s a tour on Beaujolais Nouveau day in November…



Calling all expats!

Yes, all – not just Australians in France! If you’re an expat, or even thinking of becoming an expat, I’d like to introduce you to Expat Blog. You might’ve even seen the little red suitcase in my side bar.

I found Expat Blog when I was in France the first time, the three-month ‘probationary period.’ I was looking for other people in the same boat, with the same questions – or people who’d ‘been-there-done-that’ and were willing to share their experiences.

Created in 2005, with the aim of gathering expat blogs from all around the world and linking them on a unique platform, Expat Blog is now a website where one can not only find expat blogs but discussion forums, business directories, classifieds, guides and links for everything you need to know about living abroad. I even found some new friends!

Expat Blog have just launched two new sections – jobs and housing. You can search for jobs wherever you are and create a CV in the jobs section, and buy, rent or even sell a house in the housing section!

Best of all, it’s totally free and you don’t even need to have a blog to register!

So go on, give that little red suitcase a click!


The garbage grève

France is known for her strikes (grèves). Transport one week, teachers the next. Unfortunately (for those that live in the inner city), this week it’s the garbage men. Rubbish is piling up and the weather is warming up. Today, other cleaning services joined them for a march to protest against proposed privatisation.

Not looking good, Lyon…

Let’s hope they get what they want, before the Oullins garbos get any ideas…!


Stereotypes in action…

After almost taking out yet another motorbike rider, I feel the need to vent a little! French drivers – arrrruughhh! They’re too fast, they’re too close, they toot the instant the light turns green, their use of blinkers is non-existant and they scoot across to the wrong side of the road if there’s a parking spot available there.

Motorbike riders are the worst though. There’s the normal annoyance where they ride to the front of the line at the traffic lights, but here, if they can’t get past on the road – which is often the case because the streets are very narrow – they just take the footpath to get there. I’ve even seen them then take the pedestrian crossing at the red light and keep on going! They overtake anywhere they like – in a roundabout, around a corner, on my inside or my outside!

The road toll here last year was almost 4000 – 3970, to be exact. Motorbike riders alone made up more than twice Australia’s total road toll (704 / 287). I know there’s three times the people in France, but three times our road toll is nowhere near 3970 (it’s 861…)!

Yes, maybe I exaggerate a little – they’re not all like that – but the road toll is no exaggeration.

Calmement, Frenchies, calmement!


Les Enfoirés – nicer than they sound

There’s a charity in France called Les Restaurants du Coeur. It was started in the mid-eighties by a comedien called Coluche and it feeds the needy.

Coluche and his charity.

Each year, there’s huge concerts put on by a mix of celebrities – singers, comediens, groups, athletes and our very own Tina Arena. Collectively, they’re known as ‘Les Enfoirés’ or ‘The Bas***ds.’ All funds raised from the concerts and associated merchandise go to the charity. This year, the concerts are in Lyon and there’s 7 of them.

This song is #3 on the charts at the moment. Have a listen – you’ll know it – and see how many people you recognise. Spotto Tina, and the coach of the French football team playing conductor!

Tickets aren’t numbered for the concerts. Seats are first in, best dressed so les Lyonnaises can be seen lining up outside Halle Tony Garnier from early in the morning for an 8pm show (it’s true – Sim and I saw the line en route to the physio). It’s -6° today, and only getting colder!

Perhaps it’s to give a little taste of life for the less fortunate on days like today.



Winter in France sees the rich, heavy meals come out of the woodwork. One of my favourites is the gastronomic delight that is raclette.

Raclette is a type of cheese, but the meal of raclette is said cheese, melted and poured over charcuterie and potatoes, with gherkins and pickled onions on the side. It’s traditional mountain fare from the Alps. And it’s awesome!

I bought Sim a mini raclette grill for Christmas (because it’s one of his favourite meals too…really!). It’s an at-home affair – a traditional restaurant grill holds half a wheel of cheese! Home grills seem to be available for up to 8 people, and they have a hot plate on top – keep your potatoes warm or cook up some saucisson!

Traditional ‘appareil de raclette’ – scrape the melted goodness onto your plate.

Modern day mini – grill, for the small apartment!

Bon appétit!


The French patient

Sim’s knee operation went well, and he was allowed to come home after one night in hospital and proving to the physio he could manage stairs on his crutches. He’s off work until March, off  non-weight bearing sport until May and – shock horror – off soccer until September. At least.

Recovering on the couch. With his lovely tights and yellow Betadine leg!

I get to be nurse during my semester break, plus I get more of an insight to the French healthcare system.

Sim’s medical insurance costs 25€ per month. He gets paid around 50% of his wage during his time off work, but has to stay at home between 9am – 11am and 2pm – 4pm. If the insurance control ring or visit during these times, and he hasn’t got a medical reason for being absent, he gets paid nothing. Seems he can hobble out for lunch though – it’s the French way.

He left the hospital with a soft cast for night time, a pair of compression stockings and no hospital fees. He does have to have his own crutches though, and there’s no such thing as underarm crutches in France.

Sim’s mini pharmacie!

He paid 5€ for his supply of drugs – worth 120€ (it was the distilled water that cost 5€)!

He has to have physio three times a week with a reknowned sports physiotherapy company in Gerland (yes, I’ll be driving in the city – look out!), and each visit costs around 3€. Fantastic, considering he’ll have 40 sessions!

Finally, the real nurse comes to the apartment to change his dressing twice a week!

Wow. What a system! It may have something to do with that nasty D-word, but France sure looks after her people!


A connexion is made

I was pretty happy to find this in the newsagents at Perrache station. It’s a monthly newspaper covering general French news, in English. The 3€ price tag however – it’s expensive reading English in France!

Catching up on French news in English!


Letters and numbers

France has 22 regions (like states), divided into 96 departments (like shires). We live in the region of Rhône-Alpes, which is divided into 8 departments. Our department is Rhône, the capital city of which is Lyon.

My France fridge puzzle!

Each department is numbered, and cars from each department have that number on their number plates. Rhône is 69.

Rhône Sweet Rhône.

So, as a passenger, I like playing the number plate game! I don’t know all the numbers and departments yet, but it’s interesting to try and find where everyone’s from (well…I think it is)! Cars from different countries within Europe also have a corresponding letter on their number plates. F for France, P for Portugal, for example. E for Spain, but hey – things are spelt differently here!

Old plate.

New plate.


We drive on the right, right?

Driving in France is something, like the keyboard, that takes a while to get used to. Unlike the keyboard however, it’s a whole lot more serious! I’ve had to retrain my reflexes, which isn’t particularly easy. With opening the door instead of changing gears, turning on the wipers instead of the blinkers, and that bloody ‘priority at right’ rule, I feel like an L plater again!

Give way to the right at the next intersection. Even though I’m on the thoroughfare.

Look out France!


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