La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “St Sym”

Classe of 2012/2002/1992/1982…

Last weekend was Classe in St Symphorien sur Coise. It’s a parade and party for those celebrating decade birthdays – so this year, it’s those born in years ending with a 2. I’m not sure where the tradition comes from – some say it started as a last hurrah for those conscripted to fight in a war, or a thank goodness for those who weren’t. It was only open to men until the 1960s, and it’s really only in country Rhône and surrounding areas that they celebrate it – it doesn’t happen in Lyon.

As they parade around the town, led by a marching band and the gymnastics class, people wear coloured scarves according to their year and sing/dance/throw confetti/do Mexican waves and generally have a good show off! They have an apéritif in the park with everyone from town and then go on to one of those 8 hour French lunches together in the hall. 

The band led the parade.

See the different coloured scarves – green for 1992, yellow for ’82 etc.

Apéro in the park!

I was looking forward to 2019, so I could celebrate Classe for my 40th, but it turns out I can’t – I wasn’t born here. Dommage!


And I thought Lyon was cold…

Then I went to St Sym for the weekend. It’s in les Monts du Lyonnaise and therefore at a higher altitude to Lyon.

Winter white.

Lyon is between 162 and 305 metres above sea level and St Sym is between 480 and 629 (thanks Wikipedia)! Which means, of course, it’s at least 2° colder in St Sym. It’s -9° as I type, and we’re heading towards a low of -14° tonight (Saturday).

Me at chez Besacier…not really, it’s the local château!

The real chez Besacier, plus the salty road.

I know I’ve been banging on about the cold and the snow this week, but let’s not forget I’m from a small beachside town, altitude of sea level! Plus Australia isn’t really known for its snow.

I miss the beach!


Continuing Christmas

Christmas II was celebrated at Chez Besacier, on December 24. It was cozier than Christmas I, with just Sim’s immediate family present. We were 9, well, 10 if you include the fleeting visit from Père Noël. In France, we put our slippers around the Christmas tree and Père Noël puts our presents around our slippers!


During…checking out the presents. No Mum, I haven’t changed!

After! Joyeux Noël!

We enjoyed a few glasses of champagne for our apéritif, accompanied by petit boudin blancs, smoked salmon and the assembling of Evan’s tractor.

The tractor mechanics.

Escargots, cervelas and salad for entree, plus star sign scratchies and French Christmas tunes.

Shells of snaily goodness!

I tried to sing along…Petit Papa Noël!

A fabulous Madeira ham for main course, with hashbrowns and mushrooms, washed down with a lovley glass or three of Bordeaux rouge.

Nom nom nom.

I made a pavlova for dessert. As my second Christmas away from home, I wanted a little more Australiana at the table! But French cream doesn’t whip! Not the three we tried, anyway. So after many adventures in chantilly, we gave up and, after serving, just poured the slightly thickened cream over the top! Voila!

A touch of Australia!

Then it was time for presents…

But that’s another blog post!


St Sym

Sim’s from a town about 45 minutes (if I’m driving!) south-westish of Lyon. Saint Symphorien sur Coise  has a population of around 4000, and people who live there are called ‘Pelauds.’ I don’t know who Saint Symphorien was, but Coise (pronounced ‘cwez’) is the name of the river that runs through the town.

It’s in the Monts du Lyonnais, and at a higher altitude than Lyon – an escape from the city heat in summer, and more snow in winter! Sim’s parents still live there, as do most of his friends and their families. Those that don’t still live in St Sym go there almost every weekend. It reminds me of coming home from uni each weekend when I was an undergrad!

It’s a pretty typical French town – shops, schools, mairie, soccer club, heaps of bakeries, and everything’s closed over lunch time. Some things that are unique, I think, are…

It was a drop point for Résistance weapons and ammo in WW2.

The distnctive church, overlooking the town.

And, of course, Chez Besacier!

I’ll show you around when you come to visit!


Kicking off Christmas

Sim’s extended family is pretty big. His dad is the youngest of 6, so it’s pretty difficult to celebrate Christmas together on Christmas Day (or Eve, as they tend to do over here). The solution? Simple. Three Christmases. The first was celebrated yesterday with the Guyots (Sim’s mum’s side) at chez Besacier in St Sym.

Everyone’s still in their pjs, but at least the tables are ready!

 A typical French Christmas lunch is … long. And yesterday’s lunch was typical!

The guests arrived between 12:30 and 1. In this case it was Sim’s grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins – we were 24 in total. We began with a champagne aperétif (no, I tell a lie – we began with kissing everyone twice, but I’m getting used to that!) and some delicious aperétif snacks.

Anne-Gaëlle and Raph’s take on Père Noël – Père Radish!

We played a musical game to determine our seats for the entrée, and drew numbers for each course thereafter so that we didn’t sit with the same people twice.  Well, hardly. A nice way to catch up with everyone! Entrée consisted of smoked salmon, foïe gras, bread, and wine. Of course.

I can feel my arteries tightening just looking at that foïe gras…

I seem to have misplaced my camera during the vegetable, meat and cheese courses – must have been all that swapping of chairs, sampling of wine and trying to remember all the French I’ve learned in the last 6 months! The vegetables were a cardone gratin and green beans, and the meat was duck with fig sauce. The cheeses were brie, chèvre, morbier, comte and blanc. Plus bread and wine…

Presents before dessert!

We had three desserts, traditional log cakes called bûche. One chocolate, one speculoos and one ice cream. We also had a dessert dessert with coffee, in the form of the witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel, made by Sim’s German aunt. It got demolished pretty quickly once we got the go ahead! Plates of chocolate, biscuits and fruit were plentiful as well.

Bûche glacé – vanilla and raspberry ice cream, encased in meringue and covered with whipped cream. The perfect dessert!

Evan inspecting the witch’s house!

We had a rest after that. Did some dishes, played cards and Rummikub, read, napped…then it was time for tea! Yes, really. We ate cold cervelas and salad (and what was left of the house) with bread and mineral water.

Then it was 9:30pm and time to call it a day. Night. French Christmas lunch!

And yes, it snowed!


Au revoir, hedge

Working bees are alive and well in France! Here are some before, during and after photos from one at chez Besacier. Anne-Gaëlle and I were on sécateur duty – untangling and snipping the hedge from the fence (rather than the fence from the hedge…)! I could hardly write the next day!






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