La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “tourism”

Excursion time

Our subject La Vie Artistiqe has become a whole lot better (and easier to stay awake in !) since our topic changed from analysing 19th century artworks to typograpy and advertising throughout the 20th century. We went on a little excursion last week, to the Musée de l’Imprimarie to check out how printing has evolved over the centuries.

Some of the younger students were excited about the old Macintosh Classics (I just felt like I was back in Year 9 computer class) but the highlight for me was the page from the Gutenberg Bible – I’ve never seen one !

Well worth a sticky beak if you’re in the area !

Bisous !

Lyon City Bus

I was daydreaming on the bus the other day, about being a bus driver (don’t laugh, I really wouldn’t mind being a bus/tram/train driver !), when I saw the Lyon City bus. Now I like the red and white TCL buses, especially the new double longs, but the LCB is the coolest bus in Lyon. Double decker, bright blue and green, adorned with lions and images of Lyon, it’s the city’s open top tour bus.

All aboard !

Le Grand Tour is a great way to get an overall idea of Lyon. Audio commentary is available in many languages and provides an interesting history lesson. Stops include Place des Terreaux, Fourvière and Vieux Lyon. A circuit takes around 90 minutes (depending on the time of day and associated traffic !), but you can hop off at any stop, explore the area then catch the next bus that comes along. You can also get 1 or 2 day passes, link it up with a boat tour and even hire the bus for special occasions !

I recommend that you give it a go when you’re in Lyon. Check out Lyon City Bus – Le Grand Tour.

Maybe I’ll be driving it !

Bisous !

Beach, pool, eat, sleep, repeat.

In August, that long, hot holiday month; Sim, Clo, Seb and I spent a week in La Seyne sur Mer, on the Méditerranean coast. I can now well and truly tick ‘swim in the Méditerranean’ off my list-of-things-to-do-before-I-go-home ! La Seyne sur Mer, in any month other than July or August, is around four hours south of Lyon. Holiday traffic adds at least two hours to that trip.

Our apartment building had a gorgeous swimming pool, a friendly cat and was 5 minutes walk from la plage – perfect !

We did manage to do more than the title of this post suggests, including day trips to Toulon and l’Ile de Porquerolles, a 10 kilometre walk (in 35° heat :-P) and a stroll around St Mandrier to look at the Navy base and ships. 

But really –  all those things were organised around beach, pool, eat, sleep, repeat – as any good seaside holiday should be !

Bisous !


In August, I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in an Italian mountain village with a French girlfriend, her family and a family friend.  One rainy Monday morning, the five of us squeezed into a little Renault Clio and hurtled off on the autoroute to…Switzerland. It wasn’t the most direct route, but it did make me smile to think that we had breakfast in France, lunch in Switzerland and tea in Italy.

We spent the week perched on the side of a mountain, in a little village called Intragna. We had a nice view of, yes, the mountains, the city of Verbania down below, and a slice of Lake Maggiore.

Intragna (population around 110) is in the Val Grande National Park. Emilie, Clo’s family friend, shares with her siblings the house built here by their Italian father. They use it for holidays, rather than living there full time. The road to Intragna, and further up the mountain, is an exciting series of hairpin corners, and all day we could hear cars tooting as they made their way up and down. Intragna itself has a mairie, a church, a bus stop (I can’t imagine a bus ride around those corners!), two war memorials, a general store, a restaurant and – as all good towns do – a pub. We did a few walks in the NP and were treated to amazing views, a soundtrack of goat bells as they frolicked around village ruins, two mountain house tours, and an apéro with a French couple we met during one of our walks !

We made the descent  most days (tooting madly at each corner) to shop, swim and sightsee. Lake Maggiore has many little beaches, and a summer temperature of around 26° – heaven on the 35° days we had most of the week ! We visited Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, stickybeaked around Stresa and drank gelati cocktails in Verbania !

The holiday highlight however, was in a touristy newsagents, where I bought a magnet. The exchange went something like this:

Me (in Italian): Buongiorno ! 

Italian woman (in English): Two euros fifty, please. Is it a gift?

Me (in French): Non, non, c’est pour moi, merci.

Italian woman (in French): Oh, vous êtes française !

Me (in French and Italian): Oui ! Grazie, arrivederci !

An Australian mistaken for a Frenchie in Italy. I’m so trilingual !

Bisous !

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…


Shenanigans on the Bateau Hermès

My birthday is 4 days before Sim’s, so Mum and Dad decided to take us out for a birthday dinner while they were here. We booked a table on the Hermès, a boat restaurant that cruises the Rhône and the Saône while you eat.  

All aboard!

It was a busy night, with a big, loud American group dominating. They even had a magician! The waiters and waitresses were very efficient – except for one. We first noticed him when he dropped a tray of drinks, the second time was when we heard more of a commotion than usual from the Americans – and there he was, knocking back their unfinished glasses of wine! Think the drunk waiter from ‘The Party’ with Peter Sellers!

After a few more antics, including locking a couple out on the deck, picking up a waitress and carrying her around and generally making a nuisance of himself, the boss appeared and spirited him away. Sim asked the waitress, a tiny little woman of Asian origin, if she was okay and she explained that it was the waiter’s first (and last!) night working on the boat and she was very embarrassed and cross, because she was in charge of him.

Dinner was delicious, aside from some unwashed lettuce in the salads. The waiter popped up again, bleary eyed, and was much more helpful and subdued. Mum and I ordered a vanilla, raspberry and meringue dessert, vacherin, which he served to us. To me, he said ‘Here’s your macherin,’ but to mum he said, ‘Here’s your vagine,’ which I’m sure you can translate! Sim was SO unimpressed, but us anglophones didn’t really understand what he said and even when Sim explained, we thought it was hilarious!

What’s that called again?

At the end of the night, all was revealed – he was an actor hired for the entertainment of the magician’s group. He and the waitress apologised to Sim (and the couple that he’d locked outside) and offered him a free drink, but he was having none of it! When the little survey came around at the end of the night, he angrily crossed zero for service!

So if you’re in Lyon, I’d recommend taking a cruise on the Hermès (Sim wouldn’t). Check it out at . 

Just watch out for drunk waiters!


Cluny Abbey

Sim and I visited Cluny Abbey, in Bourgogne, last summer. The abbey itself was founded in 910, and throughout the centuries has gone from being the  headquarters of the largest monastic order of western Europe, to being attacked, dismantled and sold and, finally, restored.

The town of Cluny, population around 5 000, is built in and around the abbey. Today’s mairie is yesterday’s ‘Palace of Abbot Jacques d’Amboise’, where important visitors stayed. The less important stayed in the 11th century guest house, which is now the art gallery. The abbey gardens are now the town’s park.

The abbot’s palace / Cluny Mairie.


 You can just wander around the abbey, of course – it is a town – but if you want to visit the historical buildings within, you need to buy a ticket (8€ or less). 


 We can go when you come to visit! Bisous!

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