Last weekend I went to Lyon. My French family were going to a family birthday party in the city and I was invited to go along too. Despite the prospect of having to meet various scary, non-English-speaking family members, knowing that this may be my one chance to visit this beautiful city was enough of a pull factor. So at 11am on Saturday morning we embarked on our 5.5hr car journey to Lyon.
Long car journeys are really not my thing. I knew this before I got into a car with 3 children under the age of 10, yet Lyon was calling and I had to respond. iBeats in, Kindle on, off we went. We arrived in Lyon at about 5pm and went straight to our hotel rooms in the middle of the city. I met one of Isabelle’s brothers and his family – all incredibly happy to meet me and try to practice their English/ correct my French – and we donned our deguisements for the party due to start in a couple of hours.
The party was in a hall filled with balloons, party hats and bottles of rum punch. The kids all got together with their cousins and I was being introduced to – and kissing – people left, right and centre. Being English made me a fascinating topic of discussion. Apparently the French don’t like us because we’re better at rugby than them. Good. I spent most of the night talking to Isabelle’s 12 year old niece, Valentine. Her French was easy for
me to understand and I managed to hold conversation with her about school, home, France, England… and she too got the chance to wow me with her English skills.
Then in true French tradition, food began to be served around 10pm. I ate the starter and was full – I’m not sure I could ever be truly French.
The next morning the 2 oldest boys were hurried off to the station to catch their train destined for the mountains. This week is the school holidays and they’re going skiing (I think we all win in this situation). Me, Isabelle and Angus walked back to the church hall to give the birthday girl her present and to eat crepes among the residue of the night before and in the middle of various French boys in sleeping bags. If I’ve only learnt one thing from being here it’s to expect everything to be out of the ordinary.
On the way back to the car we stopped off at one of Lyon’s Sunday morning markets to stock up on a month’s worth of fruit and vegetables. I think it’s impossible to buy one courgette here – your only option is to buy the whole bowl of 62 for €2.50. Everything was really colourful and I had to stop myself looking like a complete foreigner by taking too many photos.
And then we started back on our lengthy journey home – but not before I was given a whistle-stop car tour of the city thanks to Isabelle’s brother. We drove all around the old roads of Lyon, up the hill and to the Basilique Notre Dame Fourviere church right at the top. The view over the city centre was incredible. If I was ever to move to France it would be to live here. I felt like I was on holiday – this is the real reason I wanted to come to Lyon!