Lyon–Day 6

This last day we started easily as Christine had to pack and bring her luggage to my room. It’s go-slow day, but we launched ourselves finally on the Quest to L’Ouest for napkins.

L’Ouest–the West–had a small boutique that sold all of the four brasserie’s napkin styles, and we were collecting. We’d started with Le Nord, walked to Le Sud, but still had two more to go. So Christine and I took the red Metro line to the end and found our way to the river, which would lead us to the restaurant.

She stopped into a market to buy 2 clementines, and the young man heard us talking English.
“You like Bush?” he asked.
I shook my head and he grinned.
“Obama,” I said, and he grinned again, giving us a thumb’s up sign.
Everyone likes to talk about our elections.

After a brisk twenty minute walk (When did I ever start walking so slowly? Compared to Christine, I’m a tortoise, I think) we arrive. Unlike the small charming brasseries in the town center, L’Ouest caters to the business lunchers, the busy suburbs.

We sat across from the kitchen–perfect ringside seat to the action. We were directly across from the dessert prep area, which when we arrived was nearly idle. By the time we finished our lunches, this area was hopping, and we had fun watching the chantilly (whipped cream) being piped from a gleaming silver machine, dressing up the presentations.

This restaurant had a palate of soft jewel tones, and the glowing lights in the front of the kitchen echoed these colors.

Christine’s lunch of foie gras–perfection.

My salad was a work of art. Underneath the mushrooms and cheese was a coil of split haricot verts, cooked & chilled. Artichoke hearts, quarters of romaine, asparagus and tomato rounded out the feast.

Walking along the Saone river, after leaving the restaurant.
We relaxed at the hotel room for a while (she checked in for her flight) and then we were off to the train station, via the Metro. She had her carry-on, with straps like a pack, over her shoulders and carried her straw bag. I managed her suitcase. One transfer, two more stops and we were there at Part Dieu. The tracks were a crush–Friday afternoon rush hour. Christine figured out where our car would be, and we snaked our way to the approximate place. The train stopped and a wild crush of people crowd the door. She got on, I lifted her suitcase up, kissed and hugged her good-bye and stepped off the train. Within 3 minutes, the train slowly pulled out. They don’t mess around with late schedules, here.

I waved good-bye and walked over to the Mall, intending to tackle Carrefours (their version of Wal-Mart) but was too tired to face it. I bought the folders I needed at the local stationers, and headed down the escalator to the Metro, hearing English–but with an accent.

It turned out to be two young men down from Ireland for the weekend to help a friend celebrate his birthday. They followed me along through the transfers to Place Bellecour, where we said good-bye. It was a bit wild, for I’m fine if I’m bumping around trying to find places, but when I have to show others, it’s a bit nerve-wracking that I’ll mess up. I did fine, though, in the Metro’s Friday night rush hour.

I gathered up the clothes and headed to the laundromat–just a few steps away from our hotel (another reason I like it so well). They’ve upgraded dramatically: their control machine (for soap and the washers/dryers) now accepts paper bills. Yay!

Thirty-five euro later (three loads, wash and dry) we have clean clothes. (Good thing, because at home is still my broken washer.) Dave finds me at the laundromat, carries some laundry home.

We think about Christine on her way to Paris, then home, and miss her already. We walk the neighborhood, looking for a place to eat, and decide to try the restaurant at Institut Paul Bocuse (it’s a theme, yes) where they have a hotel/restaurant management school.

I thought of our daughter Barbara, and her love of chickens when I saw the display behind Dave’s chair.

The warm breadsticks were brought in this crushed plastic cup–only it was ceramic!–which instantly made it Very Cool.

This was “millefeuille de legumes grilles et marines au pistou” and remember that Blogger doesn’t do accent marks, of which there were many in that phrase. It was a multi-layered stack of grilled vegetables, with a garlic pistou, or sauce.

It was topped with a prosciutto-type ham, and it was delicious.

We each had “thon rouge a la plancha et ratatouille” in other words, grilled pink tuna atop ratatouille. On the side was risotto, and the wild looking garnish was an anise-tasting vegetable (can’t think of it’s name).

Okay, this one’s “macaron chocolat, coulis fruits de la passion” and it’s delicious with a great presentation.

It’s a giant macaroon, with passion fruit sauce and some bananas for garnish.

We walk home. The weather’s turned colder today, and the street’s quieter. We have both had to sleep with earplugs to keep out the street noise (we keep our windows ajar), but maybe not tonight. We call Christine in Paris to make sure she’s safe and sound–she is.
And so the week’s coming to an end. Last day for Christine and one more day for me. Dave’s staying until his “conference” is over, coming home next Wednesday.

Lyon-Day 5

In the hallway of our hotel by the elevator, Christine had seen an intriguing modern art poster. With her encouragement and a morning of train hassles, we finally got out of Lyon. We went to St. Etienne to see the Modern Art Museum, a low-slung building set on a hill over this industrials city (of which we didn’t see).

The artists were Anthony Gormley, which we both quite liked and Jean-Michael Alberola. While we waited for the taxi to take us home, we posed in front of the museum, enjoying the beautiful clouds (it had been raining earlier).

Christine by the advertising posters, which are all over the hotels and the metro stations.

Christine had fun photographing this art (at the train station), with its transparent and opaque plastic leaves.

We zipped inside the station, hunting for our quai (platform), got it. Nope! Wrong one. Down the stairs, and up the stairs and into the waiting train. It left about 4 minutes later. Christine had a close call with her Paris-Lyon train, and was determined not to repeat that.

Paul Bocuse is a famous Lyonese chef, who has had a great impact on fine dining the world over. We frequent his brasseries because they are well-priced with high quality ingredients and inventive, good food. Tonight’s brasserie is Le Nord, which features traditional Lyonese dishes.

Christine had sausage inside brioche. Dave commented that it looked like a duded-up pig-in-a-blanket. We all shared bites of everything and the taste of this was far beyond that.

We had squash soup. When we were trying to figure out what type of squash the soup was made of, the waiter smiled and said “Halloween.” Ah, pumpkin.

Being the adventurous one, Christine had a quenelle. It was light, delicious, and the best choice of all the entrees at dinner.

The pièce de résistance–the best? The dessert of merigne with fruits rouges. Okay–it’s two five-inch long piped merigne “logs” with three flavors of sorbet pressed between them: mango, vanilla and and chocolate (I think). Chantilly, or whipped cream is piped on top, with berry coulis (sauce) puddling around the creation and more berries for garnish. Heaven.

Christine wanted a souvenir of a napkin, and then thought how fun it would be to have one from Le Sud, another Paul Bocuse brasserie where we’d eaten on Monday evening. So we walked down Rue des Republique, through Place Bellecour and to Le Sud.

They had the happy birthday organ grinder box out again.

It’s a Paul Bocuse theme show, I think, because we found the Institute Paul Bocuse on our way home. It’s a hotel (Hotel Royal) and restaurant that the Paul Bocuse Institut runs. It’s basically a school for hotel and restaurant managers. They don’t have any fancy napkins to buy (just kidding), so we head home.

[Christine’s not the only one with Paul Bocuse brasserie napkins. More on that in the next post, but I’ve got to go out and enjoy my last day here in Lyon.]

Lyon–Day 4

First stop of the day is back to the Paul Smith store. We’d seen some fun stuff there, and after thinking about it a night, decided to act on it. As I was finishing my purchase, the owner disappeared around to the back room, came out with something in his hands and cut off the price tags.

They were bracelets. One for Christine, which coordinated with the necklace she’d purchased.

And one for me, to go with the necklace I’d bought. I held up my hand to show the bracelet, and he clasped it. Very charming, these French.

After stashing them back at the room, we walked down to Perrache Metro/Gare to head out for the day. There was a demonstration of apprentices. Many orange-helmeted guys in groups of 4 or 5 busy cutting out the same shape, bending their set of rebar in the same curve, busy hammering. And of course, one official guy overseeing each group. Quite a display.

We took the Metro red line to City Hall, then transferred to the yellow, which truthfully was like an underground funicular. We could feel the steepness of the climb in the tilt of the train car. We were heading up Croix-Rousse, an ancient hill of this city, established in Roman times. We paused to get our bearings at the top, and behind Christine was. . .

. . . this fabulous group of French ladies.
We keep noticing the style, which seems to be DNA-coded in the women here. A scarf casually rolled, the shoes perfectly matched, the jacket just so. Of course there are others without that, but we seem to agree that there is a predominance of good fashion and classic style sense that doesn’t seem to exist on a national level in the United States.

A street fair was set up, with La Petite Serene sign atop one of the fairway games. It reminded me of my granddaughters.

The previous few days, Christine kept saying, there’s this drink that Jeremy told me to get. And we’d try this one, or this one. But today–we found it. Agrum. I took a photo so we could remember. We paused in this sliver of a park atop Croix-Rousse to enjoy the view of the neighboring hill, where the Notre Dame du Fourviere basilica is sited.

Why did we head up here? To see the traboules, the stairways and passageways where the silk workers from earlier days passed from one factory to the next, always staying out of the rain. It’s a World Heritage site collectively.

One of the more famous. It’s on all the brochures.

Sometimes we’d head through small courtyards on our trek. I couldn’t resist photographing Christine against this perfectly pinky-beige wall.

This stairway was locked, so I looked up and caught the symmetry.

I saw this doorway last time: CSL. I pointed it out to Christine and she said: Cynthia Sessions Lippincott! Yep. I thought so too.

Passage Thiaffiat leads down from double stairs, through a small narrow courtyard. We paused here to window shop (okay, okay, I bought some perfectly quirky earrings with Eiffel towers dangling from a small jewel) and in front of our store as we stepped out, a lady in turquoise stockings was comforting a weeping friend. She quickly stepped across the courtyard to usher her friend into another storefront.

We continue on, through Moire courtyard–yes, the man who developed the process did it here. I like the cart paths on the side of the stairs.

Our eventual destination is Place des Terraux. This fountain (photo taken from a museum window) was designed by the same man who designed our Statue of Liberty. Facing this fountain is the Beaux Arts museum, housed in the 17th-century Palais St-Pierre, a former Benedictine convent for the daughters of the nobility.

The museum is a square, with a large courtyard in the center. This is a view of one of the “hallways” on the lower floor, just to my right as I entered (but before we were in the courtyard).

We were tired, so the first stop was the terrace. This little refreshment stop was typically French, with a long wait for the waiter (is that why they call them that?). He took our order, another long wait. I had orange juice, and Christine had lemon juice. They brought me water and sugar (it needed the sugar!) and I was supposed to dilute the juice with the water to make an orangeade. I told Christine that I was from Southern California and we don’t dilute our orange juice there. I ended up doing it, not only to be “with it,” but also because I needed some hydration. Another long wait for the check. We gave up and went inside and paid.

A painting in the Musee des Beaux Arts, detailing virtures and vices. Check out the devil blowing red smoke in the lady’s ear on the right, as well as the anger box (to the right of that), with a thorny border.

A window to a stairwell.

A lower salon with beautiful stone statues alongside the windows.
We went home, tired from the day. Shopping and sightseeing is hard work. We checked email and talked until Dave came home and off we went to Momento, a restaurant we’d found on our last trip. The owner experiments a lot, and most dishes are successful; some are not, but it’s always an adventure.

Salmon atop toast and greens–Dave’s appetizer. A winner.

Three tastes: mushroom soup (good), panna cotta with mushroom and dried, cured beef (wierd), and fresh greens.

A roasted chicken leg with swirled pancetta and mashed potatoes. One of the interesting things to notice is the use of drizzled sauces and chopped garnishes to make the presentation really interesting.

Fig cake. It was delicious, but the lunch version was superior.

Christine had molten chocolate cake with a basil sauce. I don’t know if that one “worked” for me, but it was adventurous.

Good night.

Lyon–Day 3

We leave our windows open at night to get the cool fresh air (the A/C has been disabled for the season) and every morning the street washers wake us up. A large truck slowly moves down the street as two men wield firefighter-sized hoses, sweeping the street with water in front of them, spraying some down the side streets to clear away the previous day’s debris and dirt. Although it looks like it’s the middle of the night, it’s about 7 a.m. The sun doesn’t rise here until nearly 8 a.m.

It was a day to Go Slow, so we did. I blogged, dressed and we finally left mid-morning. We stopped by the Post Office for timbre (stamps) and then went right over to Momento for lunch.

Christine’s dish of dried thinly sliced beef with shards of cheese.

I had the salmon atop a bed of camelized onions and shallots, with three potato chips on top.

For dessert, we shared the fig cake. It was amazing.

We decided to go and write our postcards, since we now had the stamps, but detoured when we saw this dress salon. Everything is custom-made, but the hand-painted silk dress fit Christine. The owner, from Tunisia originally, had worked in the couture shops in Paris (his mother still works at Balenciaga) and he assured us he could have the dress done by tomorrow or Friday. Tempting. We floated out after an enjoyable few minutes talking clothes. All his things were so exquisitely made and inventive. Lyon is known for its food, but its design and fashion can’t be far behind. We’ve seen so many interesting pieces of clothing. We’re limited by our budget and the size of our suitcases, so we admire a lot, but don’t indulge.

We sat in Place Bellecour and wrote postcards, enjoying the day and the sun. Afterwards, we walked by the Paul Smith shop, admiring his jewelry and clothing and we went in. Pretty soon the owner had us trying on all sorts of coats, jackets, etc. Some went home with us, but we left a promise to return after we thought about a few others. Home, via Leonidas to get some chocolates for Dave: medallions that are two or three raisins and a nut or two atop a chocolate circle.

Our street from the hotel window, looking out to Place Bellecour.

We checked email, wrote and whiled away the pleasant afternoon, waiting for Dave to arrive. Heading to dinner through Place Ampere–named for Mr. Ampere who discovered amps, I guess–we enjoyed the changing lights on his statue.

The Carolingan abbey belltower.

Dinner was at Little Italy, a place we discovered just by walking around after we couldn’t find our first choice. Menu: green salad, and we all shared a dish of ziti and a pizza. We walked home along the Saone river, through Place Bellecour, where work, then sleep, awaited us.

Lyon–Day 2

This little scene–of two molded plastic chairs, a little table with a pot of flowers on top–is directly across from my hotel window. When we went on our first trip to France, so many years ago, we calculated that we’d eaten outside more times than inside–a lovely habit epitomized by this promise of a meal on a teensy balcony, four floors above the street.

So, our first meal of the day is from Paul, a chain of bakery shops that has consistently high quality. Dave’s eating a whatever but it’s made of brioche-like dough, round and flat with sucre (sugar) and fresh raspberries on top. I had one also and we shared a quarter-sized baguette with large chunky crystals of sugar on top. It looked like salt, but it wasn’t.

Quirky car we saw while we were hunting up hair spray.
Several corner markets later, we found some in my price range and size (small–for airline carryon). It’s called Lacque, as in lacquer, I suppose, so I can shellac my hair into place. We’re staying near the gare (train station) so we can meet Christine.

She arrives! in a flurry of fun and good cheer. We slide back to the hotel and get her checked in and drop off her luggage, then head out again. We’re standing in the Carolingan church, in the side chapel that dates from the 9th century.

Window from this same chapel.

The exterior of the church, with a steeple shaped like, I think, a Bishop’s miter (hat).

We pick up lunch from a tiny artisan bakery, that also makes great desserts, like the cookies above. Lunch: two baguette sandwiches one with ham & tomato and the other with cheese and tomato. We couldn’t resist their dessets, either.

Dave’s was chocolate-coated “tulip” cookie shell filled with custard and topped with raspberries, strawberries and a current cluster for decoration.

I had a molded ganache-like treat and Christine’s was a small tart, filled with pistachio-almondine and topped with raspberries. We’d taken everything up–via funicular–to Fourviere Hill for a “picque-nicque.”

We ate in the park next to this basilica. Very symmetrical, so I knew Dave would like it. Inside are beautiful mosaic murals in shades of blues and greens with gilt highlights, but the light was low so they didn’t photograph too well.

This four-winged angel was in adjoining side hall.

Interestingly, underneath the main basilica, was a smaller “church” dedicated to Joseph, spouse of Mary. These candles were in a side chapel. We then walked down through a switch-backed trail that meandered through gardens.

We joined the blue-legged jogger to while a way some time in this garden.

Christine and Dave.
Fall colors decorate an empty house, with door ajar.

Lyon is known for its painted buildings. This is one–and there really is a bookstore business at street level. I included some of the side facade with windows for comparison.

We walked down past St. Nizer church–a gothic looking structure tucked in between the city buildings. Inside was a new scene for me: a brown/beige and cream stained glass window, striking for its neutral tones.

Window with all types of sneakers.

We came home and crashed for a while–worn out from all the walking. Dinner was a Le Sud (again, I know), but it’s such a good restaurant how can you lose? Christine’s first course was a patty sandwich of potatoes with thon (tuna) in the middle, swimming in a tomatoey sauce.

Dave’s main course was a tajine of semolina and vegetables. They’d brought a mini soup tureen of jus and more vegetables, that he ladled over the dish. He said it was great.

I had the chicken (as did Christine). The prevailing wisdom is if you want to really see how good a chef (or a restaurant) is, order chicken. If it’s amazing, then you’ve found a good chef. This was amazing. It had a side of roasted potatoes and a thumb-sized portion of spinach.

We kept hearing some music and several people pulled out their cell phones. But when it came nearer our table, we realized it was a hand-cranked organ grinder and the waiters were singing Happy Birthday to the customer. It was funny that people kept checking their cell phones.

We struck up a conversation–or should I say, Dave and Christine struck up a conversation–with a lovely French couple. They’d traveled around California seeing all the National Parks, and here we were in their hometown–they were both born and raised in Lyon. We asked them advice on museums, more Paul Bocuse brasseries, and had a pleasant conversation. We were happy that they were friendly and willing to chat with us, as this is what really makes foreign travel so interesting–getting out of the cocoon we live and into other lives and other ways of doing things. Sign of the times: we traded email addresses afterwards, in order to send photos.

We walked home via Place Bellecour and all went to bed. A lovely day, a lovely evening.

Note: the links on this page are to last year’s trip to Lyon, with more photos.

Lyon–Day 1

We’re off!
(I added to this on Monday morning after the garbage man woke me up.)

But not too fast. Initial flight to Munich was delayed 3 1/2 hours–at least we got a free dinner out of it at one of the illustrious restaurants at LAX (courtesey of Lufthansa’s meal vouchers). The reason why we were delayed was a medical emergency in the previous flight–they had to detour to Iceland to drop a passenger off at the hospital.

Luckily for us, we were supposed to have a 4 hour-layover in Munich, was which now reduced to 45 minutes. We were very happy to get on that tiny jet taking us to Lyon. They served us “sausage” sandwiches, which turned out to be tiny seeded rolls with black forest ham. So good, we each had two. The first thing we saw in the Lyon Saint-Exupery Airport was this mural of the Little Prince and his flyer-author, who was born in Lyon.

We caught the airport bus to Parrache Train Station, wheeled our suitcases three blocks to our hotel, only to find that they’d given away our room. I sat down in a chair, while Dave handled it. We ended up at another hotel, more expensive and had to pay for the cab. The clerk at the desk was *clueless* even though Dave spoke French to him. My favorite moment? When the clerk said, “You weren’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow.” Dave pointed to the confirmation notice sitting on the desk. “No. It says right here, that we will be here on the 11th–Saturday.” I was politely snarky, calling out little comments like “You have a problem–hope you can fix it,” to the hotel clerk, who luckily couldn’t understand much of what that crazy American lady was saying, who looked like she’d been run over by a bus. The cab driver was nice, and we only had to switch rooms once in the new hotel (phone and A/C didn’t work in the first room).

Looking out from our room in Hotel des Artistes at the sunrise. . . at 8 a.m.

So we showered, dressed then walked over to the “marche” or street market, held on the adjacent street. We love walking up and down the rows of colorful vegetables, fragrant flowers, chicken men, paella sellers, Boy Scouts selling their calendars (some things are the same the world over), and looking at all the odd things we never see in American markets.

Rosy-yellow pomegranites.

Restful chicken.

Golden mushrooms.

My zinnias at home are all burned up from the heat (but then again, these may be dahlias).

Cabbages and leeks.

The chicken man. We bought a half chicken from him, and roasted potatoes from another vendor, and raspberries from someone else . . .

. . . and bread from someother vendor, and macaroons and pain du raisen and pain du chocolate and an amandine tart. And I think that’s it.

Fall’s arrived at the market.
We finished off lunch, packed up and walked over to our hotel–and yes, they had a room for us. In fact, please check out these 5 rooms. So we did, and chose a large one on the fourth floor with three windows, two facing two different streets. The sunlight streaming in was delightful, and with the double-glazed windows closed, it’s rather quiet. If the windows are open, the street noises filter up. Not too bad today–maybe worse tomorrow.

We dressed, caught the Metro over to church. We’d been here last year, but it must have been Stake Conference or something. We walked in with the missionaries (one from Florida, one from Paris) to an abbreviated chapel that obviously was also an all-purpose room.

The stake president came over and introduced himself to us–6 wards and 3 branches in his stake. He invited us to come to the celebration of the hundredth year of the church in Lyon, but alas, we’ll be back in the states. 100 years in Lyon. I thought about that the whole sacrament meeting (as I couldn’t understand a word), along with the faithfulness of the saints in this part of the world, carrying on with great faith and dedication.

Back home on the Metro, along with half of Lyon it seemed like, then change clothes and enjoy our room for a while before dinner. Here’s a look out our window, up the street toward Place Belcour–a huge huge huge city square in Lyon.

After snoozing a while, then trying to wake up (jet-lag!) we went for a walk. First we checked on one of our favorite restaurants, Momento, seeing if it was still in business (it was) and then out past this little square, dedicated to Lyon’s first doctor. Dave caught a good shot of the fountains.

A new sculpture we hadn’t seen before: a flower tree made of giant oversized blossoms. European art, when not of the fountains and traditional elements kind, can be very interesting.

Close-up. These blossoms were about 4 feet across in width.

Pivoting 180 degrees from the Flower Tree is a randomized foutain, in front of some old architecture. Dave caught a sloping formation. To the right of these fountains is Le Sud, where we headed for dinner. It’s one of our favorites, a brasserie from Paul Bocuse.

Dining in foreign countries is a bit like a treasure hunt. The food will be mostly good and always interesting, as what’s printed on the menu is not always what’s imagined in the mind. Here’s an example. Salmon with toast. It turned out to be sashimi-like: thin slices of raw salmon drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

Salt helped.

Next course: Dave had trout over vegetables which turned out to be a 4-inch “patty” made of spinach, then grilled onion, red and golden bell pepper, formed into a circle, with the trout on top. Mine was roasted veal with a eggplant coulis of some kind and roasted potatoes. If I could have used the bread to sop up the gravy I would have, but I was pacing myself for what was coming.

The cheese course. Mine was the half-circle of a local specialty which reminded me a cross between camembert and brie and brought up stories of my father’s love of camembert at one time in my life, and the special yellow plastic holder with the wedgie thing that kept the insides from oozing out. Dave’s was a soft cheese with a red berry sauce. It reminded us of a panna cotta-cream cheese-yogurt sort of amalgamation.

Last course was a “chocolate pie” as the one friendly waiter put it. (The other wait staff just kind of put up with us.) It was made with Valrhona chocolate. When it came, in honor of our recent anniversary of our first date (and first kiss), I carved our initials in the top of mine with my fork.

Dave countered with the number of our recent anniversary. Yep. Nineteen years of marriage, twenty years of kisses.

A picture of the restaurant. He has three others; this one’s “The South.” Guess what the others are named?

The brasserie is right beside the river, and the reflections made for an enjoyable photo shoot. Dave caught this one of a grand building, all decorated up like a dowager going out for the evening.

I looked over the wall and found the stark diagonals of the steps down to the water a nice counterpoint to the shimmering blues. We took many many more. It’s something we enjoy doing–and we find that our shots overlap sometimes. Dave’s really good with the landscape, and I like the details.

A poetry memorial of some kind, with Dave playfully (at the request of the photographer) peeking out from around one of the slab-like columns. And that’s it for the first day.