Lyon and beyond

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Our plan for today was to explore Lyon and some of the nearby countryside with lunch at a restaurant recommended at the French cooking class we took recently. Lyon is less than 50 km from Pérouges or usually about an hour in morning traffic. We planned some sightseeing before lunch but did not need to leave until 8:30 am.

Majella and I were eating breakfast soon after 7 am but we left rousing Callum until 7:45 am. Hannah called using FaceTime soon after 8 am and Callum chatted with her and Claire before giving Matt a video tour of the apartment.

We were on the road to Lyon just after 8:30 am expecting to take about an hour to reach our destination in the old city. Traffic was heavy and it was a little after 10 am by the time we reached the parking station I had selected for our proposed exploration of Vieux Lyon and Fourvière.

Our real troubles began when we were unable to enter the car park. Perhaps we tried a section reserved for regulars with entry cards. Majella had to back out. We tried what we thought was another entrance further along but it was the exit.

I searched for parking lots and set navigation for one near where we wanted to go. It was less than a kilometre away but it took 15 minutes to go there via a winding road up Fourvière hill and down through back streets. Along the way we saw a few parking spaces but they would have required walking up and down a steep hill and were not suitable.

By the time we reached that parking lot it was near enough to the time I had planned to move the car to another parking lot close to the restaurant where we were booked for lunch. We decided to cut our losses and go there immediately.

At least for today there was no going anywhere in Lyon immediately. What should have been a 15 minute trip took about an hour stuck in traffic. Some of that was apparently caused by a broken down bus that we passed but much of it had no obvious explanation. At one point Majella spotted a vacant kerbside space and parked in it but, when we could see no signage or pay machine, we moved on lest we be booked.

After some more desperate circling through narrow winding streets we eventually spotted Indigo Opera parking. After our earlier experience Majella was nervous about entry but the machine issued a ticket and she drove down four levels to find a vacant spot. It was tight and required some careful manoeuvring to get the passenger side of the car close enough to the wall to allow Majella to open her door wide enough against the next car to exit.

Parked at last, we exited pleased to see the end of 3 hours of driving without yet achieving anything we had planned for the day other than parking near the restaurant where we were booked for lunch. We walked the short distance to confirm the location of the restaurant and on past to the end of the street. It was just past 11:30 and our booking was for noon when the restaurant opened. We had time to fill.

Our planned activity immediately before lunch had been a visit to L’Atelier de Soeirie, a studio printing silk scarves and other fabric items suggested by the same couple who recommended the restaurant. Majella wondered if we might make it there and back in the time we had. I checked and found the suggested walking time was about 6 minutes so off we went. We made it to the studio and saw some of the work they do though not the actual process which we would likely have seen if we had been on our planned schedule. We had time to walk back and arrived at the restaurant as they opened at noon.

We were first to arrive but by the time we were eating several tables inside and out had filled and the staff were bustling to serve them. We chose from the menu of the day. For entree Majella and I had Salade de légumes aux sésames, brochette de thon (salad of sprouts with sesame oil and a skewer of tuna). Callum passed on entree because he fancied neither the tuna nor the vegetable based alternative. For main we each had Caille grillée aux épices Tandoori, houmous de pois-chiche (grilled quail with Tandoori spice served on chickpea hummus). For dessert Callum and I had Cheesecake aux fruits rouges (cheesecake with strawberries and cherries) and Majella had Clafoutis aux cerises et fraises (baked tart with cherries and strawberries). Majella and I thought it was all well presented and delicious. Callum was impressed by the quail and the cheesecake but less so by the hummus and cherries. Majella and I shared a 375 ml bottle of local white wine and Callum had a cola. Bruno, the chef and owner, came out to speak with us briefly and sent his regards to his friends who had recommended we go there.

Our lunch took a little more than an hour. We walked back to the car park and extracted our car with much less trouble than we had getting in. Our next stop was Chaponost, a nearby area with remnants of the aqueduct the Romans built to carry water to the city. Traffic had cleared a bit and we made good time to that location where we spent some time walking among the aqueduct remnants. It says something about Roman engineering that so much is still standing more than 2000 years later.

Our next planned stop was Saint Romain en Gal to see more Roman ruins. There is a museum there that we might have visited except that we failed to find the parking at the museum and parked at the far end of the ruins. None of us fancied a long walk in the hot sun so we looked at the ruins through the fence and then drove on.

Our final planned stop for the day was Malleval, an ancient village in the hills further south along the Rhône. As we drove there we passed large expanses of steep hillsides covered in grape vines planted on stakes. We also passed many places advertising that they made and sold wine.

Malleval is an interesting old village built along a gorge in the hillside. We wandered around there for some time looking at the old stone buildings. I had though we might walk to some cascades in the gorge but when Majella asked a woman about directions we learned that there had been some storm damage that made the path less safe than usual. We are all still a bit weary and Majella and I are nursing legs that ache from our Paris adventures so we passed on the gorge walk.

Rather than reverse our journey around the edges of Lyon I had planned to go cross country via Villefontaine so I set the navigation for that. Once we had returned up river to the vicinity of Saint Romain en Gal our route took us east and north through the countryside. We passed some forest, a lot of farmland with what looked like wheat, and a good number of industrial areas. Shortly before we reached Villefontaine, Majella spotted Le Cabanon and we stopped to get something for Callum to eat. He had a panini fromage which he enjoyed and in which he discovered there were several types of cheese.

I drove on from there selecting a route using country roads that avoided tolls and took us through more interesting countryside and villages. I missed the last turn as we approached our apartment and we had to deviate around some country lanes to get back to the corner I missed. That proved fortunate since along the way we had an excellent view of Pérouges perched on its hill.

We arrived back at our apartment around 7 pm, all claiming to be exhausted. Much of the exhaustion is probably still the effects of the long flight and busy day in Paris but we are looking forward to a slower start and more relaxed day tomorrow. Substantial parts of today did not go as planned but that’s travel.


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