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Posted on January 28th, 2012

We like Lyon. Seldom visited by tourists and by-passed by Parisians as they race to the Mediterranean, the second largest city in France is a delightful surprise. Here we found history, classic architecture and beauty to match Paris, all without the scale, hustle or difficulty of moving around.  Lyon was founded by the Romans in 43 BCE and two amphitheatres remain on the Fourvière hill overlooking the city. The city is at the confluence of two great rivers, the Saone and the Rhone.  Presqu’Ile is an island precinct between those rivers, where we found a delightful B&B: La Chambre d’Hugo on the third floor of a Napoleonic building. The area abounds in quality shops and restaurants. We look foward to returning in June.      

Soyez courageuse!

Posted on January 28th, 2012

“Be brave!” the restaurant owner said to Sheryl, as he handed her the key to the toilet and ushered her towards a door in a dark medieval stairwell.  Au Petit Bouchon Chez Georges is one thebouchons of Lyon; small, intimate, convivial restaurants that serve hearty dishes often made from animal parts we prefer not to think about. Renowned as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon enjoys an amazing number of restaurants and food shops. Pignol is a patisserie with a wide range of cakes and a reasonably-priced cafe in central Lyon. Borgeot is a typical traiteur, a shop selling prepared savouries and meat-based dishes to take away.  Many butchers are also traiteurs, particularly in smaller towns where there is little room for competition, but in Lyon the traiteurs are true specialists.        

French attitudes

Posted on January 25th, 2012

In December 2011 the Chambre des Notaires de Paris, an association of civil lawyers in the French capital, commissioned research into social attitudes in France. They telephoned 971 respondents, aged over eighteen and representative of the French population, to ask what they think about euthanasia, gay marriage, surrogate motherhood and similar issues. So how do the French think today? For Against Gay marriage         63%         33% Adoption by gays         56%         40% Surrogacy         63%         35% Euthanasia         84%         13% Full results can be seen here. The French and Gay Marriage Support for gay marriage continues…

The Traboules of Lyon

Posted on January 18th, 2012

No visitor to Lyon should miss the traboules, a Lyonnais word   for passages that run under and through many old buildings.  Dating from the fourth century, these passages originally provided residents quicker access to the river to collect water. Today there are 230 traboules, mainly in the Vieux Lyon and Croix Russe districts. Entered through doors from the street, some traboules lead to beautiful courtyards with fine buildings such as La Tour Rose, the Pink Tower, where Moliere held the première of his play, l’Etourdi, the Absent Minded, in 1653. In 1831 the silk weaving Canuts used the traboules very effectively during their uprising against low wages, said to be the first worker revolt of the industrial revolution. The French Resistance later exploited their knowledge of the secret passages to outwit the Gestapo.              

Chasse moderne

Posted on January 18th, 2012

Saffy and I met a hunter and his two dogs in the forest this morning.  The hunting season has ended for faisan and perdrix, pheasant and partridge, in the fields and vineyards, so hunters head to the hills, where they seek bécasse, a small long-billed bird.  The hunting dogs are equipped with transmitters.  If the dog senses a bird nearby, it pauses instinctively, checking and scenting.  If the dog stops for more than five seconds, the transmitter emits a beep or sends a signal to the hunter, who has time to prepare his shot.            

Afternoon in Ménerbes

Posted on January 3rd, 2012

At the end of December each year, Ménerbes hosts a truffle market in the main square.  Stallholders offer early season black truffles at one thousand Euros per kilogram. Small wonder that the gendarmes are in attendance.  Other vendors sell truffle-flavoured charcuterie, cheeses and andouillettes, tripe sausages. Afterwards the Choeur Apta Julia gave a fine performance of Handel’s Messiah in L’Eglise St Luc.