Lyon: Day 7

by kangcuzzi

Well, let’s just say today wasn’t the finest of days.

Late last night we were greeted by our Airbnb host, Olivier, who told us about all the places in France he claimed we couldn’t miss. For an hour and a half, Joseph and I listened as Olivier told us about the crêpes in Brittany, the houses in Alsace-Lorraine, fire festivals in the west of France as well as a whole assortment of things that our fuzzy, 11PM brains — although we really tried — found impossible to hold on to. After midnight, when each blink threatened to glue our eyes shut, we finally said goodnight and went to sleep…

…a sleep so deep it took us thirteen hours to wake up.

Yep. And we thought we were on our way to becoming functioning adults.

Little did I know I was eating ‘breakfast’ at 1.30PM. When I asked Joseph for the time and he replied with ‘two o’clock’, I was about to disparage his terrible sense of humour when Olivier asked if I normally got up this late in Hong Kong.

It was then that the early bird in me died a little.

Thankfully, we were quick to make up for lost time. Like the day before, we grabbed two bikes from outside Olivier’s house and cycled our way to ‘Les Halles de Lyon — Paul Bocuse’, a covered market featuring various charcuteries (prepared meat stores), fromageries (cheese stores), boulangeries (bakeries) as well as a whole range of other vendors selling various bites to eat. Having just eaten breakfast we didn’t buy anything, but we did spend a while browsing through all there was to offer and sampling a little bit of tarte aux pralines (praline tarts) in the interim.

It was then the gods decided to further test our competence by showering us with rain. Because we’d already paid for a day’s worth of Vélib-ing (and because the metro isn’t our favourite place on earth), we decided it’d be worthwhile to bike our way to Lyon’s Old City — a UNESCO heritage site — in the rain. If I didn’t already feel like an idiot who wakes up way too late in the morning afternoon, I certainly felt like one as I cycled with wet glasses and a grossly spotted grey t-shirt. With Joseph’s life motto being ‘try everything at least once’, I guess, well, I was trying this fantastic experience for what I hoped would be the first and last time.

But when we arrived in the Old City, things weren’t that bad. The rain wasn’t a terrible downpour, so we dried off relatively quickly as we meandered past the many stores lining the streets. I was happy to see that the Old City was very mellow and calm, not unlike Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (which I am clearly obsessed with). Because it was an awkward time in the afternoon most things were closed, so we soon found ourselves climbing a steep uphill in order to reach the famous Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière.

To my relief, the Basilica offered some brief mental and physical respite. In the comfort of the indoors, we gazed upon the grandiose beauty often associated with religious buildings. What I found particularly intriguing was the international nature of the Basilica: not only did the basement feature statues of Mother Mary from various countries (like Spain, Portugal, China, and what seemed like Thailand), but there were also variations of the Hail Mary framed and put up along the staircase. Admittedly, I was a little homesick when I found the Korean version of the prayer near the top of the staircase, which kept ringing in my head as I walked through the rest of the building.

The rest of the day was pretty inconsequential. We stopped by a bakery and got some local specialties — a praline brioche for me, a praline tart for Joseph — walked a little, got bikes again and meandered around. We were passing by what seemed to be the Little India of Lyon when I was almost hit by a car (competency points +1) and decided that maybe the metro wasn’t so bad after all. Dinner was a quiet affair in a friendly looking restaurant in the Old City, where Joseph tried old man’s breath in the shape of a saucisson and I had some fish.

So you see, not the finest day ever. But relatively comfortable I guess, and slow, which was helpful after so many days on the road.