journal excerpt of bicycle trip 1998:

LYON

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photo in Place des Terreaux, Lyon ©TPH98 (jpg 3.37kb)

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Saturday 26 September LYON airport 11:20 am overcast cool

We're here! Bikes are here - intact! Bags are here!! Yes! Hurrah, we can go!

11:55 am T just finished replacing our pedals and I'm waiting for him to wash his hands. Then we will begin our trek to ride from the airport into Lyon. While T and I were putting our bags on the bikes and making last minute adjustments, a little girl with big round red glasses over big round eyes stared at us intently, asking her very chic mother if we were Canadian. This airport is so blissfully quiet in comparison to Charles De Gaulle. What a treat.

2:05 pm near PartDieu in a little creperie My feet are drenched; in fact I'm soaked from the knee down. As soon as we were ready to go, it started to rain. We were anxious to test our raingear anyway... but maybe not quite to this extent. But we were overjoyed anyway. To be free of the cramped seats of a vehicle and riding through French countryside (rain or no) was exhiliarating. With a little bit of difficulty (but very little) we found our way on the non-auto route to Lyon. Whenever we asked for the route here, people seemed surprised that we would be bicycling. It didn't seem like it was the rain but the distance. On arrival in Lyon, the rain began to ease and by the time we found this place, the rain had stopped and we even saw a few small patches of blue sky.

We just had the best crepes of Blé noir (buckwheat, I think). I had spinach and cheese and T had cheese, ham and fried egg. We had bowls of cider. It was fantastic! It was a simple little place. We thought it rather ironic that we had Bretagnic food for lunch in the rain and a few short hours before, we flew over Bretagne, (where it allegedly rains continuously) the only part of France that was not covered in cloud!

7:05 pm Hotel de la Résidence Rm#512 (330FF)

After a gruelling 9½ hour flight from Toronto/Montreal/Lyon, we had cycled 25.4km in the pouring rain. Just outside the hotel, there was an accordionist playing in the street that was shining in the newly appeared sunshine.

We went to a grocery store to buy Poire eau de vie (71FF for 500 ml). I stood outside the store staring vacantly at the picked over array of fruit that had two perfect topiary trees on either side. Three small boys appeared, closely followed by their driven to distraction mother. She was trying to get them to mind her, without much success. The father emerged from the store and said, "Qui veut une madeleine?!!" A chorus of "moi!"s and they crowded around, finally silent and obedient, looking expectantly into the open paper sack.

We continued riding, sometimes on the busy streets, sometimes on the busy pedestrian streets. There were throngs of people everywhere. I had forgotten about the mini Tour Eiffel until we saw it standing next to the big cathedral on the hill, gleaming in the late afternoon sun.

There is a real feel of fall in the air. There are yellow leaves on the ground and slight chill in the air. I felt like a fool wearing rubber thongs on bare feet. My shoes were just too wet to put on.

photo fourhorse fountain in Place des Terreaux, Lyon ©TPH98 (jpg 3.88kb) We loved 4 horse chariot square in Place des Terreaux in so much when we were here in Lyon two years ago that we had to return. We rode back to the square in Place des Terreaux to watch pedestrians walking through the fountains in the pavement. A young girl wearing rubber boots galloped from fountain to fountain, jumping in each fountain and laughingly trying to pull her mother in. As we were riding aimlessly, trying to stay awake, we again remarked on the multitude of fountains here. They're everywhere. At the opera, there is a man made river running down steps as well as the two huge modern sculpture fountains. photo mermaid fountain in Place des Jacobins, Lyon ©EJM98 (jpg 4.57kb)Every square we've visited has a fountain. At Place des Jacobins, there is yet another lovely fountain with mermaids holding fishes.

Further on, near the LaFayette store, in the gorgeous square with lovely apartments buildings in the nearby streets, we happened upon a big brass band - mostly young people dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts, playing the cancan with a high trumpet or two loudly screeching the tune high above the rest of the raucous trombones, euphoniums, etc. A girl sat with her legs draped over ther chair and beat the cymbal in time as an elderly woman danced in front of them, holding her dachsund cradled like a baby in her arms. She was wearing a straight knee length wool skirt, a sweater and sandals. Her frowsy false yellow hair waved a little as she turned and pirouetted gently in time to the caterwauling band. At the end of the song, she smiled and bowed to the people crowding about applauding the terrible band and seemingly completely oblivious to her. As we left, they struck up another awful tune and the woman began to happily dance again, the dog stoicly staying in her arms all the while.

We only saw one other bicyclist in this city of many cars. But happily, there are a number of pedestrian routes during the day (cars are allowed on the routes in the middle of the night, I think.) It seems a little safer to ride on the pedestrian routes but they are jammed with people walking in every which direction so it makes it a little difficult. We actually saw an official bicycle trail that crossed the river. We followed it, ringing our bells to get the people strolling on the path to move aside. I showed no mercy on the path, remembering how it was when I walked on such a path in Germany once. Cyclists ring and pedestians move to the side. For the most part, it worked here too except for one couple (they must have been American) that I had to wheel around. T exclaimed behind me, wondering what I was doing. But we were not so cavalier on the actual pedestrain ways and yielded entirely to those on foot. In fact, I even moved my mirror so it wouldn't get in people's way as we walked by and it snapped off in my hand.

Time to dress for dinner. The sooner the better because then we can come back and go to bed.


8:15 pm - at Le P'tit Compte Bar-Restaurant, 17 Rue Auguste Comte, Lyon, not far from our hotel

We had a little difficulty deciding where to eat. (We actually decided on one place but before ordering, left in a rather confused state. The proprieter didn't care.)

Le P'tit Compte 87FF prix fix menu

E: salade de foie de volaille et artichoke hearts **
T: salade Lyonnaise (lardons, egg, vinaigrette) *

both: quenelles with lobster sauce *
cabbage and lardons
white beans ( ? - long white bean like things)
broccoli florettes

Beaujolais village

pot de Cote de Rhone

E: gratinée de framboises *
T: glacé Grand Marnier

Total: 284FF
No asterix means good
* means really good
** means phenomenally good.
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10:00 pm We want to get back to the hotel. The restaurant is hopping with animated clientele. It has been wonderful but we NEED TO SLEEP!

10:20 pm (back at the hotel) !!! Some idiot cannot seem to park his car and keeps going back and forth making the most awful noises. He just hit someone's car. Finally he's gone but unfortunately, now someone is yelling. Now there are police sirens. Great. Just the thing for this night that we really want to sleep.

Sunday, 27 September 6:00 pm

photo Lyon market ©EJM98 (jpg 5.99kb) The market in Lyon was as wonderful as I remembered. We strolled through watching people buy their Sunday dinners. There were chickens roasting on spits, chou croute, cheese, flowers galore, curious looking long beans that were dark purple, an empanada shop and one that had a big dish of paella. I stopped at the cheese shop waiting and watching the next door fruit seller, a darkskinned short black man selling gorgeous bananas and pineapples. His stall had two large plastic lemon trees. Behind me, there was a bar with the barman singing a happy song. We saw a family walk by, with the man carrying the baby and the woman holding the hand of a young boy who was being pulled along on his roller blades. He didn't even try to skate himself!photo Lyon market ©EJM98 (jpg 4.44kb) What a wonderful market with the choruses of vendors calling out "Toutes a 10FF!! De bons raisins!! Pommes, Poires, Raisins!! Allez!! Abricots!! Allez Monsieursdames! Les Roses 10FF la bouquet! Citrons!, Pamplemouses rouges! Champignons! Cêpes!!" etc. etc. We continued to walk through, watching rollerbladers maneuvre through the crowd and a woman being followed relentlessly by a friendly stray dog. She had several bags of groceries and her own dog in her arms. I stood behind the market where a florist was selling big bunches of sunflowers, carnations and roses. As I stood there, a man with a grizzled beard walked by, looked at my paniers and happily exclaimed "Bravo Canada!!"

photo Lyon skaterboarders ©TPH98 (jpg 3.89kb)We then rode towards Parc Tete d'Or on wonderfully empty streets. What a contrast from the day before! Sundays can be great. We crossed the Rhone and stopped to watch some roller bladers, skaters and skateboarders taking turns on various ramps that were there on the plane tree lined pedestrian avenue by the river.

We continued along the river, finding an official bike route to the park. We got to the park, seeing very few cyclists. How strange. The park is a gorgeous one lined with many avenues and frequently posted signs which say that it is forbidden to walk on the grass. There were lots of people walking, running, strolling, rollerskating and rollerblading but only a very few others, mostly children, who were on bicycles.

Finally it was explained by an officious lady calling out in an admonishing tone to us from another path. We rode on, puzzling at what she had said and finally worked it out after we had passed her long before. "A pieds les Dimanches apres midi!" We decided to pretend we didn't understand and continued riding, continuing our practice of carefully yielding to all pedestrians. We got to a lovely botanical garden that was filled with cactus and tropical plants. There was a banana tree with tiny bananas forming and a huge flower that T didn't recognize as a banana flower.

We found a little section of the park that had two benches in with many plane trees. We sat there in the shady spot to have our excellent picnic lunch St.Felicien cheese (16.80FF for a large round), demi baguette (2FF), 3 pears (2.60FF). We ate 2/3 of the cheese which was just about ripe enough, oozing at the edges, but very good nonetheless. The pears on the other hand, were simply fabulous. Why of why can we not get pears like that in Toronto?!?

After lunch, we watched some roller bladers of all ages from about 6 to 18 going through an amazing obstacle course that was painted with dots on the road. They had placed pine cones and chicken bones (?) on the dots and were doing the most amzing crisscross skating patterns to go around the dots (sort of slalem style)

We then headed out of the park after passing through a HUGE rose garden with roses of every colour in full bloom still and lots of people walking through, dressed in their Sunday best or fashionably chic in their Benneton colours.

We decided to follow the official bike path on the river for a time and passed by beautiful houseboat after beautiful houseboat. One had an amazing garden on the deck that had palm trees, pampas grass as well as an actual lawn! The boat was easily as big as our house (but maybe only two stories high).

We left the river to explore the neighbourhood and search for a café. We blundered into the University area which is also the Moroccan one. It was filled with men and very few women. The bar we went to is also a tabac. There was a never-ending line that stretched right outside and down the sidewalk of people buying cigarettes. Luckily the bar did not have a line as well and we bought stamps as well as coffee and Vichy water from the friendly man at the counter.

As we got close to the hotel, suddenly the sky began to look ominous and it started to rain ever so slightly. We arrived back at the hotel just in time for a deluge of rain to fall.

It is now 6:45 and the rain has stopped. A bird is singing and the sun is occasionally reappearing.

. .
. distance:30.65 km .
av.sp:10.3 km/hr
max.sp:21.2 km/hr
time:2.57.00

MONDAY 28 September 6:55am 17C Rainy

We've been awake since 6:30 after having the rude awakening from listening to someone leave the parking space in the courtyard below. It's extremely tight down there. There are about 10 cars in the centre and three or four against the wall with a central circular pillar. We listened to two sets of heels clipping purposefully out and two sets of roaring engines from two cars jimmying out of the tiny spots before finally deciding to get up half an hour before we planned. At about 6:45 it began to pur. Great! We'll arrive at the train station drenched.

T just watched the TV to find out the weather and the TV is just as inadequate here as in Toronto. Those bozos didn't say ANYTHING about tomorrow, just today. It is going to rain here in Lyon but looks sunny in the south.

Last night we traipsed around looking for a place to eat that didn't seem like a major tourist trap. We were very frustrated to be told a number of times that there were menus in English if we needed to have things explained. We were just about to go across the river to the Moroccan section when T wisely brought up the point that it was already rather late and we didn't really know where we were going so we settled on what looked to me like the least of all the evils in the vicinity of our hotel. (Sometimes Sundays are horrible.)

It is a little out of the way called AU MANGE SANS FAIM. There was a shy not terribly efficient fellow who was serving who had the hint of a smile in his eyes when he took our order but mostly raced around. It was 8:30 and we were starving. T NEEDED bread and had told the fellow we were extremely hungry. The bread arrived at long last and we felt we could survive until our 78FF formula arrived.

Salade Lyonnaise (lardons lettuce, poached oozy egg! croutons) *
Supreme de Volaille estragon (rice, cauliflower)
2 pots de Cote du Rhone

T: tarte auz raisins *
E: pears in some sort of creamy sauce with too much coconut for my taste
232FF total

As the restaurant emptied, the harried server became a little friendlier.

We returned to the room to have our digestif of Poire and to sleep by midnight with the alarm set for 7:00 am.

8:35am Pérrache Station in the train

What a nightmare getting onto the train. I had an absolute fit that began brewing when my heart began to pound the moment I saw the escalator UP. (The escalator was no problem at all.) Then into the station with the trepidation that I would have to take an escalator DOWN. Yikes. But no, thank Heaven; we had to take stairs. I took a long time and T got worried that I was taking so long to carry my bike down. But I had to stop to let an elderly lady hobble by. We got to our platform to see a HUGE train marked as going to Marseilles. We verified that it was the right train and then began the search for the bicycle car. There were no bicycle cars. We found a car near the front as per our instructions and T lifted his bike into the small area. Then he stood around trying to assess the situation while I stood outside in the gentle rain. I couldn't lift my bike onto the train because the stairs are too steep. T came out to rescue me and proceeded to fall with his legs between the train and platform and my bike on top of him. I started to cry hysterically, sure that T had broken his legs. A passenger came out of the train to see if we needed help. I was incredibly embarrassed. "No, thank you, we were fine...." T successfully lifted my bike up onto the train. We then started the rather long process of trying to figure out how to get the bikes into the miniscule space provided. Paniers off and by lifting the bikes around and up, T secured them into a little square with the front wheels turned entirely. How we're going to get them off again will be another story. I just hope we have time!

It is now 8:45 and the train heading for Avignon left exactly on time. We are whipping along through the outskirts of Lyon. We passed the river we rode along yesterday. It is still raining but allegedly, it is sunny in the south.

to Avignon...

Our route:

route map bike trip98 (gif 3.34kb)

You can click on the map above for an enlargement of our route.

Thanks to City.net excite travel for the France map template
and University of Texas library on line for the relief map template.

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© ejm 1998-99
Toronto Ontario Canada

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