We slept in this morning. We needed to. While we were unconscious, our intestines and livers were working well into the early hours of this morning.
And then … we awoke to the aroma of a delicious Pot-au-feu being prepared by Chef Hubert, from ingredients specially sourced yesterday and also at crack of dawn this morning at the markets. The man has serious stamina!!
At a more civilized hour, Marie and I were sent out to find the perfect cheeses for “dessert”. We let Graeme come along, so long as he stayed a few paces behind. But first Marie showed us another special historical feature of Lyon. To quickly access the silk manufacturing area on the top of the hill at Croix-Rosse, and also to ensure that the valuable silk fabrics were not damaged by rain in transit down to the rivers, a network of covered passageways “Les Traboules” through buildings and streets was constructed.
Second stop was to show us the “Sunday Craft Markets” along the banks of the Saone River. Now when I say craft markets….I’m not talking amateur homemade stuff like crocheted doilies or embroidered tea-towels. All the stalls were showing true artisan goods or paintings. I know we are in France, but the quality of the artwork was absolutely top class. I asked Marie about this and she explained that not just “anyone” is allowed to sell at this market. There is a governing committee and every stall holder has to commit to being there every weekend.
Along the way, I spied a very nice hat stall…..after all I believe, I’m entitled to even up the headwear numbers a little. Actually Graeme says that I am obsessing about packing limits and in particular his hat numbers….”Build a bridge, Andy …and get over it”. “OK, darling”…so I wore my new hat on the bridge over the Saone!
Homeward bound, we stopped at H&M’s special cheese shop. What you need to understand is that H&M have a number of different suppliers for their meat, vegetables, bread, small goods…wine etc, etc – you get the idea. And then within each category at least 3 gradings of supplier from “everyday”, “something a little special” and “finally VIP special”. Us Antipodeans really just don’t “get” the importance of food. Anyway, Marie queued in that special chaotic french way, ie., there is no queue but even though there’s 20 people in the shop or the queue is so long it’s out in the street, everyone knows whose turn it is.
While waiting for Marie at the fromagerie, I was distracted by an amazing chocolate shop across the road. This was a “VIP Chocolatier” according to Marie. I thought I’d been transported to “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”, there was a waterfall of chocolate literally running down the wall. It would be rude not to have purchased something!!
Back up the 102 steps for family lunch. H&M, Cammi, Diane and Lionel. In addition to the Pot-au-feu, Hubert had also prepared another Lyonnaise speciality …broiled bone marrow. Now for the uninitiated, eating this is like “mainlining cholesterol”. Hubert had originally wanted to serve us this speciality “baked” but the bones need to be cut longitudinally not cross-sectioned….and his special butcher had run out of this particular cut on Saturday….I mean to say….there must have been a “run” on them that morning….ah those “crazy Lyonnaise”!
Lunch was delicious. But for us, it was made even more special when we could converse freely with Diane & Cammi in English. They have come a long way with their language skills in eight years. I hope that one day we can host them in NZ. Although Diane mentioned that she didn’t like airplane flights, having “freaked out” on the flight to New York a few years ago. Hopefully she can overcome this. Cammi might be interested? She is going to Madagascar in July with her school. She is a very independent young lady.
But the “show was stolen” by Lionel. Lionel doesn’t really like the French cheese. While they eat dairy products in Burundi, its more a yoghurt style curdled milk product or a very mild flavoured cheese. He really dislikes the strong flavours and smells of French cheese. As we tucked into the cheese course, Marie mentioned that there was a restaurant in Lyon that only serves cheese, for entree, main course & dessert. Lionel interjected….”and you pay money for this?”. Gra & I just cracked up laughing. No chance that Lionel is not following the conversation.
Finally the indestructible Hubert collapsed to sleep on the couch along with the rest of us! Waking early evening, H&M booked their flights to visit us in Arabba in January. We will be able to celebrate the dual mid-century birthdays almost half way between both Marie & my dates. Perfect.
As we prepare to leave Milan, Gra & I reflected on our impressions of Lyon. Lyon is not a “tourist city” in the usual terms. Certainly there is tourism here, but it’s very specific and without seeing the numbers I suspect largely domestic as formerly Wanaka was vs. Queenstown. Because you always tend to use a reference to compare things – for us, it was very much like Melbourne vs. Sydney. Like Paris, Sydney has the icons – Sydney harbour bridge and opera house. Melbourne on the other hand, like Lyon, is about the restaurants, cafes, arts & theatre & sport. Graeme : “If I had to live in a French city, I think I could live in Lyon”. I’d probably agree….as long as I could afford a private parking space…”pushing a little” everyday would do my head in.
What an absolute treat. H&M have gone out of their way to proudly show us their city, include us in their family and feed us within an inch of our lives. We look forward to skiing the legs off them when they come to Arabba in January. Unfortunately, they have a head start with their daily “stair-master” routine to their apartment.