Where is a car park?!@Lyon

I am feeling very good after finishing practicing stick-handling drills, shooting pucks and riding an exercise bike. Now, I’ve completed stretching and I am ready to update my blog!

After passing Laragne-Montéglin, we traveled along A51 northwestward. At Grenoble, we took A43 and continued another 112km towards Lyon.

Lyon was the largest city we planned to visit during the road trip (we omitted Paris because we visited numerous times already), so we were duly excited.

Lyon, on y va!

We reached the outskirts of Lyon around 13:00.

Traffic was getting busier…

We continued towards the city centre and crossed the Rhône.

The Rhône! Beautiful!!

Once crossing the river, our sight was filled with tall buildings and trees.

So where is our street?

For the road trip, I booked all of our hotels through Booking.com and one of my criteria when I came to choose lodging was how easy it was to park our car. Mum had a bad knee and we weren’t exactly light travellers – our baggage snowballed as we continued the journey! – so I wanted a public parking to be near the hotels if they couldn’t provide a private one.

Lyon!

Navigating through a large European city on foot would be confusing if you were new to the place. And the task would be even harder if you were behind the wheel and negotiating one-way streets in an unfamiliar city. I tried my hardest not to smash anyone’s side mirror as well as any pedestrian while desperately looking for a sign “P”!

All parking bays are taken!
Our street but no parking!

On Google map, there were a couple of parkings but one was only open for limited period and another one was closed except contract parkings. Eventually, we managed to find a spot in the car park which was more than a few large blocks away…

Sorry mum!

I promised mum that I would bring a car near the hotel when we were leaving the city so she would have to walk a minimum distance next day…

Pom’Alpes

As I promised yesterday, I have restarted a chronicle of my French escapade with my mom.

After leaving behind the dynamic backdrop of Sisteron, we headed to our next destination, Lyon, which was about 260km away.

As you can see from the satellite map, the area we drove through was very close to French Alps and the landscape was mainly occupied by forests and boulders.

Amazing, huh?
I wished if I knew more about geology…

At Laragne-Montéglin, we came across this…

Winking apple!

The area was famous for their delicious apples – Vita-Pom, Saint Pétrus and Altess. Mum and I were especially cheered by the apple because our hometown, Nagano, was also famous for being one of the largest producers of the fruit too. ‘I would have love to taste their apples if the season was right!’, mum uttered.

We also agreed their apple tree blossoming must have been a beautiful sight to behold.

Beautiful Parc National des Écrins. Hope to see you again!

At Monestier-de-Clermont, we took A51 and sped towards Lyon…

Stroll around Sisteron

Our impression of the town was “quiet”. We saw not many people on the streets, locals or visitors, even though it was the beginning of tourist season. We scratched our heads as we wandered around the town centre.

It was an early Friday afternoon and the weather was fine as you can see on the photo. However, there was hardly any pedestrian in the town! What is going on?

A better view of the amazing ridge was available from the citadel but mum didn’t want to tax her left knee so we decided to walk to a viewing point near the river.

We walked through a short tunnel and came out to the riverside…

Until we visited Sisteron, we never saw anything like it so we were very much impressed by the sight. ‘Isn’t it amazing?’, mum gazed up towards the summit as I read the information board by the handrail.

After admiring the ridge, we walked back towards our hotel, hoping to find a supermarket…

Hmm…, where is everyone and where is a supermarket? Apart from a couple of souvenir shops, there was no shop or cafe opened in our sight.

At one of the souvenir shops, mum came across the exact tea towels, which she bought in Avignon, being sold much cheaper, and she was rightfully disappointed. ‘Oh dear, I seemed to have paid a premium price!’, she huffed irritably.

We tried another part of the town, hoping if there was any grocery shop…

But no, there was no such luck…

A bakery was firmly shut! No croissant or cake was available.

After escorted mum to the hotel, I went out to scout for a grocery shop…

Eventually, I found one shop which sold basic stuffs like milk and bread. The place didn’t look great and the shop mistress was rather grumpy but I was happy to replenish our supplies.

A thunderous rain came down in the early evening after I came back from a shopping expedition.

The sky went dark all the sudden and the rain came down with such ferocity, we were pretty shocked. ‘Aren’t we lucky, mum?’, we nodded in agreement. I said so because during the time we visited France, the weather was pretty awful. With some luck, we had been dodging all the bad spells.

Let’s have our fingers crossed! We nodded and munched on pains au chocolat I brought back from the shop…

Sisteron, here we come!

Ugh, I feel really weird today. The inside of my mouth feels like made out of a sandpaper and it’s horrible! It appears that I picked up some head cold during last week and I have started to feel the effect. Oh no…

Anyway, I am going to resume my “mum & daughter road trip” chronicle, which was very much interrupted and delayed, from this afternoon!

After visiting Menton, the easternmost town of France, our next destination was a commune called Sisteron. We u-turned towards Nice via A8 and came off the autoroute at exit 52.

As we moved towards the north-east along D6202, the roadside scenery started to change from the one around the Mediterranean. The terrain more rocky and the greenery more abundant, definitely we were getting closer to the Alps…

I must say that we really loved travelling through France by car. The view was gorgeous and most of the route was immaculately maintained. And at every service we dropped in, we enjoyed tasty treats – even though the coffee was from vending machines.

The reason why I picked Sisteron as a destination was because it was within the 200km range drive – I figured out this distance from my past experience of long distance driving holiday. If I limited the maximum distance to 220km a day, it would leave a plenty of time for sightseeing and also I didn’t feel too tired.

From Saint-Benôit, the road became N202 and the flow of traffic became more sparse and leisurely…

Another reason why I chose to visit Sisteron was the town’s unique geological feature.

Behold the sight of Sisteron!

When I first came across the picture of Sisteron while I was planning the road trip, it reminded me the Devil’s Tower in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. ‘Wow, this looks cool! I must show it to mum!!’

The amazing appearance of Sisteron was the result of a “recumbant fold”. It displayed exactly how the Alps was formed by the layers of rock from the ocean bed which were pushed up and folded over like pleat by the gigantic force of the two continents of Europe and Africa! Don’t you love to see how it happened by time-laspe video?

We arrived at Sisteron around 1:30 PM…

Our hotel, Grand Hôtel du Cours, was in the middle of the town and it had a very dark underground car park…

As we stepped into the reception, we noticed it was a rather old-fashioned establishment, very dark woodwork decor and burgundy coloured soft-furnishing kind of place. Even though they didn’t provide any Wi-Fi, the hotel had a lift (!), therefore, mum and I had a much easier time transporting our ever expanding baggage to our 2nd floor room.

The room was small and sweet…

View from our window…

Hmm…, there seem to be a public parking right under our nose. Was it a mistake reserving the underground parking for €12?…

‘Let’s stretch our legs, mum!’

We left our room to explore the place…

Éze

Thank god, we weren’t acrophobic! Because a view from the top of Jardin Botanique d’Éze was spectacular but also vertigo inducing.

After our disastrous visit to Menton and Monaco, we arrived at Éze around 4pm. We parked a car at the bottom of the commune and walked up a winding path which was lined with souvenir shops and galleries.

History of this eagle’s nest commune is impressively old – the place started its existence from the 12th century BC. Because of the location, the commune changed hands numerous times between the French and the Italian, and during the late 14th century, the French took over control from the Savoy, Italian royal family.

Awaiting at the summit of the commune was a botanical garden and the entrance fee was €5.00.

The garden was filled with various tropical plants and flowers.

And sculptures…

The path was immaculately kept and it was easy to walk around, even for my mom with a cane.

At the very top of the garden, there was a stone shelter which looked like half-finished (or half-destroyed?) and benches.

A view looking over the Mediterranean was truly breathtaking and we were very glad that we managed to visit Éze in time as we were to leave Southern France early next day.

Now, we will walk all the way down to the car park…

I highly recommend the place as long as the weather is fine and warm.

Creative knitwear by Kaori

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