Dinner at Lyon

What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…

Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.

In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.

A mellow early evening in Lyon

Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.

‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.

Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…

‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’

The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.

Too many places to choose from!

Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.

‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.

Lively but not too raucous…

We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…

Ahhh, we missed you!

For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…

Voilà! Bon appétit 🙂

Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.

After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière in the distance

‘Look at these apples!‘

We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…

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…

Roussillon

Our next destination was a commune called Roussillon. A guidebook recommended the place as a “must-see” so we decided to lunch there.

What made Roussillon unique was its reddish rocks and soil which added rosy and orangish tones to the scenery. It was due to the earth in the area was rich in clay with ochre deposits – ochres were pigments ranging from yellow and orange to red.

Unlike Gordes’, Roussillon’s carpark and the vicinity were very quiet…

Ragged rock face was punctuated by openings and doors…

Are they some sort of storage, like railway arches? What the inside is like?, mum and I were very curious…

We didn’t came across a single soul while we sauntered towards the village centre. Where was everybody? Not even the sound of everyday life, such as the sound of TV or washing machine, was heard from the walls which lined a narrow street…

Heavenly scent of jasmine greeted us…

Psssss, it’s so quiet. We must keep our voice down…

Around Place de la Mairie, there were a plenty of eateries and we decided to have lunch at one of them.

We were ushered to a narrow staircase which led us to an outside seating area…

The terrace commanded a fine view of the valley…

As we settled into our seats, the weather seemed to be going south and the wind started to increase the strength. ‘Oh god, I hope it will stay dry…’, mum frowned while she looked on one of the staffs struggling to secure a canopy above the terrace which was flapping rather wildly.

For our lunch, we ordered their plat du jour, steak!

Mmmm, it was delicious. A couple, who were seated next to us, saw what we were tucking in and ordered the same dish!

After lunch, I left mum in Place de la Mairie and went to fetch our car.

‘Where does this path lead to?’ I couldn’t resist my curiosity so decided to do a quick detour…

The narrow passage led me to a higher ground…

And I found more cafes and restaurants…

There were small gates and passages everywhere. Very intriguing…

One of the stairs led me to an open terrace which offered another great view over the Luberon Valley…

It was so tempting to climb up another path to see if any hidden gem would await me…

However, I resisted the temptation because mum would be worried if I failed to return soon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lovely Baladine

After enjoying a bit of retail therapy at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, we continued on Rue des Trois Faucons in s eastward direction. ‘We should hop on a Baladine if one comes along.’ I looked back towards Place des Corps Saints. The sun started to beat down brightly and I was worried if the walk was straining mum’s hip before our visit to Palais des Papes.

Baladine on the move…

 

Baladine was an electric-powered mini bus which went along a designated route every 15 minutes.

A green line with “BAL” was the route of Baladine. The bus would stop at any point as long as the destinations of the passengers were near the wriggly loop.

The size of the mini bus was small – 4 adults plus 2 children if they were toddlers.

Cars, except the ones with permit, were banned from the city centre in Avignon. While we were watching Baradine in action, we witnessed the drivers touching in & out of the streets which were equipped with automatic bollards. As the pass card was pressed to the reader on the column, the bollard lowered itself to the ground level so the bus could entered the street.

Come and enjoy the ride with us!

 

Isn’t Baladine lovely? For this, it costs only 0.60€. What a bargain!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Gare de Toulouse-Matabiau

After circling around our hotel in a state of semi-panic more than a few times because all the approaches we should have taken in order to access a car park were blocked by extensive roadworks happening on Allée Jean Jaurès and Boulevard Bonrepos.

Eventually, we decided to park at a multi-story car park next to Gare de Toulouse Matabiau.

Must take a picture so I won’t forget where our car is.

The mainline station was undergoing a major facelift…

After checking in at the hotel, we headed back to the station. ‘Mum, why don’t we try the metro?’ We needed to do some shopping and there weren’t many shops around our hotel.

There were two policemen in the station concourse when we walked in. So I asked one of them if he could point us towards the metro entrance. He told us to use the stairs further up and to follow the sign. I thanked him and we headed to the stairs.

Which ticketing machines are for the metro???

I can’t remember which one was the correct one but eventually I managed to buy two sets of the returns for us.

Down the escalator…

And on the platform…

We used the line A from Marengo-SNCF to Capitole.

Our little adventure in Toulouse commences!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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