I recently went on a little adventure to Lyon. Tell you what – it was a magical! Thanks to France’s second largest city of Lyon and being able to visit my good friend, I became French for a week! This is how I reinvented myself and turned myself from tourist, into a Tarte française!
There’s no better way to explore a foreign country than to visit a friend who:
- Lives there
- Is actually from there and..
- Speaks the language!
So this fleeting visit to Lyon was kinda like having all the cheat codes for the travel game. This allowed me to spend less time figuring out what the heck I was supposed to do and more on simply being French!
Lyon is pretty centrally located in Europe and I was able to fly from Amsterdam on a flight that was cheap as chips. Even, France’s astronaut Thom was nice enough to give me a warm welcome and greet me at the airport. From there, it was easy enough for me to take the light rail to the city centre.
This is where I met my good space mate and YouTube celeb, AstroVicnet! if you fancy some good banter and a bit of quit wit, follow Vincent on Twitter and if you speak French, check out all his really cool videos on his YouTube channel!
First up, we did what any hungry tourist who wanted to feel like a local would do… we went to the supermarket! But we weren’t there for food – Oh no! We came for the French cheese!
I found familiar favourites and was also horrified by the site of the not so baby, Babybel. But, I was happy enough to explore France’s culinary delights of meats, olives and soft cheeses. France – I must confess, you do cheese right. But, I do need to mention that I spent an enormous amount of time looking for your boulangeries.
Oh. My. GAWWWWD. Your boulangeries – it’s kinda like having Heaven on every street corner!
Our mornings were filled with crisp walks to the local boulangerie (and yes we visited EVERY SINGLE ONE within a five block radius). And, every morning we stepped though their pearly white doors to purchase our delectable and flaky baked goods. Then, we headed to the corner coffee shop to watch time pass by as the French coffee kicked in.
French coffee is not like Australian, Italian or even American coffee – it’s French… it’s black and it’s got a bit of kick. Our mornings were pretty much filled with a croissant or a pain au chocolat or some sort of other sweet French mini-mouth pleasure patisserie that was screaming out how much it wanted to be enjoyed.
After the daily caffeine donkey kick in the face, we hit the streets to become local tourists. We roamed the streets of Vieux-Lyon which is the old city of Lyon. We looked in windows full of French candy. We saw the what I would consider the Medusa of the candy world – one glance of these sweet French bonbons would render your mouth toothless.
We took mercy on our legs as we cruised the Saône river. This allowed us to see the historic Lyon unfold whilst floating giving us a unique perspective of Lyon.
I was, then, quietly reminded of the beautiful world that we live in with the help of new and old art. I found a lone polaroid on an ancient wall older than the United States. Not only was I walking the streets of a medieval renaissance city, but this tiny bit of polaroid art I found was proudly displayed three ways… Lyon’s architecture was the ancient art, framed art through a polaroid and then shared socially online for the world to enjoy.
As a social media enthusiast, I really identified with this attempt of social art. There were so many elements to it. I checked the internet and others were just as compelled by it as I was. #VuVior
As we kept wandering the streets, we found fashion labels with inappropriate scenes depicted on shirt pockets and French flags proudly displayed on the city hall. We broke all the rules and had French ice cream for dinner and it as worth it. There were sad looking locals dressed like chickens and art – so… much… art… everywhere.
Then, one night we went to an Irish pub in Lyon. But this wasn’t just any Irish pub – this was an Irish pub, filled with Kiwi’s and Scots being served by an Englishman. Typical. I wouldn’t have expected it any other way.
We chatted into the night with a retired English couple who didn’t believe Brexit was really happening. Their dreams were soon ending; they wanted to live their retirement in a French village and their future was not looking promising. To us, this was a quiet reminder that the life we live is not set in stone… that our lives were not ours… that everything we now know can change as quickly as the winds.
And, then, we fed my adopted French identity a Turkish kabab. You’re probably thinking, ‘Tara, that’s not French at ALL!” Oh, but it is.. this is France like a real local!
We roamed the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière and listened to a amateur pianist play the piano amongst the trees and local revellers in the Parc de la Tête d’Or. And touring as a local with a local, I learnt that the travel game has changed – I was being exposed to what what the locals actually appreciated.
So, what did I learn from this experience in Lyon? How to be French without being a cliche? Perhaps – And for a bit of fun, we put heads together to complete a not so serious “How to go full French without really trying.
- Increase your boulangerie visits – This is probably one of the most important steps to becoming French. There is nothing more important than having a good baguette in your life because a French baguette is everything.
- Berets are optional.
- Adopt words like “sacrebleu” and “c’est la vie!” Actually don’t, because nobody says that anymore.
- Learn to play the accordion. I’ve got mixed feeling on this because it’s more hipster and very far from sexy.
- Avoid cheap wine at ALL COSTS – Cheap wine is just wrong. It’ll take you down to a lifestyle which you want to avoid whilst attempting to pull off being French.
- Go to France – Seriously. If you want to be French, why not learn from the best and visit France! Observe the French in their natural environment. Take notes on how they act, navigate the streets. Find out what they eat and how they drink!
- And, whatever you do, don’t eat a sad baguettes. When you get there, you’ll understand and you’ll feel sorry for your self for all those years you have eaten crappy bread.
A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!