Belleville to Lyon

A rest day in all honesty. Just 30 miles on flat roads that hug the river Saône southwards in glorious glorious sunshine. I did not even bother with sunscreen as my cyclist’s tan is getting better. We stopped halfway at Trevoux for coffee and coke. At this point the river is crossed by on old bridge which has now been pedestrianised. The cafe is exactly the same as all French cafes. A couple of old men, mainly empty chairs and smoking. The music was odd and would be more appropriate in a cheap bar in Ibiza. Still, the old men did not seem to mind. After that we soon hit the outskirts of Lyon cycling all along the river, crossing it once or twice. Helpfully there was a cycle lane for much of the way. At one point we turned into a street called Montée Roy, there is a clue in the mont bit of the name. After days of flat this was a nice little tester of a hill and for those who know it, it would be akin to Watlington Hill, except with houses, lorries and sunshine.

We made the hotel in good time, about 1130. What a difference to all the other places we have stayed. We are in a suite in a very nice hotel indeed. In size, it reminds me of the suite Ann and I had in Las Vegas, i.e. it is big. I have the balcony room. It has it’s own separate kitchen area, not that we will be cooking.

There are ladies here expensively dressed. Lyon is France’s second city and I have been here before for a conference. Les Lyonnaisse dress themselves with haute couture as do the Parisiennes, so we will surrounded by expensive parfumerie, coiffure, and attitude. I have not brought my full wardrobe and so the oil bespecked T shirt, dusty shorts and road sweat will have to be the yin to their yang. And if they want attitude they will getting in spades if Grant and Kirsten don’t eat soon. It is now lunch time. Food is on the agenda. Personally, I could forego lunch and visit a museum or an art gallery. I don’t think a glass of wine is needed either.

Lunch of carpaccio of beef, saucisson chaude and escalope de veau was served with a petite carafe of rosé. And beer. There is a narrow cobbled street in the old part of Lyon which is nothing but restaurants, so it was a case of take your pick A gentle stroll along the river Rhône and crossing the bridge into the old town made us thirsty.

We crossed a bridge which again reminds everyone of history. The inscription simply stated that this bridge was rebuilt after being destroyed by the Germans. Note, not the Nazis or the ‘Brutes Hitlerien’ but by the Germans. I wonder what it feels like being a German tourist? Do they feel a certain ‘schadenfreude’ at the French predicament vis à vis the euro, or do they feel a little ‘sang froid’ at being blamed for so much destruction?

Lyon lies at the confluence of the Saône and the Rhône which are both big rivers in their own rights. Think of the Thames in London and you have the size of both, so two Thames joining as one. We sat and ate lunch and people watched. Even in the city the pace is slow, the heat helps to slow things down to a pace that would make a snail shrug with disdain. London by comparison is always rush rush rush, we are so busy rushing around in the UK that maybe we are forgetting what the point is. Maybe we confuse means with ends while the French seem to have only one end: food and wine. Their reputation for sex eludes me as it is either too hot, or closed, or Sunday to be doing with nooky. Maybe they save the sex for winter when one needs a bit of stirring up to stop the blood freezing. I doubt if any of the coiffured women I have seen today would want sex anyway, in case it spoiled their look. Can you have sex while remaining aloof? I can imagine Madame looking in the mirror, fixing her make up, adjusting her lippy, while Monsieur is fixing and adjusting something else for which no mirror is required (unless you have an over ripe imagination, in which case is a mirror is not only ok, it is de rigeur).

It is now nearly 1800 hrs and I am sat on the hotel balcony in the summer heat of 29 degrees. ‘Ansum.

I am having déjà vu: after the rendezvous at the restaurant, whose ambience had a certain je ne sais quoi, and where we had a little tête a tête resulting in a entente cordial which were not without a few double entendres and which indicated an attitude of laissez faire, we were then au fais with our sejour and avoiding any faux pas and engaging our savior faire could plan a soirée, with entrees and aperitifs after a repose back at our pied à terre. Thinking of a couple of bon mots for the sois disants entre nous, I write this in plain english, au contraire to my other melange of scribblings, which would be the bête noir of proper travel writing and perhaps a bit risqué. Pretentious, moi? Ah, well, c’est la vie! All of which adds a little cachet to our joie de vivre.

After a snoozette it was time for an evening stroll and perhaps a little something to tickle the taste buds. A few blocks from the hotel was a very nice bistro. Only the three of us and party of 6 were eating. This part of Lyon is like New York, laid out in grids with the surrounding apartment buildings reaching upwards for perhaps twenty stories, no more. Unlike New York the buildings are of modest height and unlike New York there are very few Americans or burger bars.

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