Lyon, France: Gaul and Gastronomy

The city of Lyon is adorned by the remnants of Gaulic history. Gaul was a historic region to the west of Italy that frequently clashed with the ancient Romans. This area is modern day France. Numerous Roman amphitheaters are dug into the gradient of the city. Locals walked their dogs by the aged, stone ruins with an occasional glance, but otherwise went about their routine as if it was another city building.

Hannah’s Nanny Laura (“nanny” can refer to a Godmother or commonly and in this case an aunt for all of you non-southerners) put us in touch with her friend Daniel during our Lyon stay. He approached us, well dressed in a leather jacket and fashionable brown hat. Hannah and I stood out like sore thumbs with our now 8 month well-worn clothing and tennis shoes. We met him for lunch and received a great lesson on the reason why Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. Daniel patiently translated each line of the lunch menu for us. I ordered the pumpkin soup for a starter followed by a fall-apart beef roast with lyondaise sauce and finished with an orange flan tart. Hannah also had the soup, followed by her main dish of cheesy risotto with chicken and mushrooms, and ending with a slice of chocolate cake. It was delicious and we left very full almost 3 hours later.

Daniel explained that lunch normally runs 60-90 minutes, and a dinner should at least last 2 hours, and if one leaves prior, it is considered offensive. We also talked about a number of other topics. An interesting point that we discussed was property “rights” in America. Hannah recounted a memory when we took a wrong turn down someones driveway in Norway and I had said “Hannah, we better turn around or we will get shot!”, to which she laughed and said, “In Norway!?” She had an excellent point. Daniel agreed with her and reiterated that he was once scolded in Houston for walking on someone’s grass, which was so different from living in Europe where stopping by someone’s garden to smell their flowers was both a compliment and a regular occurrence. He recalled life in Houston with fond memories around the rodeo and visits to Kaplan, Louisiana with Hannah’s family. We shared a mutual passion for my in-law’s outstanding cajun cooking (something we miss dearly on the trip). He also recounted conversing with Hannah’s grandparents in French when he visited, which I thought was neat since they learned it in different parts of the world. The time eventually came for Daniel to return to work. He gave us directions to our next stop and advice for the remainder of our travels. He sealed our journey with a kiss on each cheek and we parted ways as friends.

One charming aspect of Lyon are its murals. Portions of the city portrayed incredibly detailed pictures on the outside facades of buildings. It was easy to stroll along the river and appreciate the art to our left and the calm river on our right. Some were so realistic that deciphering the difference was difficult.

Hannah understandably felt morose around large US celebrated holidays. We had spent Easter in southern Italy with family and friends and watched 4th of July fly by in Cork, Ireland. But, Halloween is one of her favorites and the usual handing of candy to trick or treaters while rubbing our bellies full of gumbo was not in the cards for us this year. Thankfully, France DOES celebrate Halloween to a small extent. Nearby our Airbnb, families enjoyed a carnival and roughly a dozen children dressed up in costumes and one in a scary costume even jumped out and scared Hannah much to her delight.

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