… It has been a while since I last blogged. I’ve had a nice few months! Work has been great, plenty of fun times with my friends, and lots of good wholesome family moments- really enjoying spending time with the nephew.
I’m unlikely to say much more than that cause let’s face it I’m a lazy sod. So instead let’s talk about my wee winter trip! I’m just back from a couple of days in the French city of Lyon, which is a really beautiful city. Aside from the fact that it’s the gastronomic capital of France (obviously nothing I’d be remotely interested in), part of the reason I went to Lyon specifically was to see a French friend of mine I’d made earlier in the year.
I was sitting in the park one day on the grass when a guy comes down and sits next to me. I did the standard British thing of thinking “what does he want is he selling something check if he’s crazy do you think he’s in a cult”, as well as the standard Irish thing of talking away to him. It turns out he’s just really friendly and perhaps was missing his family/girlfriend. Anyway over the few months he was in NI on placement I got to know him and he met my friends a few times. So PJB and I decided we’d pay him a visit in Lyon!
I’ve been to France a couple of times: Paris maybe three or four times, Val Thorens and Tignes for skiing, and Nice earlier in the year. Each time I had a bit of interaction with the French people but it was usually in the form of me being a customer. But my friend invited us round for a family meal and I was able to see what PJB (who’d spent a year in France on her year abroad) meant when she was talking about French hospitality. My previous experience with French people has been somewhat variable when it comes to how nice they’ve been, but it turns out that’s cause most of the ones I’ve met have been Parisians.. The family were so ridiculously welcoming. His niece was being baptised the next day, so we were greeted by his immediate family, his cousins, aunt and uncle, and his kickass granny. I had a wee moment reflecting on how a chance opportunity had led me to having such a rewarding experience. They were all so nice, so attentive, and they ploughed us with so much food. And wine. Oh man the wine.
That actually brings us nicely to the next topic: the fooooooood. Sweet Lord almighty, did we eat well over the four days. As with anywhere in France, you don’t have to walk far to find a glorious bakery, or a patisserie with a window display that’d make you mug your granny just so you can buy something. We subscribed to the standard Michael philosophy of “why have three meals a day when you can just eat constantly”, and there was no lack of options. We dropped into a bakery at almost every available opportunity, and hunger became a distant memory. Lyonnaise food tends to be a little rich: cured meats, pâtés, obviously lots of cheese. There’s also a classic dessert which is a tart made from candied pralines, and as a result of the sugar the tart is a beautiful red/pink colour. Hoping to make it myself some day! Restaurants commonly call themselves “bouchons”, which are small traditional taverns serving local fare on checkered tablecloths accompanied by lovely bread and the warm greeting of the host. We tried two out and it was definitely worth it. Now that I’m home, the plan is to try and train my body to not expect the constant infusion of butter that it’s been treated to for the past few days.
The reason we visited Lyon when we did is for their annual Fête des Lumières (festival of lights). In commemoration of the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary, the whole city is covered in lights, be they candles on windowsills or artistic light shows projected onto the beautiful Renaissance architecture of the city. And it’s class! The city is full of hundreds of thousands of people, so there’s a fair amount of crowding/security presence, but it was a great atmosphere and really beautiful. I’ll leave you with a wee snap or two.