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February 28th 2019
Published: February 28th 2019
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Dianne and Peter go to FranceDianne and Peter go to FranceDianne and Peter go to France

The happy couple at the Victoria airport. Thanks, Jane.
Our latest adventure takes us back to France where the centre piece is a five week stay in Montpellier visiting with Mr. Darcy, the cat we sat with in 2017. Several other stops are planned in what will be a 68 night trip.

In the two months between Dec 20th when the big windstorm hit Pender (and other locations around us) and Feb 20th when we left for France, things were pretty wild. Lots of devastation because of the wind storm (but no fatalities) and two major (for us) snow storms cancelled lots of activities. Snow on Pender is a problem because of the hills and limited snow removal equipment. So it was with some pleasure we left for France and temperatures forecast in the 17-20°C range

Our itinerary took us through Vancouver and Frankfurt. Both cities have large airports but we had forgotten how big Frankfurt airport is. Lots of walking just to get to the train that takes you between terminals. But fast, clean and efficient. What seemed like a long layover went quickly.

I collected all my information and pictures for this blog entry and started to assemble it in Montpellier. Then I was laid
What we left behindWhat we left behindWhat we left behind

Okay, this isn't our place because I forgot to bring the pictures with us. But is is our Chapel which is just down the street.
low by a nasty cough and cold. I can’t even type properly. Well, I don’t 10 finger type anyway but my hunt-and-peck typing style was showing so many errors I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to say. Then I lost a bunch of pictures. I finally found them and hope this entry makes sense. My trusty editor will likely find all my errors.


We decided to start in Lyon because we had started our last trip in Lyon and quite enjoyed it. We hadn’t realized it was the second largest urban area in France on our first trip. We spend most of our time in the old city which dates back to Roman times. We had visited the old Roman sites on our first visit so concentrated on other things this trip.

We had really liked our AirBnB from our previous stays (in and out of France) but the rates had gone up just enough to incentivize Dianne to check out other options. She found a studio-like place in an even more convenient location. It is in a really old building with narrow circular stone stairs that took a bit of getting used to,
Why we were happy to get to LyonWhy we were happy to get to LyonWhy we were happy to get to Lyon

Walking down the Rhône under blue skies with no jackets was a real treat.
especially when carrying suitcases. The loft bedroom had a major beam right over the bed. I only hit my head twice; once going to bed and once getting up in the middle of the night. One learns fast in this environment.


The main buildings in Lyon run parallel to the two rivers: the Rhône and the Saône. As there were few cross streets, it was difficult for the workers to get from one side of the city to the other. A series of passages were built into the buildings to allow for faster traversing of the city. While most are no longer in use, there are a series of these passages still open to the public. There are maps online that show you how to get from one to the other but it still takes a bit of detective work to find your way through. There are five major groups and we managed to see most of four of them. Because they are all in the old city, you get quite a view as you walk between them.


Some of the old buildings have been upgraded by having murals painted on them. A couple
Not for the faint of heartNot for the faint of heartNot for the faint of heart

When you came out the door of our apartment you were faced with a set of circular stairs. The steps were extremely narrow and carrying suitcases was an adventure.
of the murals are six stories high. It’s hard to take in the whole mural in some cases because they are so big. One, the Mur des Canuts, was originally painted in 1987 and has been updated several times since. A display shows each of the versions as the mural was updated for “modern” times. It is hard to believe it is painted on a flat wall. We also discovered that “canuts” were the silk workers who often worked up to 18 hours a day until a series of strikes improved working conditions.


AirBnB sends out a bunch of advertising for things to do in the city where you have booked accommodation. I was scanning through it and found a crepe making course. You meet with the instructor and shop for ingredients than walk to his nearby apartment. I was surprised when the shop we went to was a fromageri, a cheese shop. We bought about six kinds of cheese and went to work. As it was just Dianne and me with Lyes, the instructor, there was plenty of time for individual instruction, questions, kibitzing and general merriment.

The first crepes were
bibliothèque muralbibliothèque muralbibliothèque mural

As Dianne is on the board of our local library we were particularly interest in this one.
large ones done in a frying pan. Learning to flip the crepes was hilarious. Lyes had a small, 6 “burner” crepe maker for making smaller crepes so we could try different fillings. I had no idea a crepe with just cheese could be so tasty. But then when you add jam, Nutella or some disgusting caramel sauce you can generate all kinds of taste sensations.

It was only two and a half hours but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. Lyes and his wife had worked for a year in China so there was even more opportunity for interesting conversation.


Our next destination was a short two hour train ride away. When you are travelling 297 km/hour, the distance melts away. We arrived on a Saturday to Gare Saint-Roch, the station we had become quite familiar with on our last trip. The two exits we wanted to use were blocked. Hmmmmm. We used the main entrance which wasn’t that inconvenient, just surprising. The host couple and Mr. Darcy were at their apartment to meet us and all was well. Since they were in the throes of last minute packing we went on a
Which one is for real?Which one is for real?Which one is for real?

Not all the pictures are pictures. Some are real windows. It isn't always easy to tell which is which.
walkabout through our old favourite haunts.

La Place de la Comédie is the central “square” in Montpellier (even though it is actually oval). It was full of people, flags, police etc. Apparently the regular Saturday gilets jaunes or yellow jackets protest was going on. Except for being kept in the tourism office while the crowd surged past and let out a back door, it was uneventful for us. Apparently the windows in the tourism office had been smashed recently so they weren’t taking any chances.

What now?

We only have five weeks here. What will we be doing? It’s hard to decide when the temperature is 20°C. There is still snow on Pender the last we heard. We’ll try to find something to do. Sitting on the deck in the sun sipping a chilled glass of Rosé does take away a bit of incentive to get going. But as this is ToBeContinued, we do our best

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Wall muralsWall murals
Wall murals

I think this was the biggest we saw. It is the one from 1987 that was updated every 10 years.
Side viewSide view
Side view

We had to take this one to show it really is flat. Standing far enough away to take it all in, it is easy to think those are real stairs.
Making crepesMaking crepes
Making crepes

Quite a production. We felt like pros at the end.

I wouldn't have believed a crepe with just cheese in it could taste so good.
What's he worried about?What's he worried about?
What's he worried about?

Just because I mentioned I have no depth perception, Lyes should not have been so concerned. I had to laugh when we got home and I saw this picture.

Lots of kids on scooters. Lots of adults too. These are rentals. You just find one, ride to your destination and leave it. Someone else picks it up. Pretty good for the old town but a little nerve wracking for tourists as they are fast and quiet. Oh yes, they are made in California.
Sign of the timesSign of the times
Sign of the times

We love to take pictures of neat signs. This one was particularly nice as we needed a washroom.

It doesn't help that the French word for Book Store is Librairie. But we liked this entrance so much we forgave them.
Entrance to a trabouleEntrance to a traboule
Entrance to a traboule

The doors into the passageways are not terribly different from regular doors into buildings. The signs to the left of the door are usually a giveaway but it helps to have a map.

After winding down the traboule, you might find yourself in an enclosed courtyard. We expected to see somebody like Romeo and Juliet appear at any moment.

Once in the door you are faced with a series of corridors. A bit tricky if the traboule is dark and has stairs.
Mind your mannersMind your manners
Mind your manners

Even though the traboules are open to the public they do pass through private property. From time to time we encountered signs reminding us to mind our Ps and Qs
Outside stairsOutside stairs
Outside stairs

We encountered these stairs on our last trip. They lead up to the Croix-Rousse, one of the two major hills in Lyon. It was something to watch people speeding along on scooters, weaving in and out around tourists, children, seniors with grocery carts etc without any accidents(that we saw).

Of course, the city has lots of fountains. This one is right in front of Lyon City Hall but is surrounded by a major construction project.
Ah, the end of another great day.Ah, the end of another great day.
Ah, the end of another great day.

Wine, cheese and crackers. A fine way to wind up an eventful day.

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