Automne à Lyon: Learning to Live Like a Local

My four children and I have been living in Lyon for roughly six weeks now, but it feels longer in the best way. We just love it here. I’m so grateful that God has blessed our stay, and yet at the same time I’m grieving that we’ll have to leave in two weeks. However, my husband has been waiting patiently for us in Oregon, so being with him again will truly make it feel like coming home.

  Morning view over Vieux Lyon, the Saone, the Presqu’île, and the skyline

Morning view over Vieux Lyon, the Saone, the Presqu’île, and the skyline

  View of the Rhone River and the updated Hotel Dieu, Lyon

View of the Rhone River and the updated Hotel Dieu, Lyon

What do we love about Lyon right now? Here are four aspects that are making us happy:

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Community. A Lyonnaise friend who recently returned from the U.S. told me that she loves Lyon because she’s constantly running into friends here, so even while it’s a large city, it feels small in a good way. That’s what struck me about Lyon when I was an exchange student here years ago, and even though the city has grown, it’s still easy to cross paths with friends. Plus, God seems to bless us with new friends quite quickly every time we visit. (Some are expats, some are French.) We get to connect with old friends too, because even if they don’t live in Lyon, they come to visit us—largely because it gives them an excuse to explore this beautiful city again!

A good school. There are multiple good schools in Lyon (as this French article pinpoints), and our local public elementary school is one of them. I haven’t seen statistics to back this up, and the class sizes can be large (30 in my daughter’s 4th grade class; 28 in my son’s petite section of preschool), but the teachers seem to communicate well (sending home brief notices in each child’s cahier de liaison). All the parents I speak with are quite happy with the school, and my children are enjoying their days there, having made friends and eating well at the cantine twice per week.

  First day of school, September 2018

First day of school, September 2018

  Enjoying madeleine-flavored ice cream (which our youngest is still too young to try)

Enjoying madeleine-flavored ice cream (which our youngest is still too young to try)

Meals and snacks. There’s a small organic farmer’s market outside my apartment every Thursday, and a huge farmer’s market along the Saône river most days except Monday. The organic produce is very reasonably priced at these markets, though the organic meat is definitely more costly than conventional. About a dozen additional organic grocery stores have sprung up in Lyon since our last stay three years ago, which is encouraging.

I try to plan meals around ingredients I find here that I don’t encounter in Oregon: duck and rabbit, pike dumplings in lobster sauce, veal marengo, prune tajine—the options are so different from what’s available at conventional American grocery stores!

This organic produce and my homemade meals might partially counterbalance the edible temptations to which we frequently succumb—our route to and from school requires us to walk past crepe stands, organic ice cream at Terre Adelice, and fresh patisseries in the window of the Boulangerie du Palais here in Vieux Lyon. We’re definitely not suffering for a lack of delicious options!

Events and excursions. September weekends seemed exceptionally eventful here in Lyon. There was les Tupiniers (a massive pottery show), la Patrimoine (when most government buildings and sights are open to the public), the Lyon Street Food Festival, la Biennial de la Danse (with a massive parade down Rue de la Republique)—and all of this was just in the first two weekends! The past weekend brought a number of braderies, the French version of a neighborhood garage sale. We definitely picked a good time to be here.

  Les Tupiniers, the pottery show at Place Saint Jean, Vieux Lyon

Les Tupiniers, the pottery show at Place Saint Jean, Vieux Lyon

  Autumn view of Saint Jean Cathedral from Montée des Chazeaux

Autumn view of Saint Jean Cathedral from Montée des Chazeaux

Just before school started, we took advantage of our free time to take some day trips from Lyon. One of my favorite trips was our visit to Pérouges, a medieval village about 30 minutes northeast of Lyon by train. Pérouges is a circular hilltop village with cobbled streets unlike any other I have visited. It’s also arguably one of the best villages to photograph in France! But that said, Lyon itself has so many beautiful sights that I’m already feeling heartbroken about leaving.

  A street in the medieval-era village of Pérouges, Ain, France

A street in the medieval-era village of Pérouges, Ain, France

  A home in Pérouges, France

A home in Pérouges, France

  Vieux Lyon, Saint George neighborhood

Vieux Lyon, Saint George neighborhood

What’s one place you’ve visited (or lived in) that touched you emotionally? Was it the external beauty or something more?