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Road trip part 2: Lyon

Lyon and I started out on bad terms.

Having settled (I thought) rather well into driving sur le continent, things became somewhat hairy on entering France’s second-largest city* at rush-hour and attempting to navigate the warren of narrow and occasionally vertiginous one-way streets in La Croix-Rousse.

After circling the area several times (sometimes on purpose, sometimes … not) in a vain attempt to find a free space on the street for anything larger than a pedal car, I eventually surrendered, sparing my increasingly frayed nerves any further strain by parking in an extortionately expensive underground car park.

And so I arrived, luggage-laden and heart still racing, at the appointed place and time to take charge of the keys for my inaugural airbnb booking – where I was faced with a totally non English-speaking friend (Cécile) of the owner with the keys to the 3rd floor apartment … and the bottom of a surprisingly steep spiral staircase.

I managed a reasonable, if stilted, conversation with Cécile (due in equal parts to a lack of language ability and actual breath on my part as we ascended), and when we reached the summit the apartment itself was lovely. I just cursed Monsieur Jacquard for having invented a weaving loom so tall it warranted such high ceilings – and hence the precipitous escaliers I was navigating – in these converted workshops. (In fact I cursed the lack of ascenseur at the time and him only later, following a visit to one of the last active workshops in Lyon – wherein I discovered his culpability.)

A series of niggling inconveniences as opposed to out-and-out catastrophe perhaps – but still, so far not the best introduction.

And then it rained.

On day 1 I felt like one of those poor souls you see traipsing around London in their £1 ponchos that let all the water in and make you sweat at the same time because you’re basically wrapping yourself in a plastic bag. Nothing stops that tourist mindset of having to get around all the ‘must-see’s – because you might never be here again, right? And so it was that I trudged resolutely around town: Nikon-pregnant in my trusty pac-a-mac; rain-sodden map in hand.

Thankfully, the ensuing days were much improved and I basked on sun-drenched (though gusty and windswept) streets, walking above the rooftops in Fourvière and passing through hidden ‘traboules’ (passageways) in the old town, discovering the Lyonnais penchant for monumental murals and ever-so-slightly-sinister puppets…

* Strictly speaking, Lyon is the largest conurbation outside of Paris, Marseille being the second largest city proper. (This, for my esteemed editorial colleagues who may feel I’m fudging the facts.)

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Road trip part 1: Burgundy

After a brief sojourn in Paris with the charmant Corinne and co at Bureau-Tarbet towers (I’m so gonna miss that awesome view of La Tour Eiffel), I set off on the next leg of my trip.

Having recovered myself after a perilous brush with the mildly terrifying rush-hour périphérique in Paris, driving was slightly stressful (general first-time-driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road anxiety) but fairly straightforward on the motorways and quiet roads of Burgundy.

I made it easy for myself to start with, staying just off the motorway outside Avallon, from where I pootled around exploring some of the beautiful medieval villages of the Yonne department.

Dijon had to be on the ‘to-see’ list – capital of the region and long-time purveyor of spicy condiments, it was also apparently quite the place to be back in the day when Burgundy was an actual kingdom and everyone had a name straight out of Game of Thrones – and even more so later on when it was demoted to a Duchy and the names weren’t nearly as good.

Beaune was my last stop, right in the heart of the Route des Grands Crus. You literally drive through the middle of the vineyards – they come right up to the side of the road, making for some incredible views (though of course, my eyes were firmly on the road at all times, mum).

On arrival, just to be polite, I engaged in une petite dégustation to try out some of the local grape juice. I’m not sure my wine palate was much improved by the end of the self-guided tour (yep, they let me pour my own!), but I’m pretty sure my French was spot-on by glass no 10…

On y va!

Hello world! (/mum and a handful of bored-at-work friends)

So. This blogging malarky is an entirely new and alien experience for me, made all the more daunting by the fact that I know several actual real-life bloggers and for years have worked alongside professional journalists and editors who, I’m convinced, will be judging every verbose sentence (voilà), overuse of parentheses (I just LOVE an aside) and omitted Oxford comma (of which you can see I’m not a fan).

SO, to ease myself in gently, I’m kind of cheating!

For your ocular amusement, here follow (follows? – where’s a sub-editor when you need one?) the edited highlights of my road trip to Nice – in the form of a trilogy, as with all great epics…

<<Now scroll to the bottom to start in Burgundy and work your way up (the page / down the country) to Provence>>

À tout à l’heure x