Girls seem to always banter about Paris…Paris this, Paris that. I’ve been to that city at thirteen years of age, and I frankly didn’t care too much. The Moulin Rouge and their hip McDonald’s were all that I considered memorable. However, France has other cities that seem to be overshadowed by that Eiffel spire. Now that my plane landed and my driver had picked me up: I was ready to see Lyon.
“The only negative thing [about Lyon] is that people are not smiling. The city is beautiful, work is 35 hours, and education is free. Very strange.” Alex, the driver.
My first impression started with my car service. Alex was an amiable French-Algerian driver from Lyon. His waxed eyebrows and taste for analog Mercedes clocks were impressive. I can appreciate an old school touch of class. He spoke English well and he insisted that all the French people can speak English just as well–they will tell you otherwise, but just give them a minute.
“Old Lyon” has scores of cobble stone roads. (They remind me of SoHo.) Back home, I’m used to brick buildings and pothole streets. Therefore, I felt calm from the surroundings of brick, iron, and historic structures. The smell of fresh crêpes were no problem at all.
There exists these secret passageways that can somehow “teleport” me to random spots within the city. They’re called “traboules” and they are one of those cool World War II, “escape-from-the-Nazis” type of attractions. I decided to try it out and it led me to another side of town–right into the shop of an Absinthe dealer. An Absinth dealer.
Marilyn Manson makes really good Absinthe. -Jeán, Le Chat Fou
The shop-man was 6’4, blonde hair, blue eyes, and owns a cat. He had the appearance to that of a James Bond villain (say, a young Telly Savalas). I’m not an Absinthe man. Instead, I asked about the food. Sadly for me, Lyonnaise cuisine is very pork-centric. Run Babe, run!
Food, Pastries, and a New Friend
Her name was Eva. She was a server. She had a smile that brought life to a cadaver.
I had encountered another cafe which served very ambrosial tartines and pastries. I don’t usually take pictures of my food, but this time I saw something interesting. A slice of bread with three cheeses over slices of pear. It had that “Umami” that the Japanese keep talking about. It was French Umami, that’s what it was.
Eva spoke my language. She spoke it better than me. She prepared a chocolate chip pie with pears, whipped cream, and jelly beans for delectable garnish. She was my waitress and friend-to-be.
“I get off work in fifteen minutes. Perhaps we can talk some more then?”
This was my chance to learn about Lyon from her perspective. But I had to know how she seemed to master the art of conversation and the ability to follow American sarcasm.
“I used to work at Disney World, in ‘Paris,'” said She.
I chuckled with endearment upon hearing that. Epcot is known for those miniature cities and the fact that they hire natives for those wee little cities. In Eva’s case, it was France. After finishing her cigarette, we began our walk around town engaging in confabulation.
“The French are open-minded. They live in a Catholic culture which they don’t all practice…Small talk is not common here…we keep to ourselves.” -Eva
I believed as I have noticed it in Lyonnaise behavior. Many patrons in her L’Epicerie sat there for hours on end; not really speaking to other people randomly (that’s me!). This place was full of young, hip, and attractive individuals. I must learn to speak French immediately.
“Unlike the USA, the youth here don’t always feel the need to go to college immediately.”
Eva spent her post-high school life traveling and living in cool places. I mean hey, she worked in Disney World. I admit that we Américains tend to rush to college. However, I respect a person who seeks life experiences first, prior to declaring a major. (If it were me, I would’ve joined the Army right after high school. I wonder how that would’ve turned out.)
I promised to stay in touch and write this article. But life is eager to distract. Time to kiss both cheeks and say au revoir. ♣
More of France to come…