Monday 24 May: Lyon – Vienne...friends for dinner!

We shared breakfast with Edith and Alex and said reluctant farewells......(I have had to do so many farewells and none of them get any easier!!) as Edith had to go to school! Regardless of the fact that it was a public holiday, her school had been told to work however the majority of the staff had decided to strike = no students and a handful of dedicated teachers planning next year’s curriculum....Edith is retiring at the end of this month, so her day was going to be totally wasted....apart from being paid that is!!!
Alex.... a question for you....I am curious: “Did you actually buy a suit..Did Mum have to take the hem up ...and, did your interview go well........?!!

Bernard drove me to Vienne where we met Maryvonne and Jean-Lucien. Bernard and Maryvonne had taught at the same school for many years, consequently the reason for both of them having exchanged students with BMG and having met me!! As Bernard is in the last weeks of the school year (and his teaching life!!....congratulations to both of you for your impending retirement!), he had a pile of corrections to do so returned to Lyon to reduce the pile.....
Thank you so very much, Edith and Bernard, for sharing your time, knowledge, wonderful generosity and hospitality with me. I know you are busy people especially at the moment, so I understand the sacrifice you have made to make my short stay with you so memorable! Alex, it was great to have another English speaking person around to help Mum and me with our was easy and enjoyable being with you. Thank you all.....and..... Trinity Beach is waiting for your visit.....Save for 2 years because that’s when I will be back from Africa and can be the perfect host for you!!!!
With the sun shining again, I learned about Vienne, visiting the following destinations of history and interest:
• St Maurice Cathedral: constructed during 11th – 16th Centuries, its remarkable combining of Roman (rounded arches) and Gothic (pointed and intricately detailed) Architecturewith its imposing facade and rich sculpture.

• Mt Pipet which rises up between 2 steep gullies and Mt Solomon on the opposite gulley. From this vantage point we had an overview of the whole town and looked directly down onto The Roman Theatre nestled on the west side of Mt Pipet. The statue and chapel are a place of Christian worship of the Virgin Mary.

• Lunch= Les Allobroges in the middle of the restaurant precinct. Mediterranean Salade, Fish & Ratatouille and Crème Glacé...huge serves of all courses necessitated more walking so, having Frederique join us, we continued on our discovery tour....

• The Breniers have a street named in honour of their cousin, Joseph, so it was the first photo stop.....

• Temple Augusts et De Levie: A temple dedicated to the Roman cult and began between 20 – 10 BC....and was a church in the Middle ages.

• Cybele’s Archeological Garden = remains of Gallo-Roman town.

• Théatre Antique = Roman Theatre: built between 40 – 50 AD. It is one of the largest and has been restored to its original 130 metre diameter...seating more than 13,000 spectators. Today it is the venue for the renowned Jazz festival about to begin 25 June – 9 July 2010, featuring many international guests.

Reluctant Farewells yet again!!!! Frederique is moving house next Friday then heading for a short time to Brazil for work, so needed to finish packing and getting organised...good luck with everything Frederique, and thank you for your kindness and have made my stay very comfortable and easy. I have enjoyed getting to know you and hope that I will have the opportunity to show you our wonderful country one day! 

• Our journey back to St Priest took us through Pilat National Park. The steep ascent and descent took us through some spectacular wine particular E. of Breniers favourites.... and multi coloured green forests where, unexpectedly a baby deer crossed our road!....Many small, alpine towns: Condrieu, Chavanay, Pélussin, over the dandelion covered summit near where Jean Lucien and I had hiked to the Granite Cross, le Bessat where an old lady nonchalantly drove her 2 cows slowly down the main street......eventually down into St Etienne and back home.

Maryvonne had been busily baking during the previous days in anticipation of our dinner with their friends, Michel and Moneque: aperitifs...French Champagne!!...salade/scallops, meat/ peas, cheese - white or mixed...everyone else chose white but I love their cheeses so selected the mixture...(Gem....white cheese and cream is a very popular delicacy in France...I did smile when I learned this!!), strawberries, apple tart....Pommes Gateau(?) which only Maryvonne can produce to taste so special! And finally Maryvonne’s special herb tea to help us unwind and sleep well!

The night was filled with laughter and many, many questions directed at the Aussie...Michel was genuinely interested in so many things but my inability to answer a lot of the questions made me realise how ignorant I am to our own facts and figures(....GT where was your reliable, detailed memory when I needed it??)....I know I will have to brush up on these details before going to Africa!

Sunday 23 May: A Day in a very different part of the countryside!..

Realising that Kelly could log into Moulin’s WiFi...I was able to book accommodation for 2 nights in Cinque Terre. Bernard had assisted me yesterday in booking my train trip to Genove. The girl at the station was very helpful as she was heading off to Antibes for a few days of beach and sunshine so was keen for me to eagerly anticipate the Cote d’Azur as much as she was! We shared lunch before heading off to a very different countryside, north-east of Lyon: flat, cropping country, lush watery marshes, abundant bird life, sleepy little towns, families area through which Edith and Bernard have also spent many days cycling......Villars...Voyeux...Versailleux...Chalamant....St-Nizier-le-Désert....flat, tree lined little roads, quiet, peaceful, full of growth, green young crops of various cereals and sunflower seedlings just coming to our destination: Pérouges, Le Medieval = An amazing restoration of an original Medieval town mostly completed by private eclectic/arty owners.

This functional, working town, whose speciality is a range of sweet Galettes, shows off its productivity generously. We watched through open windows the whole process from mixing, kneading, proving, shaping, baking resting....and selling....So... yes, of course.... we tasted!

Caveau de Saint Vincent, a stoned cellar, drew us in to experience the physical chill, but warm atmosphere and purchase a bottle of Rosé to share later that night at dinner! Sunshine, cobbled narrow streets, traditional medieval structure where each floor extended approx ½ mtr out over the previous one so that the 4th and 5th floors almost touched above the alleyway!

We headed back to Croix-Rousse, swapped photos and freshened up ready for a night out on the town! We walked two blocks to the Moulins’ favourite French restaurant where we were joined by Alex and Alyce for a superb, very filling, tasty meal. Entrée =a generous dish of oie foie (goose liver) and greens; Mains = cuinelle (someone help me with the spelling...s’il vous plait..??) a fish soufflé and tasty followed by crème glace...........laughter..........bantering........easy friendships! A walk the looong, looong way home to help our ample dinner digest!!!

Saturday 22 May: Day #1 with Moulins..

Having finished late last night tasting local brandy and grappa....and catching up on each family’s news....the thick black coffee was a welcome start to my day!

Bernard took me walking through the sunny streets to Boulevard de la Croix – Rousse where the biggest market in Lyon was teeming with people and every food you can imagine... An obliging French cheese selling gentleman posed for a photo with the Aussie girl! Merci!....We wandered down through narrow little streets where children played, passed the Big Rock with its wonderful view over Lyon from the working hill, and eventually passed Edith’s school: College Maurice Sceve. Up 4 flights of stone stairs in time for lunch: salad, tabouli, steak, cheeses, dessert and French vino! Yum!.The view down over Lyon is extensive as they are situated high on the hill so life is quiet compared with many other apartments above the numerous cafes and restaurants which never seem to close!
Our adventure into the Beaujolais wine area was filled with sunshine. We wound our was through undulating countryside... spectacular fields displaying varied shades of green and yellow then kilometre after kilometre of grape vines created distinct lined paddocks. It was so lush and productive.... field after field drawing us further into this wonderland of wines!

Stopping at Oingt, a town steeped in history, we wandered through the narrow streets and visited Chateau vieux d’Oingt (Old Castle of Oingt) where we took advantage of the extensive view down over the patchwork of fields.
Next destination was to be Ste Paule....try as we did, we didn’t end up there as we took the scenic route (no surprise with me on board!) and wound up and down and around the forested range through quainty little towns... Thieze, Pouilly, le Monial. Desperately needing petrol we came upon the Tour de Beaujolais...tough cycling country...and finally found a petrol station near Liergues. Voila!....just nearby was Oedoria winery. We were welcomed by a friendly bunch of locals so we joined them to enjoy their wines, local cheeses..fascination at having an Aussie in their midst...Laughter and fun memories....we eventually left with some of their wares!

Dinner with the Oedoria wine then on with our walking shoes as we headed off on a memorable night in the ‘City of Lights’. We walked from the top of Croix-Rousse...down a long cobbled, narrow street into the heart of the Old town which we had walked with Maryvonne and Bernard during the daytime.

Familiar historic sites and buildings were lit up taking on a different, very special beauty.

A romantic, warm, Spring night on a long weekend was shared by many, many people. We indulged in an ice-cream to give us energy to achieve the long, long ascent back up to the top of the Working Hill....