I realized I haven’t yet had a chance to write about our trip to LYON last weekend, which was super fun and memorable. Lyon is about a 6 hour drive from our home in Cognac, and it’s either the second or third biggest city in France, depending on who you ask.
When I was making plans for the trip, I told Dustin it would be just like driving to Seattle, but of course, with French roads and French tolls that really wasn’t the case at all. Plus, the roadside views were much less drab than the straight concrete hellscape that is I5. We would constantly look out and see beautiful hillside villages, green valleys, and un-clearcut forests. It was a truly beautiful drive. I’m really glad we were able to buy a car, it’s been amazing to drive through the French countryside and I think it will really shape our experience here in France.
The main reason I had planned this trip to Lyon months ago was that my very favorite artist, Lorde, was performing there in a (relatively) tiny venue. In the States, she will play the Staples Center and Rose Quarter sized arenas, but in Lyon, she was playing at the Transbordeur, a tiny concert hall that only holds 1,800 people. AND, the tickets were half the price they were in the States.
I was sold. I bought the tickets, booked the AirBnb, and told my husband we were going way back in August, before we even got here. And although in the weeks leading up to the trip I was a bit overwhelmed and daunted by the task of actually getting ourselves to Lyon, I am super glad we made the trip. Lyon is a really beautiful city and we had a great time.
We got to Lyon late on Saturday afternoon, and did some crazy illegal parking (parking in the cities here is truly crazy) until our AirBnb host showed us how to get into our private underground garage parking spot, included with our stay. We didn’t move the car until we left because driving in the city just sucks too much. Dustin and I were both exhausted from the drive, and we took a long nap before heading downstairs to check out a place called “International Tacos.” Yep, I’m still craving Mexican food, everyone.
International Tacos was not what I had hoped. In France, a “taco” is apparently just any kind of meat in a flour tortilla — wrapped like a burrito. International Tacos had zero remotely hispanic options. You got your tortilla with meat and a weird housemade cheese sauce, plus your choice of other sauces. I got the sweet chili Thai sauce because I wasn’t about to order a “taco” with mayonnaise or ketchup slathered on it. Dustin got overwhelmed and just ordered the exact same thing as me, so there were no options to taste for variety. The chicken sweet chili wrap — I won’t call it a taco, because it wasn’t — was actually surprisingly good and filling. The first night, we also made a quick beer run and got a real treat for us — ice cream! At our apartment in Cognac, we don’t have a freezer at all, so we can never buy ice cream. I was super excited.
On Sunday, we spent a good chunk of the day at the Musée de Confluence, which is a really cool, huge museum in Lyon. They have a bunch of permanent exhibits about the history of species and mankind, and the progression of technology. They also had a couple of temporary exhibits, including one about the history of poison and one about filmmaking. It was very enjoyable to spend our morning there. We wandered into a kind of crappy café for lunch after, where neither of us were all too impressed with our food, but hey, nothing is open on Sundays, so what can you do?
Eventually, we made it to my friend Siobhán’s house. Siobhán is a friend that I met in high school who also lives in France because she attends university here. The Lorde concert just happened to be on her birthday and in her city, so when I told her that I bought tickets, she decided to go with us to the show. Even though it was her birthday, she wanted to host us at her super cute apartment, which has amazing high ceilings and is in a beautiful neighborhood of Lyon. We drank wine and ate crackers with some delicious olive stuff that I still need to find here in Cognac, and Siobhán made us some delicious ratatouille before the show.
We wandered our way to the metro and then onto a few trams before finally stumbling into the concert. Riding French public transportation was pretty novel because there are no open container laws and Siobhán and I were literally just passing back and forth an entire bottle of wine the whole ride to the venue. The concert was packed.
French concerts are kind of different than American concerts. I feel that people have even less regard for personal space (true of all things here), and they dance a lot less. Everyone just kind of awkwardly sways back and forth, which suits me because I’m a horrible dancer. Also, listening to the French girls try to sing English songs in their cute accents was super endearing. Lorde was amazing and put on a great show (although I had higher expectations for the encore than just a 2 minute performance of half of a song, if we are being honest here.) But I really enjoyed the concert, the backup dancers and the ambiance of the performance was awesome.
Our first dance song at our wedding was a Lorde song, so being able to dance to that song with my husband again in Europe was a pretty surreal experience. Even though I’ve known that we were coming to France for awhile, sometimes it still doesn’t feel real that I’m actually and really here and so is Dustin. I will always treasure the memory of that song.
The next day, we slept in a little but got around pretty quickly and went on a Mexican Food Finding Mission™, part 2. I had heard there was a pretty good knock-off Chipotle in Lyon called GoMex, and it did not disappoint — although I did have to beg for a corn tortilla. The food was really yummy, although not as spicy as the Mexican food I make at home. Nothing is as spicy here. Also, GoMex had a small selection of Mexican ingredients! (they only have crappy Old El Paso stuff in the biggest supermarkets in Cognac). So we bought a couple of cans of adobe chiles to make barbacoa at home. I can’t wait.
With our bellies full of Mexican food, we headed out with one final pit stop — Starbucks. Dustin had seen a Starbucks on the way to GoMex and he really wanted to go to get a Pumpkin Spice Latte, because he’s basic like that. I love it about him. So we went to the Starbucks to get his PSL, and the barista even spelled my name right. The trick seems to be to say ah-mah-n-d-ah instead of uh-man-duh. Otherwise the French spell it “Emenda” instead of “Amanda.” It still feels a little silly to me to say my name in a French accent, but I’m getting used to it. With caffeine in hand, we finally headed home to Cognac on Monday morning. It was a great weekend full of adventures, and I can’t wait to experience and share the exciting upcoming weekends we have planned!