The Fête de Lumières has come & gone. It was quite a crazy time in Lyon. I feel like I spent most of my time at Starbucks that weekend & I’m not half wrong. We started off the festivities a day early with a crazy night out in Lyon on the Thursday. It was just meant to be drinks but somehow it turned into something else quite early on. We predrank at Kate’s and somehow polished off her entire bottle of vodka along with the other beverages we had brought. Perhaps this explains why we were leaving her house 2 hours later than we’d meant…This may also explain the reason we walked to the Shamrock instead of taking the metro…& why we ended up drinking buckets (Thailand style) & not being allowed into any other bars afterwards. All in all, it was a fun night & I met even more of Kate’s international friends.

The actual Fête began on the friday night with a few light installations starting up…the big nights were Saturday & Monday, however. Saturday night I worked until 10pm at Starbucks, but was able to meet up with Kate & co afterwards. I got to see a bit of the fête (Kate joined me on a walk to Vieux Lyon which she’d done earlier while I was still at work) before having some hot chocolate at the Bellecour apartment. I walked home that night & have never seen the street so busy & full of life at 12:30am. Place Terreaux had this amazing display that told a while story using the buildings as a screen. & then the montée de la grande côte had little windows looking into “peoples apartments” as well as more ppl selling vin chaud than I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely something to see. The next morning, I got up early to meet some people at the Basilique de la Fourvière for mass. There was a Gregorian choir which we thought would be really cool, but wasn’t actually…Since all the hotels were at 100% for the Fête, Starbucks decided to stay open later for the weekend, so that following 2 nights I spent at work. Sunday I was there until 12:30am & Monday I was there until after 2am. Definitely wish I could have seen more of the Fête, but I can’t complain too much. What I did see was incredible.

The week following the Fête I spent my time at the Christmas markets & picking up some last minute things for Heather & Zevi’s arrival. I have fallen in love with this épicerie here called Bahadourian. I could spend hours (& a lot of money) just wandering around. They have bulk nuts, every spice imaginable, pasteries, fresh meals for all corners of the worlds, etc etc. Ever since I met up with Zemmo (ZEvi + Heather GuMMO = Zemmo) & was reminded that Zevi doesn’t eat porc, I’ve been noticed just how much pork the french consume. It’s in everything! So I also got some halal meat, so Zevi could enjoy some delicious chorizo.

Zemmo arrived in the afternoon this past Thursday & I picked them up at Part-Dieu. We headed back to my apartment to drop off their things & then they walked down to Starbucks with me. I was working a 3 hour shift so they read & enjoyed my favourite Starbucks Christmas beverage (Créme Brulée Latte) while I worked. I was supposed to finish at 9, but it true Starbucks closing shift fashion, I didn’t actually get off til 9:30. By this time we were starving, so we hit up this little French burger bar called Ninkasi. There are several in Lyon & they brew their own beer & have great burgers that you can choose your toppings & one of their 3 Ninkasi sauces. They also have amazing fries! We followed this up with a apple tarte & made the trek home.

Friday we walked down into town, doing some shopping along the way, all the way to the main square-Bellecour. The Office de Tourisme is there, so we booked a tour for the following day & continued to the big Christmas Market at Perrache. We spent several hours wandering around, drinking vin chaud (Mulled Wine). Vin Chaud is one of my favourite things about Christmas in France. There are few things I enjoy more than wandering around the Christmas Market with a glass of vin chaud to keep my hands warm. Not only does it keep your hands warm though, it is also delicious. We each bought some food for lunch at the Christmas market which we ate while wandering around. I had a tartine salée (which is basically bread with ham & melted cheese…oh raclette cheese, I love you). Heather had a hot dog & Zevi had a crepe…We
were all still hungry so Heather & I shared some Tartiflette, another specialty of this region. Basically potatoes, ham & melted cheese. Sadly, we couldn’t find much that didn’t have ham in it at the Christmas Market, so Zevi gave in & bought himself some Porc. It came in the form of Patty who was a gingerbread cookie shaped like a pig…with “Je t’aime” written on his bum. We didn’t eat Patty right away though, we mostly just took him on some adventures. (See the facebook album…) After the Christmas market we went to Les Halles…another of my favourite places in Lyon, où le produit est roi. It’s a giant indoor we walked around looking at some of the most delicious food you can find.  We also sampled a few macarons & I now understand Kate’s obsession with them. 

That night was my Soirée Mexicana so we headed home to start preparations for that. I was going to make my mom’s delicious chili. Anne, Kate, Mamadou, Karine, Heather, Zevi & I all enjoyed delicious chili that evening, accompanied by appetizers, sangria, beaujolais nouveau, bordeau & neopolitaine for dessert. It was quite a success, I think! I’ll be making chili again here I think because it is amazing, especially on a chili night!
Saturday we hiked up Fourvière Hill to see the roman ruins & the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. It is just beautiful. Then we walked down to Vieux Lyon through the gardens & had lunch in a typical bouchon lyonnais. We each had something different & it was all delicious. Zevi had beef, Heather had lobster quenelles (I’m still not sure what this is, but it’s very lyonnais) & I had andouilette (which is a type of sausage). We each had some gratin dauphinois to go along with it, which satisfied my love of potatoes. Included in our meal was a starter & a dessert as well. Not bad for 13.50. We decided to get coffee afterwords & then in typical French fashion had the hardest time getting our bill so we could pay & leave. This left us with barely any time to make it to Bellecour for our tour of Vieux Lyon, so we had to run. In the end we made it (after having to run some more in search of our tour) & it was quite good. I learned even more about Lyon that I didn’t know. & we got to Traboule, which is my favourite thing. (I think I’ve mentioned that the traboules are indoor passageways that connect streets-very cool). 

We headed back up to my apartment for dinner afterwards. We made stir-fry (pretty much a Zemmo specialty by now) & sampled some of Karine’s gratin dauphinois. She had her best friend & his kids over for dinner & the youngest was adorable. At one point during dinner he asked us “Mangez-vous les ours au Canada” (“Do you eat bears in Canada). Probably the cutest question I’ve gotten in a while. We had a good laugh. Afterwards we predrank a bit before meeting Kate & co at the Shamrock for her Birthday party. We spent a few hours there, dancing & watching Kate & a few of her friends consume one of those dangerous buckets before heading off to the Bellecour apt for the goodbye party & continuation of Kate’s birthday. The night ended with a stop over at the 24 hour bakery in Vieux Lyon during our walk home. Mmm 24 hour bakery!

Sunday we slept in quite a bit before heading out to the Christmas Market in Croix Rousse & then on to Parc de la Tête d’Or. I think I’ve written about the park before…it’s HUGE, for one. & there is a free zoo in the middle of it…so we wandered around there for a bit before heading home so I could call my parents. Lyon was playing Marseille that evening so we decided to head down to this bar called Eden Rock Café for some pub food, beer & to watch the football game. Kate joined us as well & it was a nice final evening in Lyon.
My apartment feels very empty now with Heather & Zevi gone, but it was so nice to have them here & get the chance to show them around my French home. It’s a bit sad to think that I probably won’t see anyone from home for another 5 months…of course, you guys are all more than welcome to come visit…Free accomodation! haha.Tonight is my Christmas Party for work…It’s at some Asian Restaurant (does anyone else find this odd?!) so I’m meeting up with the English girl, Tonia, who works with me. She’s really nice & has also invited me around for dinner on Friday evening at hers. It’s a bit of crazy week this week because all of Kate’s friends are writing exams & leaving for home ( a lot were just staying for one semester..sad seeing as I just met them). Kate is also leaving on Sunday morning for 3 weeks…so it’ll be interesting without her here for a while. Busy, busy week.

This morning I had a great surprise though- mail!! My first real mail from someone other than the bank! Thank you, Margs! It made my day! (It also makes me laugh because she sent it long after my parents sent their package & theirs still hasn’t arrived…oh Canada Post!!) Anyways, I am of course quite behind on my Christmas shopping/preparations….I can’t believe it’s already going to be Christmas….ahh time flies! I’ll be home in no time, I think. hahaha.
Anyways, this is PLENTY long enough already & I’m pretty much just rambling now. Hope you guys aren’t freezing too bad. I can’t even imagine winter in Calgary right now…I’m cold enough here as it is & it’s not even really cold!!!

Joyeux Noêl à tous! Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah!! Make sure to partake in the Christmas festivities & baking a little extra just for me. (Especially the shortbread & stuffing…my FAVOURITE!)