on becoming un lyonnais
« Vous voulez devenir un Lyonnais ? » “You want to become a Lyonnais?” My driver had asked how long I intended to stay. I told him one month. A little later, during the introduction to the apartment, my landlord commented about the length of my stay, « Vous devenez un Lyonnais. »
Popping in and out of a city in France does not give me much pleasure. I dislike the constant movement between hotel rooms and the need to spend time going to and from airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
The hotel rooms are often within blocks of the transportation hubs or near the center of the city. Major businesses are there. The locals go to work, and then they go home, leaving you to your hotel room.
I look for places that are a little isolated, away from the center of the city, but within easy access to public transportation. I prefer a neighborhood with character, that seems to live with residents.
My neighborhood in Lyon is les pentes de la Croix-Rousse. It has a small park Place Sathonay which has an extensive history. Surrounding it are some small restaurants where one can sit à la terrace and sip an espresso. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Above Place Sathonay, maybe a short block or two, is a small roman ruin, an amphitheater, l’Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, and next to it nearby on the hill is a small park, le jardin des Plantes. It too has a history. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
To the west of Place Sathonay, not too far, maybe a short block, is another confluence of apartment buildings with a small plaza, Place Fernand Rey, and some restaurants and trees. There one can find three restaurants, a boulangerie, an épicerie that also serves meals à la terrace. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
I do prefer living somewhere rather than visiting for a day or two. A few weeks can make a difference. Living in the neighborhood, wandering its streets, eating and drinking there, makes one feel like a local, and in Lyon, like a Lyonnais.
There is a curious restaurant—Maison Germaine—not far from Place Sathonay. Maybe a block away. (It is not Maison Germains.) It is owned and run by one person M. Bruno Girard. He does everything. He is the waiter, he serves drinks, he is the chef, he is the owner. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
M. Girard makes the dishes, and he explains carefully how they were prepared. Like in many restaurants this size in France, the wine comes en cubi, a box. It is good enough.
The dishes reminded me of a meal I might get from an épicerie, fait maison, but made well ahead and ready to serve.