Feb. 26th, 2005

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The surprises never stop coming here in France. I have found a McDonald’s with wireless in Lyon – only a few steps from my hotel, in fact! Yesterday I took the TGV from Paris to Lyon; it took about two hours and traveled through some very lovely countryside. At first everything was quite flat, then it became rather hilly, although never really mountainous, which was slightly disappointing.

Once we arrived in Lyon, I tried to find the tourist office that I was sure would be in the train station. After all, every other significant station I’ve been in (which is to say, Amsterdam and Paris) has had a tourist office. I wanted to see about a hotel; I thought it would probably be easier to get a room first thing, rather than wait until the evening to see if I needed to stay and if there were then anything available. But, guess what? No tourist office at the Lyon Part-Dieu train station! So I went instead to the first hotel I found – which had a decent weekend rate of 49 euros for a room with a private bath (shower only) and cable (1 English station, BBC World). They let me into the room right away – but the best part? The hotel is just across the street from the library!

So, of course, that’s where I went next; it took a bit of hunting to find the entrance to the library, and once I did, another surprise. When I had looked up the Lyon library on the internet, it looked like their hours were Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but in fact, it’s Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays. I could have come anytime this week! In addition to visiting the library, I needed to find the municipal archives for Lyon; I got the address and took the tram to Lyon’s other major train station, Perrache. Then I had to try to find the street. The map I have shows the street, but a lot of it is covered up with the list of transit lines that leave from the Perrache station. I took what I thought was the most direct way, and found the street, but not the number I was looking for. I needed 18 and the street appeared, on one side, to go only to 17. On the other side of the street? Was a prison. I stopped for directions, and had to go back to the train station and around the other side to find 18, which was actually right next to the train station and not difficult to find at all.

However, I do think it would make an entertaining task on the Amazing Race, since no one knew where the archives were.

I spent a few hours at the archives, squinting at microfilms and actual documents, then I hopped back on the tram and returned to the library. The tram itself travels through some beautiful areas of town, and gives you a glimpse of the really old section of town, which is up on a hill. I hope to get there this afternoon. They have a beautiful old cathedral there, and some Roman ruins, and in fact the entire area has been declared a Unesco world heritage site. (Another good reason for the Amazing Race to come here.)

My work at the library went reasonably well; I’m going back today to check a few more things (since I’m here anyway). Then I went for supper; there’s a giant (and I mean giant – almost as big as the Eaton Centre in Toronto) shopping mall also just across the street, and I wandered around there for a few hours. There are some stores that we also have at home: The Gap, The Body Shop, Timberland, and a store called “PierImport” which I’m pretty sure is Pier I. Then there are the French chains: Galleries Lafayette, a department store which had, in the housewares section, about 15 clerks all standing around in groups of 3 or 4 talking to each other; Darty, which sells electronics; Carrefour, which I think is a grocery store, although I didn’t go in. Stores I’ve seen many places which are rare at home include Sephora and L’Occitane en Provence. There’s also Etam (lingerie) which has a big wedding promotion on now, and Eras (shoes) which has had “L’affaire des enfers” on since I arrived a month ago. They appear to be a sort of French Payless. And then, of course, there were three or four “Le Brioche D’Oree” because you never want to be too far from a pain-au-chocolat.

Tomorrow I’ll be back in Paris, trying to finish off my cereal, milk, and juice before I come home. And I guess I’ll miss the Oscars, which show here tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., because I’m planning to head up to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre for my last afternoon in Paris.

A bientôt!

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February 2009

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