Walks and Aqueducts – Lyon

While in Lyon, we had some nice walks in the “woods” behind the apartment:

Another walk into the city center of Sainte-Foy-Les-Lyon, a commune (town) in Lyon, where we found quaint streets, the sewing store of Cecile’s friend, and some fabulous doorknockers:


On another walk, we went through Francheville, another commune in Lyon, past some cool buildings and ruins of an old chateau…


and then through some more woods to the Aqueduc du Gier, which was amazing!




La Saône, The Little Prince, Place Bellecour and the Presqu’île – Lyon

La Saône is one of the rivers that runs through Lyon with several bridges over it, connecting the old city to the peninsula (presqu’île).

Looking down the river and looking across the river to the old city and The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière up on the hill.


G and L with a cool footbridge behind them that was designed with a single, giant pylon and huge cables.

A closer view of the footbridge, pylon, and cables.

Situated between La Saône and La Rhone in Lyon is the presqu’île (peninsula).  One of the areas on the peninsula is a large public square (15 acres!) called Place Bellecour. It’s a wide open, beautiful area with a view of the cathedral up on the hill on one side…

and a giant ferris wheel at the other end (which I read somewhere is only there during the winter…lucky us!).  Mike and the kids went for a ride. 🙂  I chose to watch with my feet planted firmly on the ground. 🙂

In addition, the office of tourism, a great playground, and a beautiful statue of the Little Prince are all located on the square.

In the office of tourism, L decided to do another statue imitation:

At the playground, G and L’s favorite part was the giant spider web (toile d’araignée).

Here’s the statue of the Little Prince standing behind Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

I’ve read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (who was born in Lyon) several times in both French and English starting in junior high and love reading it, as I discover something new about it each time.  Our wedding program even included one of the quotes from the book that’s etched onto the base of the statue:

"One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye."

The kids and I watched this 1974 version a couple of years ago, which we liked. While we were in Glasgow, we all watched this new animated version together, which has a story within a story format that we liked, too.  I actually loved it!

Oh, before I end this post, we walked up one of the pedestrian shopping streets that starts at the Place Bellecour and found our way to La Droguerie, a lovely sewing store. 🙂  See the giant button on the outside?  Lots of yarns and patterns and fabrics and buttons inside…but not embroidery floss, which is what we needed.

The store clerk directed us to a mercerie (a notions store) called Au Liseron.  He gave the directions in French and G led us there, no problem. 🙂

We also came across this beautiful fountain and a lovely flower tree!


Old Lyon, Miniatures, and Movies

Vieux-Lyon (old Lyon) happens to be another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of Renaissance buildings, courtyards, and cobblestone streets.  On our way to the Musée de Miniatures et Cinéma, we stopped into the Cathédrale St-Jean, which was built between the 12th and 15th centuries.  We all were impressed by the height of the arches and the huge wooden doors!

There are two parts to the Musée de Miniatures et Cinéma — the cinema part includes props and costumes and special effects information from more than 400 movies and the miniature section includes more than 100 scenes that are unbelievably realistic despite their size (typically 1/12).

The museum is situated on 5 floors of a 16th century building called the “Maison des Avocats” (Lawyers’ House).  We followed along the signs leading you from room to room and floor to floor, starting with the cinema part.

Here’s L in front of Harry Potter’s wand and his letter from Hogwarts!

Below is the Grinch mask worn by Jim Carrey, followed by Christopher Reeves suit and the harness used to help him fly in the 1978 version of Superman!

L standing in front of The Thing and next to it are mask from The Terminator movies.

Here are some other prosthetic masks…one friendly (Mrs. Doubtfire), the other not so friendly. :/


Recognize any of these?

In addition to preserving and displaying the masks and other props used in movies, there are workshops where new props are created and old ones are repaired in order to preserve them.  Below is C3PO peeking at us through a door and in the workshop, there is a tiny version of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow used for one of the special effects sequences as well as an alien from one of the Men in Black movies.

THE predator from Predator, THE alien from Alien, an alien from Mars Attacks, and a dinosaur from Jurassic Park.


We’ll end the cinema section with some cute props — an Ewok mask from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Winter from Dolphin Tale!


Next was the miniature displays (most were created to a 1/12th scale). The details are amazing!  I took the photos to show how in some of them if you didn’t realize they were miniatures, you’d think they were pictures of a restaurant or a house or a grocery store.  See what you think! 🙂

Here are a woodworker’s shop, a bathroom, and a subway car!

They just fascinate me!  Below are some specific things — shoes, a chess game, and a ballerina tutu.

The final room was a special exhibit about the animated movie “Ma Vie de Courgette.” We were excited because the kids and I saw the movie while we were in Annecy this fall!  It was so fun to see all the little clay figures we’d seen on screen and learn about the process for creating and animating them!






Lounging in Lyon

We arrived in Lyon around 8pm and maneuvered our way (thanks to great instructions from our friend Cécile!) from one train station to another train station to a bus to our apartment.  Cécile’s mom, who lives in Lyon, was visiting Cécile and her family in Minnesota, so she graciously offered to have us stay in her apartment while she was gone.  It worked out great, and we were so, so appreciative!

When we got off the bus at the apartment, it was snowing “snow-globe” snow!  It was beautiful!  There were lots people out on their balconies taking pictures of it, while L was trying to catch flakes on his tongue! 🙂

Thankfully, Cécile’s mom had a pizza in the freezer (which we replaced) as we were all starving and tired. So a quick bite to eat and off to bed. 🙂

Below close up picture: Note L’s true “Alfalfa” hat hair!

The next day we decided to just lounge about as it had been a long travel day.  We enjoyed the snow, I hemmed a pair of pants for L, and we walked down to a store that was a pet store, grocery store, garden store, and home store all in one!  The kids had fun looking at the fish, birds, rats, mice, hamsters, bunnies, etc., and coming up with names for their (unapproved, not guaranteed) pets.


More Moronic Mustardy Monday Musings

Hello from Dijon, France.  They have excellent mustard here.
I’ve been dumping stuff out of my brain for a while and it’s time to share.

To paint my view of our UK experiences with broad strokes:

  • The English people we met were very friendly and nice and helpful and made our time there great.
  • The Scottish people we met were friendly, seemed willing to pay for your groceries, invite you to dinner, and dive into an icy river to save your children if needed.
  • We loved the Scottish countryside and nature hikes and such but I think, subconsciously or not, it was the people that kept us there for over a month.

I really don’t miss anything about the food at home.  Maybe Carbone’s pizza.  And  I miss hockey.

People look at us like we’re crazy when we tell them we’re traveling by rail and bus. I’ve run the numbers a bunch of times and we’re coming out ahead for sure. In addition to the hassles of driving and finding our way around in traffic, most days we walk through cities or hike around.  That means we’d be paying for a rental car that would just sit, parked, in a paid spot most of the time.  We definitely give up some flexibility, but not enough to have a negative effect.

My hiking boots died in Annecy in November.  I had them for at least 15 years, wore them a ton all over the US and the world, and the toe stitching finally blew out.  RIP.

My feet will miss you.

I got new boots from Amazon and started wearing them in late November.  I’ve worn the new less-comfortable-but-cheap boots for two full months, walked literally hundreds of miles in them and, for some reason, I just got blisters after a 6 mile walk to see the aqueducts in Lyon this past Saturday. Was it the Roman ghosts getting back at me for not fully appreciating all they did? Or did my luck just finally run out?
I bought the new boots from Amazon.fr but you can kinda see what I’m wearing here, if the link works, although I only paid about $30 for them at the time (Disable ad blocker if you can’t see the links, and let me know.)

[amazon template=banner easy&asin=B005BK9IQQ]

My son’s entire waking day is one big High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session. Why walk when you can run? Why stand when you can jump? Why not bounce off walls instead of just staying on the sidewalks?  There’s something to be said for boundless energy.

There comes a time at every location we visit when I just get soooo sick of planning routes and finding lodging. Then we move on and discover new places and people and all is well again.  And we’ll keep going.

We’re having a blast and learning a lot but, since I’m not working, there are somethings that I think just aren’t worth the money.  We’re certainly not sleeping in hostels and stealing breadcrumbs from pigeons like I may or may not have done while in college, but we’re also not eating 4 course French dinners.  It’s tough to strike a balance and keep the experiences good.

Other than the boots, the other best purchase I’ve made on this trip are batteries which are SUPER expensive in stores in France – use the links below to get your own (if they work – I’m making this WordPress stuff up as I go – disable ad blockers if nothing is showing up):

[amazon template=banner easy&asin=B00LH3DTYS]

[amazon template=banner easy&asin=B00NTCHCU2]

Old is relative:
Our St. Paul house is from 1941…most of the Twin Cities was still farmland then.
The Lyon Roman ruins are over 1000 years old, Some Greek ruins  are older…way older.
Some of the stuff we see is from the 1500’s but have BRAND NEW upgrades done in the late 1700’s.
And all this stuff we see, no matter how relatively old, is still standing.  People just live by it, work next to it, or shop in it…just like it’s totally normal to be hanging with a 1000 year old gargoyle.

I hope all is well with everybody, always.  Above all, have fun!

Channel Tunnel (a.k.a. The Chunnel)

We’ve been back in France since January 14, when we left London via the Eurostar traveling through the Chunnel! (For those interested in less chit chat and just the facts about the Chunnel, you can scroll to the end of this post. 🙂 )  We left from King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station (where platform 9 3/4 is — Harry Potter reference). I was a little nervous about taking a train underneath the English Channel, but I kept my thoughts to myself and decided it would be a quick trip and an adventure!

After going through security, we heard an announcement that our train was delayed as a result of technical issues. Luckily, they were able to put on on another train, so we were only a half hour later than we’d planned.  The only uncertainty was that we weren’t sure if it was going to affect our ability to make our connecting train to Lyon, which we were catching in Lille.

The Eurostar was a very roomy, comfortable train, and we enjoyed sitting 2 by 2 with a table in between us.

There was plenty of countryside to see and tunnels we went through as we traveled along. At some point, we noticed that the tunnel we were in seemed a bit longer than the others. Just about the time we were trying to figure out how long we’d been in a tunnel, we were back in daylight and the signs outside were in French!

The train continued on to Gare de Lille (Lille, France train station), where we got off and headed up the escalator to catch our train to Lyon, assuming we’d have a little wait. As we were going up, we heard an announcement saying the train to Lyon was leaving from the same platform in 5 minutes, so we scurried down the other side and hopped on the train with just a minute or two to spare.  Even with our delayed start, we actually were able to catch the train we’d planned on with minutes to spare! 🙂

As we boarded the train, we were still trying to figure out if we really caught the right train, as we assumed we wouldn’t get to the station in time.  Add to that there was a woman with a 1-year old little girl and two large suitcases trying to catch her train as well.  We all got on the same train.  She was hoping it was heading to Marseilles, and we were hoping it was heading to Lyon.  Per the overhead announcement (after the train left the station), we found out it was going to both!  We all heaved a sigh of relief. 🙂

On the train from Lille to Lyon, we had some snacks, played hearts, tried to play speed (but we forgot the rules), and Mike taught the kids how to play Blackjack! 😉 It’s a kind of math, isn’t it?  A lesson in probability?

Some Fun Facts about The Chunnel:

The whole length of the tunnel is 31.4 miles and only 23.5 miles are under the sea.  At its lowest point, it’s 250 feet deep.  The maximum speed of the train is 186 miles per hour, so the time under the sea isn’t long, and it seems to be over just about the time you realize you’re going through it!  The train leaves England in Folkestone, Kent and arrives in France in Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais. There are no announcements about leaving or arriving or going through the tunnel (which for me was probably a good thing)!

A little bit of London

On the train on our way to London from Glasgow, we had time to play a little chess, do a little coloring, and watch the views.

We took Virgin Trains, which always provide some sort of entertainment.  Here’s the sign they had in the bathroom! 🙂

On the tube traveling to our apartment in Fulham (a borough in southwest London).

Day 1:

First day out was quite rainy and blustery, and we were all a bit tired.  We decided to just roam around our neighborhood and see what we could find.  We saw sights a typical visitor to London might not see. 🙂  Fulham Palace, for example, was a Bishop’s residence for more than 12 centuries — about 700 to 1975!  Excavations in the area revealed that it was used by people much earlier than that, back as far as 3,000BC!

It was a warm and friendly place on a chilly day with a beautiful, cozy cafe and a small, but very well-done and informative museum area and gift shop.

Below: The Tudor courtyard of the palace, and L making a wish on a 2-pence coin he threw into the fountain.  A mosaic in the chapel.

Just outside the gardens of the palace was the River Thames!

We walked along the pathway and came to a church — All Saints Episcopal Church.

While the original parish dates back to the 13th century, the current church building was built in 1880.  That said, the church grounds are still covered with grave markers and tombstones from those very early years, including the one below from 1686!

Here’s a picture Mike snapped of the rain/snow mix. Looks like quintessential London. 🙂

Day 2:

These guys were up on top of trees as high as our building with chainsaws trimming branches!  They were connected to the trees with ropes and their chainsaws were connected to them by ropes!  YIKES!

Quaint little house on a street near our apartment.

Took the tube to Westminister, got up to street level, looked up and there it was — Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower. (L prefers to use both names!)

And right down the street was Westminster Abbey (which we enjoyed from the outside)…

and as we crossed the street along side of Parliament Square, was a statue of Winston Churchhill looking over at us!  We hopped back on the tube at Westminster Station…

and hopped off at the North Greenwich Station, where we headed for the Emirates Air Line, which is a cable car link across the River Thames.  Before we got there, I had to get a picture in front of this perfectly pink sign spelling out CRAFT!  It’s actually a cafe/restaurant/bar, but it just spoke to me! 🙂

The Emirates Air Line cable car opened in 2012, so we thought we’d give it a go. From the cable car, you get to see some London sights from a totally different perspective and since our time in the city was limited, we thought it would be a unique way to see a few things from a different view.

As we walked up to the ticket booth, one of the helpful crew members told us that due to the windy conditions, the ride was suspended for 10 minutes and then they’d let us know. (My first thought…how is the wind going to stop in 10 minutes? It was really windy!)  We walked down to the River Thames to have a look at the river and up at the cable car above us.  And 10 minutes later we found ourselves soaring over the river! (Just so we’re clear, it was still windy!)

Cool views, although I was focused more on the cable cars heading back on this round-trip adventure that seemed to be swaying more than I wanted to see.  You can see L’s happy face and my “why are we up here face?” below.

Those dark blue ridges in the water below are actually waves the wind was making on the river.  Did I mention it was windy?  Those tiny little white blobs and the bigger square thing in the middle are for wake boarding lessons — on the River Thames!  Who knew?

We had booked a “round trip” cable car ride, so we were supposed to ride over and ride back in one lovely, relaxing ride.  Instead, when we got there, they had us get off because of the wind.  Again there was the magical 10-minute wait, and we were on our way.  It was still windy. Windier! And on the way back, the cable car rocked sideways and back and forth. I was not a fan.

Below, the round, space-ship looking building with the yellow cranes coming out of it is called the O2, and it’s actually quite a cool building. (You can walk across the top of that, too, if you’re so inclined. I wasn’t.)  And the other picture is of G and L in the cable car, safely on the ground.  Mike took the picture as I was still shaking. Really. :/


As part of the cable car experience, there was another area — the Emirates Aviation Experience, where the kids could sit in a pretend cockpit and learn a little about air travel using interactive displays.

We headed back to the tube to get back to our apartment.

And there you have our slightly unusual tour of London!