Thursday, May 31, 2012

Living it up in Lyon, France

Well, 'living it up' might be a little optimistic for a 38 year old mother-of-four. I did my best.

Before I go any further: Warning Marg - this post involves food. Look away now.

Friday night my bestie and I left the kids with the mister and took the TGV (fast train) up to Lyon.

Guess which one I went for? Thank you darling husband.

Lyon lies over the top of two rivers (the Rhône and the Saône) which meet just below the old town centre.

We stayed in a small apartment in the old town, at the foot of Fourvière Hill. It was a great location and we were able to walk to everything we wanted to see.


When we arrived on Friday we quickly stashed our bags and then headed up Fourvière Hill to see the church and the view.

There were some stairs involved. A lot of stairs. We felt the burn. But knowing we were spending the next 6 mealtimes in the gastronomical capital of France we embraced the pain.

Not even half way up the stairs.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is on the top of the hill and she's a beauty.


The detail on the outside of the building is stunning:


Inside there's not a great deal to see as refurbishments are underway:


Just a few mosaics were unscaffolded to enjoy:


Joan of Arc on the wall

But you can see she's going to be very pretty when she's done:


Back outside there are fantastic views over the city:


By this stage we were well and truly hungry and headed down the hill through the gardens:


And into the old town for a quick apero before finding our restaurant.

Did you know there are over 1000 restaurants in Lyon? Isn't that amazing? (and awesome.)

I made reservations for our main meals (dinners and Saturday lunch) because even with all those venues the good ones still book out (especially on Saturdays). Check out Tripadvisor for recommendations - I've always done well with them.


We ate at Les Retrouvailles on Rue de Boeuf - we weren't disappointed.

Our amuse-bouche (a small, free appetiser) was cold pureed cauliflower.

Doesn't that sound kinda awful?

If someone asked me if I wanted some cold pureed cauliflower before my meal I would've given them the ole whatchootalkinaboutwillis.

Thankfully they don't ask you, they just bring it out, because it was SO delish. There was a whole lotta butter in there and poppy seeds sprinkled on top and we got very excited because if they could do this with cauliflower imagine what they could do with all the other fine foods France has to offer.

Entrée was snails in a garlic cream sauce:

The only food photo I took the whole weekend. I was too busy eating.

Main course: a perfect steak with roquefort cream sauce.
Cheese course: St Marcellin, all gooey and melting over the plate.
Desserts: all placed on a buffet/server in the middle of the restaurant so diners could see them before making their choice. I went for the profiterole cake with chantilly cream and a caramelised nut sauce on top.*

Basically, we were in heaven.

The end of the night - we were the last ones to leave.

Needless to say, we recommend Les Retrouvailles. 

I was going to squeeze all my pictures of Lyon into the one post but I think this town deserves more, so another post (or two) will follow.

Whatcha thinkin' bout? Oh, I dunno... food.

Hope you're all having a great week and I'll see you soon with more Lyonnaise goodness!

* Don't worry, Marg, I'm not going to itemise every meal we ate in Lyon - I'll just give you the restaurant recommendations :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All in a weekend: Cassis, Banon and Gourmet Food.

Hello everyone! Hope you're having a great week so far.

It's go, go, go at the moment - making sure my friend sees the best that Provence has to offer during her 2 weeks here.

This weekend was jam-packed with fun despite the weather's best efforts to thwart us.

We headed off nice and early Saturday morning to the seaside town of Cassis.


Unfortunately the open waters were too rough to take the boat ride out to the calanques (limestone inlets and caves along the coast) but we made up for it with play on the beach and a few merry-go-round rides.


After lunch the wind got a little unpleasant so by mid afternoon we headed home again. They've redone all the beautiful cobblestone streets behind the marina - it was fun to see the work in progress.


Sunday was another early start, this time up to the Luberon Valley to the Banon Fête du Fromage, the Cheese Festival.

We saw this on the way:


Banon put on a great show.

Oh yes, Banon, you ARE super.

And the Oh wow. The CHEESE!

This is Banon cheese, made in the local area and named after the town.


Before coming to France this cheese would've frightened me. Now mould is my best friend.

This was a cheese I'd never seen before - soft goat's cheese made with rose water throughout (and a little rosemary on top) - it was amazing.


Of course there were things other than cheese, such as these:


And this cool bookstore:


But really, it was all about the cheese:

Those rounds on the bottom were 60cm (2 ft) across. Incredible.

Unfortunately the heavens opened at midday (and didn't stop until Tuesday afternoon) so we gave up our plan of having a nice lunch outside. Instead we took our haul home and pigged out there:

We went a little crazy, I'll admit. But we get to eat cheese all week, yay!

This is the Banon cheese, inside its chestnut leaf wrappings:


Sunday night I'd made a booking at the very popular Poivre D'Ane restaurant.


The food was really lovely, although the mister got a few sideways looks going out to dinner with two ladies. Why do people always find that so interesting?


The trip in and out of the restaurant had us soaked - the rain did not let up the whole night. And then we came home to find the laundry leaking.


In other news, did you know the Monaco Grand Prix is on this weekend? I didn't! My bestie and I are now going to Lyon for our weekend away.


Given that Lyon is referred to as the gastronomic capital of France, I don't think we'll be disappointed.

Have a great week! x x

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Provence Poppies

Man, I love poppies.

Vibrant, happy, but so very delicate. They don't last more than a few weeks before they start to fade or shrivel from the sun - but while they're here they sure know how to live it up.

The mister spotted a gorgeous field full of poppies near Rognes in the Luberon Valley but I haven't been able to get out there. Now I fear they will be well past their prime.

These pictures were taken last night in a field just around the corner from us.

They look so cute popping up between the ears of wheat, although a field of nothing but poppies would look better. Bloody farmers, so inconsiderate (she says, munching on a wheat-filled baguette).

One of my oldest and dearest friends is here visiting - she arrived this morning. It was a sort of late notice trip and she's such a busy girl that sometimes these things don't come off, so I'm really excited to have her all to myself for 2 whole weeks. Yippee!

I have a whirlwind of activities designed to show off the beauty of this little corner of France. And we're going to have a girls' weekend in Monaco next week! Yay!! More exclamation marks!!!

I wish you all a wonderful weekend with someone you love,
A bientôt! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Le Petit Village

Phew, it's taken me 'till Wednesday to recover enough to tell you about our weekend visiting Sara Louise and her hubby in Le Petit Village.

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day - sunny, warm and no wind (not like Sunday).


We lunched without the mister, close by Le Petit Village (as the village is so small it doesn't have a resto). The 2 year old took a shine to Sara's husband. Besotted was the word, so besotted he started calling him Daddy. Raised a few eyebrows at the table next to us, that's for sure (what kind of harem is that man running?)


The mister was riding his bike in to meet us so we killed a little time with a wander.


(For those wondering, the 2 year old went back to calling his own father 'Daddy' as soon as he turned up. Disaster averted.)


Once at Le Petit Village we installed ourselves in le grand gîte and then I got my own personal tour.


Beautiful old stonework everywhere:


Except where it's looking a bit newer - courtesy of Le Brother-in-Law, who's a mason (surely the hardest working profession in the Luberon Valley).

The Priory.

I loved the sun dials built into many of the cobblestone alleys:


Sara and I both thought this chair should've been reupholstered instead of abandoned to a life of dead leaves and cat pee.


If you read Sara's blog you'll know about the Honey family:


The doorways, windows and flower pots just kill me:


The grand finale to the tour is coming down through this passage way...


You find this view. Not too shabby.


After our tour we went back to the gîte and got down to the business of aperos, talking English and preparing the BBQ. I'm not going to lie, a fair bit of rosé was imbibed as well.

After the kids had eaten and the sun began to set I snuck back to the old part of town for a few more photos.


It was very quiet and a little spooky.


Sara's tales of Nazi zombies sucking out the brains of lost Australian tourists played on my mind. (They were in trouble if they didn't like rosé.)

Quick, back to the church. Zombies hate churches.

The next morning Sara brought us all coffee (love you, love you, love you) and then gave the mister and the eldest kids their own tour of the village (amazing she didn't charge us, really).

The wind was pretty ferocious by mid morning, so we loaded up the car and left Le Petit Village in peace.

Another great experience that I owe to this blog, without which I would never have met Sara Louise.


Thanks Sara (and hubby) and thanks Le Petit Village. Hope to see you again soon!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...