It’s been a few weeks since my last post, but don’t worry everyone I’m still alive, and I haven’t become so used to speaking French that I’ve lost the ability to update my blog in English (I wish!) I’ve been keeping myself busy over the Toussaint school holidays.
I spent a whole week in Lyon at the start of the holiday, which was fantastic. Lyon is such a wonderful city! I honestly can’t recommend it enough- it has all the charm and character of my hometown, but unlike Charlieu it is a lively, bustling centre, where something is always going on.
The first Friday-Tuesday was a University of Birmingham reunion; Ellie, Emily, Libby and I had a great weekend together. It was lovely to see them and talk about how they’re finding their years abroad! We stayed together in an airbnb apartment near the Rhône river, which came with wifi, a booming HiFi system, and even a free bottle of wine. We started our weekend with a great night out, drinking plenty of red wine before heading to a péniche (barge) club on the river. It was almost like being back in Snobs in Birmingham, except we were on a boat, and drinking an interesting cocktail called a ‘Darth Vader’.
Having previously spent a weekend in Lyon with my friends from Roanne, I knew what I wanted to see again, and what we hadn’t had time for the first time. The next afternoon, after a much needed lie-in, we went to explore. We walked by the Rhône in the sunshine, before heading to the Fourvière to watch the sun set over the city (see featured image), and then wandering back through Vieux Lyon.
On Sunday, we took a picnic to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. The park is huge, one of the biggest urban parks in France, and there’s plenty to do on a student budget. We spent a while in the park’s free zoo, and I loved watching the most adorable baby monkeys jump all over the place. We also walked around the beautiful lake, which gave me the opportunity to take a lot of photos of the autumnal-coloured trees. The next day we did something else on my Lyon bucket list: visit the Musée des Beaux Arts. There was a great collection of historical artifacts from all over the world, as well as some wonderful artwork.
Then on Tuesday I said goodbye to the girls and Tom arrived in Lyon! It was great to see him, and we stayed in a different airbnb until Friday, which meant that I could show him the city too. On Wednesday we battled through the rain to explore together, walking across the rivers, through the Place Bellecour, to Vieux Lyon. We did lots of the same touristy stuff, but it was nice to see it all again through someone else’s eyes.
For me the absolute highlight of Wednesday was the amazing food we enjoyed for lunch. We ate in a Bouchon (bistro that sells Lyonnais food), and because it was lunchtime we were able to enjoy two delicious courses for 14 euros each. I had some andouille sausage with mustard sauce and dauphinoise potatoes followed by a huge slab of chocolate tarte. Needless to say I practically rolled down the hill of the Fourvière after that. I also revisited the Parc de la Tête d’Or with Tom on Friday, and we had fun looking round the huge exotic greenhouse together.
On Thursday we took a day-trip to Grenoble, which was so beautiful. We took the Ouibus (French Megabus) there and back, which was much cheaper than the train and took about the same amount of time. In the morning we explored the Musée de Grenoble, which had an enormous collection of artwork, ranging from Renaissance paintings to weird modern art sculptures. Best of all, youths (under 25) got in free! After lunch at a crêperie, we headed up the cable-car to see the Fort de la Bastille, which gave stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
After a chill weekend (I gave Tom a cold, oops) we spent Monday walking around the nearby village of Villerest and its beautiful lake. I know I describe everywhere as beautiful, but honestly in this part of France everything is! The landscape is all hills and large expanses of water, and it makes a change from the urban environment of Birmingham that I’ve become used to.
The holidays came to an end this Wednesday, and I was back to working in the Lycée on Thursday. I’ve been giving my pupils a presentation on Bonfire Night, and then we have a discussion: ‘Who or what would you pretend to burn on your bonfire?’ I’ve had some interesting answers, ranging from an eloquent 18-year-old explaining how she would destroy discrimination to a scowling 15-year-old muttering ‘the school…’ In one of my classes yesterday the pupils had prepared a presentation to introduce me to Charlieu, and I discovered that people who live here call themselves ‘Charliendins’. It’s nice that they’re so proud of where they come from; I can’t imagine anyone from Yateley (my hometown) calling themselves a Yatelier. Or a Yateleyite.
On Monday I’m going to work in the Collège (11-15 yr olds) for the first time, and I’m so excited! Older pupils are more interesting, but keeping them engaged is sometimes a struggle. I’ve been promised lots of cute year seven classes by the collège teachers, so that’s definitely something to look forward too.
a + (c u l8r)