Grand Lyon! Je suis revenue !

Lovely Lyon!!

When I was last in Lyon it was pouring rain and we spent our time under umbrellas and ducking in and out of shops and boulangeries in the Old Town area. We even loved the city sopping wet, and grey, and gloomy, so I looked forward to seeing this place again, and I got to see it in sunshine! 

I stayed at the beautiful airbnb of Carine, a French music teacher in the 7th Arrondissement, and she immediately invited me out to a concert that night of Armenian and Persian music. 

On our way we walked past the Lyon Opera.


The group was called NaZani and was a trio, with one musician playing several hand drums and a lute-type instrument, and one playing a Qanoun, and the third dancing. 

Not an exceptional photo, but you get the idea. 🙂

Small space, an excellent little black-box theatre venue, it ended up with a full house, most of whom had a subscription to the music series here. 

We met up with a friend of Carine’s at the concert and walked around Lyon afterwards, to have drinks at Place Bertone in the 1er Arrondissement. 

There were absolutely loads of people out (it being Saturday night), and the streets and squares and all along the Rhône River were busy. There were groups of people having riverside picnics and drinks and we walked past a hearing-impaired meet-up group right by Pont de la Guillotière ( I saw ads for it on the metr- as a regular thing.)

I spent two sunny days exploring Lyon, starting with taking the verniculaire up through Vieux Lyon to the Cathedrale, my favourite church in the world.

You are welcome to walk up from Old Lyon, but this way is soooooo nice. 🙂

Just as I stepped out of the metro entrance, the bells started ringing. 😊
I went inside just before the 11’oclock Mass began, and I sat at the back where the tourists/guests sit. Basically, unless you are there to attend Mass, if you only want to ‘see’ what it’s like and stay for only part (or even the entire service), they ask you to stay in the back pews. 

That is fine with me, and was perfect to gaze up in quiet awe at the breathtaking ceiling and walls adorned with detailed mosaics, rainbows of stained glass, and carved statues, wood and marble, gilded and gorgeous. No photos are allowed inside, which just makes you appreciate the moment even more.

I actually stayed through the entire service (my very first Mass).
There was beautiful choral music, a feisty sermon (some of which I understood) delivered by a passionate priest through a mic that offered just the right amount of reverb to sound extra formidable, and I had the sudden  understanding of the strength of burning incense filling a space (*cough cough*). 


Some exterior photos give you a hint to the detail inside, but this is as close as I came to taking photos inside this grand place. Outside an accordion player greeted tourists at the gate, and a small church group (of unknown denomination to me), sang a Capella over by a statue in the courtyard in front of the church.

And then of course, there is this view.

Following that start to the day, I found the ancient stage and ended up standing on the stage all by myself for a brief and awe-inspiring few minutes. 

Old Lyon is full of boulangeries specializing in anything and everything praline, meaning a lot of pink pastries. 

I think the last time I took a photo of this Boulangerie stain glassed sign, there was nothing but dark grey clouds above.

The Musée Miniature et Cinema  was recommended to me by Carine and I spent the better part of two hours inside. From the actual very-aromatic (and totally creepy) sets from “Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer”, to original movie costumes, animatronics, and props (like guns and wands), to the most intricate movie set miniatures I have ever seen, this place is fantastic!!!

Believe it or not, these are ALL miniatures. Every single one.

I then discovered that though I had missed the usual Sunday market hours (that finish at 2pm or earlier), there was a HUGE pottery market/festival in Old Lyon spreading out in all directions from Place Saint-Jean. 

Dishes, sculptures, jewelry, art… Happy place. 🙂

Oh if I had room in my suitcase…… There was something for everyone here. Sooooooo fantastic.

I then walked across the river to a music festival in Place Bellecour. 

With tents from around the world, and information about the culture, music, local products, and food of each country.

 The winning tents in my opinion: Pakistan- for live music and dancing, Belgium- for samples of cold beer on this super-hot day, and Turkey- free Turkish ice cream samples complete with a performance!

There were performances on the main stage every half hour, and I caught a group of dancers performing J-Pop (from Japan), and a Swedish choir that included a couple of my host Carine’s voice students.

This city has so much charm I’m happy I got to come back and see it again. 

And now, on to Switzerland!!

Dreamy PEI

The third installment of the East Coast/Maritimes/Atlantic Provinces, was on le petit Prince Edward Island. 😉

We drove from Nova Scotia across the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, and the crossing was actually more fun than we thought it would be. At times you can see the sides of the bridge, and with the view of water on either side, we quite enjoyed the short ride over.

After a little exploring as the rain clouds threatened, and then cold and rainy night of  camping near Summerside, we searched for breakfast/coffee around Cavendish, our next major stop on the island. It really hit home at this point just how early we were for tourist  ‘high season’; we could not find one single restaurant open in all of the Cavendish area (not even a Tim Hortons!)!

We were determined to see Green Gables and Lucy Maude Montgomery’s homestead that day, and thankfully we ended up finding coffee and cinnamon buns at the tiny cafe on site. Hiking boots on and full rain gear equipped, we set out to stay as dry and warm as possible and explore the inspiration for the Anne of Green Gable books. 

We walked the path of the “Haunted Forest” from the Green Gables farm to the Montgomery homestead, library, and post office. The staff there were very eager to share their knowledge of the writer and her life and books. (I had no idea that Lucy Maude Montgomery rewrote the journals she kept from her youth all the way to her last year of life, and they were published! I also had no idea she had written so many books.)

The rain and cold weather were pretty tenacious while we were on the island, but it didn’t dampen our spirits since we had our night booked into the Airbnb and had theatre tickets, and we were happy to duck into the Water Prince Corner shop for dinner (bacon-wrapped scallops!!) and went to see Mamma Mia at the Charlottetown Festival! 

Now, I am not an ABBA fan, but not only had I heard high praise for the show but my friend Adam directed it, so I knew it would be a good time.

It was SO much fun! Great cast, beautiful set, fantastic choreo, and I enjoyed an entire evening of ABBA music way more than I expected to! We had a wonderful time!

Friday we spent the afternoon window shopping and enjoying some tea in a great little coffee shop called the Black Kettle, and then made our way to our next campsite. One night of reprieve from trying to sleep in a damp tent made us optimistic for another campground booking. 

We arrived at the KOA Cornwall campground and were amazed at the amenities including a kangaroo jumper (giant inflated canvas pillow for kids to jump on), bike-style ‘go carts’, kayaks, a pool (not open yet), and games room. Even last night there were card games galore and the staff were making popcorn for the guests.
This was the busiest campground we have been to so far!

Our campsite was kind of dreamy. 

We even made it to the original Cows Ice Cream Parlor (and self-guided factory tour), and tried a few popular flavours like Moo York Cheesecake and Wowie Cowie. Oh, the many bovine puns.

On Friday evening we had a fantastic catch up with my friend Adam at his house, and then we went in search of live music downtown and found ourselves at the Old Dublin Pub, where we could hear sounds of a great live band upstairs. We found a table near the front of the busy spot, and spent the next two hours listening to The Kitchen Boys perform a mix of popular bar tunes and traditional Maritimes music. The most impressive thing, actually, is that the drummer mixed the sound for the show right where he was, with an in-ear monitor to hear the mix. We were extremely impressed. It was fantastic, and I even got some dancing in! 🙂

Saturday we woke up to SUNSHINE! It felt like a miracle and we quickly changed our ferry booking from 1pm to 4:30 so we could stay on the beach at the campground a little longer. 

The beach! What we had been dreaming of as we planned this trip, was everything we had hoped it would be. I can’t get over how beautiful the red sand is here. The farmers freshly planted fields are red, the shorelines and rocks are red, the dust is red, and this rusty earth is all due to the red sandstone that is found throughout PEI.

Our last day in PEI was perfectly delightful, and after a lazy morning in the sun on the shores edge, some sunbathing, reading, and a little barefoot walk (carefully) among thousands of shells and shell fragments in the shallow water, we packed up and headed to the southeast point of the island.

We decided to take the Northumberland Ferry from Wood Islands Harbour to Caribou, Nova Scotia, which felt like a nice introduction to ferry travel, and a 75 minute ‘training session’ before next week’s 8-hour ferry to Newfoundland.

We got to the park early and got to visit the Woods Island Lighthouse there, and see the inside of a lighthouse for the first time on our trip. 

Then onto the ferry, which had a snack bar, a few arcade games, comfortable seats, and wifi. So civilized. 🙂 

Back to Nova Scotia we go, and on to Cape Breton and the glorious Cabot Trail!!

The unexpected long weekend, in two parts…

It wasn’t until mid-week when I was informed that Monday would be a holiday, so we had a long weekend coming up right away- no Monday classes! I kind of wished this information had been presented/advertised sooner, as I would have planned a weekend trip further out of town if I could have booked earlier. As it was I had several local adventures, including some theatre, another Basillica, a flea market, shopping in the Marais, the Seine walkway, a jazz concert, the Arc Du Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Spoken Word, and a day trip to Fontainebleu! No complaints about that list!!
So from the beginning…or, Friday/Saturday…

Friday night I wanted to see some theatre so I picked up a “Pariscope”- a magazine with a detailed list of all events and arts going on in the city this summer- totally worth the 0.50€ it cost! I was hoping to see a show I had already seen in English so I had some context, and discovered that Molière’s L’Invalide Imaginaire was playing at Comedie Française, and I convinced a classmate to come with me. We saw that there were reduced price tickets for ‘restricted’ view seats, and when we went to purchase them we realized they are even cheaper than we thought – at 5€ each! C’était bon!
The show was very funny, but one thing about comedies that is for certain: they are very fast- the actors speak very quickly most of the time, so it was quite challenging at times to understand exactly what was being said. We had to go over what happened afterwards when we went to a cafe (called Molière!) for drinks after the show. Friday was a warm day, and the evening weather here is often perfect for walking around and finding a good bar or cafe to have a ‘happy hour’ drink- I have noticed that many of the bars in Paris have 4 or 5-hour long ‘happy hours’! Basically, if you go after 5 or 6, luck is on your side. (And since pop/soda is about the same price as a beer or glass of wine (!), this makes a difference to this coca-cola drinking girl. (Also, here, you ask for a ‘coca’, not a coke, if you want to say it ‘correctly’.)

Complete side note: I am finding that Parisians are so nice!! I am currently at a cafe, and the girl next to me needed a phone charger as her android phone is about to die. I couldn’t help her, but a stranger on the other side of me heard her ask me and offered his charger. I also find that shop owners and locals are very encouraging when I fumble with my French, or ask where I am from because they can ‘hear a slight accent’ to my French. I’ll take that ‘*slight* accent’ as one for the ‘win’ column! 🙂


On the very hot and sunny Saturday I went up to Basillique Saint-Denis, at the suggestion of my friend Diana. A lot of the exterior was under construction, but inside you could defintely appreciate the grandeur and majesty of the building. Plus, the temperature inside was very cool, which was delightful. 🙂





The square outside was pretty busy, as there had been some sort of celebration/festival of Saint Denis going on. I was about to head back to the metro when I saw some tents on the other side of the square and discovered my first French flea market.


This place was crazy! There were clothes, housewares, cleaning products, jewelry, scarves and saris of every color and style, and it was a busy place- vendors calling out “allez allez allez allez” and other such things to get people to come over to their stall. I think that most people would have a hard time not buying *anything at all* if you had any cash on you- it’s hard to resist 3€ pumps- even if they only last for one night out!! ;).


Yes, those shoes are on sale for 3€. That’s less than 5 bucks.

I  took the busy metro back to the centre of Paris and walked along the Seine, enjoying the many people out walking, biking, skateboarding and rollerblading in the sunshine! A brass band started playing just as I came to the steps by the Musée D’Orsay, and played some great covers of pop music with tuba, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and percussion.



I also walked by the Bridge of Locks again, which, you may have heard on the news- had a section of the railing collapse from the weight of the locks on Sunday and police had to evacuate the bridge! Too many lovers…. Insert your own joke here… 😉

Another discovery in the Pariscope magazine is that it is Festival season in Paris! So now a jazz festival has begun. Saturday night I made my way to the Parc Floral De Paris to watch a jazz show on their outdoor stage; the concert is free with admission to the park – another evening of entertainment for 5€!


The Park is at the south end of the Chateau Du Vincennes that we visited last week, and is probably very lovely during the day, and is free to visit on weekdays. I’ll definitely plan to make it back there! I didn’t explore too much of it as I wanted to get to the concert. The band performing was called Paolo Fresu Quintet, and they were fantastic!




There were people all over the place sitting on the grass, on benches, and of course right by the stage where there was concert seating. I sat across the lake to listen, as the acoustics were great. It’s a common occurrence to see large groups of Parisians spending time with friends around the city, and here was no exception. Not only did I see an energetic group of people just outside the park playing badminton in a field, but there were a couple groups of people down the odd pathway playing la pétanque (bocce), but in the park at the concert there were numerous groups of anywhere from four to twelve people sitting on blankets, towels, and mats with a pile of food in the middle of them and boxes of beer and bottles of wine strewn around them. There were lots of families and some particularly hilarious kids were trying to do kart wheels and handstands nearby throughout the evening. It was a truly relaxed atmosphere (un air le détendu), and I loved it.


Be prepared- Sunday/Monday is the lopsided part of the weekend. Il y a beaucoup des photos!