Bonjour! We finally arrived in France after a two hour delay leaving the U.S. due to a need to replace a toilet on the plane. Go figure!? Upon our arrival in Paris, we did catch our train to Lyon, only to find that our train to St. Etienne was cancelled 2 times. Third time is the charm and we arrived sans probleme, albeit later than expected, but we had no time constraints to adhere to and that was such a pleasant change!
Ahhhh. La France. So nice to be back. Mine eyes and heart are fresh and full of anticipation as to what awaits us. A good night’s sleep is much needed, so we clean up and go out and grab a couple tartes-one with black olives and mushrooms and the other with salmon and artichokes- and, mais bien sur, a bottle of rose. The evening is beautiful with the sunset and a cool breeze.
The morning comes a bit too soon, with my head pounding, my nose a bit stuffy and jet lag in full swing, but I anxiously awake to my first French morning. My husband and I are ready to begin our day of exploration. Our first stop is at la pharmacie– the pharmacy. We need to get some nose spray, vitamin C and some ibuprofen. Now, who says we’re not FUN?? Moments later we spot a farmer’s market with charcuterie-sausages, salami, etc- and all sorts of glorious, fresh vegetables! HEAVEN! As we approach le charcuterie, my husband trips on the jagged cobblestone and falls. His leg is instantly dripping with blood and his scrape demands attention. As most men do, he immediately says, “It’s nothing, don’t worry”. However, as we proceed to walk, the blood drips down onto his shoe and we are forced to start some mandatory clean up of his leg.
As luck would have it, we run into yet another pharmacy (they really are on just about every corner here!) and we go in to purchase a bandage and some antibacterial. This pharmacist comes out and starts to administer first aid to my husband by putting on gloves, spraying him with antibacterial spray and wrapping bandages around his shin. I laughed at the thought of this happening in the United States and the consequences that a CVC or Walgreens employee might face should they try this! At any rate, our journey continued with much success after our two initial visits to the pharmacy.
Meandering around this little cosmopolitan city was so delightful. Buses, a light rail system, cyclists and walkers abound in this city with so much diversity and energy. The men were dressed in t-shirts with sport coats and jeans, while the women wore skirts with wedge sandals. There were fathers walking with their children in strollers and mothers in burkas chasing after their toddlers. We arrived at the city centre at lunchtime, the perfect time to relax with a Lyonnaise salad (a salad with bacon and a poached egg), steak frites (aka french fries) and Pellegrino and people watch.
After lunch, we stumbled upon a delightful surprise of a little patisserie. No, this was not your traditional “to die for French pastry” shop, but instead, this was a shop that makes Tunisian and Middle Eastern pastries. The windows were very alluring with their delicate and different looking pastries and the shop was decorated in beautiful white and violet colors. The back of the shop was laid out like a tea parlor (they do serve tea, too!) with purple velvet chairs and white lacquered tables.
We couldn’t resist spending some time and money here. The storekeeper was so very kind and helpful and gave us an understanding and history of the shop and its goodies. Made fresh in Tunisia each day, these delicacies are flown in daily-only two hours away. The pastries are made from local ingredients, such as pistachios, almonds, cardamom, dates, and jasmine. A bite into one of these infuses your mouth full of fragrance and spice and not very sweet. The textures were much like that of Greek baklava. I’m always up for tasting something new and interesting and these definitely fit the bill.
I really loved getting this taste of the Middle Eastern culture. Being able to talk to someone who seemed to so much love her roots and want to share something so positive and something so universal such as dessert, made me feel very connected with humanity. The saying that food is a universal language is very correct. I believe that when politics and religion seem to separate us so much as a people, that we should try to find a commonality and connection and that is so often found in food and family.
Speaking of family, I do miss mine terribly and it is only day 1. Or is it day 3? I’m so jet-lagged right now, that I’m uncertain of the day or time. A good night’s rest after a bottle of red wine is what is much needed now. Many busy and adventure filled days lie ahead!