France and Germany… a send off from the Army– Part 5

The next city Bill and I visited is Lyon.  I wanted to go to Lyon because I had seen Samantha Brown profile it on her show, Passport to Europe on the Travel Channel.  Supposedly, it’s the biggest food town in France, which means it’s probably one of the world’s best food towns.  Bill and I even asked Sylvain, one of the owners at San Antonio’s premiere French restaurant, Saveurs 2009, about Lyon.  He agreed that it is a very good place to get a great meal.  Unfortunately, after spending two nights near Lyon, I can’t say Bill and I experienced eating great French food there.  We did, however, find an excellent Moroccan restaurant!

Not knowing anything about Lyon, I had trouble choosing where we would stay.  I finally chose Villefranche sur Saone, which is a pleasant suburb just a bit north of Lyon.  We ended up in a very comfortable Best Western, which was a good thing because we landed at the train station for the first time during a nasty rain storm with high winds.  The hotel where we stayed was very close to the train station, but we took a wrong turn and ended up wandering around with our bags.  We finally consulted a map.  A very friendly French lady who didn’t speak a word of English tried very hard to help us, even though we didn’t ask her to.  She was determined to assist!  We could make out that she was pointing us to the tourism office, which wasn’t too far from the city map.

Fortunately, Bill got his bearings and we managed to find the hotel without help from the tourism office.  We got a room with twin beds, which I don’t think Bill was happy about… but you know, I actually ended up loving that arrangement.  With twin beds, you get more room and you don’t have to deal with the mattress moving or too much heat emanating from your partner’s body…  Bill has a tendency to put off lots of heat.  It’s like sleeping with a furnace sometimes.

Anyway, we missed lunch, so we decided to go to the Irish pub that was within spitting distance of the hotel.  That was when I first noticed just how many “Irish pubs” France has… and how quite a few of them bear no resemblance whatsoever to actual Irish pubs!  This place near the hotel at least had an interior that looked Irish.  It had a pretty good beer list, with the obligatory Irish beers like Guinness and Smithwicks.  I was impressed, though, that they had lots of Belgian beers, too.  I am a big fan of Belgian suds!  They were playing 80s music, which got my attention.  Bill and I ordered a French pizza, which had bacon, tomatoes, onions, and egg on it.  It was called a “farm” pizza.  It wasn’t the best I’d ever had, but it wasn’t bad at all.  It sated our hunger and allowed us a nice beer drinking session.  Our waitress was a very alternative looking lass who took good care of us and complimented me on my taste in beer!

Our French pizza.


Somewhat authentic decor…

Bill had French beer; I had Belgian…

After our afternoon at the Irish pub, we went back to the hotel room.  I proceeded to take a delightful three hour nap while Bill worked on school lessons for his cyber security course.  When I woke up, we went looking for dinner.  On our way into the town, I noticed what appeared to be an exotic looking Middle Eastern restaurant.  It turned out it was actually a Moroccan place and obviously very popular with the locals.  Our waiter was a Moroccan guy who didn’t speak English but managed to be very charming nonetheless.  I had a tanjeen dish made with duck breast and vegetables.  Bill had a chicken cous cous dish that was enough for about five people.  Eventually, a young woman came out to talk to us, because she spoke some English.  I got the sense it was her family that owned the restaurant.  She was genuinely interested in finding out who we were and what we were doing in a Lyon suburb eating Moroccan food!  She was very kind and we left that place kind of in awe of what you can find off the beaten path.  Bill marveled about that Moroccan meal for days!

Bill waits to be greeted by our waiter…


Moroccan wine

The bowl should have been a good clue about portion size!

My duck dish…  Figs, apricots, prunes, and raisins accompanied the meal.

Bill’s chicken and cous cous.  That chicken was delicious!  It just fell off the bone.


Dessert…  Bill had a “colonel”, which was a hollowed out lemon with lemon sorbet in it and vodka to drizzle over the top…  I had chocolate, as usual.

Mint tea to finish things off!


Outside of the restaurant…

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel.  I noticed a guy wearing what I knew to be riding breeches.  I knew because I used to wear them myself.  He also had knee socks pulled up over his pants, which a lot of riders do to make it easier to pull on boots.  He had a rather alternative looking girlfriend.  They seemed very friendly and even said goodbye to Bill and me before they left for the stables!

After breakfast, we caught a train to Lyon.  It was about a twenty minute ride.  Lyon’s train station is a complete madhouse, too!  But there is free WiFi there, which is a great thing for those who need to get their bearings.  We walked all over Lyon, which once you get beyond the train station area, is a very pretty city.  I wouldn’t say it’s as grand or impressive as Paris is, but it has its own charm.  We eventually ended up near a church that I thought was interesting looking.  I didn’t notice a man sitting nearby, messing with his phone.  I took a picture and he started yelling at me in French.  I suddenly had a flashback to Madrid, when some crazy lady started yelling at me for taking a photo of a door.

This is the church that prompted an angry outburst…


I have no idea why the guy was yelling at me.  All did not seem well with his mind, to be quite honest.  But instead of answering him in Armenian or English, I just started laughing.  That made him even more angry.  Then Bill and I turned and walked away.

For lunch, we stopped at another Irish pub.  It was called Johnny’s Kitchen.  I didn’t actually want to eat in an Irish pub, since we were in a foodie city.  But we were hungry; Bill wanted to use cash; and the price was right.  Actually, it was a pretty nice experience.  The pub was small, but well-decorated.  It appeared to cater to students and had a lot of burgers and “jacket potatoes” on the menu, as well as specials.  I probably should have gotten the special, which was seafood lasagna.  But I ended up with a “Betty Burger”, which had onions and bacon on it, I think.  The chef came out and said, “Most French people prefer rare beef, but I notice Americans like their burgers more done.  How would you like yours cooked?”  I thought it was very nice that he asked me that.  I asked for medium and that’s what I got.  We enjoyed lunch over French pop music and a very friendly and hard working waitress.

Lunch at Johnny’s Kitchen!  One of my friends had the nerve to ask if I was eating a Royale from McDonald’s.


Dessert…  I had cheesecake and Bill had ice cream.


Authentic decor… ;D


After lunch, we walked around some more and eventually found our way back to the train.  We happened to get one during rush hour.  Bill and I were lucky to get seats; not five minutes after we sat down, the train filled up and we were joined by about half a dozen college students, all of whom were males with their own mp3 players.  Most of them had to sit on the floor, because there weren’t any seats left.  I noticed that one of them kept an eye on us for signs that we might vacate.  As we did, one of the guys rather boldly laid claim to my seat not seconds after I rose to leave.  He didn’t even wait for me to move completely out of the way.  That experience made me feel like a house mom at a French fraternity house…

We went back to the Irish pub near our hotel for a couple more beers.  Then, much to my shame, we went to Domino’s Pizza for dinner!  How dumb is that?  There we were in a great food city and I hadn’t had Domino’s in years and never thought it was that great to start with!  But we got a Hawaiian pizza and ate it in our hotel room, because I couldn’t be arsed to go looking for something better.  Honestly, I think I just didn’t want to spend a couple of hours eating.

We liked Lyon, though… and I think if we ever have the chance to go back there, we will.  And that time, we WILL have a nice meal in a French restaurant!



Loved the windows in this cathedral in Lyon…

Outside of Lyonnais cathedral…

On the packed train…

Leaving Lyon…


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