15 Sep

In Love with Lyon
by Tracey Nelson
15 Sep 2007

Finally, a city in France where it is apparent there is a Rugby World Cup in progress. We’ve had a marvellous time in this city where the main town area is partitioned by the Rhone and the Saone Rivers either side. The residents are friendly, the area of Bellecour is full of vibrant bars and caf├ęs, and best of all they all show the rugby – and on big screens to boot.

Lyon also has excellent public transport so getting around has been relatively easy even though we’re not staying right in the heart of town. It does, however, still suffer from the obligatory "Eau de France" aroma that wafts up from the drains later in the evenings and even after a week in France still takes you by surprise (and disgust) at times.

The influx of Kiwis didn’t really happen until late Friday but today the city was full of black shirts, although once again a startling number of French residents are turning out in black regalia to the games. We have been wondering what the support would be like had France won the opening game against Argentina – would there be more of Les Bleu on display? Certainly it would appear that should France be knocked out of the tournament the French people will be well and truly behind the All Blacks.

Of course, Lyon is still French and there have still been the odd moments of frustration such as trying to find signage at the stadium to tell you which entrance to go into – we stood infront of a big map at the stadium showing all the entrances, but it ommitted to tell you where you were currently standing in order to work out where you should go. But once inside the ground it was smooth sailing and thankfully this time our stand had a roof on it so we could sit in the shade instead of frying in the sun as we did in Marseille.

Then there’s that whole thing about what side of the footpath you should be walking on. The general rule around the world is that it’s the same side as the side of the road you drive on, and that usually works well and has done until Lyon. Likewise, this is the city gastronomique and there is some great food to be had here – but also some stuff you wouldn’t like to order, as we discovered at a restaurant the other night when a French friend translated the menu for us and there were things like calves hooves, sheep tongue, cow nose (at least that’s how he translated it) and various other things offally. When the waiter went back inside we all took one look at one another, grabbed our gear and bolted up the street to somewhere else, much to the embarrassment of our French companion.

But offal and odours aside, Lyon has been marvellous and I shall be sad to leave here and head back to London for the week leading up to the Scotland game in Edinburgh. Although I shan’t miss the French keyboards!

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