A memorable day

Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
Trip End Apr 02, 2009

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weds 18th March

The day started so well. The sun still is shining and is giving the stonework a most rich golden colour. This city is just amazing with some beautiful buildings (I need to check whether it suffered any damage during the war?) and it definitely deserves a better viewing at some time later - who knows maybe it's the next best place to live? They have, of course, built ghastly high rise outside the city and along the Rhone is a conference centre which gives the impression of a kilometre of sheer smoked glass, but wherever I've been in France, the heart of the city/town/village is lovingly preserved. It's interesting because the people here seem both relaxed and purposeful at the same time and it is a city that probably has inherited the brusqueness of the north but the mellowness of the south given its geographical location.
The local cafe was 'typique' - all men- all with a short black coffee and a short to go with it- in and out in less than 2 minutes. I am still trying to get to the bottom of my internet connection and have decided that it's the speed at which stuff loads that's the problem - it's appalling and I will end up using all my 3 preloaded hours preloaded on my SFR stick waiting!.Comforted by the best croissant yet, I nipped into Printemps which thankfully is still as Harvey Nichols as I remember. Straight to the shoe department where I was completely thrown off track by a french woman (NOT a model, NOT a stick and NOT an achingly cool assistant) actually going about her business in 6 inch stilettos, real 6 inch stilettos. I know it's rude to stare but I couldn't help it. I thought of Naomi Campbell falling at the Vivienne Westwood show on certainly more substantial platforms and my admiration was such (those heels were truly talon-like thinner than thin) that I only just stopped myself from applauding. A not so achingly cool assistant caught my eye and we both looked down at my Saucony running shoes (in my defence I was going to be doing a lot of walking that day|) and we laughed out loud instead. Best moments are when no language is needed at all The Musee des Beaux Arts didn't disappoint. Obviously, it's in the most grand building imaginable and is well laid out. Picasso, Pissarro, Sisley and Monet are all there but it was good to see Berthe Morisot getting a look in. She was always hanging around with the Impressionist boys but isn't often seen outside a major collection in Paris. Next up, the bus tour and the 2 Italians and I enjoyed it immensely. As always it seems a bit naff but the open top bus is most definitely the best option and an hour in the warm sun is perfect.
I went back to look at the market, after all Lyon is said to be France's gastronomic centre and it was exactly as you'd expect. Presentation, presentation and more presentation. A feast for all the senses, literally. Cleverly, a lot of the stalls have set up dining areas and they were doing a roaring trade with businessmen from the nearby It's a little way out from the centre of Lyon so I took the underground - which has quite an extensive network. The heart of the city is small but brilliant transport system serves a wide suburban area. One journey 1.60, please note! Having had a flavour of Lyon and resolving to come back with more prior research, I decided to leave at about 4pm. The traffic was pretty manic but I made good time towards Annecy - a town I already knew as being picturesque on a lake nestled under mountains. Typical me, I was making good time so I thought I'd press onto Geneva. Here's a geography lesson now. I thought that Geneva was half French and half Swiss. It even indicates that the border runs through the middle of Lake Geneva. However, this is not the case if you approach it via motorway. You are automatically directed into Switzerland with major signs about not entering the country without a 'vignette' or car sticker indicating that you have paid to use their roads. So, plan B - drive without stopping back into France. I took the road to Dijon, leaving the motorway at Nyon at dusk and it was utterly astonishing. The added frisson of being very low on petrol actually made just a little bit more exciting. As I climbed up hair pin bends high above Lake Geneva at sunset - the Alps to the south just glowed pink showing a hazy outline. As I entered up into snowfields, there just wasn't any chance of stopping to put up the lid and I then started to a) feel very cold and b) faintly ridiculous. At last I reached a petrol station at La Cure (still in Switzerland and thank goodness for the ubiquitous Carte Bleu - this is a generic term now for Credit Card- paid in Swiss francs)The good citizen lady attendant immediately pointed out that I didn't have my 'vignette'. I then pointed out to the good citizen lady attendant a number of things that she hadn't expected as a response. My curly wurly drop down on the French side had to be a little cautious given that some of the road hadn't seen sun all day. I arrived in Dole, the next largest town that had a suitable hotel some 2 hours later. For the first time this trip, I was pleased to be out of the car.
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