I’m going to tell you a secret. I love Bonneville.
I do complain about the sporadic opening hours of Petit Casino, cry in mock amazement when a shop advertises themselves as being open on Mondays and wonder why only pizzas and kebabs are available for dinner on a Saturday night when there is apparently 17 restaurants here. But then, I can go skiing every Sunday. Mont Blanc is sitting in my backyard. For the most part, the skies are blue, the days are still and I am sheltered by dramatic, rugged hills and mountains. I have had some wonderful travel opportunities here: Paris, Marseille, Yssingeaux, Mulhouse, Le Puy en Velay, Zermatt, Geneva, Barcelona, Wales. But it’s always nice to come home to little ol’ Bona Villa.
However, when someone else comes to visit my little corner of the world I am somewhat stumped as to what to do. Maison de Fromage. Point out the medieval castle that’s being renovated. Show the Môle-our local mountain with much historical and geographical significance, none of which I can repeat with any conviction. Lean out my kitchen window to see the Arve river and Bonneville’s famous bridge with all its flags… Most of this “tour” can be completed on the 10 minute walk from the train station to my house.
My latest guest, Ivan, came all the way from Marseille so this visit had to prove that there is more to Bonneville than a wooden building full of cheese… So we decided to leave Bonneville altogether! Ivan arrived Friday evening-obligatory tour completed, via Pizza Plus for dinner. Saturday morning we walked down the road to the Maison de Fromage-ticked that off the list! Then we took the train to Annecy, the Capital of Haute-Savoie. It was an absolutely stunning day so we headed to the lake but got distracted by a flea market selling everything from newspapers for the last 50 years to China dolls missing an eye. Lake was found, lunch was eaten and pathetically small French dogs were laughed at.
After our walk around the Lake we headed into the town centre. The January sales are still continuing here and I tried not to be tempted by shoes and bags. Instead I bought a cook book… Another cook book. But, in my defense this one was only €5, nearly pocket sized and containing over 200 recipes and photographs of just desserts!! Going to start working my way through this toute de suite! Would anyone care for a crème brûlée aux framboises et au champagne? How about tarte aux poires et aux amandes? I may not have all the kitchen utensils to create such delights but we can sit around my former school desk kitchen table and ohh and ahh over the photography…
Despite the beautiful weather, it was freezing so Ivan and I continued our chocolate crusade of the weekend and went to a Crêperie to warm up! These were some of the best crêpes I have had in France, though incredibly rich. I had a crêpe topped with a grilled banana, hot chocolate sauce and chantilly cream. It really doesn’t get more indulgent than that!
We returned home for an early night ready for our big trip to Lyon the next day. At about 2-3hours away, Lyon is probably the maximum distance that can be done in a day trip but it was definitely worth it. After living so close to Lyon for 4 months, I confess I have only seen the train station, the airport and the tram between the two!
We headed across the Rhône and the Saône, through Place Bellecoeur to Le Vieux Ville where we found life on a Sunday! Who would have thought? We ambled through this part of town for a while, popping into a couple of churches and then we stumbled upon le Musée des Miniatures et Décors de Cinéma. The strangest museum I have ever seen: five floors of cinema costumes, scenes and miniature everything! The first floor showed scenes from the film Perfume-the rooms were even scented with perfume! The next few floors showed costumes, masks and weapons from sci-fi/alien films. My favourite floors were the last few where there were cabinets full of daily life scenes, buildings and shops-everything in miniature. And I mean miniature-some cabinets provided a magnifying glass to better see the incredible detail:
Next stop: candy store! Again, something else we just happened across: an old school (pirate themed??) candy store where you could fill a pink and white stripped paper bag with coke bottles, snakes, licorice, gummy cherries, all from huge ship barrels. Armed with giant snakes and coke bottles we began to trudge up a pretty significant hill (even by Wellington standards) to see the view over a very foggy Lyon. At the top is Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, a replica of the first stage of the Eiffel Tower and some Gallic-Roman ruins. The Basilica was pretty impressive but nothing compared to what I imagine the view would be like on a beautiful day!
Upon our arrival in Lyon, Ivan suddenly remembered that there was a NZ Bar somewhere along the right (or maybe the left..?) side of one of the two rivers. So after our descent from the Fourvière we began our search “of biblical proportions” for the Maori Café. We asked a few people, including the tourism office, and they could really only point us in the direction of the Aussie bar, typical… But we decided that if anyone would know where the elusive Kiwi bar was it would be the Aussies, or maybe we were just flattering ourselves. We continued to traipse across Lyon and probably saw more of this city than we would have had we been doing something slightly more rational than searching for an Aussie Bar (Ayers Rock…) in the middle of France… We found Ayers Rock, only to discover it closed on Sundays but an internet space conveniently next door. A quick €0.50c Google search later and we had the address. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete our mission due to a train back to Bonneville but Ivan marched on and found…. a Chinese grocery store. A Koru printed sign was still hanging miserably outside just to remind him what he had missed.
Hopefully “Lyon in a Day” will be a repeating occurrence but maybe if I want to be physically and mentally present while teaching wild animal flash cards on Monday morning it would be best not to go on a Sunday…