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Trip Report Anniversary trip to France

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This was our 5th trip to France since 2006 and, in addition to Paris, we scheduled a few days in Lyon, with a daytrip to Annecy, and 12 days in Paris, with daytrips to Dijon and Giverny.

Days 1-3
My husband Bob and I flew into CDG on April 26. We landed at 7:30 a.m. and it took us about 1-1/2 hours to make it through customs. After picking up our luggage, we found ourselves with about 3 hours to spare before our scheduled train to Lyon. We’d read a lot about long lines some experienced going through customs, so had decided to allow ourselves plenty of time since we had purchased PREM tickets and didn’t want to risk missing our train and having to buy full price tickets. The wait didn’t seem that long. The train to Lyon took just under 2 hours.
On arriving in Lyon, we took a taxi to our hotel -- the Hotel Mercure Beaux Arts at around 125 euros a night. We had their standard room, which was quite comfortable, although we would have liked more room to get our luggage out of our way. The hotel is quite well located, just across the river from Vieux Lyon on Presqu’ile and between Place Bellecour and Place des Terreaux and the Hotel de Ville, an area of sophisticated shopping (much out of our budget, but we enjoyed window-shopping), and a good selection of restaurants. We’d probably stay there again, but might upgrade to a bigger room even though we were satisfied with the room we had.

On past trips to Europe we’ve been able to go on with our day without any rest, despite not sleeping on the plane, but this time we were worn out and felt we had to get a couple hours sleep before setting out – 3 years older since our last trip to France and I guess this might be our new routine. We did find it took us longer to get our bodies adjusted to the time change than in the past.
Our first day in Lyon we just explored the area around our hotel and went out for an early evening meal. We just wanted something casual and stumbled across L’Epicerie in the Cordeliers neighborhood. It’s a homey restaurant decorated like an old grocery store with old food tins, utensils, etc. They specialize in tartines and we tried several different varieties – all quite tasty – along with one of their homey desserts, a lemon meringue tart. Along with a “pot” of rose we had a nice meal for 28.50 euros (about $31.00). The “pot” term was something new to us – we got an unlabled bottle of house rose that provided about 4-6 glasses.

Our second day, we spent some time at the area around Place des Terreaux, with the ornate Hotel de Ville, and visited the Musee des Beaux Arts, which was once a Benedictine convent. We enjoyed the museum’s art collection, which features a wide range of art and antiquities, including paintings by Monet, Gauguin, and Bonnard, and spent some time enjoying the shady courtyard garden. Then we had lunch at a crepe restaurant and made our way to Place Bellecour, a large square with a statue of Louis XIV and surrounded by upscale shops. The square itself is not particularly attractive, mostly gravel covered dirt, except for the statue, but we enjoyed the window-shopping.

This day was our 38th wedding anniversary and I had made a reservation at a restaurant (unfancy but well reviewed); I had previewed the restaurant’s menu and had found there wasn’t a great deal on the menu that appealed to me. I suppose I shouldn’t have chosen the restaurant since I guess I’m unadventurous. Although I have tried such dishes in the past, offal just doesn’t appeal to me; Bob enjoys sausages and more heavy type foods, so I thought he’d enjoy some of the menu items. My previewing of the menu showed a few items I thought I could order, but when we got to the restaurant each item I tried to order they were out of (even though we got there right when they opened for the evening), and the waitress became kind of insulting to me when I didn’t seem to be able to find something I wanted to order – pointedly asking me where we were from. Without the attitude I would have settled on something, but I just decided that this wasn’t where I wanted to spend my anniversary and we left. We went back to a restaurant we had seen the previous day, Le Saint Joseph in the Cordeliers area. We had a very nice meal and good service (glad we hadn’t read tripadvisor before we went – maybe they got a new chef or maybe it just depends on what you order, but we enjoyed our meal) and the evening ended on a nice note – our dinner came to 52.10 euros including a couple glasses of wine ($56.97).

The 3rd day, we walked across the river to Vieux Lyon. We enjoyed walking around this old part of the city – I wish we’d been energetic enough to see more; we just enjoyed strolling the streets and poking into some of the shops. Our only purchase was some chocolate and honey. We crossed back across the river to the Bellcour area and found a crepe restaurant that we really enjoyed, La Creperie des Gones. Since this was our last chance, we did stop in some shops in the Bellcour area and then made our way back to the hotel. That evening we went back to L’Epicerie for a light dinner, since Bob wanted to try a few more of the tartines.

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