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Trip Report Trip Report from Menton and Lyon

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Hi to All and below are my favorite shots from our trip:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/

We are DR (TDudette) and JR (my DH). Early 60s and fortunately enough to have traveled in Italy and France each March over the years. Had read neat things about Lyon and decided to make Menton as base for a quick trip to Genoa.

A couple of firsts with this trip. A big one was a different airport-Philadelphia. It is about a 3-hour drive as opposed to a 2-hour one to Dulles. The trip to Dulles, however, entails a drive around the D.C. beltway and it has become more "hairy" over the years

A second first was using Orbitz for an overseas trip. DR called to organize British Air flights from Philly to London to Nice; Lyon to London; and London back to Philly in a third trip.

The last new thing was that we had to interrupt our trip. Tripus interruptus?

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    Our trip to Menton, Lyon and London. We don't go far enough, we go too far and we don't go at all....

    March 8-9, 2010

    Food: Airport: Cibo Bistro dinner: Beer/wine-$9 each! Italian Panini $9, Basil Chicken Salad $17 (Highway robbery!) (B)

    BA dinner: Roast Beef, mashed pots, mixed veggies, blueberry cake (We gave it a B)
    BA breakfast: An evil cinnamon Danish, yoghurt, juice/coffee/water

    Heathrow: Scrambled eggs, toast and 2 coffees. Also evil. 11.35 (can’t find pound symbol)

    Le Big Boss dinner: Spinach quiche, Chicken Provencal, Pichet of red wine. €26, 30. “B”

    Travel via British Air from Philly to London was smooth as silk. We left home at 2:45. It took us about 2 hours to reach the airport and be climbing onto a bus in the economy parking (if you call $11/day economical) lot. We felt like the lot was closer to the airport than the one at Dulles.

    Our Orbitz electronic tickets popped up on BA’s computers as soon as JR presented our IDs. We were sent to Port C. Each “port” had its own security unlike Dulles with one grand and sometimes mobbed one. By 5:30, we were through security. JR is always early so we had some time to kill before our 10:05 flight started loading at 9:30!

    Smooth ride to London Heathrow and plenty of time to eat some breakfast before our flight to Nice was posted. By the way, on the flight into Heathrow, we passed over a pretty castle. Looked white with beautifully manicured grounds. Couldn’t locate it on google. Anyone know what it is? Guess we'd be approaching from SW?

    BA flight to Nice was 20 minutes late leaving but landed just about on time. Per Rick Steves, we looked for the #100 bus but JR saw the 36 and we took it since it was leaving. We paid €18 instead of 2 but it worked out as this bus had place to stow luggage and wasn’t crowded. About an hour to Menton and the bus stop is just across the street from the hotel!

    We reach Hotel Princess et Richmond (“P&R") right around 5:30. Our room (€112/night) faces the sea. It has a balcony with 2 chairs and a folded up chaise. It is not fancy but everything is clean and, with a desk and loveseat, plenty big for 2. We unpack and go back to desk to see about organizing some dinner. P&R resto not open so they suggest Le Big Boss just on the Promenade du Soleil that is the road in front of hotel and running along the coast. It is COLD! We hustle to the restaurant. As usual we are too early for dinner but we get some wine.

    Le Big Boss has enclosed garden room and big leather banquette in front of muralled wall. Our refrain is and will be “Bet this is busy in the summer”. Food is good. Back to room to crash. The sound of the waves keeps JR awake but puts DR to sleep right away.

    Wednesday, March 10

    Exploring Menton

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    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Lunch: La Coupole Spaghetti with meat sauce and swordfish with veggies, pichet of red and 2 coffees €34,60 (B+)

    Dinner: le p’tit resto: Shrimp cocktail (B), Entrecote and frites (B+) and salmon with basil sauce (A) , pichet of red €49


    All the usual stuff at breakfast but we have no cold water in our room. Now there's a departure-it's usually no hot! That got fixed right away. There is a spa in this hotel and tours are provided to several neighboring towns including Ventimiglia. Some beautiful model ships in the lounge and several newspapers.

    Today we will find the train station and get our tickets for Lyon and Genoa and then explore Menton. Hotel faces a road Promenade de Soleil and back has Gen. De Gaulle to the left and Avenur Carnot to the right. A wide walkway runs along the stony beach. As always, we depend on maps as many streets change name at each block and the names are not always easily found on the sides of buildings.

    The walk to train station takes about 15 minutes at a stroll pace. On Ave. Cernuschi we pass a green grocer with lemons larger than oranges. We also pass the laverie (JR has charted our laundry days-each brings 3 sets of clothes) and notice that orange trees are full of fruit. We take a right on Rue Albert I and climb some stairs to the main Gare. We buy tickets for Genoa for Thursday and Lyon on Sunday. Since DR's breathing issues, we have gotten into the habit of taxi-ing to the most remote spot on our "to see" list so we can take our time and save energy walking back.

    Taxi ride is €8-this is after DR asks driver to estimate cost of the ride ("about €8, Madam"). We zig and zag to oldest (?) church St. Michel-passing city hall and up hill to cemetery where founder of rugby is buried. Area around St. Michel is lovely. Narrow winding streets and pretty old buildings in pastel colors. Most of the photos of Menton view this end of the city. The church is open and is nice. Altar looks like ceramic and crystal chandeliers look like they are from Murano.

    We work our way down the hill and along Rue St. Michel. Lots of shops for people who live there and a few touristy things as well. Pass a lovely home decor store with the typical Provence fabrics and table linens. DR forgot her face cloths (from a pile she got for $2 someplace) so we stop at Schlecker (one-stop shopping) for them. At any intersection on the water, a wind tunnel blows and it is cold. We stop at La Regence for 2 grands caffées crêmes for €5 to warm up (and use facilities!). Cross over square with Hotel de Ville and continue our stroll along Rue de la Republique and then Partouneaux as DR gets bright idea to go to the post office for stamps. JR uses ATM in the square successfully.

    We pass the huge Palais de l'Europe that holds conventions and exhibitions (per taxi driver) and large swath of Jardin Bioves where Lemon Festival is still being torn down. Remnants of lemon-studded coliseum remains in view. The trip to the post office goes fairly smoothly. We are remembering the long lines in the Aix P.O. There are special stands to buy fancy stamps, re-charge your phone, send packages and a couple others we couldn't decipher. Post card stamps for Etats Unis are .85 and we get 10.

    We continue along Ave. de Verdun and several restaurants along the way remind us that we are hungry. We find La Coupole and have a nice lunch. Only French eating but we figure it's early in the season yet. DR's sword fish is enough for 2 people and the mixed veggies were good. JR has spaghetti with meat sauce. We each gave the meal a B. Two more coffees to get warm.

    At the end of the street, we stopped at the Casino and frittered away €10 in various slot machines. We found that we had received tokens for the .50 machines. Felt like it took less time to lose the money! The casino not as large or ornate as the one in Monte Carlo. We strolled back to the hotel. We passed a nice park. Sign said "Elisee Reclus" and map says "Elysee Reclus". Either way, kids are still boarding.

    After a good nap, we go to hotel lounge for drinks and a look around. An open steamer truck has been fitted to be a book shelf-very attractive. We asked about trip to Ventimiglia on Friday but so far not enough (3) people had signed up. We go ahead and order a cab for the morning trip to Genoa. Walk out the back way and spy le p'tit resto across the street so we go in.

    Woman who owns it with husband chef lived in NYC for many years with American mother and French father. She speaks English and French equally fluently. Room is decorated with lemon festival posters and various salt and pepper shakers. A little plate of black olives and white beans in olive oil with nice crackers is place on the table immediately.

    A young man at the table next to us orders a bottle of wine. We bet whether he will be joined by another person or will drink it alone. He drinks it all!

    "Votre amuse en bouche" is garlic, corn niblets and pinto beans in olive oil in a sweet little dish. JR gets shrimp cocktail but it turns out to be little shrimp in mayo and ketchup. Tastes fine-just not what he expected. His entrée is steak and fries and DR gets salmon with basil sauce that is excellent. Salmon is perfectly cooked. We are too pooped for dessert that comes with the meal.

    Back to room to crash (as usual).

    Tomorrow Genoa!

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    Thursday, 11 Mars, 2010

    Up and 6 and 6:30 and out the door at 7:15. They give us coffee even though breakfast doesn't begin until 7:30. Very nice people here. We are at the Gare in time for the 7:30 train (we had signed up for 7:55) to Ventimiglia where we will change for Genoa train. We have about an hour until our train so we go in the snack bar/gift shop for coffees and a choc. croissant. One pays cashier first here and then takes receipt to appropriate stand.

    JR remembers to validate our ticket. We pass several towns on the Med. (to our right) with Apennine mountains to the left. A big market going on in Bordighera. On the Fodor's chat room, many people felt that the Italian Riviera is less interesting than the French. Some even said it is shoddier. I didn't get that impression from the train ride (admittedly different from actually exploring the towns). The Italian side looked less crowded from our vantage.

    Anyway, it is almost 3 hours to Genoa and when we arrive, we are greeted by an escalator to the main floor and a really cold wind. We take a cab (€15 with tip) to the Piazza de Ferrari. It is big and Palazzo Ducale takes up one side almost by itself. We find the Il Gesu first and it is gorgeous. According to book, it was started in 1500s. There are Reubens to be seen and I tried unsuccessfully to get a shot of one. A bus load of kids are coming in as we leave-good timing!

    From here we find the wind-tunnelly street to San Lorenzo (it was started in 12th century!). "Cinque minuti, Senora" says the guard so we hustle in. It too is lovely inside and there is a museum for next trip. We walk down a hugely cold Via San Lorenzo and find Pizzaria Antica. They are unable or unwilling to give us 1/2 one thing and 1/2 another so JR settles for speck with 2 cheeses. It's OK but the place gets crowded with Italians (including teens) before we leave so what do we know!

    The wind has slowed down as we walk back up the street to back door of Palace Ducale. It is nice inside and has a café. We go the front to main square to find Via G. Garibaldi and the mansions of the so called Strada Nuova of the 1500s. With exception of town hall and art gallery, most have become banks. Very gorgeous buildings. We aren't inclined to go to the art gallery so decide to wend our way to the acquarium.

    Narrow old streets lead us to the Port and a large Piazza Caricamento (I think) facing it, the acquarium and a model ship. We are both pooped and JR can't get warm so we hop a cab back to the Gare. Cabbie will take us to Camogli and Portofino for €100 but we don't have the inclination this trip. Also we aren't certain about making our train back to Menton. Back to station and lady won't exchange our reserved tickets. We go to the machine and find a local (we "eat" about €18) and buy from other clerk. About 20 minute wait and we are on our way. It is mobbed. DR finds one seat and soon a neighbor becomes free in a couple. DR puts her bag on it and firmly says "occupado" to the unfortunate student who tried to commandeer it. A group of teen-aged boys sings and yells and bangs on the walls to the amusement or disgust to us all. Young man across from me has a seemingly retractable bead just below is lower lip. At first I thought he had a huge zit-and then it disappeared. Eeesh!

    I wish it had been warmer and that JR felt better. A feeling about Genoa is that it is a huge, vibrant port city with a strong place in the city-state history that is Italy. Will look on Fodor’s for people who have stayed longer.

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    [sorry, didn't finish the day above]

    We have forgotten to validate our ticket but conductor ignores it. At Ventimiglia, we have 10 minutes until the Menton train (it says to Cannes btw). We would have been home in 1/2 hour if DR hadn't gotten us off at the wrong Menton station. We got off too soon! We walked down the hill and found a pizza shop on the water where boats are harbored. Got coffee and started walking. JR got cold again so we stopped at Hotel Napoleon and they very kindly call a cab even though we are not residents. It was at this point that DR thought this area, on the opposite end of Menton, was a better place to stay. We passed a supermarket btw.

    Back "home" so we walk to find restaurant close by. le p'tit resto is closed but we find a very pretty Vietnamese one, Lion de Chine. The best spring rolls ever and we are told to wrap them in the boston lettuce and mint before dipping in a nice sweet/hot sauce. JR's chicken with hot/sour sauce (€8) was mild but tasty and DR's duck with bananas (€10) was too mild but the hot/sour sauce helped it along. The room in navy and white with pretty Asian art was extremely pleasant. Our total was €49. The spring rolls get an A+. The rest a B only because we like spicier food. And we crash once again!

    Tomorrow Ventimiglia and more Menton.

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    Got 2 days in this to end Menton.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    We both had great sleeps and at breakfast find out that the trip to Ventimiglia ("V" from now on) is on! There will be 6 in the hotel van. One couple is from Germany and doesn't talk at all. Wife of other couple, also German, has some French so DR and she share a few words on the way home. The drive to V takes about 40 minutes. We zig through "lower V" and zag to middle V. From the bus, one can see the older "upper V". One also sees a fair amount of traffic going toward middle of town. Glad we don't have to deal with parking.

    We are let off by a footbridge on the river and take a right when we get over. As far as one can see, there is the V. market. Along the beach promendate are tents with clothes, jewely, handbags and some household goods stretching for 1/2 mile (a guess). We looked to the right going and to the left coming back, then travelled around a square to see the more of the same and food stalls. It took over an hour to walk it. Amazingly, we didn't buy anything. JR looking for berets for the office. We actually find 2 stalls carrying them but they are fuzzy not the smooth wool we both envisioned.

    We stop for coffee at Trattoria La Mama and work our way back to the footbridge. End up by the regular city market and it is very colorful. Have a few minutes to walk around the old area (JR opts to not go up the hill-I'll find out later that his legs are hurting). Van on time and we ask front desk to suggest a place for lunch. Computer is kaput so I can’t find out latest BA strike info today.

    Café des Artistes is on the Promenade du Soleil "just before the casino" and has photos of female stars (many Marilyn Monroes) and nice interior design. JR gets pizza and DR has the pepper steak (looked just like the way a chef friend made it –friend’s is better). A lively, fun place with tables outside by the beach.

    We decide to explore more of Menton for the rest of the afternoon. Stopped by ATM and card didn't work outside but did work inside! We stroll and it isn't as cold as Wednesday. We try to take some of the north and south streets but quite often end up on the ones we strolled before. It is still too cold for JR to walk along the beach.

    JR is starting to get leg cramps and DR is getting pooped so we stop at a Nicholas for a regional wine (forgot to write it down) and we crawl home. A couple from Canada heard our English and caught up with us outside. They are ending a month-long visit and get around by bus "everywhere". We get to room, have some wine and the graham crackers that front desk gives out and take a nap that lasts until breakfast.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    A pretty day and 3 people actually eat on the sun porch. There are some nasty powdered eggs, but chopped up prosciutto from the meat plate adds some needed flavor! This morning is laundry. We'll see how JR's legs feel before we decide whether to go to Nice, the Rothschild house or what. He says he's better so we spend €9,70 per load (we have 2), €1,20 for lessive and €1,70 for each 10 minute spin (it takes 4!). This is the most expensive laundry mat we've encountered. Apartment sounding better all the time! Two German boys come in and one has his first beer of the day in hand.

    JR says his legs are fine so we take our clean stuff back to the room and snag the #100 bus for a total of €2! It is a local so we get a glimpse of the towns we pass through as we travel to Nice. What we believe is Cap Martin is sweet looking. There are people para-sailing above the cove where boats are "parked". Ville Franche looks inviting as well. We had been to Monaco on another trip but not yet to Ville Franche.

    We get off on Place Garibaldi and are right at city hall (maybe?). There is a modern dance troupe in the square. They have four screens that they pick up and walk inside of to exit. We work our way to the left (south, actually) in search of the flower market and, according to DK "[a] dense network of pedestrian alleys, narrow buildings … [that] make up the Old Town." we missed on previous trip.

    Lots of shops and places to eat. We stroll, find post cards and Le Feniera for lunch. The owners are French husband and Italian (Perugia) wife and we are congratulating ourselves on finding an authentic restaurant when a bus load of Italian tourists descends! Oh well. JR's ravioli with cheese and DR's entrecote with frites were both very good. Spent €39,40 with wine and coffees. Give it a B+

    We continue towards Cathédrale Ste- Réparte (1650) that we had also missed before. There's a nice square in front of it. Guy passes a hat after he does a back flip over a 5-foot high rope. Many folks with babies sunning themselves. DR carrying her coat now. The church is open and it is low on looks. Then to the flower market and Place Saleya. Lots of stalls and outdoor cafes along it. Band playing. Mellow.

    Working our way back to the right we find the Palais Lascaris but only take shots of entry statues and ceiling. Stumble onto Gare Routiere and a huge rolling thunder of motorcycles. JR spots the 100 bus heading back where we started so we walk along and find the right stop and a 100 bus pulls in! It is a hot, crowded and long trip back. AC is turned on at Monaco and the parasailers are still sailing! We think this entire area must be a zoo in the summer. Can't imagine how awful the bus must be then!

    Back home, arrange for morning cab, pack and go to le p'tit resto once more. JR's leg hurting so he doubled his potassium pill. We got a drink in the lounge and had a lovely last dinner in Menton. JR salad with tomatoes, mushrooms, pine nuts and goat cheese; DR Loup vapeur with sauce vierge (sea bass with olive oil/pepper) that was excellent. Chocolate mousse shared had sliced almonds on top and was also very good. €46,50. Meal gets an A.

    Final feelings about the parts of Menton we saw. A very pretty town with attractive apartment buildings, hotels and public buildings. Loved our hotel but it was a 10-15 minute walk from old town and main shopping so we wished we were closer. In summer, along the promenade that might not be a problem. IMHO, a place to spend a beach vacation. Felt like we spent more on lunches than usual. Hotel had mini-van for several area trips-good for older folks and people who don't want to do it on their own.

    On to Lyon!

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    Every time I re-read I find another typo. The Ventimiglia market ran along the beach promenade.

    Sunday, 14 Mars, 2010

    Up at 6 and 6:30 and taxi is on time. We are again 1/2 hour early for train so take an earlier one to Nice. Do the same 2 cafs and a crois and wait. DR helps a French lady. It is a long ride to Marseille and we are facing backwards. Pick up more folks in Marseille and then we are going forward! See snow outside Lyon. We ask conductor about Perrache and he says it is the second stop. There is a lady with her pet bunny on the seat beside her.

    Rhody travel hint number 1. Always get off at the stop written on the ticket. We passed the first Lyon stop and by the time we figured out that the train didn’t stop at Perrache, we were in Macon. Waited an hour and went back. DR in tears as her reputation as premier planner is in serious jeopardy. A second conductor wrote us a note and we weren't charged for the return. Took taxi to our hotel. JR is struggling with steps but good on the straightaway.

    Our first look at Lyon is the square in front of the station. Modern mid-rise buildings around a huge square. We see taxis to the right and grab one. Driver has been to Miami and speaks halting English. Points out the huge church on the hill and a nearby radio tower "Our own Eiffel!" and suggests that there is no better food to be had in France.

    Hotel la Residence is on a partially pedestrian street although taxi takes us right to the door which is great. Our room is not as small as in the Palace (hah) in Venice but we don't really have a place to put our clothes. We do have a fireplace, however! We decide to ask about a room with a bureau when we go down for dinner. We ask nicely and the lovely girl at front desk says check in the a.m. when all of the families have left.

    We walk along Victor Hugo and spot a McDonalds. JR is cold and hurting and we haven’t eaten all day, so we get big macs. He rests there as DR walks down to the next big square to check it out. She stops in a pharmacy and, after telling the guy JR's symptoms and meds, gets the French magic pills. Back to room to crash.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Sunny and cool outside. We both awake at 7:15 without an alarm. There is no shampoo and we both get water everywhere. There is no shower curtain at all! JR says he is much better but has trouble getting his legs around his clothes without holding on. We go to breakfast and it's a cute room. There is a rack of tour/sites brochures as we step out of the elevator so we take some. A mural takes up the entire back wall of the breakfast room. JR asks about the 2 birds-DR says they look like penguins. When she gets closer, she sees that they are jugs. Hmm…time for eye doc?? Little omelets about 2 x 3 are ok and bacon is raw! Other stuff as usual. We look at some of the tours and find that cheapest wine tour is €80 each so we decide to forego. We'll go to tourist office and find out what else is available.

    We pass front desk and guy asks "Do you wish to look at your new room?" We are amazed, do so, like it and move in. It is a triple-light and airy with 2 windows. Still no bureau but this desk has 3 drawers! Bath tub has a semi-enclosure. Hot diggity. And off we go again. Place Bellecour is huge. The TI is large and nice and we sign up for a city tour in English for Wednesday afternoon. Computers died and came back slowly but we got it done then headed out to the Old Town.

    We crossed Bonaparte bridge and saw nice views along the Saone. Strolled along streets with good-sized cobbles. The old cathedral (St. Jean) is nice inside and JR says walking feels good except for stairs. There are many cafes and restaurants. Most of the menus offer sausages and organ food (like tripe). We end up in a cute courtyard at Giovany's. The menu is in Italian first, French second. Lord we love Italy.

    Bottle of Cote du Rhone goes very well with one of our best meals on this trip. Waitress brought out pitted black olives and French and pita breads. An excellent meal. The fois gras melted in DR's mouth and also into the pasta before it was possible to eat it all. We share tiramisu dessert but can't finish it. Couple next to us have a leg of lamb and a salmon that are magnificent looking. €50,70 and an A for both entrees.

    Back out and we happen upon one of the Traboules for which Old Lyon is famous. These are short cuts that the silk makers made to schlepp bolts of fabric from one street to another. Most are private now but a few are accessible to the public. Believe I read there are tours available. For this one, one had to go up stairs to a landing (now with doors to private apartments) and down the other side. Why not an alley? I can not say and wasn't there to give such good advice.

    We stop at pharmacy for small shampoos and get back to room and both take a nap. There is a free computer in lobby (with English keyboard available!) DR had in the a.m. sent email to doc about JR's leg probs and they suggest taking him to emergency room. DR talks with desk clerk who calls SOS medicins (emergency docs) who will come to the room for €55. I mention the house calls option to our doc-he doesn't respond... JR says no but wants to rest so DR goes to Nicholas for a bottle of regional wine and a chocolate bunny for clerk. At dinner time, JR says he wants to walk so we head back toward Place Bellecour and find Espace. Just a block away.

    It is a large restaurant but not busy. We are seated in a back room where 2 other tables are occupied. JR gets ribs and DR orders steak. What he gets is one rib-Adams watch out! It's good sized but just the one. DR orders medium steak and gets medium rare. Everything still tasty. €41,50 and a B grade. We may have been over-charged at lunch.

    Back to room and we watch a French version of "Top Chef". They are making pizzas. The judges are giving one guy a hard time. A muscle in his cheek visably works as the other contestants are opening laughing. Ratattoui (sorry about spelling) pizza wins.

    Next: Fabric museum and getting JR home.

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    Didn't say what we ate at Giovany's: JR had salad and warm goat cheese on toast and DR had penne gratine with a cat food can-sized chunk of pate (liver I think)-it was sooooo good. I tried to make liver pate some years ago. It was so bad even the cat wouldn't eat it.

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    Hi TDudette,
    I've been reading your report and looking forward to the portion on Lyon in anticipation of my return this summer for the nth time. I love reading other people's impressions of a city which I know and love so well.

    You probably were (slightly) overcharged for your lunch at Giovany's as it's slap bang in the middle of the tourist centre of Lyon but as settings go, Rue St. Jean is hard to beat. My wife and I (who is Lyonnaise) make sure we eat at least once in, or near Rue St. Jean every time we're there.

    The Traboules (which you said you weren't sure why they didn't just have an alleyway) are covered so that the silk the workers carried wouldn't get damaged by rain or anything else falling from the sky (before the days of indoor plumbing).

    Looking forward to the next installment and hoping JR's health improves!

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    Hi Jay-I'm going to re-check our bill because we did get a formule and dessert was included? Was too distracted about JR to notice. He forgot to leave a little tip so maybe it all worked out.

    They could have a roof over the alley. I felt sorry for them having to go upstairs lugging bolts of silk. Are some of the Traboules on one level?

    Do you have any special hotels to recommend? Expect you stay with family?

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    Hi TD,
    Most restaurants in Lyon (particularly 'round St. Jean) have two formule options, one for two courses and one for three, they may have got you for the three course option and then charged again for dessert. Then again it might just have been a slightly pricier place. I'll definitely have to check it out next time I'm there, as it sounds very good from your description.

    I dread to think how hard it must have been to carry the bolts of silk, I guess people were hardier in those days! There are no single-level Traboules as the Canuts were based up on La Croix Rousse hill where the workshops would get the most sunlight and they could work longer hours. They'd then bring the silk down the hill to La Place du Change (at the opposite end of Rue St. Jean from the Cathedral) to sell at market. It was apparently a fairly hideous existence.

    Regarding hotels, the only one that I can personally vouch for is the Cour des Loges (having stayed there a couple of times on special occasions) and can say that it is pretty special. What it lacks to make it a really top-end hotel is more than made up for by the building and the setting. It's definitely worth a few nights stay.

    Another one that might class as special is Le College hotel in St. Paul (at the very bottom end of Rue St. Jean) which (as the name suggests) has a school theme running through it, but in a very modern 'boutique' hotel way. The jury's out on this one at the mo' as out of the two couples I know who've stayed there, one of them loved it, the other thought it was just average.

    The other hotels I've been to are a bit more standard, and I've only been in them briefly to meet visiting friends and family so could only tell you what they've said... You're right, I do normally stay with family whenever I'm there, but since the arrival 17 months ago of my son, we now stay out of town at a friend's holiday place, to avoid imposing or crowding out whoever we stay with.

    You've got me all excited about going back, I just never get bored of the place! Can't wait to see what's changed (and what's stayed wonderfully the same) since the last time I was there...

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    We were in Lyon for New Years and loved it--especially the food. I'd kill for a dish of saucisson chaude right now. My bucket list has a trip to Menton during lemon festival on it. Enjoying your report. Thanks.

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    Hi Julie,
    If memory serves, you were going to Bistrot de Lyon to see the New Year in. I think that's where you'd planned to go (if my memory's not failing me).

    Did it live up to expectations?

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    Thanks for the info Jay. Yes, it's difficult to imagine the living and working conditions of anyone not rich. Congrats about son!

    Thanks also, Julie. Am I remembering correctly that you sent your Menton-area TR? Wish we could have visited more things. The Lemon Festival looked like a lot of fun.

    OK, final days following.

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    Tuesday, 16 Mars, 2010

    It's sunny and still cool this a.m. JR wants to walk to newspaper kiosk to see how his legs feel, and DR calls Orbitz to see about getting home early. Orbitz girl says call in 4 or 5 hours. JR goes back to bed as legs are even worse today. DR decides to go to the fabric museum to kill time before calling Orbitz again. Visiting this museum and seeing the silk-making were high on DR’s list.

    The short walk to the fabric museum passes by many shops: fabric, art supply, antiques and a few places to eat. The fabric museum also includes one of decorative arts. Tickets are sold in the gift shop and DR makes a French rhyme with "Je voudrais acheter un billet pour musee" and goes in. Oh a silk tie was €59.

    No photos are allowed. Shown are various miniature looms for weaving silk brocade and they are impressive. Someone in the Renaissance invented the code card so machine automatically lifts the right thread for the patterns. Magic! There is a piece of silk from Marie Antoinette's chambre. As interesting as the fabrics are, DR is blown away by the glove exhibit (Les Gants). Gloves started as protection and became status symbols over time. Neat one by Fendi with a wrist band and 6 charms. Another with piece that wraps snake-like up the arm.

    By then DR is getting antsy about JR so walks swiftly through the decorative arts rooms. Furthermore, the Orbitz lady saying call back when things are open all of a sudden seems absurd-aren’t they open all the time? Gorgeous furnishings but no books in English about making gloves. Back to room and JR is dressed but still moving slowly. DR calls Orbitz again and reaches a Donna from Kentucky who can get us out tomorrow on the same flights so DR takes it. We have many hours before dinner so DR decides to try a silk atelier in the old town but takes the wrong bridge! The amazing metals flowers on a globe are her first hint that she's going in the wrong direction. Tired, she decides to go back and finds Rue des Marroniers (chestnut trees?) lined with nifty eateries.

    We decide to go back to Espace again as it is close and tonight have excellent meal: saumon with lentil cream sauce and pot au feu with marrow bone on the top. This was my first time tasting bone marrow. It tasted like little pieces of fat. Anyone else agree? Total for meal with pichet €42,50-we thought a great price for a super meal. An A for both entrees. Back to hotel to check out, reserve cab and to the room to pack.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 32nd Wedding Anniversary

    Up at 3:10 and 3:30 for 4:15 cab. About 1/2 hour to LYS and, of course, the BA staff hasn't even arrived. At 2 hours before the flight, all open up. We smush DR’s purse into her carryon (supposedly only one carryon bag). JR got frisked. Lights came on automatically in bathroom and plunged DR in darkness whilst still "en stall".

    Smooth one hour + flight to Heathrow and clear enough for shots from plane. We have 3 hour layover so take our time. It's about 1/2 hour to get from incoming terminal to outgoing one so plenty of time is a luxury. Do notice little jitneys for the infirmed but JR says he’s ok. Are there any moving sidewalks in Heathrow?

    We go to V Bar for coffees and split a ham/cheese croissant and kill time until our gate number comes up. DR shops at nearby Harrods (finds tea for cat-feeding neighbor) and JR searches for berets but ends up with Kit Kats. Flight announcement boards are everywhere-including the café! We get to our gate and they search everyone's bags and DR gets really frisked. No one ever looked into the medicine section of my bag. Extremely smooth flight with sucky food. I didn’t even write down what it was. It took closer to 3 hours to get back home from Philly as we hit a bit of early rush hour traffic. Home by 6:30 and managed to stay awake for a few hours.

    I hope we can get back to Lyon as we hardly did it justice. The area where we stayed reminded me of Paris but more spacious. JR are says “cleaner too!” but I didn’t notice one way or the other. Loved the pedestrian areas-and we encountered more of them in our short stay than in Paris.

    We missed London altogether but we had been before. I was able to contact driver and hotel more than 24 hours ahead of time. Will let you know if our accounts were credited when next bill arrives.

    Will also advise about the trip insurance. We used Access America (through AAA). If there is a pre-existing condition, this insurance requires that one buys the policy within 2 weeks of purchasing the tickets. Also, one must get to a doc within 72 hours of interrupting the trip BTW. Fortunately, by being in email contact, JR’s doc knew what was going on and saw him right away. Waiting for test results but JR is getting around much better now.

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    TD - thanks for the congrats! I'm still finding every day a joy, I know people who've told me that'll change (particularly in the teenage years) but at the moment I'm just savouring every instant.

    Glad you made it back safely and hope JR's results are good.

    I'm definitely going to have to give Espace a go, sounds great. I've eaten bone marrow previously, but only mixed with other ingredients, or sucked direct from the bone (the 'benefits' of having a Caribbean mother) as a youngster, so have only ever been able to say "it tastes like bone marrow". I've always found that it's evident that it's come from an animal, but doesn't really taste like anything else.

    I think you had a great 'taster' visit of Lyon, but as you imply, there's so much more to see. It's a shame you missed the silk atelier, judging by the wrong direction you took I believe I've been to the same one and it's certainly worth a visit. I think the guy that owns/runs it is one of only two people that is still allowed to call himself a Canut, as he still has one of the only working original looms in existence. He's also got that (and I take my wifes's and the group of 30 schoolgirls I took there, words for it) indefinable attractive French bloke thing. You know: floppy hair, well dressed, not amazing looking but incredibly attractive nonetheless. He even made me interested in the process of silk-weaving, something I'm sure there are very few people actually capable of.

    Your and JR's impressions of Lyon are very similar to how I think of it. Like Paris, but less bustle, more space, less hectic and definitely cleaner. I love both, but Lyon definitely wins for me.

    Thanks for the trip report. It's got me thinking even more than usual about my summer trip and reminded me of things I absolutely must re-visit.

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    Thanks for your kind words Jay. And may the teen years not be too bad. We have 3 new babies in our neighborhood.

    Back to food: Is there a restaurant kitty corner and across the Place Bellefour from Espace? One of the hotel clerks mentioned a "well known, top notch chef". She couldn't remember the name of the restaurant but described where it was located.

    The silk guy looked pretty hot in the photo I saw. Perhaps like Tom Conti? If you can find it, the movie he was in "American Dreamer in Paris" with Jo Beth Williams gave me that feeling! It's actually a fun movie that takes place in Paris. DH and I have watched it over and over for giggles. Can't get DH to wear a scarf though...

    I hope you'll do a report about Lyon after your next visit and I hope we can go back with both of us in one piece!

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    Jay, Yes, we did get to Bistrot de Lyon but not for New Year's Eve. Our hotel booked us at the trendy Jope for the Eve but we had our New year's Day lunch at Bistrot de Lyon. Food was good and decor fantastic. They we're however, completely filled and service lagged. Even so I'd return. We also dined at Garet and Merciere, both of which I preferred for food though found all three to have equivalent atmosphere, just in different ways. Saying this reminds me that I haven't yet done my report from that trip so I'll try to get on it asap--along with finishing my report from Piemonte and Nice and another from Barcelona.

    I share the general sentiment that I find you and TDudette expressing that Lyon is a delightful city. Although I guess it's no longer the second largest city in France (Marseille is that, right?) I just never seemed to find any of that "second city" effort to "catch up" It is what it is and the Lyonnais appear to feel justifiably proud. I sure would.

    TDudette, We were in Menton one year in November for a week and loved it. I thought I had done a report from that trip but can't seem to find it now. Spending that amount of time there made me realize why it became such a mecca for English tourists at one time. It seems very livable. And I also found prices there much more reasonable than in other parts of the Riviera.

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    Julie, You did send it to me when I first started the TR in a separate post in case you want to re-read what you said:

    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/menton-lyon-and-london.cfm

    Perhaps Menton and Lyon share similar atmospheres because they aren't #1 so can be wonderful places in their own right. Less touristy, more places to just "get on with it"?

    Marseille and Genoa had the same "feel" to me also. Admittedly, it isn't fair to make a judgement without longer visits!

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    Hi TD and Julie,
    I'm playing catch-up after a long weekend away from the computer.

    You've both actually got me thinking that I should write a trip report after my next trip to Lyon. Your enthusiasm is very infectious! I'm actually looking into seeing if I can squeeze a week in at the end of May, rather than wait until summer...

    TD - I think the restaurant your hotel clerk may have been trying to tell you about is Le Sud, one of Paul Bocuse's brasseries that's just across the road from Bellecour on place Antonin Poncet. Definitely worth a visit on your next trip, maybe while you stay at the Cour des Loges!

    Julie - I think your summation of the Lyonnais attitude regarding their position in France is absolutely spot on! They're Lyonnais and proud and not trying to be anything they're not. And I love it.

    For the first time ever, I may have to make a list of all the things I want to (re)visit and the restaurants I want to eat at when I'm next in Lyon. I think it's as close as I'll ever get to an itinerary. Must be getting old...

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    WOW! What a great trip report! Genoa from Menton for a day trip just gives you a small taste of Genoa. We were there ealier this year and found it refreshingly off the tourist map - especially for Americans! In fact, our hotel was about a 2 minute walk from the Piazza de Ferrari, so we passed that every morning on our many day trips south of Genoa. Spent a lot of time in the port area and found it to be relaxing, but full of energy at the same time.

    We'll be in the South of France next year and are planning on a day trip to Menton and 'V' ... your report is perfectly timed as there aren't many trip reports on this area.

    Thanks for posting!

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    Glad this popped up again, would have missed it otherwise. Menton looks interesting, had not heard of it before. I have enjoyed looking up other towns in the area, looks like a great area for a holiday.

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