This is the story of three American girls in Lyon and two pique-niques. I had the pleasure of hosting two of my dear friends from MIT in early April, Lauren and Amritaa. The weather was absolutely perfect- sunny with blue skies, temperatures in the high 80s, and the occasional spring breeze.
In other words, it was time to picnic à la français!
SATURDAY APRIL 9 – Fourviere and La Colline Qui Prie
We started with a quick trip to a marché right on the banks of the Rhône River where we picked up some essentials straight from the producers/farmers – you can tell if products are straight from the farmer to you by signs that say producteur. Notice the bottle of wine I’m cradling – that’s a wine straight from Lyon.
We traversed the Rhône into centre-ville and then crossed over the Saône to get into Vieux Lyon, where we proceeded to climb the montées up to Fourvière Hill, the hill that prays. And eventually, to the Roman ruins that caused Lyon to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We spread our goods – olives and white wine for the apero, Lyonnais rosette saucisson, a baguette, three types of cheese (the Lyonnais St. Marcellin, comte, and a chèvre), a kilo of strawberries, a box of raspberries, and another kilo of apples.
It started with a climb up the Montée de la Grand Cote, the most ancient passage of the Croix Rousse hill. It’s a lovely climb with 16th and 17th century homes lining the sides, but I like it best for this view – you might recognize it from some of my older posts.
Then the obligatory stop at the marché de la Croix Rousse. I’ll never cease to be amazed at the quality of products in the markets in France.
We met up with a French man. Who suggested that we should grab an apéro before eating our picnic lunch. So off we were to one of the many bars lining the Grand Boulevard de la Croix Rousse. He pulled out a bag of olives and ordered a pot (460 mL) of Mâcon white wine. It was barely noon.
Then we found the Gros Caillou, aka the Big Boulder, in Place Bellevue. And we set down our wares. Today’s menu: salad greens (spinach) with vine cherry tomatos, rôtisserie chicken, the obligatory bread and cheese (Tomme de Savoie today), apples and clementines, and a tarte aux pralines and a tarte aux pommes (not shown) for dessert.
French man was scandalized that we were drinking wine out of the bottle (we didn’t think to bring cups!) and that we were eating spinach, raw, without any dressing. To which we said, whatever, do you want any or not?
I could get used to this.