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Friday, January 4, 2013

Lyon, France (8th in a series)

Lyon, France

Down on the farm
Our next stop was to a proper farm where we were able to get an up close view of dairy production, pork husbandry and production, beef fabrication and charcuterie making.  We first started out in the pasture with the dairy cows grazing on the grass and looking otherwise placid and tranquil, just your typical French country-side scene complete with picture post-card quality and charm.  Our next steps were toward the barn where the housing and milking and stench reside.

My idea of an ideal French farm (it exists!)
I felt as though I was back home in sleepy little old Lake Orion, MI because I worked on farms there and the sights, sounds and smells were reminiscent of my youth.  It was very heartwarming and brought a fond smile to my face.  Meanwhile, most of the kids and students were lamenting their current status as city-folk being on a farm making clever comments with regard to the smell and sanitary conditions.  I may have been the only one who felt completely comfortable and familiar with my surroundings.

An attempt to keep the farm off their shoes
Walking through the barn made me remember my youth and adolescent years with great pride and how we used to go cow-tipping (very un-cool and cruel but tremendous fun for disrespectful and rambunctious youth’s) and how we would dare the new kid he couldn't pee on the fence (it was electrified) and how we’d use hardened cow pies as mini Frisbees.  We would also climb cherry and apple trees to eat the recently ripened fruit only to find ourselves trapped over the newly forming herd of cows and more importantly realizing that the bulls are now looking straight up at us licking their chops.

Curious swine .... why is everyone looking at us?

Very cute and cuddly!

How do we get out of this predicament one would ask?  Well, for a mischievous youth succumbing to peer pressure and a full bladder of apple and cherry juice; there was no other choice but to pee on them prompting them to move.  Much to our delight they started lapping at our newly airborne urine like a child drinking out of a garden hose. 

We squealed with delight as our immature little minds were all too warped to understand this to be normal behavior for a mere cow.  We were humanizing an animal to satisfy our sick little imaginations albeit ignoring the fact that our stupid little ploy didn’t work in dispersing the cows and more importantly the bull in our immediate vicinity staring at us awaiting our demise.

This little one found itself in the farmers personal garden!
Fresh out of ideas, we waited and waited tapping our undeveloped little pea brains trying to figure out what we would do to get out of this predicament.  After about 2 hours my mother called me in for dinner and without hesitation I jumped down from the tree and ran as fast as I could to the electric fence and hopped over it with the ease of an Olympic athlete and into the house for a delicious meal prepared by my mom. A mother who was giving birth to my culinary musings at a time unbeknownst to me that would become my eventual profession.

The power of a mother’s call cannot be surpassed especially when you have an aching in your belly for some good old-fashioned home cooking.  After we finished dinner I had completely forgotten about my friends still in the tree and wandered out to the fence and pleaded with them to follow my lead from approximately an hour ago.  Slowly, one by one they all came down out of the trees and went home to their own mothers.  Funny thing about a farm and how it will conjure up a memory….funny thing indeed.

Chow time
When we were walking all over this farm listening how the farmers took care of their craft and realizing how noble a profession theirs is; I began to notice stirrings under a ¾ sided structure lined with tables and table clothes.  Are we going to eat here and how cool would that be to have a meal at this farm using the products that once roamed the fields just a short distance away.  I noticed a sign that mentioned “charcuterie” just inside the property line and my mouth started to water at the prospect that we’d be noshing on delectable and meaty offerings from these country-gentlemen and women.

Charcuterie aging on the farm

This stuff smelled terrific!

When we finished with touring the pig building (which by-the-way was all too perfect as we were able to hold and cuddle with a little piglet) our gentlemen farmers led us to this ¾ hut and we sat down to a fantastic but simple meal of country lentils (with thyme and shallots), various sausages and cured meats, homemade bread, pickles and wine.  Our meal wasn’t complete without a visit from the farm cat who horned in on the action due to the loving nature of a couple ladies who allowed the feline a few morsels of food.  Just magnifique!!!!

The French farm cat

Charcuterie on the farm - from the farm!

Our table of goodies - simply delicious!

A guided tour
So it is early afternoon we have now traveled to Lyon, France’s gastronomic Mecca. Upon arrival in Lyon, we have a guided visit of the Vieux Lyon (old quarter) that includes the Traboules (ancient passages).  The old quarter is pretty cool with an enormous representation of the old-style architecture surrounded by a more modern setting altogether. 

One of two rivers that run through Lyon (Rhone and Sohne)

Lyon's namesake - the Lion

Ancient Roman ruins that are used today as a concert venue
 Our guide was telling us how the new opera house is actually modern for the Lyonaise as the overwhelming color scheme (black on the outside and black on the inside) isn't up the French standards and the contemporary arching dome was too plain and just boring for the city-folk.  Our guide calls it horrible, terrible and an abomination.  It’s nice that she got this off her chest; I’d hate for her to have to be carrying all this negativity around with her every day

Okay, it's a bit ugly - especially for the French
Ancient passages
The Traboules or ancient passages were VERY cool!  There are these doors in between buildings and there is no sign indicating where they lead or to whom it belongs – they are just there being a door but when you open it you discover a passage that leads through the buildings.  These passages are a route to get to the other side of the building on foot as the city planners a few hundred years ago weren't as keen on convenience by putting a road in this area as space was at a premium.  Stories of spirits wandering these halls and tunnels are unbridled and wild.  Of course each story is raging with embellishment and it wouldn't be a proper ghost story if it weren't raging with embellishment.

Images protruding from buildings meant to menace passersby

The surroundings are spectacular!

The hustle and bustle of a Lyonaise street

Imagine seeing stuff like this every day of your life?

Off these pedestrian tunnels winds another world of pathways leading to private residences, townhouse complexes and apartments.  It’s quite surreal to experience a city within a city and it’s one of the most unique features of any city I’ve ever encountered.

Deep within the Traboules (catacombs) of Lyon

The cathedral high on the bluffs of Lyon

Getting lost in Lyon .... priceless!

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

1 comment:

  1. Europe travel all the time, and hang around at the moment. Thank you very much for the very good articles. I love to write blog. Travel writing my notes here. The next trip to Lyon.