Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Croix-Rousse in Lyon, France: Old friends in new places

I first met Mathilde while living on an organic farm in Ecuador. She arrived with freshly chopped, dusty blonde hair barely brushing the straps of the large backpack swung over her shoulders. She had brand new working boots, cleaner clothes than mine, and an openness about her that I was immediately drawn to.

I was in month number five at the farm, feeling a little beaten up by the struggles of South America, and she was refreshing. We swapped stories from Sweden and New Zealand, bonded over essential oils and played cards after dinner and into the nighttime.

About a month later, Mathilde left. She was just at the beginning of a six-month trip through South America. I later found a little note and an almost full bottle of citronella oil on my bed - for the mosquitos. Nos vemos, she wrote, we will see each other, maybe in Sweden.

Last weekend, as I stepped off the train, Mathilde was there to greet me. This time with a long, fishtail braid over her shoulder - proof of the two and half years since we'd last seen each other.

We weren't in Sweden as planned, but instead in Lyon, France where she is three weeks and one long thesis shy of receiving her second masters.

She welcomed me into her quaint loft above a tiny theater in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood. This artsy area is above the busy city center of Lyon. Most tourists don't make it up the hill to explore the colorful shops, unique cafes and various parks with overlooking views of the city.

We picnicked in the park at sunset and caught up over local beers at Dikkenek Cafe. Coming from Madrid where you order a beer by size, not type, this extensive menu was a treat. It offers international beers, but also many bières brewed in Lyon.

The next morning, we visited the diverse outdoor food market that Croix-Rousse hosts every morning Tuesday through Sunday. We picked up brunch supplies, including these colorful treats from Dorodi Pastry and of course the traditional French baguette, for another picnic under the warm spring sun to fuel up for a day of exploring.

We stopped at Terre Adélice in the city center for an ice cream break. This place is special. It has around 100 different ice cream and sorbet flavors with about 50 organic options. I tried the organic lavender, organic white peach, and organic rhubarb. Délicieux.

Ending my final night with homemade crêpes, we talked about our uncertain futures and later visits. Mathilde may soon be in Africa and me, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll be hosting Mathilde next time in Spain or maybe we'll finally meet for WOOFing in Sweden. Who knows. But there is something very special and a little strange about meeting old friends in new places.. collecting contacts from across the world.

Merci, Mathilde. À la prochaine!


  1. Lyon looks beautiful! Love your photos here! And omg...those donuts. I want one so bad right now! haha

  2. All of these market and picnic photos are making me want to buy some goodies and sprawl on the grass at the nearest park. Too bad the weather forecast looks dreary this week. Guess I'll just live vicariously for now!

  3. <3
    Lovely words, thanks a lot to you too. It's great to meet old friends in new places, I love it!
    Next time in Madrid, or elsewhere. Who knows : )

  4. That picnic, those donuts... my mouth is watering! It looks like Lyon is a gorgeous place. I'm glad you had a great time catching up with your friend! Plus there's something truly magical about France, no?

    1. I never imagined I would love France so much. And you haven't been to Lyon yet? Courtney, you'll love it. You have to go visit!

  5. I'm really fascinated by Mathilde's handwriting.. and I can't take my eyes off the donuts, and the blocks of cheeseese.. they look so fascinating.

    1. I know! Not only do I love the words in that old note, but I love her handwriting! And yes, those donuts.. So pretty and delicious!

  6. It is always a pleasure to welcome the travelers in my bookshop-café-polar* "Un Petit Noir" and it is an enjoyment to be quoted on your blog !
    Un Petit Noir
    * polar = crime novel