Five days in France

I’m a big fan of the European short break – getting away from the UK for even a short amount of time can be very refreshing, and it is possible to pack a surprising amount into a few days. I’ve just got back from spending five days in France, split between Paris and Lyon (visiting friends in both places), and here are a few of my highlights – mainly food-related, what a surprise…

1) Brunch in Paris. My god do the French know how to do brunch: multiple courses, freshly squeezed orange juice, a mixture of normal brunch-y foods (i.e. a soft-boiled egg, excellent bread) with other more unusual things (i.e. chocolate tart, artichoke and chestnut soup) that I now feel SHOULD be standard breakfast fare. Was particularly surprised at the soup, as I’m not a big fan of artichoke normally but this was delish, also had the French chestnut sauce thing with yoghurt and liked it for the first time. Perhaps the English do make brunch like this, but I’ve certainly never seen anything like it – it took us about 3 hours to get through.

2) The Centre Pompidou. You can’t really go wrong with this place – the normal collections are good but the temporary collections are usually particularly excellent. This time round I saw Jeff Koons and Marcel Duchamp – I liked the former more than the latter, and especially enjoyed laughing at the ridiculous arty-pretentious explanations, but was a thoroughly lovely afternoon.

3) The Marais district in Paris. I’ve been to Paris loads of times, but clearly haven’t spent enough time wandering in this particularly beautiful district – amazing Jewish restaurants too, with just about the best falafel I’ve ever eaten.

4) Le Bistrot Paul Bert. Are you starting to notice a theme here? This was a restaurant I was taken to by a Parisian friend who knows about such things, and it was delicious. Will definitely be trying to return at some point when I’m next in Paris!

5) The TGV. Perhaps a strange one to include in a ‘highlights’ of Paris and Lyon, but it was fun! I have heard a lot about the TGV trains from French lessons in class and it really was lovely. Trains with two layers are much more fun then boring trains with one layer…

6) This statue, “Odalisque” of James Pradier, 1841, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.Odalisque - Sculpture by French Artist James Pradier 1841 c

Really amazing statue that makes you walk round and round and she never quite looks at you, wherever you stand. There were generally some pretty stunning statues in this museum, but this was definitely our favourite.

7) The view over Lyon from on high. I’ve written previously about seeing towns from hills, and while I wouldn’t necessarily put Lyon on this list, it was a fun walk up. Unfortunately it rained pretty much non-stop while I was in Lyon, but I got the impression that it WOULD have been very pretty in the sun, especially along the river and in the old town. Constant rain also gave us an excellent excuse to keep diving into cafes and bars, including one very strange place that made mulled wine by heating wine in the milk frothed of a coffee machine. Safe to say it wasn’t the best mulled wine I have tried!

8) The tea called “Jardin Bleu” that Paul serves. Yes, Paul is not the most “authentic” French cafe you can go to, but this is perhaps the best tea I’ve ever had, I’m going to have to try and search it out to have again in the future. Also had an almond and blackcurrant tart that really wasn’t too shabby at all. By which I mean I could have eaten ten in a row. Perhaps a good thing that I didn’t…

As you can probably tell from the above, this was mostly a trip of eating, drinking, and catching up with friends. Definitely not a bad thing in the least, and if you’re going to do the above activities, why not do so in France where you are surrounded with exquisite things?

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