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Visiting Friends and Family in France

We said goodbye to Paris and took the train to Lyon where we were to meet up with Ol’s French sister (exchange student) Laurence (Flo) and her husband Thierry.

Ol and I had already made arrangements to stay in a small bed and breakfast called “Chambre de Styliste” in the historic center before Flo and Thierry invited us to stay in their home. Our host was a dressmaker named Dominic who previously worked with Christian Dior. The nondescript building was constructed in the 16th century and had no sign, just the number 2 and a very large antique door.

Unsure we were at the right place we called Dominic who assured us that we were in the right place. He gave us the entry codes and then met us at his door. His home was stunning. His home is also his design studio and is filled with warmth and light. After a warm welcome, we were given a tour of our home for our short stay, which consisted of a large bedroom, bath, toilet, living area and kitchen (the beautiful linens on the bed were pressed these pictures are after we spent the night. Sorry Dominic! We keep forgetting to take pictures of our rooms).

Dominic had just removed a fresh lemon cake from the oven which he baked for us. The lemons were picked from lemon trees from Dominic’s home in Greece. After getting us settled he returned to his studio and where a dress form was draped with silk and black beaded evening dress. We later learned over breakfast the following day that he worked many years in Paris for several designers and now designs dresses for his private clients.

Thierry picked us up for dinner and gave us a walking tour of Lyon. After visiting several sights we met up with Flo (Laurence) and their son Cedric.

It was a joyful reunion. Tears ran down our faces as Flo mentioned that finally someone from her American family visited her hometown! We last saw her last 25 years ago when she visited Biloxi to introduce Thierry to her “other” family.

Over an amazing French meal in a famous traditional Lyonnaise restaurant (where we sampled almost every dish) we had a wonderful evening telling stories and catching up.

We were excited to meet Cedric, and to hear stories about Sylvain, their other son, and Cedric’s partner Juliet. There were a few more tears when we FaceTimed home and Ol’s mom and dad got to visit with and see their dear Flo.

After being treated to dinner we spent the evening strolling through the historic city of Lyon. We walked across the bridges of the Rhone and the Saone, and past Medieval churches and down cobblestone streets.

It was well after midnight when Flo and Thierry double kissed our cheeks goodbye at our door (we really are turning into proper Europeans).

After a restful night on sumptuous linen sheets we were treated to a full home made breakfast by Dominic. He baked a plum pie and offered us coffee and fresh orange juice to go along with the lemon cake he baked for our arrival. At this rate we won’t be losing any weight on this hike.

We stopped by Flo's charming French gift shop (where she sent us on our way with a loaf of homemade bread) and then boarded the train to Le-Puy-en-Velay for the beginning of our hike! It is hard to believe we have been here just a week and are about to embark on our 1,000 mile pilgrimage, where so far our only preparation has been eating! Time slows down when you are seeing new things and making new friends and memories. Just another good reason to travel!

Please throw out all of your French stereotypes. We have been treated warmly by our host country, despite wearing ugly hiking shoes, everyone we meet has been kind and helpful. We still can’t figure out how everyone knows that we are American before we say a word (other than the ugly shoes)!

We have yet to meet any French citizens who don’t try to communicate with us in English even though our French is atrocious. Thankfully English is the International travel language so signs are easy to read. Maybe we are just visiting at the right time as tourists are heading home because school is starting and the French are still on Holiday. Maybe it is just more of that karma, luck, or trail magic! Regardless, our trip to France is off to a wonderful start and we are ready for our “Buen Camino!”

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