We’ll Always Have Paris

Like the iconic scene from Casablanca, we all parted ways on Sunday night, with

The cute café where we concluded our study abroad program.

some of us getting ready to board planes to cross oceans, and others staying behind to spend more time in Europe. We had a final group dinner at an adorable café with a beautifully chaotic vibe – it looked like a sort of fusion between a castle in medieval Europe and a Greek monument, with modern art hanging from the stone walls, and 80’s electronica pumping from Bose speakers – and as we lingered afterward to take some group photos, there was a weird sense of finality about the whole affair.

“The Last Selfie” by Sonia. I wasn’t aware that it was happening, but I thought I’d include it all the same!

It wasn’t final in a negative sense, it just seemed like we were about to leave a space that existed just for us; I doubt that any of us will be able to go back without replaying the memories we made on this adventure together. In my mind, Lyon will always mean playing petanque in the riverside park and dancing to live music echoing through the cobblestone streets of Old Town, becoming closer with my fellow travelers on every excursion. Paris will forever be associated with getting pleasantly lost in the Egyptian section of the Louvre, sprinting through the metro for a pseudo-Amazing Race scavenger hunt and being cheered on by random passers by, and spending 30 minutes admiring the depth, color, and texture of Monet’s water lilies. There are far too many moments, sights, smells, and feelings to describe fully here, and I kind of like that. I like that some of these adventures are entirely ours and can’t be described to others, because that means that someone had to have been there to appreciate those moments, and that’s a reminder that we were there.

I’m currently sitting with four friends in an adorable Airbnb in Brussels, Belgium, getting ready to spend another week in Europe, with our time split between Brussels and Amsterdam. Last night, after we got settled here, we went

Behind Michael is Manneken Pis – there was a surprisingly large crowd around him!

out exploring the adorable cobblestone streets and saw the Manneken Pis (a very famous fountain statue of a young boy peeing), and spent some time in the city’s main square, Grand Place. Over the next several days, we’ll be visiting a natural history museum (because why not check out some Belgian dinosaurs?), a local fine arts museum, the Van Gogh Museum (which I am extremely excited to see), the Rijksmuseum, and the Ann Frank House (hopefully; online tickets are no longer available, but we can try for physical tickets the day of). We also plan on biking around Amsterdam’s canals, finding some Belgian chocolate, and either strolling through or picnicking in some botanical gardens that are just down the street from our Brussels flat!


The square was full of young adults drinking, listening to music, and just having fun. Everything was bathed in the early evening light, and it was gorgeous!

As these are personal travels, and not for school, this will be my last entry for my adventures in France. I’m so grateful to the Honors College at Oregon State University for providing this outstanding opportunity to go abroad, and am very thankful to have had a pair of excellent professors teaching all of us about innumerable facets of French culture! I’d also like to thank my fellow students/friends on this study abroad: you all made these experiences possible, with your unparalleled senses of humor, willingness to explore, and for being genuinely great people to be around.  And thank you, dear readers, for joining me on this journey and reading my updates – I thoroughly enjoyed writing them, and I have loved answering your questions and hearing your feedback!

Au revoir, and thank you!

On Top of the World

We began yesterday with a visit to the Hotel de Talleyrand, which has some historical significance of which I was previously unaware: the Marshall Plan (which essentially outlined the reconstruction of Europe after WWII) was signed in one of the rooms we got to tour! We also met the US’s resident cultural attaché to France. He told us many interesting stories about his experiences learning languages (including Albanian!) and hosting foreign dignitaries. It was especially enlightening to me, since I just took an International Relations class last term, and he discussed many of the concepts we studied.

With the crew in front of the Arc! Photo credit goes to Katie.

Next, we went up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, where we had a panoramic view of the city. While there, we got together as a group and shot a brief video for the Honors College for them to use while welcoming new first-years. Everyone was smiling and laughing at us because we sounded a bit odd chanting ‘Hello from Paris and welcome to the Honors College’, but it was fun and it had a fantastic background of the Eiffel Tower! More on the tower later…

In the afternoon, we went on an “Ex-Patriot”-themed walking tour. We strolled through central Paris and learned about Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company bookshop (the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport is named after her), Hemingway, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. They all lived in the ex-pat community in Paris after WWI, when a lot of people were disenchanted with the US and politics in general. Hemingway briefly talks about this community in Paris in his novel, The Sun Also Rises. I adored learning about this time period, and it somehow felt appropriate when the wind picked up and it started raining.

Once our tour ended, our guide recommended a restaurant nearby for dinner, and we were very glad we tried it! It was a cute Mediterranean restaurant – cozy and embellished but not gaudy, with excellent food. Also, it was a great people watching spot, especially once it got quite stormy and everyone was bustling toward their destinations. We lingered here and got a few desserts to share, among them Turkish delight (made famous by Lewis Carroll in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) and baklava. It was decided that the Turkish delight was good, but not sell-out-your-family-to-the-ice-queen good, and the baklava was excellent.

By the time we started to feel obligated to leave – although you will never be

Street art we found while meandering toward the Eiffel Tower. They’re the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg from “The Great Gatsby”.

asked to leave or even brought a check without asking for it in France – the rain had stopped, and there was a break in the clouds. The effect was very pleasant; the rain made the pavement shine, the air was heady with petrichor, and everything was bathed in a warm light. Any scene we looked upon could’ve been a masterpiece in the Louvre. As we walked through a nearby park (we were slightly disappointed to discover that we had to pay to go on the swings, and the kiosk where we could pay had already closed), we decided to head in the general direction of the Eiffel Tower.


The Eiffel Tower featuring me or me featuring the Eiffel Tower?

Going to the top of the tower was on our bucket lists, so after a few pictures near its base, we purchased ‘sommet’ tickets i.e. passes that would let us go all the way up. We timed our visit perfectly: the sun was into the Golden Hour by the time we arrived at the tower, and as we waited in line, 10pm struck, and the whole tower lit up and glittered as it does every hour at night. Then, once we took the elevator to the second floor, the sun was sinking behind the clouds and the sky looked like it was on fire. We watched the sun set over Paris, and I get goose bumps even as I write this just thinking about it. There’s nothing quite like it. We then took the next

Looking out over Paris from the second floor of the Eiffel Tower just before the sun went down and the sky was streaked with reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows.

lift up to the highest point on the tower, and the sky was black but the city shone like thousands of topaz gems. We could see every site we visited since arriving in Paris, and the experience took my breath away.

It was a very surreal collection of moments – being surrounded by close friends, ascending into the heavens even as the sun descended and night cloaked one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’ll cherish last night forever.

Selfie on the Eiffel Tower! Photo credit to Seth.

Today was comparatively much less eventful, which was a welcome break. This morning we went to Notre Dame (alas, no hunchbacks in the bell tower) and did another walking tour of some lesser-known sites around Paris. Contrary to yesterday, it rained all day today, which made our outings slightly less fun, although our same guide was just as happy and energetic as he was during our sunny tours, and we all admired his enthusiasm. This afternoon, we all did laundry, withdrew cash from the ATM, and worked on our final projects for the two classes we’re taking here in France.




Traveling Through Time

Over the past few days, I’ve walked through time. I traveled to ancient Egypt, Enlightenment Europe, and the Middle East in the early C.E. I’ve strolled through the French countryside, Monet’s garden, and Van Gogh’s mind. How? Museums!

We kicked off Wednesday morning with a tour of a stunning mosque and the

The view from inside the Louvre was spectacular!

Arab World Institute. I had never been inside a mosque before, but this one in particular is known for its stunning architecture – inside, it’s all white marble and tile floors, with mosaics and engraved stone. It had an open roof to let in the natural light, and a small courtyard garden. It was like a palace! The institute was an equally new experience for me, as aside from my class last term about feminism in the Middle East in the 20th century, I had little knowledge of Middle Eastern history.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at the Louvre. To be honest, I needed about two more full days

It’s fascinating to me what we choose to value; the Mona Lisa is undeniably beautiful, but what about the hundreds of other paintings housed in the Louvre that are equally admirable.

there to really see all that I wanted to see, but it was still outstanding! I spent most of my time there in the Egyptian exhibit, so I guess that just means I’ll have to come back to see everything else!

Thursday morning, we went to Musee de l’Orangerie, and I was awestruck. That’s where all of Monet’s Water Lilies are, and wow. He painted them with the museum in mind so that people could have a calming space to just relax and forget about the turmoil in the world. He definitely succeeded; the rooms exudes a quiet comfort that permeates the minds of all who enter it.

On our way to the Musee de l’Orangerie, we stopped by a carousel in the park for a little throwback fun!

Later that day, we went to the Musee d’Orsay, which was my favorite of the three. It was almost entirely Impressionist works, and the building itself was an old converted train station. Everything downstairs was marble and stone, with a huge open atrium enclosed by glass. It even had a clock face upstairs, through which we could peer out over the city. Overall, it looked like a scene from The Invention of Hugo

Self-portrait with Van Gogh’s self-portrait!

Cabret, but with art! There were dozens of Van Goghs and Monets (my favorites), as well as Gaugin, Cezanne, and Renoir. A band was also playing near the entrance, and the sounds reverberated beautifully off of the statues in the main hall. I loved every minute we spent there!

I’ll write more about yesterday (Friday) a little bit later – we went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower late last night, so I didn’t have time to post before bed. Check back soon to read about one of the most magical experiences of my life!

Almost Midnight In Paris

We have arrived in Paris! Technically, we checked in yesterday afternoon after taking a train from Lyon, but the past 24 hours have been jam-packed with excursions. My personal favorites were visiting the Sacré-Cœur basilica, going on a guided tour of Rungis (the world’s biggest wholesale food market), and a boat tour of the Seine.

The inside was even more stunning, but alas, no photos allowed!

We got into Paris late yesterday, and our first destination after getting settled in our hotel was the Sacré-Cœur basilica. That is the highest point in Paris, so we went there first so we could get a sweeping view of everything. The basilica was beautiful, but I enjoyed walking through the surrounding streets even more. Behind the tourist-y facades (which were ripe with cheap berets, dramatic watercolor landscapes, and French license plates), the buildings were quaint and old. We also saw our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower above the streets, which got us even more excited for our boat tour today!

Today’s start was bright and early; we left our hotel at 4am to the Rungis market.

Catch us at the Fall 2017 Paris Fashion Week?

The marketplace is just outside of the city and is almost its own micro-community! The reason we had to be there so early is because 90% of what is brought into the market is sold on the same day, and there is a certain level of competitiveness among buyers to get the best products from the already high quality producers, so they sell out of a lot of things before 6am. When we arrived, we had to put on some very glamorous outfits: XL white coats, dense white hair nets, and bright blue visitor’s lanyards, all of which marked us as non-buyers. Only restaurants and merchants are allowed into Rungis unless you’re a part of a sanctioned tour group, as we were. We had a stellar tour guide, Francis, who was hilarious as well as knowledgeable. I found the fishery section to be the most interesting of all the complexes (which also included areas like the dairy, produce, fresh flowers,

Each building was massive; multiple Costcos could fit inside each one!

and cheese buildings), probably because of being raised in a community where fishing plays such an important role in the local economy. Most of the fish that they sell was caught in the last day, and comes from either the Mediterranean or the north coast. Because of the quotas established by the EU to prevent overfishing, France also needs to import some fish from Nordic countries and the British isles to meet consumer demand.


We went back to the hotel after a quick breakfast to sleep more. My roommate, Katie, and I slept for almost six more hours! Then we left again this afternoon to go on a boat tour of Paris. On the way, we passed a plethora of famous Parisian sites, including the obelisk stolen from Egypt by Napoleon, the

The Eiffel Tower from our boat.

Paris Parthenon, the Arc de Triumph, and the Louvre. The boat tour was very relaxing, and we got a chance to see the Eiffel Tower for the second time since arriving! We didn’t actually visit it, but we plan on going in the next few days!

It’s nearly midnight here in Paris now, so I’m going to go to sleep for the third time today. Bon nuit!

Lions, Tiger Lilies, and Bears – Oh My

As a college student, we really appreciated the nonexistent entrance fee, but we loved the stunning beauty of the grounds!

As today was our final day in Lyon, we were given an open schedule so that we could choose how we wanted to spend the last of our time in this city. Can you guess what the first item on all of our to-do lists was? Sleeping in! Once that was out of the way, I went with a group to the north end of town, where the Lyon zoo and botanical gardens are located. The grounds were gorgeous, and there was no entrance fee! The botanical gardens were housed in stunning iron and glass palaces, and they reminded me of the Victorian age

We had a lot of fun imitating the statues!

just on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. We saw everything from orchids to cactuses to palm trees. The zoo had some really cool animals, too, like lions, zebras, and crocodiles. We spent a long time watching an Animal Planet-esque drama at the otter exhibit and serialized the interactions of the otter couple (who we named Becky and Stan) with a duck family that had invaded their pond. At one point, the ducklings had to dart across the water to outrun an ominous otter-shaped dark patch that was lurking beneath the surface. I’m sure the other visitors were very confused by our exuberant renditions


The Glass Palace. That’s not it’s actual name, but wow!

of Becky and Stan’s escapades, but we thought it was hilarious!

We returned to the hostel in the late afternoon to do some homework and preparations for our final projects for class. Once the sun had sank low into the sky, we went back to old town for dinner (because we all wanted to spend some more time on the cobblestone streets) and watched the sun set from the footbridge that crosses the Rhone.

I’m going to miss this city. It seems to pulsate with the quaint glow of people who

Sunset on the Rhone.

care how they live. I noticed that there is a surprising loyalty to Lyon itself; rather than simply identifying with France as a whole, people are very proud of Lyonnais culture and traditions. I appreciate that, and I hope I can return someday!


Lights, Camera, Action!

The Lumiere Museum was absolutely stunning – it was full of grand staircases and intricate stained glass. We took this right before we started our tour and discovered our shared love of Art Nouveau architecture.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. The story is about a boy who discovers the long lost French cinematographer Georges Melies working as a toy maker in a Parisian train station. In the book, the Lumiere brothers (Auguste and Louis) are also mentioned. They invented the first film cameras, and refused to sell one to Mr. Melies, which drove him to create his own. I was delighted to see their story come to life this morning when we spent a few hours in the Institut Lumière (the brothers’ home/production studio/museum)!  One of their more well-known works (which is also mentioned in Hugo) is called L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, or Train Pulling into a Station. Never has anything been more accurately named, as the entire plot of this film is contained in the title. It simply shows a train steaming into a station,

“Train Pulling Into A Station”. You can see why audiences could be so affected by the amazing detail!

but like the first 3D films, people were so shocked by what they saw on the cinema screen that they screamed and recoiled. It was a miracle! We got to see that film and many others by the Lumiere brothers, and we even visited the set of the first movie – a cobblestone street just outside of the Lumiere brothers’ film factory.


Katie and Tori sleeping symmetrically in the courtyard.

Because we had the afternoon off today, we all went back to the hostel and took naps before our evening outing. It was actually a very nice break, since we’ve been ‘going’ constantly, which is incredibly fun but also a little exhausting, as with most traveling. When we woke up (very well rested, I might add), we started to get ready for tonight’s group dinner. Everyone decided to dress up at the last minute; since we toted nice clothes across the Atlantic, why not wear them?

We took the metro downtown and went to a very nice restaurant that had a red and grey color scheme – the interior was very modern, which contrasted pleasantly with the old-time exterior. I had some of the best fish I’ve ever tasted (outside of Newport, of course!) and we all sampled a traditional Lyonnais almond tart for dessert. When we left the restaurant, the sky was dark and clouded over, and we saw lightning flashing in the distance, briefly illuminating some gold glitter flakes that were drifting down over the city. We didn’t know why it was raining glitter, but as we walked down into the metro, we hypothesized that it was either for the Pride Month or the end of Ramadan. Either way, it was cool!

As we disembarked from the metro at the stop closest to our hostel, we saw water cascading down the stairwell that lead up to the street. Like the Lumiere brothers’ earliest film, this was a mundane moment. The clouds had moved in while we were underground, and we just happened to be caught in the deluge. But as the Lumiere brothers understood, there was something profoundly poetic about this moment: just like the bolts of lightning we had seen earlier, we were energized by circumstance. After days of temperatures in the upper 90s (F), we all eagerly leapt up into the cooling rain, getting soaked almost instantaneously by the large drops. Small rivers ran in the gutters, and the streets were empty of cars. In the glow of the lamppost lights, we laughed and screeched and ran through the rain in our nicest clothes, ignoring the chuckles of the Lyonnais who stood under the cover of their doorways smoking their evening cigarettes. It wasn’t anything spectacular – Georges Melies

In our hostel courtyard in our soaked fancy dress, but extremely happy!

could have created a much more fantastical scene – but there was something beautiful about us surging into our hostel dripping with water and pure joy. I understand now why the Lumiere brothers shot so many views (nonfiction pieces) before moving on to films (stories with made-up plots); there is something elegant to be found in mundanity, whether that is a train roaring into a station or a bunch of slightly wine-tipsy Oregon college students who cannot contain their delight while running through the rain at night in France.


Three Slices of the Cultural (Chocolate?) Pie

Today featured three elements of Lyonnais life, including gastronomy, history, and social culture!

“Seth, do you want to be on my blog?” “Yes!!!! Lemme pose…”

Continuing our trend that began yesterday, we kicked off the day with another delicacy that is not typically associated with breakfast: chocolate! We toured the famous Bernachon chocolatier shop, and got an insider’s look at the entire chocolate making process. I was surprised to learn that the shop actually shuts down for several weeks during the heat of summer because the weather interferes with both the chemistry of producing the chocolate as well as consumer interest! After we finished hearing about the story of Bernachon, the

Actual gold leaf! The head chef said it doesn’t do anything for the flavor, but it sure boosts the quality of the story!

head chef gave us some samples to try, featuring their special chocolate that contains gold leaf. Personally, I preferred the sea salt caramel to the gold, but it was all delicious!


After the invasion of France by Germany in World War II, Lyon played a fascinating part in the French resistance – a fact that was thoroughly illustrated in the Lyon Museum of the Resistance, which we visited this afternoon. During the occupation, Lyon was the heart of the resistance movement, and the Nazis responded by sending in Klaus Barbie, who was known as the ‘butcher of Lyon’ for his partiality to torture. Ultimately, his efforts were not always successful, as in the case of Lyon hero Jean Moulin,

This museum was both humbling and awe-inspiring.

who refused to give up information even when faced with Barbie’s methods. It was incredibly interesting to hear about history from a non-American perspective, and I learned so many new things!


Between our afternoon and evening events, a small group of us headed to the mall to help a friend of ours get some things (his checked bag was accidentally sent on its own adventure to Morocco, so the clothes he had in his carry-on were running out). Air conditioning isn’t very common here, so the mall was positively heavenly! It was also a lot of fun getting to people watch and observe people interacting, whether they were young children running around the play structures while their parents chatted quietly or young adults hanging out and browsing their favorite stores.

Once the sun was going down, we strolled over to the river to play petanque, a

Petanque on the waterfront!

traditional French game that’s similar to bocci. It uses a bunch of heavy silver balls, and the object is to be on the team that gets the most of their balls the closest to a small wooden ball, called the cochonelle. My team got out in the first round, but we enjoyed cheering for the others!


It’s getting cloudy now, and we’re all out in the courtyard at the hostel waiting for the rain that’s supposed to come in soon!

Wine For Breakfast?

This is going to be a relatively short entry because we need to be up earlier than usual tomorrow and I’d like to get in a cold shower before bed!

Ludovic explains terroir and his wine making process, as well as he and his wife’s decision to grow a mix of 20 varieties of wheat.

Yes, it’s true that we had wine for breakfast (ish; it was closer to 11, so I suppose that’d be a typical brunch time back in the States). We visited a gorgeous vineyard about an hour outside of the city, and the couple who own it were so kind! They took us on a brief tour of their vines and wheat field, and told us about terroir, which is the French concept of the essence of locality that is imparted from the soil and the natural environment into the plant itself, particularly for wines and other products. Interestingly, the existence and cultural prioritization of terroir means that it is illegal for Ludovic and Marie to irrigate their vineyard because it would be interfering with the native climate. We also had a wine tasting class

Do we detect a hint of honey in this? The general consensus was yes!

in their wine cellar, and I don’t think I’ve ever held a drink for so long without sipping it! But they taught us to really appreciate the color, smell, and taste of the wine, which aligns with the astonishingly sensory nature of the French. Before we departed, we took a quick group picture and recorded a video for the Honors College to use in their welcome video for the freshman/new student induction

“Hello from Beaujolais and welcome to the Honors College!”

ceremony this fall!

In the afternoon, we headed to a nearby dairy, where a family of three makes and dries their own goat cheese. They said it takes about two hours to milk all 60 of their goats during their most productive season for milk!

These are the cheeses being made by the family in their underground basement/cellar – oldest to youngest age from left to right.



Off to cool down and sleep – jusqu’à demain!


Farms and French Politics

Today was more low-key than yesterday, with just a tour of a local organic farm in the morning and a lecture by Professor Lahouari Addi about secularism in France in the afternoon.

The whole farm complex was stunning; it was all colorful painted shutters, red tile roofs, and blooming gardens! It was like a painting!

After the heat of yesterday, everyone was eager to get out of the heart of city and into the outer rings of Lyon, which consists of an adorable patchwork of farms. We drove out in a small bus (which was air conditioned, much to our excitement!), and the sea of golden grasses that we passed through reminded me of Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses, which he painted in rural France. The blurring of the landscape created by the bus’ movement made me see clearly how he as an Impressionist got his inspiration!

The farm, La Ferme du Milon, is an organic farm established by its current owner almost thirty years ago, although it became certified organic in the early 2000s. It is exclusively a meat and dairy farm, and does not grow produce, although our guide informed us that La Ferme rests in the midst of a very close-knit farming community, so trading across property lines is common. We all got a kick out of socializing with the donkeys,

Several of my friends/fellow travelers have shown pigs through programs such as 4H, so it was like a small reminder of the US!

cows, pigs, sheep, and, of course, the farm dog! We also learned about the different types and levels of certifications that farms can earn, which are quite extensive and so acronymic that I won’t try to replicate them here. However, suffice to say that this particular farm was in the top tier of French farms, especially with reference to sustainable organic farming practices. We stayed there for lunch and tried a bunch of dishes made with ingredients produced right on the farm! It was really interesting to see some of the practices we read about in our pre-departure assignments in action on the ground.


While the farm visit was primarily relevant to our French agriculture policy class, the lecture we attended with Professor Abbi tied in to our French culture class. After a brief pit stop at our hostel to cool down, refill our water bottles, and (in my case) take a 30 minute power nap, we headed over to a local political science college to meet with Professor Abbi. He is an Algerian Frenchman and gave a fascinating talk! It was all about the role of secularism in France and how governmental policies are affecting people of all faiths, but with a focus on the Muslim population. We all really appreciated his perspective and were grateful to get a chance to ask him questions!

It is also World Music Day (La Fete de la Musique) here in France, so later this evening, I headed out with a group to catch some live bands performing by the river Saone and in old town! Tomorrow we’ll be heading to a vineyard and a dairy to continue our study of agricultural and food processing practices in France. Au revoir!

A Tale of Two Cities?

Today’s goal was to familiarize ourselves with the city, and we did so on foot after a light traditional French breakfast of croissants and coffee with milk. We all ate in a group outside, which is a very common practice here – socialization and meal times go hand in hand. Additionally, the mornings are the coolest time of the day currently, as Lyon is in the midst of a heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring up to 37 degrees Celsius (aka 99 degrees Fahrenheit) in the late afternoon/early evening, so enjoying the crisp 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) morning is a must.

These flowers in the market gave me Van Gogh vibes, and they smelled lovely!

After breakfast and a sunscreening session, we left our hostel with a very knowledgeable tri-lingual walking tour guide, and started toward the old quarter of Lyon. On our way, we browsed a local farmer’s market bursting with fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and flower bouquets, as well as a few booths selling a myriad of Lyon-themed merchandise. Here, it is normal to shop daily or every other day at these markets while they are open in the mornings, and only visit grocery stores for goods that cannot be found there or if one needs to shop in the afternoon or evening. The prices are also much lower in the market than in stores, which attracts the financially aware in addition to supporters of the local food movements (similar to the Buy Local campaign in the US).

We spent a lot of time exploring two regions that represented two distinct phases

The Lyon Cathedral right in the middle of the Roman quarter!

in Lyonnaise history. Firstly, we walked around the old Roman quarter, which was a hodgepodge of interconnected alleyways approximately a car and half wide. The streets were cobblestone, and all the houses were at least five stories tall and painted warm shades of orange and pink. Each window had adorable wrought-iron window ledges and hanging flower pots, and sounds and smells from nearby cafes and shops wafted through the corridors. It was absolutely gorgeous. In the middle of this area, the streets suddenly converge and open up to make a large square, which draws attention to the massive cathedral (the Cathedral Lyon) seated on the edge of the square closest to the Saone river. After this, we took a trolley up to the top of the hill to another

From the basilica, we got to look out at Lyon in its entirety – wow!

stunning architectural marvel: the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This minor basilica took seven centuries to complete, and to this day it remains unfinished – one side of the building is bare of carvings, although there are rough stone blocks that were clearly intended to be made into figures of angels and columns at a later time. I am in awe of these places of worship. In a way, they transcend mere religion, mere faith, and are themselves works of art, part of a rare breed of masterpieces that serve a functional purpose.

We finished the day’s scheduled activities atop the other hill in Lyon (you really

I spent a great deal of time pondering these lines… What do you think they mean?

can refer to them this way and be understood; aside from these two exceptions, Lyon is relatively flat). This area is the more artsy part of the city. Our guide described it as being the ‘hipster’ part of town, where young people and young families congregate to celebrate a newly founded sense of community. There really isn’t a reason to descend the hill if one lives atop it; it plateaus at its peak, allowing for the existence of a miniature city, complete with a theatre, its own market, laundromat, schools, a surplus of pharmacies (there were seriously pharmacies on every block, which I found very unusual!), and many small restaurants. It was like a microbiome within a greater habitat – a city within a city. And the street art there was certainly unparalleled in lower Lyon! Every exposed wall at street level had been embellished to some degree by the artistic residents of the neighborhood, with everything from cartoons with political undertones to random French phrases to poetry to miniature masterpieces. This hill is also home to the largest mural in Europe, and was too large to fit into a single camera frame – even a panorama!

Later, back in our hostel courtyard, which has quickly become our primary hangout spot, we lounged in the shade, trying to cool ourselves down and get off of our sore legs for a bit. Once everyone had rested and gotten some homework and readings done for class, we split into several groups to find dinner on our own. My group (which included both friends on this trip and friends we met at our hostel) found a bistro across the Rhone river, and I had a little taste of home in the form of grilled salmon. We then meandered back, reveling in the cool night air and admiring the glow of the city lights.

We walked over 20,000 steps today!