Day Hike: Aix-les-Bains Gare SNCF to Belvédère du Mont Revard

Step 1: Get from the Aix-les-Bains train station to Mouxy. You’ll want to end up at the intersection of Route de l’Église and Route du Revard. Step 2: You will see a small shopping center (pharmacy, bakery, etc.) across the street from a church. Look for the set of yellow signs, and follow the one that…

Day Trip: Chambery

Chambery. The name begs to be mispronounced by the Anglophone tongue in three or four different and equally disastrous ways. Fellow Anglophones, it’s sort of like this: “shom – beh – hree” – soft and grand.  A little city embedded in the pre-Alpine, glacial lake-filled edge of eastern France, Chambery is the capital of Savoie,…

Sunday at the Saône Markets

On a clear blue-and-yellow morning, there are few things more satisfying than a stroll through the art, book, and food markets along the Saône. The art market, on the west side of the river, displays everything from jewelry to sculpture and paintings, some of it a bit scary but most of it impressive. Though the art…

Friends in French

Formal conversation in another language is a little scary and not much fun, but it’s easy. It requires a limited set of vocabulary that I’ve practiced over and over again, for years, like a script. Organic, familiar conversation, on the other hand, the kind you have after you already know someone, the kind that allows you…

Secret Passageways

Hundreds of covered alleyways called traboules burrow through Lyon’s older neighborhoods and harbor relics from across the centuries: among them, metalwork, fountains, and sculpture from the Roman Empire onward. Silk workers used them to transport silk in the 19th century, resistance fighters used them to evade Nazis during World War II, and tourists use them to annoy…

RIVER MONSTER!!!

Ever wonder what lives in the Saône? Holy f#$k, THIS does. Honestly, I was kind of rooting for the sea monster. It put up a valiant fight.

Pick Your Poison: Bus Seat Edition

Bus rides are terrible. They lack the speed of flight and the comfort of the rails. But when you’re on a budget or traveling in a more remote region, bus is sometimes a must. Minimize the torture with this seat choice guide. Awesome seats: First row window opposite the driver is pretty solid for easy…

Candy Cushions

A sweet Lyonnais specialty: the Cuisson de Lyon, from Voisin chocolatier. The Cuisson de Lyon is a little candy that looks like a cushion (“cuisson” = “cushion,” en français) and consists of Curaçao-flavored chocolate ganache coated in marzipan. It’s very soft and very rich. Originated at Voisin in 1960, the shape meant to echo the…

Allez allez! Bravo!

I ran a marathon this past Sunday, in Paris. Before you get too impressed, you should know that a man dressed as Scooby Doo beat me, as did a somewhat portly Spiderman… and just about everyone else. Here are a few of my highs and lows, so that you don’t have to run 26.2 miles (42.195 km)…

Live to Ride Another Day: 5 of the Nastiest Vélo’Vs

I use Lyon’s Vélo’V service (public bicycles) almost daily. It’s wonderful, but by now I’ve unwittingly checked out my share of clunkers. These are the Vélov’Vs you should avoid if you want to survive your ride: 1) The Broken Seat – All systems are go until your ass is whirling around with each push of…