Saturday, October 3, 2015

Arrival and on to Lyon

Day 1:  Arrival, waiting around, first train ride, walking in Lyon, Italian for dinner.

We flew from Houston on Air France to CDG in Economy on the 777-300ER.  It was a mostly miserable flight because it was so very hot in our section (seats 28HG).  The entertainment system was limited.  The food was palatable but weird.  The seats were cramped.  But the biggest problem was the excessive warmth. Oh well, next time we'll spring for the Premium Economy seats.  We arrived at 8am but by the time we were getting into the buses to the terminal it was 830am, when we were supposed to arrive.
Taking the bus to the terminal at CDG
Customs and Immigration control took about 1.5 hours.  Our train to Lyon didn't depart until 1158 so we had time to kill.  We bought a French SIM card at the Relay store, we walked around the train terminal, we got coffee, we were bored stiff.  The train was delayed 20 minutes but finally we were onboard.  I'd bought the tickets in July and paid E45 each for first class.  It was nice.  Much more roomy that Air France economy!  The weather was gloomy and I was tired so I slept most of the way to Lyon.
On the TGV to Lyon
We arrived at Part Dieu 20 minutes late then took the metro to Perrache where our hotel was located.  We had debated hard about staying more centrally (and had booked the Hotel des Artistes) but decided on the Mercure Lyon Centre Chateau Perrache because it was newly renovated, a good price, and close to where we'd pick up our rental in a couple of days.
Mercure Hotel at Perrache Train Station
It turned out to be a very good decision (husband was vindicated!).  The room was spacious, pretty and modern.  It had a big comfortable king-sized bed.  It had two sets of double glazed panes for the one window so no noise from the highway or street penetrated.  The view was actually very pretty (once the weather cleared).  It had a good sized bathroom and nice toiletries.  It had the biggest TV we've ever seen in a hotel or apartment in Europe.  The wifi worked.  The location was perfect for us.  The only weird thing was that the toilet was in its own room in the entrance foyer, while the shower/sink were ensuite, and did not have a small sink in there, although there was plenty of space for it.   So we kept some hand wipes in the toilet room.

After we checked in, we wanted to explore.  We got a map and the concierge helped us find a grocery store to buy some toiletries that were left back home.  We grabbed delicious pastries at a convenient patticerie.  This was an interesting stop because the attendant did not touch our money; rather we placed it in a machine that automatically dispended the change.  That way she kept her hands clean--brilliant!  We passed by Pizzeria Napoli and decided to try it for dinner.  We stopped at the Orange store where they helped us activate our SIM card.  We walked all the way to Place Bellacour and took the metro back.  The weather was ugly, rainy and cool.

After showers, drinks in the bar, and catching up with the family at home, we walked to Pizzeria Napoli (45 rue Franklin).  It was 645pm.  Thankfully we arrived at that time because the restaurant was fully booked.  But they took pity on my sad face and my very limited Italian, ("mangiamo rapido"), and allowed us in since we would be quick. We were too tired to linger, seriously.

The bar was quite pretty
We shared a caprese salad, pasta al'arabiata and a pizza with mushrooms, plus wine and beer.  It was all delicious and reasonably priced.  It was a fun atmosphere and as we sat there, the place filled up.  The Lyon Marathon was the next day so I guess the runners were carb loading.  We walked back to the hotel and crashed.
He seated us because we promised to eat quickly!
Take Aways: 
1. We did not love taking the train--we had a long wait between arrival at CDG and train departure.  It was cheap only because we bought the non-refundable fare far in advance but you pay way more for flexibility: we could have made the 958 departure but didn't want to take the risk with a non-refundable fare.  We like having our own wheels.
2. Make reservations for dinner!  So many places were fully booked that we missed out on well reviewed options.
3. Waiting for an attendant at the Orange store was worth it.  We didn't know enough French to activate our SIM card and they did it easily. Having our phone for in-country communication was worth the effort.
4.  Big beds are fabulous!

Next: Walk with a Lyon Greeter, Beaux Arts Museum, "no reservation" and a fun bouchon

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