Lyon: An unexpected experience

After bidding farewell to Dayton (the dog) in Rauzan, we left on our longest drive of the trip – a five hour drive to Lyon. We always planned Lyon as a stopover rather than a destination, but with the double whammy weekend of Bastille Day and the World Cup Final with France playing we knew it’ll be fun. We checked into our Airbnb and were quite disappointed since it was small, the washer didn’t work and most importantly it wasn’t safe for the kids with a spiral staircase and a loft. Since it was a holiday weekend we decided to drive around Lyon which worked out great since parking was free everywhere. That evening we walked along the Rhone river, across the walking bridge, and spent some time in the slides and water park along the river. Lyon was beautiful with two rivers, several bridges and a mix of historic and modern architecture. Also more chill than Paris with friendlier people more tolerant of children which was a great change after the Bordeaux wine region. Our favorite part of the evening was sitting on one of the boat rooftops overlooking the city while drinking some cider. One month into our trip we were craving some non-European food and we came across an amazing Sichuan restaurant called Bon Voyage, that compared well with our favorite Z&Y in SF. We slept that night with the sounds of fireworks celebrating Bastille day.

Next morning we decided to check out a day early out of our Airbnb and move into the Marriott close by. Anjali has exceptional benefits at Marriott and SPG that have significantly helped with the rates, upgrades and free breakfast! Our second day in Lyon was incredible. We started off by grabbing breakfast at a local coffee shop and their cinnamon brioche, soft boiled eggs and flat white was just what you would expect in Lyon. We then drove to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, a Sacre Coure like cathedral on top of the hill overlooking Lyon and it’s two rivers. We went for the view but the cathedral was a piece of art with paintings and sculptures to match the best of what we’ve seen – by far the best cathedral so far on our trip.

Next we went to the local park – Parc de la Tete d’Or to see the botanical gardens. This park was a complete surprise. In addition to the indoor and outdoor sprawling botanical gardens, it had some amazing kids activities. It was a free zoo with giraffes, zebras, bears, crocodiles, flamingos and other animals enclosed right the in the middle of the park – something I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. In addition they had a children’s area where Ayaan enjoyed earning his first reward by “fishing” for 9 ducks. Ayaan is so caring that he gave one of his three airplanes he won to Ariana. Ayaan also enjoyed sitting on a baby “horse carriage” with me pulling the horse carriage for 10 mins through the track and tunnels (tiring!). Ariana enjoyed going to the carousel all by herself for the first time! She’s a little bold monsta (as she says).

I was particularly excited about the evening – it was the world cup soccer final and France was playing Croatia – and we were in Lyon, what luck! We drove from the Marriott and found parking very close to the main square where 20,000 fans were gathered to watch the game. It starts pouring in Lyon around 430pm everyday so by the time we walked around the square we were completely drenched. But the atmosphere was amazing. We got lucky to get into a bar with screens everywhere and French fans in full spirit. Ayaan slept through the game but Ariana was participating in the cheering and dancing as France beat Croatia 4-2 to win the World Cup. It was an incredible scene on the streets and we were so fortunate to have witnessed it! On our drive back to the hotel we accidentally joined the motorcade of cars with fans screaming, sitting on top of cars and honking loudly. Anjali of course joined the action by sitting on the window. Overall Lyon was a special experience and we are sure to be back!

Bordeaux

We spent our first day in France, our 3rd country of the trip and new to both kids, in the city of Bordeaux, kicking it off with Croque Monsieurs and a local red blend at a cafe. Next the kids enjoyed sitting on the carousel. We walked to the main square where the kids had a blast splashing in the water at the city’s ‘mirror wall’. It was adorable watching the kids run around in their underwear and diaper in the water in front of the river and Bordeaux architecture.

We then checked in to Domaine de Mercade, a chateau converted into a BnB, and enjoyed some time playing in their large yard with their lovely dog, Dayton. We went to a nearby pizzeria for dinner and retreated for the night while Gaurav watched Croatia beat England in he semi finals. The next morning, we went to the Saint Emilion region, and started off with a tour and tasting at La Gaffelierre, a premier grand cru chateau dating back to the 11th century. We enjoyed Merlot and Cabernet Franc blends while kids munched on the breadsticks. We enjoyed steak tartare, poached eggs with foie gras and sea bream with chorizo at a restaurant called Lord et Bouchon. The town of Saint Emilion is charming and very quaint with lots of wine stores and restaurants. Our next appointment was in Chateau Tournfeuille in Pomerol. Pomerol and Saint Emilion are known for their Merlot and Cabernet Franc blends. We had dinner at a small creperie in a nearby village before retreating back to our chateau.

We drove to the Medoc region (“the middle land”) on our last day that is well known for its Cabernet Souvignon blends. We started in the beautiful property of Chateau Dauzak in the town of Margaux. The kids enjoyed the sprawling gardens, fountains, sheep and automatic lawn mowers. After our wine tasting (with a self guided walk) we stopped at the La Garre Gourmand (or the gourmet station) for lunch. It was a cute little outdoor restaurant right next to the train tracks and with two 5 month old bunnies. We had our final tasting at Chateau Ferreire before hearing back to our chateau where we sat in the garden, played with Dayton, drank a bottle of wine while the kids played on the trampoline. We didn’t have a great dinner experience since the host was being too snooty with the kids. Overall we loved our experience at the chateau, but from a wine perspective realized we are too spoilt by the amazing Napa and Sonoma wines and the relaxing tasting experiences there. Onto Lyon, our second and last stop in France.