On Languages / Coffee and TV

As my time in Turin went on, I began to feel more at home. My language improved to such an extent that I feel if I were to live in Italy for six months, I’d be able to speak it to a good level. Italians are warm people, and always looked to help. An Italian was staying in my hostel on my final night and with a Brazilian guy also staying there we went out to dinner. Three different languages joined together over gelato.

From Turin I took a train to Chambéry, where I spent under an hour before getting a connecting train to Lyon. Chambéry was cold and grey; it was close to Italy in location, but in every other sense felt very distant.

Lyon has not just one, but two rivers running through its centre. The Rhône and the Saône meet before diverging in their own directions, leaving a kind of peninsula in the centre of the city. It is here that the Town Hall is located, and it is it a typically grand building with a square to its front and streets running south from aside it.

On the west side of the city centre, and over the Saône, perched on the hill (as they always are) is La Basilique Notre Dame de Fouvière. Inside it is decorated magnificently and the detailing on the exterior is a treat only rivalled by the view from the hill over the city itself. The view takes in all of the major sights, including the nearby Lyon Cathedral, which is less grand and more standard issue Cathedral, but still worth a look for the entrance price of FREE. It also doesn’t feature an exhausting trek. The two rivers are also a nice sight, with the Rhône featuring a riverside swimming pool, over which four giant lights loom like some kind of benign UFOs.

The other things to see in Lyon include the theatre, which is a typically impressive building, Place Bellecour (a central square), and the Parc de la Tête d’Or, which has a beautiful lake and a small free zoo. The city centre also included some beautiful architecture and balconies. Along these roads can be found cafés, bistrots and restaurants. Lyon is said to be the gastronomic centre of France, which to the French suggests it is the food capital of the world, conveniently deciding to ignore Italy.

Surrounding Lyon are many regions in France that produce some of the finest examples of food in the world. Cheese, meat, vegetables, and wine all come in to the city from different directions making this city the hub of it all, but the most interesting dining experience I had in the city surrounded something much more universal.

I was sat in a café nearby to the hostel. It wasn’t a traditional café, but a very modern setup, and it was pleasant. It took a while to be served, despite at the start no other customers being in the place. The waiter was preoccupied with a camera crew. Eventually he noticed me as I was on the brink of leaving, and I ordered my coffee (a cappuccino, if you’re wondering) and some granola. The granola is incidental to the story but it’s a nice detail to add, I’m sure you all agree. At various points the camera sweeps around the room and appears to be filming me as well as the staff. The presenter comes over and asks me something in French. I explain back in perfect French that “I FRENCH IT IS BAD”. She asks in English if it is okay to ask me some questions about coffee on camera, and I agree. I then think to check whether she will ask the questions in English, otherwise this could go very awkwardly for all involved, and she says she will and I can answer in English. Then for a minute or two I am asked a few questions about coffee and what I think of it, and in France and how about in England, which I get through without any difficulty as luckily I have pre-formulated opinions on this. At the end I ask what this is for, to which she explains that it will be on a TV programme about coffee, on the French channel 3. I am going to be a star.

As the presenter and the cameraman thank me and leave me to my much-discussed morning coffee he jokes, “have a nice Brexit”. All I can focus on is making breakfast a success.

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