Monday, May 14, 2012

And the winner is LYON

                                                                                          Poster by Denise Gallager

The first pleasant surprise on spending a few days in Lyon is how friendly everyone is.  In fact, although the word is a bit limp, its the only one we have, SO I'LL JUST SAY IT,  the people in Lyon ARE NICE!

 It started on the train with my seat partner, the gentlemen who helped all the older ladies with their luggage carrying it down the stairs for the most needy and then the niceness continued with that same fellow trying to PAY FOR MY TRAM FARE, and  going out of his way to show me which tram I should take to get to my hotel, all the while carrying my case , against my protests.

 I escaped to Lyon, to get a way for a few days and take advantage of sharing my friend Gail's hotel while she worked a medical conference.  But I was not expecting any help from strangers, because frankly, it's been so long since I have gotten any .

 Not many of the Niçois are "nice" to strangers,  lets face it .  There is no use pretending otherwise.   There is a reason for example that Nice was awarded the distinction of the third worst driver's in FRance, after Paris and Marseille.  Drivers here are NOT courteous by even French standards.

 But for me, just off the train from Nice, the gallantry continued as a uniformed "prevention" monitor on the tram guarded my luggage so I could take a seat.  "N'inquiétez pas Madame" ," Don't worry , Madame I will look after it."

 Finding my hotel I am warmly greeted by the two young ladies behind the desk.

 Then having settled in,  ready to explore the town, there is the charming young man who WALKS me to my destination when I inadvertently ended up on the wrong side of the Gare Perrache

 There is no end of courtesy and smiles and not just from the men.  When I lament no more "pain au chocolate" the next morning, the bar maid offers to thaw and heat one for me if I can wait.   She brings it over with a big smile and re-warms my tea.

Since living in Nice, I have never had a charming man have a friendly, jokey conversation with me as I wait out the rain in a cafe....  and he's not trying to pick me up!  Of that I am fairly certain. After all he is 20 years younger than I and waiting for his daughter to call.  But it's fun and civilized.  Finally after trying teasingly to get me to lend my umbrella, he heads off to get soaked.  But I am amused by the encounter and so was he.  We both recognize a moment of complicity and what's wrong with that?

  And how is it possible later, as I sit in a cafe , that the  Lyonnaise man and woman next to me want to know if I am writing a book as I scribble in my notebook after enjoying a Salad Lyonnaise.  No one has ever dared venture a personal question to me in Nice, and I like the change, it's friendly.   And isn't it fun when the waiter teases me about not eating all of my lardons on that same Lyonnaise salad?

No, sorry , Nice you are not the winner of courtesy and smiles.  Lyon is.

 Gail and I want to start a campaign.  Let's bring Niceness to Nice.  AFter all the city has made so many strides recently with popper scoopers and the disposal of cigarette butts why not wish for the return of  gallantry as well.   It would be a NICE change.


  1. Dream on. Dog crap persists. Butts and fag-ends fill every planter in town. Nice is a tourist city, many of whose citizens and service providers are contemptuous of rules, regulations, good manners, and decency. Enjoy your honeymoon in Lyon.

  2. I like it, Mary! With you there it just might happen. Keep up the campaign!!!