Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lyon part II

11 August 2010

My second day in Lyon couldn't have started any better than breakfast at the hostel on the terrace overlooking the city:

It was cool and breezy, and the sun was just beginning to come over the horizon - what a stunning morning.

Unfortunately, after my six-course incredible meal the night before, I was feeling a little sick to my stomach.  I set out to explore a little more of the city and find a market on Boulevard de la Croix Rousse to pick up some fresh fruit.  When I began walking towards the market, I hadn't realized there was another huge hill to climb going in this direction as well.  But Lyon is a beautiful city, and there was plenty to see on my way up:

Fontaine Bartholdi, Place des Terreaux
In addition to being home to a market, the Croix Rousse district is also home to some of Lyon's most famous hidden landmarks, the traboules:

Traboules are passageways that cut through buildings.  However, unlike the galeries in Paris that are centers of commerce filled with shops and cafés and covered in glass roofs, traboules feel much more residential and private.  In some cases, people's front doors were on the traboule rather than on the street.  I believe they are just as open as the streets, but it felt to me like an invasion of privacy walking through them, so I didn't linger.

I found my market, but after being spoiled with the great variety at the markets in Aix, I was disappointed to find there were just a handful of stands here.  But I was able to get some great produce - succulent peaches, luscious raspberries, flavorful carrots, and some perfect cherry tomatoes:

If the assortment of stands at the market were lackluster, the views weren't.  Being at the top of a hill again, the views over the city were spectacular.

Another highlight of the Croix Rousse hill is the amphithéâtre des trois gaules:

The amphitheater dates to around 19 AD - I love being able to just stumble across 2000-year-old buildings!

By the mid-afternoon, having only eaten fruits, vegetables, and a light breakfast, when I stumbled across a boulangerie selling pépites au chocolat...

...I just had to have one.  I'm pretty sure it was fate.  A pépite au chocolate is a pastry that you find all over France with a few different names.  It is essentially two thick slices of brioche with crème patissière (a sweet pastry cream) and pépins au chocolat (chocolate chips) in between.  Soft, sweet, chocolatey - maybe a little heavy for my stomach that was still coping with the meal from the night before, but so, so good.

As I continued wandering around the city, I stumbled across Le Nord:

In addition to running his eponymous restaurant outside of Lyon, Paul Bocuse also runs a few brasseries (literally, breweries, though brasserie typically just means a relatively informal restaurant) around town, called Le Nord, Le Sud, L'Est, and L'Ouest (the North, South, East, and West), each focusing on a different aspect of French cuisine.  Le Nord was the first of these brasseries, and it does traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.  I briefly considered coming back for dinner that evening, but let's be honest, I was still digesting dinner from the night before so that wasn't going to happen.  Next time!

It was getting on in the afternoon, and I decided it was time to get to the real business of the day: buying new luggage to replace my broken duffel.  I had looked around that morning for a few luggage shops, and after balking at the possibility of spending 120€+ for a new bag, I decided to try a duffel from Ludivine, which was 40€.  I told the shop keeper that the wheel on my previous bag had split, and she told me that the wheels on this bag were replaceable so I wouldn't have to worry about that.  Now I am sure that if I were a great storyteller I would keep you in suspense, but I'm going to go ahead and give away the ending to this story now: THE WHEEL ON MY NEW DUFFEL BROKE TWO WEEKS LATER IN CARCASSONNE.  When I replaced my bag for the second time in Bordeaux (this time at a legit luggage store, where I could not, in fact, get replacement wheels for my newly broken bag), I told the shopkeeper my previous bag had broken after 2 weeks, and she replied, "mais bien sur; ça, c'est la cochonnerie" ("well of course, that bag is a disgrace").  So to end the story with a moral: don't buy cheap luggage when you're going to be dragging it over cobblestones.

After dropping off my new bag at the hostel, it was past 5 pm, and I headed out to find some dinner.  There were a couple of shops on Place Bellecour I wanted to visit.  The first was a renowned chocolatier (chocolate shop) called Voisin:

And the second was a traiteur (a shop selling prepared foods) noted for its Lyonnaise products called Pignol:

After getting my dinner, I headed back up to the hostel to eat on the terrace.  At Pignol, I got some excellent green beans, served cold in a very light dressing, as well as a quiche Lyonnaise:

The quiche contained sausage and potatoes.  The sausage had a deep, meaty, smoky flavor, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly.  It was not a light dish - this is definitely a city of robust food - but it was excellent.

After dinner, I ate some of the candy I picked up at Voisin.  Of course I had to try coussins:

Coussin means cushion, since these small blue candies resemble little pillows.  These are the number one ubiquitous confection in Lyon, and they are Voisin's specialty.  They have a chocolate center and a marzipan exterior flavored with Curaçao, a blue bitter-citrus liqueur.  I found the flavor rather bizarre - it was definitely alcoholic, and if I knew what Curaçao tasted like, I bet they tasted like that.

These are called quenelles:

The name pays homage to the more famous quenelles de brochet, which these resemble in shape and color.  The one on the right (called a quenelle nature, or "plain") is a creamy hazelnut praline surrounded by a white chocolate shell, while the one on the left has some coffee added to it, giving it a delectable mocha flavor.  The quenelle café was definitely the best of the candies.

 Finally, I also got a few chocolates:

The chocolate with the white top was actually a nougat with just a light chocolate coating - a very sweet, chewy confection dotted with pieces of almonds.  The all dark chocolate at the bottom was called Ebene, and it was all dark chocolate - bitter and rich, but not too exciting.  Finally, the striped chocolate on the right was a little more interesting: lemon-cactus flavor.  Verbatim from my notes: "reminiscent of airport bathroom sanitizer, but with a dark chocolate finish."  I think it tasted a little better than that sounds, but it was definitely a bizarre one.

I'll finish this post where I started it - with my view over the city from the terrace:

Coming soon - my final day in Lyon, filled with more city views, more Roman ruins, and the most ornate church I've ever seen.

A bientôt,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lyon part I: The first night & La Machonnerie

10 August, 2010

The morning and early afternoon of August 10 weren't my most exciting - I finished packing, checked out of my hostel in Aix, then took a city bus to the bus station, and then a navette, or shuttle, essentially, to the Aix TGV train station.  I wasn't sure how long the trips would take, especially with my shoddy luggage repair job, so I left plenty of time and ended up getting to the train station a few hours before my train to Lyon departed, but I would definitely prefer to be way early than to worry if I would arrive on time.  The train ride itself was a couple of hours long and pretty uneventful.

When I was planning this trip, Lyon was another must-see city.  It is considered by many to be the "gastronomic capitol of France;" however, I think that is in large part due to being home to restaurants of such renowned chefs as Paul Bocuse.  And while I'm sure his restaurant is outstanding, with prix-fixe menus between 135-220€, per person... that's just a little above my budget.  I wasn't sure whether more reasonably-priced restaurants might also contribute to this reputation.  But I did know a little of Lyonnaise traditional cuisine.  For the real deal, you want to find a bouchon - literally, bouchon translates to cork, as in the cork of a wine bottle; however, in Lyon, it is also the name of traditional home-style restaurant where you order a pot, not a bottle, of wine (it comes in a special 46cl bottle with a very thick bottom), and eat quenelles de brochet au sauce Nantua (pike dumplings in a crayfish sauce), poulet de Bresse (chicken from Bresse, a breed of chicken renowned in France for being especially delicious), or tablier de sapeur (a typical tripe dish made with a membrane of the rumen).  After being impressed by maatjesharing and filet Américane in Brussels, it seemed pretty clear to me that dishes are considered "specialties" for a reason, and I shouldn't knock a dish before trying it - so I was pretty excited to come to Lyon and taste some of these dishes for myself.

When I arrived in Lyon, I took the metro to the stop nearest my hostel.  From the metro, it was only a five-minute walk to the hostel; however, that walk happened to be over cobblestones and up a mountain - neither of which was particularly helpful when dragging my luggage, whose make-shift "fix" was completely destroyed.  The upside, however, is that the view over the city on the way up was pretty spectacular:

By the time I got settled into the hostel, it was about 6:00 pm.  I was getting hungry, so I decided to look for some dinner.  I had thought I might just stop at a grocery, but I passed La Machonnerie, which had been recommended in my France food guide book as an excellent source for traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.

I wasn't disappointed.  Just as a note - if you see this in a restaurant window, it's a pretty good bet that you've found a really good spot for dinner:

Three major guides - Michelin, Petit Futé, and Routarde all give out recommendations (and stickers) for good restaurants; when you see a lot of stickers in a window, you can bet it's a good one.

I went in and asked for a table, but it was only 6:30 and the restaurant didn't open until 7:00, so I headed out to walk around the city a little to kill some time.

Lyon is a beautiful city.  It sits on the meeting point of two rivers: the Saône, and the Rhône.  As I discovered on my hike to the hostel, to the West of the Saône there is a huge hill, called hill Fourvière.  The Northern part of the city is also on a big hill:

View over the Saône to the North
From the town center, you can see the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière perched on top of the hill.  My hostel was maybe two-thirds of the way up that hill.

After getting around to see a little of the city, it was finally time for dinner.

Just upon walking in to the restaurant, they had an appetizer set up on all the tables - grattons:

Grattons, fromage fort, et croûtons
To make lard, you take the fat from the pork and simmer it down for a long time until all the fat has melted.  After pouring off the fat, there are small pieces of meat left in your pot - and those pieces of meat are grattons.  They were then fried in pork fat and salted, a perfect crisp and salty dish to go with an apéritif (a before-dinner alcoholic drink).  The grattons were served with a soft, creamy goat cheese with herbs and mustard, as well as croûtons - dried small pieces of bread.
Now comes the hard part - ordering.  There were a few prix-fixe menus.  The least expensive was 28€ and came with three courses.  But for 30€, you could have six courses.  How could I refuse?

The menu started off with three entrées (appetizers).  The first was pieds de "caillons":

These were pig's feet that were breaded and fried.  They are among the top four dishes I ate while I was in France - SO GOOD.  The flesh was white, smooth, creamy and buttery, with a texture much lighter and silkier than meat.  Very fatty, but such a mellow savory flavor that just melted in your mouth. YUM.  A little hard to eat with lots of tiny bones, but so, so good.

Served at the same time as the pig's feet was a salade Lyonnaise:

The salad came with bacon and croutons and was dressed in an excellent, tangy mustard-based dressing.  The croutons were freshly baked and perfectly crisp while having taken on a little of the flavor of the dressing.  The bacon was lightly salty and smoky and cut into thick little square strips.  The acidity and lightness of the salad were a good match for the heavy, rich pig's feet.

Waiting for the third entrée, I had to make due with just my glass of Beaujolais and a basket of bread:

The Beaujolais (a local appelation, best known as the first wine to be released each year on the third Thursday in November, aptly called "Beaujolais day") was a nice light red wine.  The bread had a dark, thick crust and a rich wheaty flavor.

The third entrée was a bowl of soupe des canuts:

The Canuts were the silk workers of yore in Lyon.  They worked under very difficult conditions and were very poor, and this was a very simple soup - the only ingredients were bread, cream, port, and comté cheese.  It tasted just like buttered toast, but in liquid form - delicious.  Adding a little salt and pepper helps bring out the flavors a little, but the soup doesn't need any alteration.  Perfect comfort food for a cold day.

I ate too much of each of the entrées because they were so good - I had no idea how much there was left to eat.  Next there was the plat principal, the quenelle de brochet dans un coulis d'écrevisse:

Quenelle de brochet translates as pike dumpling, and the coulis d'écrevisse is a crayfish sauce. The quenelle was large - maybe 6 inches long by three inches wide - and completely homogenous.  It had a soft, smooth texture and a delicate, mildly fishy flavor.  The coulis had a rich tomatoey flavor with just a hint of shellfish.  A very delicate, mild dish - and so delicious!  It was brought out to the table in the Dutch oven it was cooked in, and then served into the bowl for me.  Yum.

At the same time they brought out the quenelle, they also brought the gratin aux poireaux:

Poireaux means leeks, and a gratin refers to a cooking method that typically involves baking under a layer of cheese.  The interior of the gratin was super creamy with a nice leek flavor, kind of like a flamiche (a leek "pie" that is a specialty of Northern France), but with more cream.  The cheesy top added a bit of bite for a nice contrast with the otherwise smooth dish.  It was very good, but I only ate a small portion of it.  The waitress asked me whether I liked it, and I told her I did but I already had eaten way too much, and I still had to save room for dessert!

Speaking of dessert, I opted for cheese rather than something sweet, and ordered the cervelle de canut:

Cervelle means, literally, brain, in fact this is just a local dish of fromage blanc (a thick creamy cheese, kind of like cottage cheese but smooth) with salt, pepper, chives, garlic, shallot, vinegar, and, in this case, cabbage oil.  The flavor was pretty sour from the vinegar, with a few green notes from the herbs.  They gave me the whole ceramic pot and I served myself - good thing, too, so that I could just take a tiny portion to taste, as I was about ready to burst at this point.  I had about 5 more bites of everything than I should have - but it's hard to say no when everything is so good!

And just when I thought I was done... there was a little hard candy that came with the check.  It took me a while to place the flavor... it was pine.

If you ever go to Lyon, look up La Machonnerie.  It's amazing.  You won't be sorry!

Coming soon: Lyon part II, or why ordering six courses is a bad idea...

A bientôt,

Monday, September 20, 2010


I arrived in Aix-en-Provence the evening of August 7.  Justine and I had taken the train together from Avignon with a stopover in Marseille; however, our first train was delayed about an hour and a half, so we didn't get in to Aix until pretty late.  We then had a mile-long hike to the hostel.  On our way there, just before the last hill, the wheel on my duffel broke - it basically ripped in half from overuse.  So lame!  I was able to drag it along the rest of the way to the hostel, but this was a serious issue as I had over a month left to go of moving every 2-3 days to a new location.  If you are planning a trip with luggage that will spend a lot of time rolling over cobblestones... Make sure you've got extra wheels.

Note the wheel on the left!

Though the hostel was in a rather inconvenient location pretty far out of town, it did offer a view of the quintessential landmark of the Aix countryside:

Mont Sainte-Victoire
I got super excited when I saw Mont Sainte-Victoire looming in the distance - though I'm pretty sure Justine thought I was a little crazy.  I suppose I should back up and say that one of my majors in college was art history, and one of my absolute favorite painters is Paul Cézanne, considered by many (including, for example, Picasso and Matisse) to be the father of modern art.  Cézanne lived most of his life in Aix; in fact, on the way to the hostel, we passed by the home he lived in with his family from 1860-1899, le Jas de Bouffan.  Mont Sainte-Victoire was one of the subjects he depicted most often, and seeing it in person was a jaw-dropping moment for me.

But even aside from Mont Sainte-Victoire, the countryside around the hostel was pretty spectacular:

It was late enough when we finally arrived at the hostel that we opted for a quiet night in, especially as we had to be up bright and early the next morning.

August 8, 2010

Justine had a 7:40 am train to Paris, so we got up a little before 7:00 to have time to get everything ready to go and have a quick bite of breakfast (free from the hostel - your standard tartine: bread, butter, and jam, as well as coffee and orange juice) before she was on her way.  After she left, I definitely felt a little overwhelmed and lonely again like I did my first night in Avignon.  But there was too much to be done to sit and mope for long!  I decided to spend the afternoon in Marseille, but before I went there, I wanted to spend just a little time walking around Aix.  On my way into town on Avenue de l'Europe, I passed a market set up in a parking lot that had a nice selection from a few stands replete with perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables.

Can you say "ratatouille season?"
Apricots and tomatoes and plums, oh my!
I love the smell of fresh produce in the morning.

I bought myself a perfect nectarine and two succulent, flavorful apricots.  Doesn't get much better than that.

Aix is a very pretty town.  The center of the city is called la Rotonde (literally, the Rotunda) due to the big traffic round-about, which circles around this fountain:

La Fontaine des Neuf Canons
Just off of la Rotonde to the East is the "main street" of Aix, le Cours Mirabeau:

It's a beautiful shady street, perfect for a summer stroll.  Actually most of Aix is pretty wonderful for wandering and exploring - it's full of Places (essentially open squares filled with cafes and lined with shops) and lots of cute little boutiques.

Le Cours Mirabeau
La Place de la Mairie
But of course what I love best about Aix are the fabulous markets.  Beyond the small roadside market I passed on my way into town, I also made a brief stop by the main market at Place Richelme.  I saw just enough of Aix to whet my palate (figuratively and literally, given the abundance of produce and pastries!), but I decided it was time to head to Marseille for the afternoon, so further exploring would have to wait until the following day.

9 August, 2010

On my way into town, I noticed a hypermarché - the closest thing in France to a WalMart.  Most shops in France are entirely distinct by product: groceries sell basic food products, pharmacies sell medicine and vitamins, pastry shops sell pastries, clothing boutiques sell, you guessed it, clothes.  There aren't really any big all-in-one stores like our Targets or WalMarts.  But sometimes on the outskirts of towns you can find a hypermarché like the Super U I stumbled across that has a much larger variety of wares for sale.  Given the distance of my hostel from the center of Aix (and therefore, from anywhere I might be able to find new luggage), I decided to try my luck at looking for duct tape to attempt a make-shift fix for my luggage, just to get me to Lyon where I could buy a new bag.  I did not find any duct tape, but I did find some tape that claimed to be strong and flexible and a good choice for reparations of household wares, so I bought some of that and crossed my fingers.

When exiting the Super U, I realized that its parking lot was the site for the market I had passed the day before on my way into town.  Apparently the Sunday market was just a shadow of the regular market, as this one had many more vendors, including lots of clothing stands.  I looked around for a few minutes, but didn't buy anything - I wanted to hit up the market I had briefly seen the day before in Place Richelme instead.

I'm not sorry I waited; the selection at this market was wonderful.

I picked up some dinner at the market: some saucisson d'Arles (a local air-dried sausage), a small round of three-week aged goat cheese, a perfectly ripe tomato, and a couple of apricots and nectarines.  I picked up a baguette from a nearby bakery, too.  Perfect.

After picking up my food, I decided to head up to visit Cézanne's studio.  A number of sites around town with some significance to Cézanne's life are open for visit; in fact, the tourist office provides both a map of town and a map of Cézanne-related sites.  Major attractions include the Bibémus quarries (the subject of many paintings), various sites from which he painted Mont Sainte-Victoire, his family home at le Jas de Bouffan, and the studio he had built around 1900 where he worked for the last five years of his life.  Even walking around town, you'll notice plaques marking, for example, cafés he frequented, the house where he was born, and the church where he died.  His statue looks over la Rotonde.  Everywhere you go, you can feel how proud the city is of their most famous resident.

But perhaps is presence is felt most acutely in his atelier, the studio he worked in for the last five years of his life.  It is located about a 20-minutes walk North of town.  Today the atelier has been set up as a sort of "museum," but not in the traditional sense of the word.  The atelier does not show paintings by Cézanne, but rather it is an homage to the space in which he worked.  The walls, floors, and huge windows all remain as they did when Cézanne worked here, and displayed throughout the room are many of the props and motifs that appear in his still lifes:

Plaster cupid, apples, and jugs from Cézanne's studio
 Seeing that  plaster cupid was a pretty spectacular moment for me.  The had a nice collection of prints of several paintings to show that at the atelier, you could see this particular table cloth as seen in one painting, or this table leg from another, or this railing along the wall in a third.  Hanging on a peg on the wall, they even had his overcoat and bowler hat.  WOW.  I was pretty blown away by all of the familiar items I got to see!

Sadly, just after taking the above photo, I was informed I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures.  Oops!  So you'll just have to go and see the atelier for yourself - and I highly recommend that you do. 

By the time I left the atelier, it was about 12:30, and I was ready for some lunch.  I decided to eat at a restaurant on Place de l'Archevêché called, creatively, l'Archevêché.  It was a pleasant spot with plenty of shady outdoor seating, but what caught my attention was the mention of ratatouille as a side to the Plat du Jour - Gigot d'agneau, haricots verts, et ratatouille:

Gigot d'agneau, haricots verts, ratatouille, pain, verre de rosé
Gigot d'agneau is leg of lamb; haricots verts are green beans; and ratatouille is a simple Provençal dish of cooked vegetables including onion, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, tomato, and flavored with garlic and herbs such as oregano, thyme, and savory.  I had my first ratatouille in Paris in 2008, made by my host mom for my birthday dinner.  Before coming to Provence, it was one of the dishes I knew I wanted to eat while I was here, to taste an authentic version.  The ratatouille was excellent - the flavors of all of the ingredients had begun to meld together, but each vegetable retained some of its individual texture and integrity - homey, simple, flavorful, excellent.  The lamb was a little overcooked, but it had a nice gamey lamb flavor and was served in a nice sauce that was just a little spicy and peppery.  To go with my meal, I drank a glass of rosé AOC Aix-en-Provence.  AOC stands for Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, which is a standard for French products to ensure that they are produced in a particular region; in this case, it means that the wine was grown and produced in the region immediately surrounding Aix-en-Provence.  This is really a little too far south in France for well-renowned wine production, and if you want to order a local wine a rosé is your best bet.  This one was a pleasant, light, refreshing wine with orangy citrus notes.

After lunch, it was time to hit up the pâtisseries (pastry shops) for a little something sweet.  Aix has a lot of pâtisseries, and I would have been glad to spend a few more days exploring them.  As it was, I only made one stop to a shop called La Cure Gourmande.  It is a chain store, which I would normally avoid because I prefer to support local businesses and I believe that you will generally find more authentic products at local shops rather than chains, but in this case I'm glad I decided to stop in.  As soon as I walked through the door, I was offered a taste of some kind of raspberry-stuffed cookie.  I had made up my mind that I would buy some calissons d'Aix, a local specialty cookie, and when I asked whether they were sold individually or only in boxes (answer: only in boxes.  Okay, fine, twist my arm...), I was offered a calisson to taste.  When I made my way back to the cash register to pay, a different vendeuse (literally, seller-girl - one of the women who worked in the shop) asked me if I'd like to try a calisson.  Finally, when after making my purchases, the woman behind the cash register insisted I try their chocolate "olives:" almonds covered in chocolate and a hard candy shell painted to look like olives.  Offering free samples is not that common in France, so visitng La Cure Gourmande, which not only offers samples but encourages you to take them, was a wonderful suprise.  It helps, too, that everything I tasted was good!

Calissons, the quintessential pastry of Aix, are small cookies about one inch long by a half-inch wide, and a half inch tall.  They are made from almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, but unlike macarons (which use the same 3 basic ingredients), these are dense and chewy.  They are flavored with orange and melon, which gives some fruity sweetness, some citrusy tartness, and a hint of bitterness from the orange zest.  It's a nice cookie, but the flavors could be bolder.

After getting my pastries, I would have visited the Musée Granet, a museum with a nice collection of a few Cézanne's in town, but it was closed on Mondays.  So instead I just had to wander around and buy myself a scarf.  I also stopped in an internet café for a while.  Not bringing a laptop with me was a big mistake - especially when there's free wifi everywhere, and I needed to spend a fair amount of time looking at train schedules and booking lodgings...  Live and learn!

After a little more exploring to see the remnants of the Roman walls and baths...

Remarkable remnants of Roman ramparts was getting on for time, so I headed back towards the hostel.  I had noticed a park across the street from the hostel on my way into town that morning, so I decided to stop there for a picnic dinner of the items I had picked up at the market that morning.

Like the hostel, Parc Berlioz is situated on a hill; it offers a great panoramic view over the town and the countryside.  Here's the view I had during dinner:

View over Aix from Parc Berlioz
Dinner was an excellent simple meal - water, baguette, tomato, aged goat cheese, sausage:

Pique-nique, please?

The saucisson d'Arles (bought by the slice at the market that morning) was excellent - dense, meaty with just a little spice for a strong, punchy flavor.  The three-week old goat cheese was tangy and fine, but nothing special.  The baguette was excellent - thick, crunchy crust that at first resists ripping, and then crackles and leaves a mess of crumbs when a piece is torn off, with a soft crumb on the interior and a nice wheaty flavor.  I didn't have anything to cut the tomato, so I had to settle for making a "sandwich" in my mouth by putting together the perfect bite piece by piece.  It's a tough life, but someone's gotta live it.

I finished my meal with a piece of nougat-caramel from La Cure Gourmande:

Nougat caramel
The nougat is made of honey and egg white, and dotted with pieces of almonds.  It has a texture somewhat akin to a guimauve - a French marshmallow, very light and airy and a little sticky.  The nougat was super sweet, with just a little crunch from the almonds.  The caramel stripe was much stickier and gummier than the nougat - a much heavier texture.  It had an excellent salty caramel-y taste.  The caramel added an extra dimension to the nougat making the candy much more interesting and delicious.  Very good!

After dinner, I headed back to the hostel to pack up before leaving for Lyon the next day, and to try to repair the wheel on my luggage so that it might last through the trip.  Lyon will have to wait for another post (or two...), so for now I'll leave you with one of my favorite photos from Aix:

Just look at those big blue eyes and tell me you're not in love.
As I was taking pictures in the market, this mother and baby duo walked right into my frame.  I love their bright colors - so Provençal!

Coming soon: Lyon and six courses of heaven at the Machonnerie

A bientôt,