Expat of the Month: Kalpesh Ghaag from India

Published: 2019/09/24

This Is Lyon interviews a member of the English speaking community.

“Lyon really has a good vibe”


Hello, My name is Kalpesh GHAAG, I am 35 years old. Having an Indian origin I enjoy a noisy city life, animals strolling on the city roads, extremely spicy food. Just kidding! I am not a fan of any of those except when I am in India where I get little but no choices other than this. My choices of work always took me to different adventures all around the world. I gave shot at everything from extreme bar tending to handling PR, through management consultancy to running my own venture. When I am not coding or reading a novel with a witty humour I certainly be found on the trail of exploring city of Lyon. 


Kalpesh Ghaag from India

Where are you from and what are you doing nowadays?

I was born in bustling, culturally diverse city of Mumbai in India. I came to Lyon with an idea to start a business concerning organic products marketed between India and France.

However the usual calm work-style of Lyon swept me away and got working for corporates again. Currently I am working in Lyon as Web Developer for a company with an international presence.

Also out of my passion for an entrepreneurial culture, I am collaborating with a start-up from Lyon, « Nativing.com ». They provide an Air B&B model based language and cultural stay across the big cities in Europe.

What attracted you to Lyon?

Certainly the warm weather and its ideal location. What I liked the most is, having an option of an hour drive to beautiful mountain range, two and half hours drive to the Mediterranean sea and about the same time by a train journey to Paris.

I also like the part where depending on my preference and without having to leave the city, every time I can choose to be in different part of Lyon, such as old town near Croix-Rousse or a more cosmopolitan next to rivers or simply more modest at confluence.

What was your image of Lyon before you came here?

I began my journey in France by doing three months of volunteering with an association « fermes d’avenir.org ».

It took me through 27 different cities, meeting lots of locals, covering most of the France and allowing me to immerse in to French culture differ by its regions. Following this expedition I haven’t missed to notice that Lyon really has a good vibe.

As we can say « l’air sympa ». However like any other big city I had imagined Lyon as city with lots of people carrying their daily stress simply waiting for a weekend to head to the nearest bar.(Of course, which was not the case !)

“I like to take a photographs and Lyon certainly has lot to offer”

What surprised you the most on your arrival?

A calm life style with ‘n’ number of option to take on sports and stay active. In addition to that, super friendliness & warm nature of locals is like having « cherry on icing »

Have you been able to adapt to the way of life here?

Not being a francophone myself and having a basic level in French language, I have had my fare share of Ups & Downs. However very quickly I got involved in to local meet-up groups including language & cultural exchange.

As I started working on my French language skills, things started getting much simpler. Now, I have no re-collection of the fact that, since when actually I started mentioning myself as « je suis lyonnais » 🙂

Has it been easy to make local friends and connections ?

Certainly being a chatty person myself, It was not so difficult after all. On my arrival I came across with several, extremely active expats.

Now, I take every chance to go out and immerse in to French as well as expat communities in Lyon. Meantime, I was glad to attend meet-ups organised by Sojoourn and few others.

Through this, I met and got along with some French and other expats. That certainly helped me on receiving some good, handy advice on local culture & norms.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I like to take a photographs and Lyon certainly has lot to offer. Depending on weather I spend my weekend mornings playing badminton at « Le Parc Blandan » or going on walking trails just outside the city of Lyon.

Often, I do enjoy going for movies. French movies with english subtitles or vice versa gives me a same joy. When arrives the weekend, generally Friday evening briefly gets spent in the cafe or bar around the river or at some friends place …of course following an invitation.

Lyon 20-page guide to getting by on public transit with 80 tips and maps

What are your favourite local dishes?

salade lyonnaise
– Brioche aux pralines

Where do you go for coffee, lunch, dinner, a drink?

Coffee– Anywhere really, with terrace outside is always preferable
Lunch– I think I know how to please my plate, so to do so home is the best place

Drink– Some local brewery such as « Nomade MicroPub », else any French-English pub with good guiness & IPA

Dinner– There are few my favourites that I know which serves fresh meals ;

  • Le French Fumoir – American style steak-house with french twist
  • Intermezzo- Italian cuisine
  • Senkichi- Asian cuisine
  • Deb’s Bistro & Namaste- Indian cuisine.

Your family is coming to visit. Where would you take them and what would you show them?

I would begin with Fourvière Basilica and Ancient Theatre of Fourvière. Then walk around in Vieux Lyon and explore famous Traboules of Lyon.

And then to fininsh the day at Croix-Rousse. Though one certainly need few extra days to cover beautiful museums and Parc de la Tête d’Or. And not to forget the frescos and murals of Lyon.

passerelle du palais de justice, lyon

Passerelle du Palais de Justice, and the basilica in the background


Your friends are coming. Where would you go?

It would be same as my family. In addition to that probably few expeditions on cycle would play the trick I guess.

What do you like most about Lyon?

City’s interconnectivity with all mean of transport is brilliant. The most that I adore is the cultural diversity and weekly local vegetable & fruit markets.

If you had a magic wand what would you change about Lyon?

Get all the electric scooters out of the river, knowing that they are lying there, harming the nature, that annoys me really. But to be on an optimistic side, I would be happy to see many more (free to public/ sponsored by region) open-street concerts and events.

Would you like to give any advice to people moving to Lyon?

I would say just take a leap of faith and come down to Lyon. Stay on lookout for every opportunity that brings you close to the local community including other expats.

French language skills are as important as your PR skills, so have minimum B1 French level on your target. And if you are a foody and like to have few drinks along and have some interesting stories to tell then the challenge would be zeroed to almost none.

Do you feel that Lyon is an international city?

Definitely it has its own perk of being international and cosmopolitan, yet laid-back nature adds the sweet twist at certain extent.


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