Expat of the Month: Christy Velasquez from California

Published: 2019/08/09

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

“When I had the opportunity to start my own business, Lyon was the perfect place”

My name is Christy and I’m 33 years old from Los Angeles, California. My parents are from El Salvador and migrated to the U.S., where I was born and raised. I moved to Lyon as an entrepreneur and created my company, Orangewood Lane, where I organize food tours and private dining events for tourists and businesses visiting Lyon. I’ve always had an interest in exploring and I do it through food. I love sharing culinary stories with others and going on food adventures.

Christy Velasquez expat in Lyon

“I would consider Lyon as an innovative growing city and that’s attractive in its self”

Where are you from and what are you doing nowadays?

I’m originally from Temple City, California, a suburban city just outside of Los Angeles. Nowadays, I’ve been working on getting my business up and off the ground, from registering my company in France, coordinating tours, to handling the daily operations of running a business. The “To-Do List” is never-ending. I created my company, Orangewood Lane, where I organize food tours and private dining events for tourists and businesses visiting Lyon.

What attracted you to Lyon?

The FOOD!! I would consider Lyon as an innovative growing city and that’s attractive in its self. When I had the opportunity to start my own business, Lyon was the perfect place. Other than being The City of Gastronomy and having an excellent cuisine, there is a robust entrepreneur spirit and its home to many startups.

 

What was your image of Lyon before you came here?

Last year, I stopped in Lyon when I was traveling through France WWOOFing (volunteering on Organic Farms). I spent about a week here and enjoyed the big city vibe, with the small-town feel. Before that, I didn’t know what to imagine or expect. All I knew was that I was going to be eating some delicious food.

What surprised you the most on your arrival?

What surprised me and what I love about the city is its vibrant energy and charm.
There’s always something going on; whether it’s a festival, music event or movies playing throughout the city. I arrived towards the end of April, right when spring and summer kicked off and it’s been fun.

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

Yes, I like to think so. The city and people are very welcoming and as an expat, that’s important.

Has it been easy to make local friends and connections?

I feel I’ve made connections and friends with locals that I would consider close friends and trust. It’s important to stay open-minded and open to meeting new people, but it takes time and effort to build solid relationships.

Expat in Lyon Christy Velasquez

“If I’m not at the market, you’ll probably find me by the Saône river enjoying the view or meeting up with friends”

How do you spend your leisure time?

I go to the market a lot! Either, to get my groceries for the day or to walk around the market for some innovation or inspiration. Since I live in the 1st, I’m always at the St. Antoine or Croix Rousse market buying food or taking pictures of the local produce.

The energy of the markets, the freshness of the ingredients, the different cuts of meats, the bread and cheese, seeing it all makes me happy! If I’m not at the market, you’ll probably find me by the Saône river enjoying the view or meeting up with friends.

What are your favorite local dishes?

I am an adventures eater, which is why I LOVE Lyonnaise food. Some of my local favorites are Tripes à la Lyonnaise, Quenelles served with Nantua sauce, Salade de Museau or Grattons for snacking with some cornichons. And you can’t go wrong with Saint-Felicien cheese and Lyonnaise saucisson. Through some Beaujolais wine into the mix and you’re all set. Yum!

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

Supporting your local businesses has always been important to me, here and back home. For coffee or lunch, I’ll go to my local boulangerie, Maison Jacquard. They’re a mom and pop shop right next to my place. I can grab a café allongé and a praline brioche in the morning or a sandwich to go for lunch.

I’ll also head over to Le Perko Café, I love the outdoor sitting area and I can catch up on work and brainstorm. As an L.A. native, I’ll get my cravings for Mexican food and GoMex Cantina or La Taqueria De Masa will usually do the trick.

If I’m looking for traditional Lyonnaise food or a Bouchon, I’ll make my way to Café des Fédérations. It’s close to my place, the food and staff are great. I also like having options when I eat and food halls like HEAT and La Commune are nice. It’s a fun environment, where you can eat, have a drink and relax. It reminds me of the food halls back home.

La Commune restaurant in Lyon

Food court La Commune in Lyon 7th.

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

Well, of course, I would take them on my food tour, where they can experience the local shops and marchés of Lyon along with a private Lyonnaise dinner. We would spend a day visiting all the local staples around the city; Hôtel de Ville, Bellecour, Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Vieux de Lyon, explore the Croix Rousse area.

Do a river cruise along the Saône. My sister enjoys art museums so I would schedule a visit to Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.

Book a cooking class for my mom and sister-in-law at Plum Kitchen. My niece is a big foodie and my brother will eat just about anything so Les Halles would be great for them. We would grab either lunch or dinner at a Bouchon, because it’s a must, probably Les Bouchon des Filles,

Your friends are coming. Where would you go?

We would stop by the similar places I mentioned earlier, but there would be occasional stops for wine and beer. I’d also enjoy taking them off the beaten path and we would also check out the 7th, which has a good selection of restaurants.

A friend took me to Café du Nain, a Bouchon with a modern twist. I tried their andouillette and it wasn’t too intense. Maybe experience a music concert in Lyon, if possible. I would also take them down to the Confluence area to hang out and book a wine tasting with CaroVin Lyon, that would be a good time!

Confluence district in Lyon

Confluence modern district

What do you like most about Lyon?

The people and the sense of community! Being an expat and opening a business can be a bit tricky. I’m still in the process of figuring it all out. I’ve hit some roadblocks along the way, but the people and friends I’ve made here, both locals and other expats, are always willing to offer support and advise when they can.

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

Beach access! I miss being close to the beach.

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

Just go for it and immerse yourself into the city, there’s plenty to see and do. There are great organizations such as, Sojoourn, Internations and Meetup groups, which host events where you can meet people.

Do you feel that Lyon is an international city?

Yes, and that was a pleasant surprise as well. I’ve met people from so many different backgrounds and everyone has a different story of how they got to Lyon, what they’re doing in Lyon, or why they came back to Lyon.

 

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One thought on “Expat of the Month: Christy Velasquez from California

  1. A great article! Do you organise expat meet-ups too? Based on the interest such as entrepreneurship, hobbies, etc ..

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