Lost in Lyon: Bonjour, Bonsoir and Everything In-Between

Published: 2017/03/20

Halfway across the world in Sydney, Australia, lies my little home… but here in Lyon lies my heart!

I’m Celeste, a 21-year old student studying at Lyon Lumiere II for 2017, and I enjoy making cheesy jokes (see above) and eating cheesy bread. ‘Lost in Lyon’ details my fails at French and my adventures from one end of the city to the other, and all that goes beyond…


What’s a list when spontaneity is the key? Advice for a carefree first month in Lyon… starting with walking on the right!

It’s simple enough in a list:

– Say bonjour during the day, and bonsoir when the sun sets
– Assume that, as a pedestrian, you have no right of way whatsoever
– Don’t try to go to the boulangerie on a Sunday (it won’t be open)
– Remember that 17:30 means 5:30pm, not 7:30pm
– Always wear gloves when it hits the below-0 temperatures
– Don’t head to a club at 10:30pm, as no one will be there until 1am
– Take your own shopping bag for the weekly Carrefour shop
– Know the correct French words for different nuts when your friend is allergic
– Be prepared to be a sardine on the tram at 6pm on a weekday
– Politely decline the rose-seller when he crashes your trivia night out with friends
– Always walk on the right!

But if everything was as simple as a list, there wouldn’t be moments of oh shit and mini-panic attacks that will force you to take a breath and start again. There wouldn’t be moments of complete and utter helplessness that become just another obstacle you will overcome with strength and persistence. There wouldn’t be moments of what the hell and putain and mon dieu as you find yourself struggling in another country that speaks another language.

But… most of all, there wouldn’t be moments to laugh over with your friends – like when a mate forgets to speak French and says ‘das ok’ to a salesperson who is apologising for not having something in stock. Or when you are so used to saying ‘bonne journée’ all the time that you accidentally say ‘bonne année’ to the doorman at your residence.

Or the time that you misheard the cashier when he asked if you wanted a bag and you say ‘non merci’, and are then forced to carry all your items bundled up in your arms for the walk home. Or like when you almost got run over on your first day at what you thought was a black-and-white zebra crossing but seemed to have no significance to the driver that sped through it.
There wouldn’t be all these memories made in the labyrinth of Lyon’s streets and bars and restaurants. There wouldn’t be all these moments that make every day new and exciting for you as you navigate moving to a new city halfway across the world from your home in Sydney, Australia. There wouldn’t be all these times that make you fall in love with Lyon over and over again, when it’s only your first month here.


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