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Prior to arriving in Lyon, we had coordinated our check in time with our Airbnb host, Sylvain. He gave us a very warm welcome and showed us around our flat.
The flat has a living room with TV, kitchen with everything you might need to cook a meal, and a water closet (read: toilet) on the first floor. There is a spiral staircase that leads to a loft area where there is a bed, washing machine, clothing rack, and shower w/ vanity. We even have our own private garden! Overall the flat is small but has everything we need.
Once we arrived and checked in, Sylvain quickly proceeded to retrieve a map of Lyon and began recommending things for us to do and restaurants to try around the city (at our behest). We could immediately tell that he was a very warm and welcoming person who enjoyed engaging with his guests from around the world.
Conveniently, Sylvain and his family are also our neighbors. The flat we rented is just behind their home so they are nearby in case we need anything (and have plenty of privacy otherwise).
Several days into our stay, Sylvain and his wife invited us over to their “terrasse” for an “apéritif” which is a light drink generally prior to mealtime. With their two kids visiting grandparents for the week, they were free to enjoy some downtime. We walked over and knocked on their door midday Saturday and they showed us to the terrasse which was on the 2nd floor (what to Europeans would be considered the 1st floor since they call street level the ground floor).
We knew ahead of time that this meetup would be interesting since
Eddie doesn’t speak French (he knows 2 phrases by heart and one is not appropriate to say in polite company…)
Megan only speaks a little French (it’s coming back to her though)
Sylvain speaks both languages fluently
and (we later learned) Celine (Sylvain’s wife) only speaks a little English.
Let’s just say there was a lot of translating for each other. Celine got the opportunity to practice understanding and speaking English while Megan did her best en français.
Sylvain and Celine offered us white wine, red wine, or beer and brought out some light snacks (thinly-sliced sausages, tomatoes, and cucumbers). We exchanged information about our families, our homes, and our jobs. Eddie and I both remarked afterwards how many similarities there were between us and our hosts!
A few topics from our casual conversation:
They don’t like ice in any of their drinks either...why waste space with ice??
Sylvain and Celine have a similar mindset to the American way of thinking in terms of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” and creating our own destiny rather than relying on the government to take care of you. (This could simply be the sentiment of a younger generation though...they seemed about our age or a little bit older.)
They don’t necessarily agree with the ongoing protests in France. Even they admitted to not knowing what they were about. They explained it was very few people at this point in time...they just get a lot of media coverage.
They see the benefits of globalisation (Sylvain in particular due to his global director position with his multi-national company).
The French aren’t required to learn an additional language (or languages) in school unless they opt into additional classes on top of their existing coursework. This actually surprised us since many other European countries include additional languages by default.
They love to travel and experience other cultures since it generally increases your appreciation for your home country and culture (or at least makes you more aware of the good and the bad).
We were glad to have been invited over to our hosts’ apartment for the afternoon and loved learning more about them! We hope we made a good impression and that our gratitude was obvious.
Sylvain and Celine will be going “en vacances” (on vacation) and meeting their children at the grandparent’s in Brittany, France before we leave so we won’t get to see them after the next couple of days. We hope to keep in touch and maybe meet up again in the US on one of Sylvain’s visits for work.
Eddie + Megan
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