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If it’s Saturday, this must be Lyons … a 9th floor apartment with a view over all of Lyons, to be exact. It’s a small one-bedroom apartment, very chic and modern, with an enormous balcony that stretches all the way round and has an incredible view not just of the city, but of life in the crow’s nests in the trees below. I’m here thanks to the generosity of my Toronto neighbour’s roommate Alexandra, who’s studying to be a cardiologist in Toronto while her engineer partner is here; she gave me her key and Vincent, temporarily.

Yesterday morning I said farewell to the hot sun of Montpellier and my beloved friends Lynn and Denis, and got the train. The French train system is incredible – almost always to the minute on time, smooth, comfortable, efficient. Arrived in Lyons one minute late, made my way to the apartment, marvelled at the view and set off to walk the city. Alexandra had steered me to the oldest part of the city, le quartier St. Jean, which is full of narrow medieval streets and marvellous low, wide wooden medieval doors. There are lots of covered passageways called “traboules” – you push through a door and go under buildings from one street to the next, kind of like the underground passages in Canadian cities, only above ground. I wondered why they existed here in a much milder climate; my friend Sarah told me last night they were for the silk trade, which was huge in Lyons – so bolts of silk could move safely, without fear of damage by rain.
Inside the Cathedral St. Jean, a sign: Here was celebrated the marriage of Henry IV and Marie de Medicis, 17 xii 1600.
I saw a stairway that looked promising, climbed, and climbed and climbed, later learning that there’s a “peripherique” that takes you up to the top of the city. At the top of le Colline de Fourviere, I visited the fantastic Gallo-Roman theatre from the first century B.C., a UNESCO heritage site. It’s clear why Lyons – Lugdunum in those days – became a centre of Roman life – in the middle of the country, this mountain allowing vistas in all directions, and probably the food was as good then as now.
On the way home, I wanted to find some take out; in the evening, I was going to visit Lynn’s daughter Sarah who has just given birth to twin boys, and had insisted on bringing dinner with me, though I wasn’t sure a take out place would exist here. Of course, it does – take out gourmet soups and quenelles. I bought two kinds of exotic soup, a bunch of quenelles and some sauce – not cheap by any means, but as we found out later at Sarah’s, when heated up, unbelievably good.
She is as well as anyone can be with a 3-year old and two-week old twins who are always hungry; she has imported a wonderful foam device called “My breast friend” from the U.S., a wrap-around pillow made for nursing twins simultaneously. We listened to her husband Jean-Marie’s music on a C.D. while eating, and I got to hold Samuel, which brought me back to a time 27 years ago when I held my very own Samuel. He was never quite that small, though – hard to believe since he’s six foot eight now – he wasn’t much bigger. Creatures from another planet, trying to focus their eyes, waving their magic fingers at the light.
This morning, another sunny, windy day. Vincent ran out to get us fresh croissants and bread for breakfast – the best croissants yet, thick with butter, dense chewy pastry, groan. Instead of rushing off to explore the city, I am enjoying my solitude in this eyrie, and will stay here for a bit, regrouping, sitting in the sun and listening to the crows who are also feeling at home.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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