• Wilson Koewing

Bus Ride from Paris to Lyon

I left my rented flat in Paris before sunrise. Even at 6 am, the grind of Parisian life is evident. Swarms run frantic from train to train in packs, most resigned to the fate of a missed connection.

By seven, I was on a bus to Lyon.

In the idyllic French countryside, black and white cows graze under giant windmills. Lush farmland stretches out in patches of geometric greens and yellows. Thick trees dot the landscape. Green onions blow softly in the breeze. Above wildflowers of purple and red—which form gorgeous rashes on grassy hills—thin clouds hang close to the ground waiting to release gentle mist. Quiet French villages appear. One with a small community graveyard. Another, perched on a hill, slathered out under the façade of a castle.

On the road, we passed a pair of old Citroens. At a petrol station, a man with well-barbered hair and glasses filled up a convertible roadster. As we chugged away, a tan-colored mutt rolled in the trimmings of freshly cut grass, his owner screaming at him to return.

Halfway to Lyon, the elevation climbed, and our ears popped. Green mountains rose hazy in the distance. The land became tree-covered, but no truly mountainous region presented itself.

On the outskirts, power lines and transformers began to connect the more densely populated area. Industry Rose. Warehouses and familiar businesses with unfamiliar names. And then Lyon. Grand houses on steep hills. A bridge crossed the Rhône river which, along with the Saone, course through the city and provide much of its aesthetic charm.

Exiting the bus, a regional transit strike was in progress. I wandered away from the station Perrache into a park and sat in the grass. The sun was warm, and the grass was soft. An elderly woman with a miniature chow sat on a bench nearby eating a baguette. An elderly man, walking at a snail’s pace, approached holding the leash of a Jack Russell terrier with a black streak across its face. They spoke in French as he neared. The woman coyly held out her hand. The man kissed it before reaching into his back pocket and presenting a single rose. She smelled the rose and let it rest across her lap. From a picnic basket she produced a baguette and handed it to the man. He nodded and strolled away taking a bite and humming softly to himself.


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