21 March 2010

a cup of coffee and a trip around the world

One of my favorite places in Lyon is Raconte-moi la Terre in the Bellecour area.

It's a bookstore-cafe, where the atmosphere is open, worldly and relaxed. The first time I went there, I felt happy and comfortable as soon as I walked in. 

The place feels like a much-smaller, not-so-heavily-marketed version of Barnes & Noble. The books are organized in sections that are clearly labeled, with a separate little area for children's books. The gift items are from around the world, and are unique and stylish.

The airy cafe has a glass roof that lets the sunlight in. I love that I can look up and see the beat-up building next door. I've eaten here three times; the food is good and very nicely presented. Of course you can just have drinks here, too. There are several issues of TIME magazines at the bar to browse while sipping sparkling lemonade.  There is a fairly extensive tea list on the menu.

The people here are friendly, and they don't mind it when I reveal that I don't speak much French. I like this place so much that whenever I need to buy this book (it makes an excellent gift for friends in the U.S. -- the captions are both in French and English) I make a trip to this bookstore although there are many places that sell it that are closer. I tell them it's a gift and they wrap it beautifully for me.

So I enjoy a cup of coffee, and after paying for another copy of the aforementioned book, I walk across the street to buy some candies. Buying bonbons hand-made by monks is my way of participating in a century-old ritual.

It's very reassuring to have favorite spots to go to  -- it makes me feel a little bit more like a local. On some days, when things are a bit uncertain, I can really use that feeling.

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