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From the moment that I was picked up at the train station, I was welcomed into Hélène’s household like a friend. Her and her husband took me for a long bike ride through the city to show some of the main attractions. Hélène really did her homework to find out what I like, but also much about her own city.

As my week progressed, we dedicated 3-4 hours per day in learning French. I was a complete beginner and Hélène’s vast knowledge and teaching experience (and patience) helped me to learn the basic phrases, improve understanding and how to disseminate words and sentences.

Since I like cycling and learning while I do things, Hélène took me on many walks and bike rides, teaching me about Lyon’s architecture, history, people and food. We saw the different quarters of the city, saw the typical painted murals, the “perfect city” designed by Tony Garnier, the cathedrals, Roman ruins, the promenades along the riverbanks and great views over the city. We tasted French patisseries, Lyonaisse tarts and chocolate, ice cream, duck, fresh asparagus, homemade jams, sampled beautiful cheese at the local markets and Middle Eastern sweets.

Her and her husband also checked my taste in music and invited me along to go to a live music gig. The three of us went on evening bike rides through the city to drink in the culture and nightlife. Her two daughters were very entertaining at meal times and made an effort to make conversation and be inclusive.

The day I left, I felt like I was leaving a family, a lifestyle and a beloved city behind. I was truly introduced and immersed in the French language, their way of life, their beautiful food and the stunning city of Lyon.

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