Saturday at Sathonay

Over the next several posts you may notice a French theme laced throughout our stories, for good reason. Our plan to “get out of Dodge” (see the previous story called “Taken for Granite,”) landed us in the beautiful city of Lyon, France, which is the heart of the southwest region of the Rhone Alps. For sure, each day brings a new experience. Add being a stranger in a new town, and you’re pretty much assured of stories everywhere you turn. The tough part is choosing which ones to write about. Last weekend, the magic transpired in a delightful neighborhood park called Place Sathonay.

impossible to resist

On a cool, sunny, Saturday afternoon in July, I (Em) found myself playing the game of “follow the leads.” That’s when you just start walking, guided only by intuition. The rules are: never second guess your instincts; be true to the first thought that pops into your head; no judgment; just simply go with the flow and see what happens. So that’s what I did that day. The next thing I knew, I was wandering into the most beautiful little park. People were standing, sitting, and laying everywhere, enjoying the stunning day, and of course each other’s company. The air was filled with background chattering, kids playing, and laughter bubbling up constantly. It was a time for friends to meet and play a relaxing game together, or just drift into conversation, or simply sit quietly and take it all in. Meanwhile, families wandered over to see what was happening, counting on the fact that something is always happening in the center of their neighborhood. That day was no exception.


The energy was both engaging and relaxing at the same time. No one was angry, threatening, or feeling uncomfortable in any way. Instead, there was a vibrant calm in the air. A pleasant peacefulness. Everyone seemed to be breathing easy, letting go of the week’s tensions, loving life. I can now see why I was instinctively drawn to that place—you could feel the positive energy from blocks around! I was so taken with the supportive mood and closeness of what must have been a routine neighborhood gathering, that I started snapping pictures and making videos of everything that passed my way (asking permission of course). I became a sponge, soaking it all in. And that’s how my afternoon went—swept away in the moment . . . open to whatever came my way. Of course, the decorative rugs on the ground in the center of the park caught my attention, raising a question or two. I had no answers.

feel the energy!

So without trying to wrap any more words around that magical experience, I thought you might enjoy seeing first-hand what transpired on that Saturday afternoon, in the shade of the wooded square, at Place Sathonay, in the heart of Lyon, France, on July 20th 2012. I was in the company of a random group of regular people just like you and me—all having a great time together, enjoying each other’s company, with most of them speaking French.


Note: You may also enjoy some of our other stories about our time in France, as well as the video of “Jean Pierre.”



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