The Night I Got Drunk With Pigs

by Blagica Bottigliero

Le Saint Cochon.png

The fact that there is an actual restaurant called Le Saint Cochon is enough of a reason to write a story about it. This is a story of what happened on my first night in Lyon. Without a place to sleep. Hungry. And accidentally drinking too much wine.

I had everything meticulously planned.  Fly into London, take the Eurostar down to Lyon. Take the luggage, hail a cab and arrive at the apartment of the woman who would host me while I attended the Alliance Francaise Lyon. Easy.  I emailed and called the school and communicated in the best French possible. Things were to be set.

After an insanely long day of travel, lugging a massive suitcase and carry on, (after Lyon, I was to spend a week on the Queen Mary 2) I was sweaty, tired and hungry.  I went straight to the apartment and knocked. Nothing. I called the apartment. Nothing. Since my host was a teacher, I figured she’d be home later. I’ll check back in. In the meantime, I was hungry. So I decided to take my luggage and explore the 6th district of Lyon. This didn’t last long. The rickety rackety sounds I was making on the cobblestoned streets drew too much attention.  I needed a restaurant, any restaurant, fast.

That’s when I came across Le Saint Cochon. A cute restaurant with a few little pigs as the logo? I was in. Sign me up. Luggage and all.

This was my first true solo French dining experience. I’ve been to Paris, but I couldn’t speak a lick of French.  I had some French language chops under my belt from the Alliance Francaise Chicago. I was ready to go. Not. As soon as I attempted to order a basic dish, I motioned for the server to give me the special/usual/whatever.

To kill the time, I started writing in my journal. I have a meticulous account of my time in France, most of which is fueling this and future blog posts. If you look at the journal, my handwriting gets more and more sloppy as the pages went on. Why? Because I needed to kill more time and decided to drink the entire bottle of wine that came with my dinner.

The whole damn bottle.

Needless to say, midnight rolled around and there was no sign of Marie.  There I was. Day 1 of my French Odyssey. Tipsy, alone and didn’t know where I would sleep that night. I had cash, but I budgeted every single aspect of the trip. I couldn’t afford a major splurge. The waiter noticed my pathetic American, touristy self and pointed me in the direction of a hotel. I took a chance and headed out.

The hotel caretaker heard me feverishly knocking on the front door. This place was half hotel/half someone’s home. It wasn’t like a Motel 6, where you walked in and found an open bed.  The Travel Gods were on my side that night.  The caretaker’s wife noticed that I probably had too much to drink. She whisked me off of the street, told her husband to take my bags and showed me my room. After a day of shoving my luggage through the London tube, then the chunnel, then being out on a limb of where to stay, the extra TLC I received from this random woman made me weep. I remember falling asleep chanting, 'Viva France', 'Viva France'.

I slept like a baby.

Where was Marie? A field trip. The wires crossed at the school and dates got mixed up. I was without a place to stay for about five days.  The way I found a temp place to live, and how it came to be, is also a lesson  in how I realized Web 1.0 was becoming 2.0. The interwebs and its people came to my rescue.

But that story is for another time.

I've never looked at pigs the same way again.