Lille, France

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January 14th 2020
Published: January 20th 2020
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The walk from Lille Europe station to the Gare Midi is through a zone of brand new architecture which meets the 19C / 20C buildings in the boulevards by station.

It was a bit noisy by night in our hotel near the station, an establishment named, ironically, Hotel Calm.

Our first sortie took us along shopping streets to the Opera where we booked tickets for a quartet playing early music, the following night.

As night fell there were large numbers of armed police, motor cycle cops, vans and armoured hardware, men and women in riot gear by Beaux Arts Square, we retreated fro a beer, aperos in a bar down by the station before setting off again for the Assiette du Marché, a swanky restaurant which had been the city mint in the past on La Rue de la Monnaie.

In the morning we hiked off to the Citadel, a star shaped set of ramparts like in Rochefort, Berwick, Poland and elsewhere, etc but built of brick. The canal passes near by where there’s a monument to 1st W W army pigeons.

Then to the Beaux Arts Musee: a huge empty space at its core. Activity areas for all ages with impressive touch screen portals to the collection. In reality the pictures all seemed grimy and dark in a top lit gloom from room to room. But many highlights like the stunning ceramics, especially a Russian ceramic fireplace. I nipped down to take photos of the Coliot Ceramics Art Nouveau house, nearby. Stunning Arts and Crafts styling with a facade of green ceramic, timbering and offset secondary frontage.

Lunch in an IT Italian canteen nearby was fun with a self serve system employing ‘bright plastic pager doughnuts’ which you keep until they buzz and flash to tell you your food is ready. As we much hearty salads troops processed down the pedestrian shopping street: eight in formation each with sub machine gun…..

We discover a Pylones shop, an familiar outlet we’ve bought presents from in Angouleme. Bright colours, fancy novel designs, quirky and fun.

Further strolling around the old town reveals a series of old er properties decorated in terracotas and mustard coloured paints painted directly on to brick and sandstone.

We had a late afternoon rest in Elizabeth’s Tea Shop. Earl Grey and Millionaire Shortcake have the locals queuing at the door.

The to the Opera where the upstairs performance foyer has been recently renovated. Huge crystal chandeliers. Nymphs on the ceiling in turquoise and pinks. The music was well play by a German quartet from Dresden. Cellist had no spike. Played, I suppose, like a viol contemporary instrumentation for the music.

We looked at a bar opposite the Opera for a bite, it served drinks, bistro and sold lingerie/ corsetry….. ‘le Moulin d’Or’.

So we ended up having our evening meal in Le Meunier Resto Bar. A friendly enough waitress in a fairly empty big bar. I enjoyed chicken in an onion grey with linguine.

The prices were comparable to our meals in rural Charente.

Rained on a Wednesday and Friday mornings otherwise blue skies and quite barmy.

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