A Weekend in Lille

I had wanted to get away from Paris for a while, and with so many bank holidays in May, it was the perfect opportunity to do so. I visited an ex-colleague in Lille, who lives in a small town on the French-Belgian border.  Friday night, my friend picked me up from the train station and we went to her local African styled bar to discuss the intinerary for the weekend.  Immediately, I felt the difference from Paris.  Everyone wanted to say hello and the owner and bar staff had time to have a chat and catch up on the news, which would never happen in Paris.  It was just supposed to be one drink, but these are always the famous last words!  We tried to leave, but kept getting convinced to have one more, ‘last one this time!!’

Marion’s family have a beautiful 3 story house, and at the end of her huge back garden is a river that separates France and Belgium.  On Saturday morning, I had a quick shower or so I thought, and then I heard ‘depeche- toi!’ which means hurry up.  ‘Desolee’, I responded. ‘Oh sorry i thought it was my brother,’ said my friends’ sister, Sophie.  We had a laugh.

On Saturday, Marion, Sophie and I visited the old town of Lille for some shopping.  Sophie told me she wants to own her own pastisserie after school, and will probably do this overseas, as she knows it could be more successful.   The girls took me into a famous pastisserie/tea house, to try the famous gaufres with specoloos which was delicious.  We also saw pastry chefs making ‘merveilleux,’ a famous desert from Lille; consisting of a two piece meringue with cream in between, and chocolate speckles on the outside.

The old town had a lovely feel, lots of small cobbled streets and old buildings.  I liked the massive clock tower, used in ancient times as a look out for enemies and invaders.

In the evening, we reserved a cocktail bar in the small Belgian town of Tournai.  This place takes their cocktails seriously!   For around 8 euros, you have a beautifully presented  jug of cocktail .  We tried the Amelie Poulain, Pulp Fiction and another that I can’t remember, it was all delicious!

After a hearty Sunday family lunch, we went to see ‘Le prenom’ at the cinemas, which was originally  a theatre show, and I can see why.  It’s the story of what a couple decide to call their baby and what their friends think about it. The baby will be called Adolph and everyone tells him he cant be serious.  He manages to convince them he is, but finally admits its a joke, but when he does so, this provokes family secrets to surface that shock all. Although I didn’t understand everything, I understood the general sense of the movie, and can see how it’s funny and works well in theatre

Sunday was voting day for the 2012 presidential elections and when Marion drove me to the train station at 20.00, the new president has been announced, Francois Hollande. There were lots of people cheering in the streets I noticed as I rushed to take my train with 4 mins to spare.  I felt completely relaxed and rejuvenated after a lovely weekend in Lille.

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