Last weeks I’ve been shouting that I’ll be drinking wine and eating cheese in Paris soon. However, I decided not to wait for Frenchiness and took a sneak preview in Lille. Lille is full of French ambiance and feels like a small Paris. And the great thing is that you can reach this feeling within a day, and after you can hold on to it for weeks (especially if you take bags full of cheese and wine home, like I did). You can travel to Lille by train within a day. The NS Hispeed travels from Amsterdam to Lille in just 2.5 hours. I travel first class and in a relaxing chair while eating breakfast, time flies. I took the first train before 10 o’clock in the morning I am finding myself in a completely different world. In my mind I decide immediately to explore Europe by train more often. I received two interrail passes for a review, and I dream away by the opportunities that are coming to mind. But first: discovering Lille.
It’s wonderful to feel and taste the French atmosphere again. As a child I traveled to France each year with my parents. When I became older I even lived in Paris. Since then I’ve not been back in France. A day in France is great for my once fluently French vocabulary, and in my head I start ‘thinking in French’, as I occasionally do. The architecture does remind me of Paris. The lovely streets, cobblestones and the atmosphere do as well. I start with a bike tour to get to see a large part of Lille in a shorter time. On a tandem. I think it’s a brilliant idea, Anouk doesn’t. She’s right. These are two hilarious hours. We spin through the Parc de Loisirs de La Citadelle, where we discover the city walls and buildings of the Sun King. A green oasis in the middle of the city. We explore the old part of Lille, with its cathedrals, beautiful architecture and the nice French streets and squares. The Palais des Beaux Arts looks wonderful. We see a piece of the new part of Lille: State-of-the-art design. I prefer the old part of Lille, so I turn around. After two hours full of hilarious moments, interesting stories about the history and roaming through the streets, my stomach begins to rumble. I eat the best burger and cheesecake ever at the trendy ‘Basilic Café’. I think it is time for my first glass of wine today…we are in France, right?
Discovering Lille on a bike is ideal and afterwards I know exactly where I want to go. I don’t take a bus or metro, I prefer exploring a city on foot – and preferably without a map. It is a beautiful old world here. I love this charm. I just love pretty and snazzy initiatives in old houses: I’m especially fan of the interior design shop ‘Memento Mori’. No lack of vintage shops either, so I’m one happy girl. I could not stop myself buying some bottles of wine at ‘Les Vins Gourmands’. While I wander, I discover an antique book market in a beautiful courtyard. I buy some cheese as well…once again, we are in France and I’m still Laura. I fall in love with the square ‘Place aux Oignons’ and I drink another glass of wine. This is the most fun and French-looking little square that I’ve discovered in Lille and after enjoying this moment, I have a fantastic dinner at ‘Aux deux Cocottes’.
Yes, Lille is a nice place. I feel relaxing when I arrive at home, but secretly I want to discover more of this French delight. There appears to be a huge vintage market in september: je reviens! Fortunately, I’m leaving for Paris in a few days and I will continue my cheese and wine obsession, but first I’m going to explore the province of Girona in Spain. Suivez vos rêves. Bisous.