European Living

Vacation: Lille

3 Nights, 4 Days in Lille, France

This was our first experience with the Eurostar Train and Robin's first experience in a non-english speaking country. We were gone 26 - 29 of October.

I rearranged the pictures to give some semblance of order.

London Living    

This is the Eurostar train. We left from Waterloo station in London. The trip was non-stop to Lille, and took about 1.5 hours. We were in the Chunnel tunnel for about 20 minutes. After Lille, the train went on to Brussels.

Anyway, we got off the train at about 9pm local time. This picture of the train station was taken the next morning.) By design, our hotel was in walking distance, a good thing since everything appeared to be closed already!

We arrived in Lille, France!

There is a mall attached to the train station, with this giant flower.

Our hotel, with Robin posing.

Unlike London where almost every house on a block is exactly the same, Lille allows variation in the fascade of buildings. Stella-Artois is a kind of beer. And Londres is french for London. Beer is a regional specialty of Lille.

This is the spire of St-Maurice, the finest church in Lille.

Here is Robin in the shade of St-Maurice.

This is the main city plaza, Place Generel de Gaulle. Because of the statue on the column, the area is also known as the plaza of the godess (La Dessee). The area has lots of restaurants and shops.

More buildings in the Place de la Dessee. On the left is the tourism bureau, housed in the chapel (and only remaining building) of an ancient palace. The building on the right is now a theatre, but was built for the royal gaurd of Louis XIV.

In the foreground is the Vielle Bourse, the ancient stock exchange. It is built in the Flemish style, as is much of the city. The building is very ornate, with red, grey and golden bricks delicately carved in the 17th century.

The interior courtyard of the Vielle Bourse. This is often used as a market for used books.

Not far from our hotel is a small park.

The park contains an farm used to educate students. As you can see, they raise sheep and goats. The goat is looking at a white goose in the distance. The farm also has donkeys, roosters, rabbits, and a big pig!


Night time picture of the Flandres Train station. Night time is a very, very bad time to drive in the center of Lille-gridlock.

This is the Prefecture du Nord, representing the central administration for the North of France. It is situated in the Place de la Republique, a 19th century plaza that epitomizes town planning in those days. One end of the square represents government, the other end holds the Fine Arts Museum, with churches and theatres in every direction.

This detail on the Prefecture du Nord shows the eagle, a symbol of the second French republic.

Also in Place de la Republique is the Fine Arts Museum. After the Louvre, it is the best museum in France. Robin and I enjoyed looking around in here.

We went on a guided tour in English around the city center. The woman in red is our guide. She was very friendly, and spoke exactly like my high school French teacher.

An old tower from a 14th century palace.

In addition to the ornate Flemish architecture, notice the faux cannonballs included in the building. These represent the Austrian seige of Lille, which was successfully defended shortly after the French revolution.

More fascinating architecture. This building is broken into several houses. How to tell which window is whose? If the windows are in the same house, then the cherubs face eachother. Otherwise, the cherubs face opposite.

The belfry of the Nouvelle Bourse.

Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral. Most of the building was built in the Gothic style I like so much, except this section here. The gothic building was unfinished for decades until 15 years ago, when this section was added in the Modern style. Yes it is ugly from the outside, but the inside is very nice. The new material is actually marble cut very thin, so that from inside, it appears to glow.

A detail of the cathedral. Click for a larger image

Gargoyles on the cathedral.

The Musee de l'Hospice Comtesse, is a museum in a former charity hospital. This is the courtyard, with a giant monkey in it.

This museum shows life in the 18th century, along with decorative arts around this region of France. The tiles are all handmade and unique.

The month we visited Lille, they were having a celebration of Indian culture. Lille was the European Capital of Culture in 2004, and they wanted to include Indian culture this year. This is one of a dozen elephants lining one of the main streets.

Part of the Indian celebrations include musical and artistic exhibitions at the Lille Grand Opera House.

This is Apollo, who sits with his muses on the top of the Opera building.

Some Indian dancers making their way to the Opera House.

Inside the Opera House.

London Living