Monday, July 02, 2007
The Grand Place aka Place de Charles de Gaulle
Le Grand Squat
My fav painting in the Lille art gallery, The Birth of Venus by Amaury-Duval
Had a day off the other day, and since I woke up early, I adjusted my plans from slobbing around in bed all day to hopping the train to Lille. As my first time on a French train, it was a little nerve-wracking, as I always find to be the case with public transport, but there were no hiccups and I can report that the scenery on the way to Lille is, in common with the rest of the north-east of France, 90% empty fields. I was reading the other day that the north is, outside Paris, the most heavily urbanised region of France, which makes me wonder what sort of barren wastelands are to be discovered in the south...
This same tourist guide (a guide to Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the region where I live, which curiously enough contains a section on South-East England, which has clearly been appropriated by the French) informed me that the Palais de Beaux Arts in Lille was France's second art gallery after the Louvre. All I can say is that it's a distant second. Well, it wasn't that bad, but certainly not a patch on the Louvre for treasures and a bit smaller than I imagined. There was one painting that I really liked though, I'll put it up with my next new batch of photos. Not many 'big names' and items of note, but you know, an okay way to spend a couple of hours.
After the gallery and a stop at Quick, France's answer to McDonald's, which I felt I should sample to 'faire une comparison' between the two (Quick is even worse than MacDo, FYI), it was time for shopping. Instead of shops having sales any old time, in France they all launch on the same day, and I think they run for a month. They began last Thursday or something, so by Saturday there was still plenty to pick from, so I had a fun afternoon rifling through various shops (Lille has plenty to choose from) before buying something that wasn't on sale at all - typical! - although since it only cost 6€ it's okay. It was an emerald-green top from H&M, for those of you playing at home. I've gone all, 'let's buy colours' this season, I have too much black in the wardrobe and am going for some summery stuff.
Then I just wandered about for a bit. There was something charmingly called 'Le Grand Squat' taking place in one of the city squares - this entailed information on jobs and so on for young people and various cover bands. This is one thing I like about Europe - there are always things just randomly going on on the streets or in parks or what have you.
After a stop at a bookshop with English-language books and newspapers (heaven!) and a brief nosy around Euralille, it was back on the train and back to the chateau, well pleased with having had a day out for a change.