Today I found myself with the desire to search for les petits urbains détails and I wasn’t disappointed! It’s a nice way to get reacquainted with where you live and I also discovered lots of bands, events, political zines, and weird little french panneaux etc.
Lille has the fourth-largest metropolitan area behind Paris, Lyon and Marseille, with an urban population over one million. It lies very close to the Franco-Belgian border, and it attracts students to it’s many universities from all over Europe. The atmosphere of Lille is the furthest I’ve encountered from a typical French city so far and that’s no bad thing! It felt a little more like Amsterdam in it’s ambiance, it’s shops, architecture and demography; throw in a tram and a canal and you’re good to go. But of course no one wants another Amsterdam, every great city is great because there shouldn’t be another like it. It’s the same for Lille, and while I didn’t spend enough time there to really get a feel for the place I would venture to say it’s one of my favourite places that I’ve visited so far in France. What can I say I’m a sucker for a big, bustling city. It didn’t feel as safe as other places I’ve visited but that’s one of the disadvantages of a big city anywhere in the world.
The light was just stunning on La Mairie around sunset, I don’t know if it’s the colour of the stone in France or the light but it’s really spectacular at dusk (visit the Pantheon in Paris at sunset after a sunny day and you will understand).Continue reading →
Monday morning never ceases to surprise – I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland on my travels. I have lived in Reims for over two months yet aujourd’hui I came across new undiscovered (by me) joys. Kicked out of the flat early due to an expected visit from the insurance inspectors I had to make myself scarce for at least half an hour. Of course I was out for longer than this, despite the bitter cold wind we’re having at the moment. I came across a market running all the way up and along Rue de Chanzy, I wanted to wander about, sniff some cheese, find some interesting jewelry, be transported back to the past by an antique – alas, it was not meant to be. This was your usual tacky market fare – clothes fallen off the back of a truck in garish colours, trinkets and lipsticks wrapped in shiny plastic – not my cupán tae at all. So I kept on trucking down la rue, feeling a little like déja vu, seeing the same stalls encore et encore until I came across a little park. With the sun dipping in and out of the clouds it was a good spot to take a seat and devour my pain au chocolat from the boulangerie. The park was decked out in the requisite cherry blossoms of this time of year.
But what a lovely surprise, it wasn’t just a park, it was actually adjoined to the Basilique Saint-Remi de Reims (Abbey of Saint-Remi), and while it is no way as spectacular as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, it possesses a certain charm. It is a historical monument and not exactly undiscovered but as I walked around the relatively quiet park snapping away with my camera I felt like I had stumbled upon King Tut’s tomb for the first time. Then two Americans walked through and I was no longer the great explorer lost in the wilds. Why is it always Americans? (I actually feel quite guilty for making the old European sigh of “Americans” as any American I’ve ever known has been nothing like the stereotype – I suppose that’s why the word “stereotype” has a negative connotation).
Here’s a few shots, it had really interesting angles which I don’t think I quite captured from the ground but I gave it a try from my minuscule height Continue reading →