Before we landed in the UK, and for some time thereafter, we had no real idea what the itinerary of our European road trip was going to look like. All that we had was a pickup date for our car in Paris and the appropriate Eurostar booking. At some point, I think it was at dinner with friends in Soho, I hatched a plan to visit my Swedish friend for Midsommar celebrations (more on that glorious day another time). In fact, I became quite obsessed with the idea. I think I became overwhelmed with the same things many travellers lust after: 1. Contact with old friends and, 2. that illusive “authentic experience of a different culture.” Despite this, I tried to remain rational and reasonable. Rich did some calculating (as he is prone to do, sometimes to the extreme), and it was revealed that it was possible for us to reach Sweden in time for Midsommar. I contacted my Swedish friend to be sure of appropriate etiquette and availabilities. Replies were positive. Rational thinking and reasoning were cast aside. And then IT. WAS. ON.
Preparations and planning began for an epic road trip. An extreme journey that took us from Paris, France to Vaxjo, Sweden in not enough time. Along the way we stopped in the Northern French city of Lille. And we had ourselves a lovely time. Here’s the report on Lille.
There is probably nothing extraordinary to report about Lille, except the fact that we made it there. You see, it was our first day with the car. Rich had never driven ‘on the other side of the road’ and Paris is a pretty intense introduction. We had also never interacted with a GPS system and arrived to peak hour traffic in Lille. It may have taken three loops of Lille’s business district, but the car was parked and the new hotel was better than expected.
Lille is not a touristy city where you can view iconic landmarks your friends have already seen. There are interesting old buildings, nice parks and hardly an English-speaking person. We loved it. We wandered through town admiring what it had to offer, but the real adventures were had at the local modern shopping mall. Interesting food finds, practising our very minimal French and just generally seeing how the citizens of Lille went about their daily lives was fascinating. Once, a shop assistant was so surprised to discover Rich was from Australia she called her friends over and presented her extraordinary find. From what he could gather she had met people from many countries, but he was her first Australian.
After we rested up for a couple of days in Lille it was time to hit the road again. More than five hundred kilometers and three countries later we were in Hannover, Germany.
I’ve created a few slideshows below that cover the main sites of Lille we saw. If you want to know more about Lille a good place to start is the Lille tourism website.
Click on an image to view a larger version and enter the slideshow.
Slideshow 1 of 3: Around Porte de Paris
Porte de Paris. Triumphal Arch built in honour of the capture of Lille by Louis XIV in 1667.
Porte de Paris
Entering Parc Jean Baptiste Lebas. Apparently this land was once used for illegal parking, but was converted to its current form in 2006.
Inside Parc Jean Baptiste Lebas.
There was a cute playground inside Parc Jean Baptiste Lebas, including a London Bus, much to our amusement.
Another lovely flower in Parc Jean Baptiste Lebas.
Slideshow 2 of 3: Around the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille
Near Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille
Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille. Apparently inside this museum there is an impressive wide range of art, but we didn’t feel like an art museum that day.
Around Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille
Slideshow 3 of 3: Around the Citadel
Entering the park surrounding The Citadel.
A mum with her bubs hanging out around the moat surrounding The Citadel.
With the beautiful weather lots of people were enjoying the grounds around The Citadel.
One of the points of The Citadel.
Resident Yak at The Citadel.
We weren’t quite sure, but this appeared to be the resident baby Yak.
More playground fun.
Finding a great adventure playground is like finding gold when traveling with children. What a great way to end the day, hanging with your best bud at the park.