Before heading off to our new home in Belgium, we had planned to visit Keith Tapping, who some may remember as the former General Manager of CMHC and a man who truly improved the lives of many in the DTES. However, since Tapping was recovering from a recent operation, we had to change our plans and decided at the last minute to take the EuroStar train from London to Lille. It's quite an experience...in about an hour, we were in France, and discovered a very special city, about which I knew very little.
Lille is a French City, that was once a Dutch city. As a result, it has a distinctive Flemish architecture and both Flemish and French cuisine. We stayed at the Hotel Belvedere on the Grand Place and can recommend it as a well located, comfortable 3 star hotel. Our tour of the city was somewhat compromised by the fact it was Saturday August 15th, the day when virtually everyone in France is on holiday! Many shops were closed which delighted Sally since she thinks more merchants should spend more time with their families. She would like to see shops closed on Sundays as well.
In addition to seeing some very interesting buildings, I noticed a few things worth reporting.
1.La Piscine. A former art deco swimming pool that has been converted into the Musee d'Art and d'industrie in Roubaix. There is still water in the pool, and the shower stalls now showcase works of art. Fantastic!
2. Decorated shopping carts. Not everyone puts their groceries in the back of their Lexus 350 here. Instead, they transport their groceries from the store to home in a variety of shopping carts. We found these decorated carts in a very interesting home store. Is this an idea for Vancouver?3. Moving poster boards...instead of large billboards, many street locations have these 'rotating' glass enclosed 'billboards' that I first saw in Sweden in the 70's. I think they work, although I didn't always agree with the products being promoted!
4. Graffiti...there's not only a lot of spray on graffiti around the city, but people have taken to etching into glass. What can I say. I personally would support the return of the guillotine to remove fingers of people who do this. Sally does not agree.5. A variety of pates. Very popular in Lille...literally hundreds of varieties.6. Dog shit. The French love their dogs, and while I don't know if they let them shit in their living rooms, they have no qualms about letting them shit on the sidewalks. Where is that guillotine?
7. And finally, I couldn't resist this photo of a very old Flemish man appearing to be heading for NewMan, a well known French designer!