Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lille (part two)

We've already got stuff in for breakfast. Cheese, ham, that sort of thing. Bread, too.

It's an aparthotel and we've a pretty complete kitchen. Not that  we're using it for anything more than brewing tea. The hotel offers breakfast for 10 euros but all the reviews say it's crap. It's the internet so it must be true. That's right, isn't it?

We've a plan for the day. A very simple one. This is a low-key holiday, after all. Wander through town up towards the citadel at the north end of the old town.

The weather is cool and very grey, punctuated by occasional drizzle. Perfect, really. Have I mentioned before my hatred of sunshine. It depresses the hell out of me. Unlike a cheering duvet of low cloud.

On our way through the Grand' Place, we glue on noses on the window of bakery Paul. Alongside a pair of Asin tourists who gaze in fascination at the weird forms and textures. Dolores is tempted by the German-looking rye bread and goes inside. But the queue is too long for her and we continue on our way.

I notice that there are several Paul bakeries in town. They seem to be the local equivalent of Greggs*. But ever so slightly more upmarket. Just ever so slightly.

Talking of upmarket, we wander past several dead posh shops on our way through town. Here's a selection of them:

But the further we get towards the back end of town, the more houses like this we come across:

In need of some external work, I'd say.

It's about here where we need to consult a map. We're all disorientated by the crazy street pattern.

"Which way is north, Ronald?"

"We should be able to navigate from the sun."

"Very funny."

My legs are aching by the time we get up to the citadel. It's further than we anticipated.

"Look at the bright side. All this walking should have burned off breakfast." I'm the optimistic type.

You may have noticed from a previous post that I have a thing about WW I memorials. I've found some crackers in small Franconian towns and villages. But I've never come across one like this before. Probably because it's unique:

See what it is? A meomoral to carrier pigeons. Appropriately enough, a pair of the birds are perched atop it.

I can see from the map that the citadel is a typical 17th-century fortification. Low, star-shaped earthworks faced in brick. Dolores is expecting something more visible. It's quite difficult to see any of it for the trees until you get pretty close.

The gullies between the bastions aren't somewhere you'd want to be if the defenders had taken a dislike to you. All sorts of horrible crossfire possibilities.

Louis XIV had this and a series of other forts built across this region after it had been captured by France in the second half of the 17th century. The thing is huge - the circumference is more than 2 kilometres - and is an idication of how important Lille was for the French.

Once we've dodged the zoo we spot the entrance and head for it. Irritatingly, cars keep coming out. Bit strange, that. Once through the first gate, we realise why: this is still an active milatary base. We can get no closer and have to content ourselves with long-distance photos.

It's 11:30. Time to find somewhere for lunch.

* In a British city you're never out of sight of a Greggs. Sometimes you can see two or three.

Boulangerie Paul-Vieille Bourse
8 Rue de Paris
59800 Lille


Matt said...

Have you seen the new, "posh" Greggs shops Ron? Artisan bread in wicker baskets and pavement tables where you can smoke a fag while munching your breakfast pasty.

Ron Pattinson said...


no, not seen a posh Greggs, Are they really posh?

Matt said...

Not really, just in relation to the others.