My French Adventure: La Braderie De Lille (part 2)

Part of the garden and park that we walked through each day to Lille’s centre.

So here we are at the second part of my French adventure with my mother. Before we embark on the third and fourth days, make sure you’re up to date on what happened before by checking out part 1.  By day 3, we had managed to become familiar with the walk in to Lille’s centre and found ourselves exploring Le Jardin Des Geants on our walks in and out. It was a beautiful, green place that was hiding a car park underneath it. It also had the most random giant heads scattered throughout, made from wire structures and bushes shaped around them. It was genuinely incredible and made me somewhat envious of Lille.

However, that was only part of my trip to Lille. La Braderie De Lille was still happening on the Sunday (day 3) so after a leisurely breakfast and vague planning we set out to explore the town.

Mum smiling despite being disorientated.

  We set out with the intention of visiting somewhere that we hadn’t visited before. Of wandering streets that had yet to be wandered… Only we ended up wandering down Rue Nationale and Boulevard de Libertie in order to get there, which we had explored the day before. On realising our mistake we decided to take a break and relax a little bit. Soak up the sun, eat the ripest nectarines I’ve had in a while (mmmmm, so juicy) while sat on the edge of a fountain. It was a wonderful pause and that moment when it suddenly hits you. That lightbulb of ‘Hey I’m on holiday now’. It’s just a shame I was going home the next day.

Taking a cheeky selfie

When we finally found the energy to move away from the fountain- harder than you think- we moved further up the boulevard to discover the vintage market. Mum brought Steff an Asterix comic but in French as a joke gift, as my sister loves Asterix but learnt German rather than French. I got distracted by the endless Marvel and DC comics but as they were in far more complex French than I can read I had to leave them behind. We spent a good hour or so wandering around the vintage market before once more heading back to the hotel. It seems like we didn’t do that much but just wandering through the crowds and looking at the various stalls took hours. But it was so much fun and I’m planning to go back at some point. I also brought the most gorgeous chocolate leather backpack from one of the stalls. And with our various purchases under wraps we headed to get lunch.
Lunch was soooooo tasty. We had some kind of stew made from lardons, potatoes, cheese and other goodies from a street stall and it was delicious, if salty. The French really like their salt. After that we continued to wander around before grabbing a cup of coffee from… wait for it… Notting Hill Coffee! I know, it sounds so British! I also began to develop a taste for straight up, black with no sugar espressos. Hmmmm, so dark and bitter. And then our final mission for the afternoon was at Missmaps. Mum had not forgotten the canvas of Lille and insisted on buying one, though I may have encouraged her. Since the canvas was actually made of cardboard we then had to find a way, using our amazing map reading skills, to get back to the hotel while avoiding any massively crowded areas. And we succeeded! Felt rather good about that afterwards.

Once home, we returned to collapsing on our beds (again) for another few hours. Reading, planning and general recuperation from coping with the crowds. Neither of us were quite as tired though as the  crowds had definitely lessened by Sunday so there had been less shuffling and more walking. By 7pm we were starting to get hungry again and headed for our third moules frites of the weekend. We had wanted to try carbonnade flamanade but the restaurant had run out so we added cheese to our moules frites instead. La Coq Hardie was a great little street cafe and once again we were able to get by on a mixture of broken French from us and broken English from the waiters. Infuriating but fun at the same time. We didn’t do much wandering afterwards, just enough for our stomachs to settle, before heading back to get more sleep before heading home.

The ducks in the garden we walked through. Someone needs to clean the water though.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille

So, that brings us to our final day in France. A sad day as it meant I had to go back to work the next day. Then again, we were both starting to miss cool houses due to the French tendency to super heat any building, at least by British standards. We had an earlier start as we had to have our rooms cleared by 11am but the front desk at Art Deco were kind enough to look after our bags until we went to catch the train that afternoon. This meant we were free to explore the town of Lille, free of the hustle and bustle of La Braderie. Having grown up in a cathedral city and being fascinated by them, I directed Mum straight towards Lille’s cathedral, Notre Dame de la Treille. It’s a really rather stunning cathedral and clearly one that has pride taken in it. We just loved the front, which was a mix of the traditional and modern in a way that was incredibly harmonious.

Inside Notre Dame
Inside the cathedral was beautiful. There were coloured ribbons hanging down from each pillar, softening the puritanical nature of grey stone, and each chapel was clearly treated with respect. While I may not agree with their treatment of the saints, I can’t help but respect the work that must be put in to Notre Dame de la Treille in order to maintain it.

After this we decided that anymore museums or landmarks would probably be rushed as we worried about train times, so instead we had coffee (mmmm, another espresso pour moi) and did some more wandering/window shopping, before settling down for lunch at a French bar. I had steak with fries, salad and pepper sauce. I can now officially say that mayonnaise, salt’n’vinegar and ketchup have all been replaced by pepper sauce on fries. It was just so darn tasty! But I do love black pepper an awful lot so I shouldn’t really be surprised. Then, after a quick trip to Carrefour to pick up wines and other alcohol, cheeses, dried sausages and waffles, we headed to pick up our luggage from the hotel to go catch the train back to London.

The train journey back was just as quick as last time and really quite peaceful. I didn’t quite nod off but at times I wasn’t far off. Once we reached London, we caught a taxi over to Waterloo. No way were we taking a large cardboard canvas, several bottles of alcohol and our suitcases through the Underground safely! That all went smoothly and once there we picked up a box of nachos each from Micasa before jumping on the train home. And this one wasn’t delayed at all!

So that was my French adventure. Fun if disorientating and both I and Mum enjoyed trying to use our broken French. I’m not sure the French enjoyed it though. I’ll hopefully return to La Braderie one year but for now my sites are set on Belgium and you can blame Aurélie for that. Visit her site here at lovelifelovefashion.be.

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