I made enquiries from my friends who were in France the previous year and the response was almost identical. “You will come back speaking excellent French.” Oh how confident I felt after those words. Alas, my days of just ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir’ would soon be over? I couldn’t wait! All my french speaking dreams would soon come to pass.
“Gare Lille Europe”, the voice shouted over the speaker. Lille, my final destination!! Most of my friends were down south and I was missing them already. I got off the train with my oversized African suitcases.There was no one to help me, everyone was going on their own business. I eventually found my way around. Now, let me tell you about Lille.
If there was a word to describe Lille, it will be ‘beautiful’. Located in the north of France,Lille is nicknamed ‘le carrefour d’Europe’ which translates to “the junction of Europe“, which is to say that through Lille, you can access many other towns and even countries. For example, Belgium is closer to Lille (1:15 minutes away actually) than Paris is.(an hour by train). One could access other countries like Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Britain by going through Lille.
Justifying the moniker “the junction of Europe”, Lille is a multicultural town with a lot of foreigners from all walks of life; Chinese, Senegalese, Belgians, to mention a few. It’s amazing!
I won’t lie. It gets really cold in Lille. During the fall and the winter, It almost feels like the White Walkers are in town (remember Game of Thrones?). I remember during the fall, my friends down south would send me photos of them in skimpy and light clothes whereas i’d be clothed in layers and layers of leggings, trousers, blouses and jackets (sobs!). -10 degrees during fall!! Crazy right? We have some good days though, especially during the summer and sometimes spring.
Places to visit? There’s the Palais des beaux-arts de Lille, Jardin des plantes de Lille and also Jardin botanique de la faculté de pharmacie.
Palais des beaux arts de Lille is an art gallery located within Lille and one of the largest art museums in France. It’s known to be a gallery for fine art, modern art and most antiquities.
Nature lovers can also take a walk through the Jardin des plantes de Lille, a botanical garden located in Lille which is opened daily.
Tourists can also find an array of plants, ornamental plants, medicinal plants and perfume plants all in Jardin botanique de la faculte de pharmacy near the université de Lille 2.
Are you a foodie like me? Then you will like what’s coming up next. Lille is known for its popular dish ‘moules-frites’ which originates from Belgium yet is eaten all over France with Lille having some of its best restaurants. Moules-frites is a dish of mussels and fries. There are also a lot of restaurants which serve local French meals, Chinese food and Italian cuisine all around town. Oh did I mention wine? You will love the wine up there.
Trust me, Lille is a place you’ll enjoy; from the warm and welcoming people to the beautiful town and good food and wine- definitely a place worth visiting!
By Esther Akyea