So we went to Lille for 3 days. We packed the kids, the luggage, the stuffed animals the girls can’t sleep without, the dvds to watch while travelling, the water, the biscuits, we piled it all up in our Renault Grand Espace, and we headed for Dover and the Eurotunnel. I will shut up about the fact that I regret the times when we didn’t have a screen in the head rests and the children had to ask every minute: ” When do we arrive?…Is it still far?…”. To be honest my children almost never asked. They had game boys and Play station before they could properly talk – so they are used to travel without even thinking that this might be boring. They are in trance all along.
But in the Eurotunnel you have no choice. The engine has to be turn off and no electrical equipment can be on. So here it goes: ” Is it going to be long?…When do we arrive?”. I haven’t been nostalgic for very long.
From London it take aproximately 4 hours to get to Lille. I had been there before several times but except my eldest none of my kids had ever seen the place. We stayed at the Carlton which is situated near the train stations and basically in the middle of the city. So we could walk everywhere- which I like. Taking the bus or any kind of transport with five children is a nightmare around Christmas. There is not much to see though; we went on the big wheel and admired the incredible view above all the roofs of Lille. I dislike being so high but the boys loved it. we visited the Christmas market , but I was not impressed. We had a look around the shops and bought quite a few dvds and books. As we all speak french it is a good way to maintain it and learn new expressions – and slang. We walked in the streets and enjoyed the high and imposing buildings. The mixture of the styles – french and Flemish- has a very imposing structure that I like . You feel protected there. I felt also rich. You see beggars here and there. Most of them are alcoholics. They talk alone and get angry. It is not as bad as in edinburgh, for example, but it is still painful to see. Most passersby do not notice them anymore.
The food is nice . You have lots of creperies there- all sorts of pancakes await you. We ate them every evening , standing up in the street. It’s a cheap meal that fills you up easily. The kids love them. My husband drank some vin chaud- the equivalent of mulled wine. We sometimes had a gauffre – a waffle. At lunch we enjoyed foie gras , a French delicacy that most foreigners don’t understand. The foie gras is the oversized liver of a duck or a goose; you can have barely cooked or in pate. It is an acquired taste. In France or Switzerland we tend to feed our children with eat on big occasions. Most children don’t like it to start with. But after a few trials they get accustomed to it. As it is expensive and rare ( but less and less so) the more you can eat the better you feel. My boys love it. My girls just tried it – and spit it out. That’s alright, they will try it again. The main courses contain usually something with beef or chicken . The French are not shy with vegetables- which is a pleasure for me. With the English you have to search your plate to discover where the cook has hidden them. Lots of English people are constipated. We most of the time dropped the desserts as we were more than full. But we enjoyed our food and all came back with pot bellies.
I am ashamed we didn’t go into any museums or churches. Not this time. I didn’t have the courage but we liked our walks through the city. We brought back food and wine. We’re getting ready for the Christams party…

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