Seeing Lille

Trip Start Apr 11, 2012
Trip End Oct 10, 2012

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Flag of France  , Nord-Pas-de-Calais,
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

After the ride into Lille, I was determined to find a better climate to cycle in. With a little research, I found I could take a high-speed train to Bordeaux, on the west coast of France, then head down into Spain from there. I went to the train station in Lille and bought my ticket: 121 Euros for the ticket + 10 for the bike, so around $175. For some reason, my credit card didn't work, but luckily I have been in the habit of carrying around $300 in cash, so no problems. (As for the credit card, I have found since that it only works with about half the card readers here. This is probably due to the fact that the European cards are somewhat different and have a microchip and pin number set up rather than our usual print and sign system)

With my trip planning out of the way, I set off to see the sights in Lille (Wikipedia is great!). Luckily, I had gotten a hotel in the middle of the city, so it ended up being a long walk about town. I went into the fine arts museum, Palais des Beaux-Arts, (I walked in for free, as it wasn't clear to me that there was paid admission and nobody said otherwise), which was three huge floors of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and antiques. I believe it is the largest museum in France, and I can believe it, for even I spent about three hours there. Some of the sculptures there are quite impressive--the highlight of my visit!

Following this, I took a stroll over to Grand Place, the large plaza in the center of town. Somehow, it still impresses me to see buildings everywhere around me that have obviously been built before even the 1950s...haha, yes yes, I know, they are much older than that.

Then was the Citadelle, which is a huge fortress complex built in the 17th century. It is in the middle of a large park, so you can walk all the way around it, but it is still an active military installation, so no going in. Wikipedia says that it is a NATO installation and there are supposedly some Americans stationed there...all about who you know, I guess. The whole place is shaped like a five-pointed star, but it is really massive, and they appear to have sacrificed innumerable bricks in its construction. I am still somewhat surprised that they were able to build the whole thing in just a few years...that's a real stimulus project!

The weather was kind enough to not rain on me until I was returning to the hotel, but the high winds that accompanied the rain proceeded to invert and destroy my little umbrella :(  I saw it happen to several other people though, so at least my misery knows company. Somehow, it did not leave enough of an impression on me, for after returning to the hotel and reading other cyclists' touring stories, I returned to the train station and got a refund. Why pay money to travel, when I have my bike, I asked...after all, it is only 600 miles to Bordeaux. Stupid, perhaps, but then, I am the one riding his bicycle on vacation.

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LeAnn on

Awesome. And quit complaining about prices1 ;-)

jonmatters on

Yes, but I love my money :)

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