First off, I've been blogging for HOW LONG?! I have a new series of posts for you, dear readers, that is way overdue. I'm going to introduce you to our hometown, Lille. I don't really know where to begin, but I'm going to begin somewhere. I think that starting with centre ville seems okay.
Here is the Gare de Lille Flandres, one of the "entrances" to my beautiful city. Until the Gare de Lille Europe (which is very modern and doesn't quite fit in with the Vieux-Lille quartier) opened in 1993, this was Lille's only train station. It was completed in 1892, and the station front was the original front of Paris's Gare du Nord. The two stations are literally across the street from each other...I know, I don't get it, either.
If you exit from the front and head straight for the Grand'Place (formally known as la Place du Général-de-Gaulle, which was named such after World War II in honor of one great Lillois), here is what you'll see: unique, Flemish architecture (which Lille is full of). Lille is a "transition city" in the sense that it is French, yet, it prepares you for the architecture you'd see in Belgium or the Netherlands.
So, what will you find in the Grand'Place?
In the photo above, I'm actually standing on the staircase of the Théâtre du Nord, built in the 1780's. This is where you go to have all of your theatrical and dramatic needs met. I've seen several plays here- ranging from Molière's comedies to comedies that make no sense whatsoever (I'm talking about Ionesco's La cantatrice chauve...)!
The most famous building would have to be the Vieille Bourse, or the Old Stock Exchange. This building was built in the 1650s, when Lille was part of Flandres (Lille wasn't apart of France until Louis XIV, the roi-soleil, laid siege to it in 1668).
Today, the inside courtyard boasts an awesome flea market...
Any guesses as to which posters I bought?
Here is some of the original detailing:
We also have the central office building for La Voix du Nord, the regional newspaper:
Do you notice anything in the background of these photos?
That would be the beffroi- or belfry- linked to the Town Hall. Although it was built in 1932, making it quite modern compared to the rest of Lille, it is a symbol of the city as well as apart of my region.
The architecture fits in with the Flemish style, so it blends in quite nicely. Actually, until I researched it myself, I thought it was centuries older than it actually is! The old town hall was destroyed in World War I.
So, what's that pretty building next to the Town Hall? That would be the neoclassical Opéra de Lille! The original opera burned down in 1903, so the construction of this one began in 1907. However, World War I caused some delays in construction, and it wasn't completed until 1923. Doesn't it resemble the Palais Garnier (which Aurélie is going to write a post on) in Paris?
I'm going to end this post by talking about the magnificent streets of Vieux-Lille, where I like to do some serious shopping. Vieux-Lille is where I live, and it is the more Flemish part of Lille.
I don't shop here, but Sandrine and Aurélie wanted me to post photos of the Repetto store where they shop for their leotards and other ballet stuff. The tutu that is on display totally reminds me of Aurélie; what do you think?
Rue de la Clef is definitely one of my favorite streets to walk down. I mean, what's not to love about this street?!
Just look at this fleuriste! My family loves to get their flowers from here.
In good fashion, you'll see a sign in both French and Flemish.
So, dear readers, that was the first glimpse into our lovely hometown. I'm sorry that it's way overdue. I hope you've enjoyed the photos, and I will say, there are plenty more to come! I am proud of who I am and where I came from. I might whine about the weather sometimes, but there is no place I'd rather be from. I'm a "ch'ti" and proud of it.
Are you proud of where you came from?
(PS: If you have any questions about Lille for me, please feel free to ask in the comments section! I'll answer them in my next post.)