Monday, 26 October 2009

Lille, Mighty Real

We’ve been in Lille now for just under a full day. We’ve encountered a new time zone that was then changed back to BST thanks to daylight saving, so we haven’t lost any time at all in the overall melee of temporal jiggery-pokery. We will, however, get an hour back when we return to Blighty.

Eurostar is a great way to travel. Train from Wakefield to London, walk over to St Pancras and pick up the sexy, high-speed train to France and you’re there in about 5 hours all-in. We arrive at a dull and vaguely drizzly Lille at about 3pm local time and walked to our hotel. We arrived and checked in to a very attractive former convent with a glass covered cloister where their restaurant was situated, then went to our well maintained, reasonably sized room complete with plasma TV. It's called Couvent des Minimes, and I was disappointed not to find the place teeming with Vern Troyer clones. Well, at least until I discovered that Minimes is French for junior and also referes to some Caatholic sect and didn't actually mean the Austin Powers character. At £65 a night including breakfast this is actually quite a bargain, it being 4*, apparently. Saying that, star ratings refer to the facilities in each room , including a Corby trouser press which is something I hardly imagine anyone actually using so it’s a bit redundant. The minibar is a bit crap too: no beer, but soft drinks that the hotel want €4 for. Yes, just shy of £4 for a can of Coke. Now that is taking the piss. I’d expect to pay less than that for the non-capitalised version of coke, its Columbian namesake.

We headed out to the local area to sample a couple of bars which were quite good, very French, and I sampled a couple of Bieres Belgique: Leffe and Tripel Karmeliet. I’ve had both in bottles at home, though the latter I remember tasting a whole lot better when it came from Morrisons, as the draught version here tasted a little like dishwater.

We returned to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for dinner. We made it to a restaurant near the main square called Flore. Starters were fantastic. We both had paté, though Jane’s was a coarse, rustic variety, while mine was a duck foie gras. I know foie gras is cruel, but to be honest, if I thought my liver would taste that good once it exploded through over-eating I would certainly consider it a worthy career choice. Main courses were a little disappointing. Jane’s carbonnade flandre was a little odd-flavoured, and my rump steak was tough, though wasn’t overdone. Chips weren’t up to much either, being of the frozen variety.

We headed to a student area which was a little disappointing being full of Irish and Scottish themed pubs. Really naff looking ones at that. We did settle on a place called Bar Atomic which had some nice atmosphere and was playing some great rock music. Again I had more Belgian beer, finishing on a Kwak, which was good, but I was disappointed not to receive in a yard of ale style glass in a wooden holder. We then took a fairly circuitous route home but got there in the end before getting to bed.

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