weekend in Lille

It’s important to have a getaway destination, a place to escape to, quickly and easily, from the congestion and pollution of a big city. And to spend time with children (and my surrogate family.)

I remember when the kids were small, I’d say to their parents “I don’t want them to grow up. I want them to stay small and innocent forever.” Here’s the eldest boy, all grown up at 15 years old, and in full rebellion. Listens to rap, talks back to his parents, thinks He Knows It All and we know nothing (reminds me of me at the same age). Sitting on his unmade bed. Oh, and permanently attached to his iPhone as if it were an extension of his arm.


Here he was nine years ago at the age of 6. Adorable. Sitting on my knee. Knee-high to a grasshopper.


Saturday night a bunch of his friends and cousins were over. You’ll never guess what they were doing. They were all sitting in one room, each with his or her iPhone, sending text messages and Snapchat photos to each other. “But why don’t you just talk?” we grownups said to them in stupefaction. “You know…like, a conversation??” “No, that’s boring,” was the reply.

Here’s how to empty a room full of kids fast. Put on a DVD of an old black and white film. I brought the excellent 3:10 to Yuma with me. Not the remake with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, but the original 1957 Western starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Sublimely directed by Delmer Daves. We fired up the DVD player and as soon as the film came on the kids cried – Aaaarrrrgghhhh!!…it’s black and white!!!!  And ran out of the room.

Saturday afternoon went into the Old Town of Lille with my 12-year old goddaughter. Narrow, cobblestoned streets. Great boutiques and tea salons. And the good people of Lille, called Lillois, are friendlier and more laidback than the aggressive Parisians. I might move to Lille when I retire. In fact, my ideal retirement lifestyle is this: six months in Lille, six months in Portugal (near a golf course).


I’m teaching M. to use a 35 mm camera; she took many of these photos. We ended the afternoon in a favorite tea salon called Tous Les Jours Dimanche. We ordered hot chocolate, one with real whipped cream called chantilly, the other intense dark chocolate.


Today I went to Lille’s Museum of Fine Arts, otherwise known as the Musée des beaux-arts.


There’s a small porcelain collection that I like to revisit. Here’s an 18th-century cup from the north of France called “une tasse trembleuse”.


Here’s an 18th-century hot chocolate pot (chocolatière) and cup. I wonder what 18th-century hot chocolate tasted like.

img_6760and some Delft porcelain from Holland, 1700-1750. I must visit the small town of Delft, I hear it’s charming. I really want to go back to Holland, to the Rijksmuseum again in Amsterdam (see my post) and to The Hague.img_6755

If anyone’s interested in porcelain, there’s an important collection at the Musée National de Céramique de Sèvres in western Paris.

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