playground, art exhibition and then lunch

Last weekend my five-year old godchild and I went to our favorite park and playground in Lille.


We call it “le parc rouge” (the red park) because of the red fencing, but that’s not its official name. I’ve been going to this park for ten years. I used to take the other kids when they were small. Now, sadly, they’re no longer interested. They’re teenagers now so they have more important things to do on the weekend. Like lying comatose on their beds while plugged into their smartphones.


After the playground, we walked across the road to another favorite spot called La Gare Saint Sauveur. Once a freight station, it now houses a bistro, a cinema and a large art exhibition space. There’s always something going on at the Gare Saint Sauveur.


This is a lego station where people can build their own models. Out back, there’s a communal vegetable garden.



Back inside to the art installations in the warehouse-style space.


This is Scott Hocking’s Tower of Babel constructed from large bricks. “What’s that?” my small companion asked. How do you explain an ancient myth to a child? “Once upon a time in a far-away land …”


I like the idea of exposing children to art (or exposing art to children.) Lunchtime approaching, we headed to the bistro but it was packed. 


“Come,” I said, “I know another place up the road where it’s quiet.” “But I’m hungry!” my companion cried. “You’re going to love this place,” I said, “You’ll have a plate of fries and a burger.” “With ketchup?” “Yes, with ketchup.”


This is the children’s menu for 9 euros. He loved having his own little pots of ketchup. I had a speciality of northern France called a “Welsh”. It’s Welsh rarebit (melted cheddar cheese on toast), but at this restaurant they serve a deluxe version with ham slices inside.


Heavens, I’ve just noticed in the above photo how he’s clutching his knife and fork as if they were a chisel and pick. My little companion is going to have to learn good table manners (like most French children) if he’s going to eat with me in restaurants. At this 5-star hotel (called L’Hermitage Gantois) there’s a gastronomic restaurant, but we were in the informal brasserie called L’Estaminet. I’ve eaten here about two dozen times and each time the waitstaff is a little bit snooty. This mystifies me because in general the people of Lille (called Lillois) are very friendly. The food though is very good. And the hotel is gorgeous. They’ve recently added a spa.


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