I’ve been taking the kids to the “parc rouge” (the red park) for thirteen years now, ever since the eldest son – now 20 – was seven years old. Now it’s his little brother, 9 years old, who I take to the park and then to lunch across the road.
It’s not really called the red park, we call it that because the metal gates surrounding it are painted red. Its official name is Le parc Jean-Baptiste Lebas. The weather was autumnal: crisp, cool and sunny, the lawns littered with fallen leaves.
Directly across the road is the Gare Saint Sauveur, a former goods station with some of the buildings converted into an exhibition area and a terrific bistro that I love. Great food, service and ambience at reasonable prices.
The evening before, I had taken my 9-year old companion to a DVD shop at around 7 pm. It’s a place that I frequent often (I have a huge DVD collection) because there must be over 100,000 DVDs on offer, all years, all genres, all nationalities. I could spend hours there. But after about 20 minutes my companion complained that his back hurt because he was standing for too long.
“What?” I exclaimed, flipping through a row of DVDs. “You’re 9 years old and you’re complaining of back pain?” I suffer from lumbago. I’ll tell you about back pain, my little friend. (He confessed later that his back didn’t hurt, he was just bored and wanted to leave.)
So I quickly bought two DVDs: Bunny Lake is Missing (a 1965 British psychological drama film directed by Otto Preminger) and The Grifters (a 1990 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Stephen Frears) and out we went into the night in central Lille. We ended up in a pocket-sized sushi restaurant. We both agreed that it wasn’t as good as the sushi we had in Paris in August.
The Bistro de St So is a super casual, welcoming place filled with young parents and their kids who are encouraged to run around in a safe place while the parents catch up with their friends. Incidentally, the good people from Lille are twenty times friendlier and more relaxed than Parisians.
I chose the roast chicken with stuffing, mushrooms and roasted squash because it looked autumnal. My companion had the children’s menu of fish and chips.
I couldn’t resist the dessert which was a sort of butternut tart with a citrusy cream and chantilly (whipped cream). Eating it was a beautiful experience.
Back to Paris on the Sunday afternoon train.