I carried a birthday cake from Paris to Lille…

The weather over the weekend was perfect: sunny and warm with a constant cool breeze. Saturday morning, I carried this cake (in a cardboard box) on the train to Lille. It arrived a little smushed, but delicious. It was my godson’s 10th birthday the week before.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to a bicycle store. I ended up buying him a “trottinette” for his birthday present. “Are you sure you don’t want a bicycle?” I asked him more than once. “No, Tata,” he said decisively, “I want a trottinette.” OK … who am I to argue with a ten-year-old? They know more about trends and technology than we do. I had brought two DVDs with me from Paris, and it was he who ended up connecting the DVD player to the big screen.

His biggest pleasure at turning ten is being able to lawfully sit up front in his dad’s car. Now I’m relegated to the back seat. Saturday evening we went, with his sister, for sushi to the same Japanese restaurant we had gone to before, and Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful (and very quiet.) Compared to Paris, Lille is a lot quieter. There’s also a lot more birdsong and foliage. At around 11 a.m., we walked through the leafy streets, my young companion scootering along in front of me. There’s some interesting architecture in the north of France.

We were headed to our favorite place: the Gare Saint Sauveur to have brunch and see a new art exhibition. Lille-Saint-Sauveur is a former goods station of Lille with the buildings converted into recreational areas and exhibitions. I love this place. For those who are interested, Lille is traditionally a Socialist city. The mayor, Martine Aubry, has held her post since 2001. She was the Labor Minister in the Mitterrand government, and her father, Jacques Delors, (still alive at the age of 96), was Finance Minister, also in Mitterrand’s government, before becoming President of the European Commission.

At the Gare Saint Sauveur bistro they have a new menu. I had a delicious offering of sweet and savory: pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream, a smoothie, one large spinach and squash-stuffed ravioli and spicy roasted potatoes, served with strong black coffee. It was heaven to be able to sit outside on the sunny, breezy terrace – no cars whizzing past – and to chat with friendly, smiling waitstaff. Soso had the child’s menu.

Afterwards, we visited the exhibition (free) which centers around the ravages of climate change.

At 6 pm I took the train back to Paris (a one-hour trip), then the bus to my apartment.

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