I visited Lille, in northern France, last weekend for a city break. Why Lille? It’s one stop on the Eurostar from London on the way to both Brussels and Paris, and I was always curious as to what lay beyond the station platform.Lille

It turns out Lille is a very picturesque city that borders with Belgium, with everything you want in a French getaway – a big Sunday morning food and flea market; numerous patisseries; Europe’s biggest bookstore.


Did I mention as well, on a fast train, it’s only one hour and twenty minutes from London St. Pancras? That’s the same time it can take to get to Birmingham!

city-bike-lillecoffee-cups-franceThese cups remind me of my friends Monica and Graham! The beautiful and the beautifully bearded.Companions of the Grape

Dinner one night was at Les Compagnons de la Grappe (the companions of the grape). While it was a little chilly outside in the evening, it was fun to sit in the courtyard and admire their insane murals. I love the gnome!
Pride eclairsIt was Lille Pride while I was there, and I very much admired these exquisitely decorated eclairs. Printed, perhaps?

Suze - Lille

I spent Sunday morning in the suburb of Wazemmes, around a half hour’s stroll from the city centre. I love flea markets… The suburb where I grew up, Takapuna, had a market every Sunday morning in the central car park from 6am until 12pm, and it was a rare weekend when we didn’t pop in for fruit and veggies, homemade soap, paint or some other errand. This one in Lille, has a similar hodge-podge of goods at its heart, including women’s shoes for two euros!

Mirror, Lillehortensia PatisserieBadminton Raquets french-pupI would definitely visit Lille again – it’s a cheaper(!), more relaxed alternative to Paris. Certainly less tourists in town… Perhaps in September for Grande Braderie de Lille – Europe’s largest flea market.

Paris in one day





anchor me

lock hunting






pistache eclair


1. Good morning, beautiful buildings 2. Fresh fraise 3. A wonderful optometrist’s sign 4. I always love the bold graphic deign of Metro posters 5. A bit of grit down by the Seine 6. Lock-hunting, seeing if ours still might be there (ha!) 7. Café crème to start the day. Don’t look foolish by asking for café au lait – that’s so 90′s  8.Shakespeare & Co., style-stalking the girl in the mustard tights 9. Marvellous meringues 10. Have you seen this cat? 11. Nice typography 12. Un éclair pistache – soooo good. 13. A couple of silly-faces.

More Parisian adventures:


I have been feeling the urge to watch a lot of French or French inspired films lately. One of the DVDs I picked up was Le Scaphandre et le Papillon or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Directed by Julian Schnabel, it tells the story of Jean-Do Bauby – the editor of French Elle – who suffers a stroke, leaving him completely paralysed. The only thing he can move is his left eye.

Thankfully, with the dedicated care of the people around him, he still enjoys a quality of life and the ability to communicate – with a blinking derived alphabet system. It all culminates in the publishing of a novel, as transcribed by his supporters.

If you have seen the recent James Bond movie, you may be familiar with Mathieu Amalric, who plays Bauby. I was saddened by his role in the Hollywood explode-a-rama, however do not fear he is a brilliant actor and The Diving Bell is a testament to this.

The film has not been without disputes. In real life, Bauby’s girlfriend is not the wench she is made out to be in the movie, as this article discusses. Florence Bensadoun actually spent weeks by his bedside, tending to her lover, while the filmic wife was apparently not true to life.

Despite the controversy, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon is still a loving, dreamy film that shows that a life is still to be valued even when everything but your mind is gone.


(This is the French cinema trailer, which in my mind is far superior to the Western offering.)