Friday, August 25, 2006

A brief visit to France

A few times a year a strong yearning to go to France rears its handsome head.
Luckily it is not about the the Côte d'Azur, over 1000kms / 625miles from Rotterdam, but about Lille, way up in the North of France, only about one fifth of that distance.

It is so close to the Belgian border, that some streets have the border line in the middle of the road. Here we see France on the right, and the Belgian town Mouscron on the left.

A good reason to go there last Sunday was a flea market in Tourcoing, part of the Lille urban sprawl. I arrived by lunchtime, which is the time for the French to do just that: go to lunch, so I only saw people pack up their stuff and leave.

Tourcoing is part of the former textile industry area, and it looked duly depressing and dirty in that era. Now that there's been plenty of time to make improvements, it looks much less depressing and very clean.

The rather oversized post office, 1920s style, is now being yuppified. Anyone interested in buying a very exclusive apartment in France?

Le Nord, like most of Belgium, was notorious for its cobble stone roads. Here is a good reason why French cars came with such wonderful suspension!
Today only the reputation, and a few stretches of pavés remain. Here is one in Tourcoing.

Luckily it's not an urban sprawl everywhere. Here's a pleasant allotment, in French a jardin de famille.

Again, I feel extremely lucky living in Europe, where in one day I can travel to France and back, though I don't think I should do that on my motorscooter every time, because that tends to be very wearing.
Photos Koos Fernhout ©2006


Dale said...

Bonjour Koos sans le el...

I like the idea that the town(s) in these photos are there to stay...

It made me sad reading one of your (or Val's) posts about a doomed village.

I have to travel 2500 miles to Montreal in order to find anything remotely as old and picturesque as the buildings in your photos!

Handsome rearing French heads doesn't seem like a bad thing at all...

Anne-Marie said...

Bonsoir Koos,
Quel beau jardin! Just popping over to France for the day, how wonderful. Thanks for the pics, they're, as ever, great to look at.

Bon weekend!

Lannio said...

Merci Koos,

Since I've never been to Lille, it's nice to see pictures from your visit. It is times like these, when I hear that someone's gone over to France for a day that I want to win a couple of million dollars so I could do the same - on my own jet.

Oh well, maybe I'll have to do another jaunt of Europe when I retire.

Dale said...

I like the idea of being able to go to France and back in one day...

Here in Canada we can fly east or west for eight hours and still be in the same country!

Although I can take a day trip to Montana or Oregon in the States...

bookworm said...

Hi Koos,
nice pictures. I have one problem with the french laguage. I try to learn, but it's not my laguage. Some years ago I travel to the Loire and Paris. It was not so good, because I understand nothing. I try to survive with english.
I show some pictures from Kassel on my blog and some links. You can read now some about my hometown.
Enjoy it.
Wish you a fantastic sunday

elizabeth solaka said...

Thanks for more lovely photos.

You mean the post office is now being developed as a house?

I don't think I'd want to live in a post office. The hospital next door is being converted to apartments. Definitely wouldn't want to live in a hospital.

I'd like to live in a church.

Lovely cobblestone.

James Casey said...

Ah, love that final picture.

Dale said...

Where are you, Koos?

Did you get lost in France?

Koos F said...

I was lost in France (not Frence).
Sorry my friends (not freinds) for being so silent.
What comes across from all the comments here is the feeling that we are incredibly rich in this part of the world.
There is so much we can go see quite effortlessly, it's just not fair if you are from a part of the world where a journey of 500 miles is needed have a change of scenery, or (as Dale says) 2500 miles to see reasonably old buildings!

Our friend Stefan the bookworm is in the same favourable position as we are. I recommend going over to his blog, he lives in a beautiful German town that is famous for its -I think- quadrennial art exhibition, and I find his black-and-white photographs superb.

James, I am very happy with your comment on my allotment photograph, it was such a rich sight, just after a shower of rain.

Dear Elizabeth, there's hardly a category of old buildings that is not converted to apartments these days. My favourites are old churche and, even more, old stations. The post office in Tourcoing is so rare, I might go for that if I had the choice/money! A water tower or a wind mill would do fine as well, thank you.

Oh, and Roubaix has a former swimming pool that is now a museum!

Dale said...

Our scenery is of a different kind, Koos!


Koos F said...

Yes Dale,
As our world famous football player Johan Cruijff tends to say: every advantage has its disadvantage. He could have said it the other way round too.
We have these wonderful things here, but then what about the Rocky Mountains?
Detail: I was born in the shadow of the St-Pietersberg, near Maastricht in the South of The Netherlands.
Apart from being excavated for cement production puposes, that 'mountain' is not nearly as high as our highest mountain, the Vaalserberg, that reaches a height of1000 ft /300 metres.
Impressive as it may be, don't expect eternal snow on a mountain this size.