It was a scruffy part of Lille, designated to be pulled down and be replaced by an Olympic Village. After the Games it was to become the Knowledge Centre of the North of France.
Luckily the Olympics went to Athens and and the isle of Les Bois-Blancs could doze off again.
Once a year in September, European countries celebrate their monuments. The Bois-Blancs had no monuments to offer, 'so' once a year since 1996 a varying group of Dutch historic barges sailed off to the this neighbourhood to provide them with monuments. Through the years I was one of the very faithful participants, because this was my brainchild.
Dutch barges moored at the Quai de l'Ouest in 2004.
Back then, they'd all but given up hope, and several houses were boarded up. Since 1996 however, this part of town regained self-confidence. People gave new attention to their houses, and gradually the island stopped being an area better avoided at night.
After the event in 2004 - as usual the third weekend in September - we decided that it was time to stop. The novelty had worn off, it was getting harder to mobilise the necessary forces.
After my tour along the railway I went to see how 'my' neighbourhood was doing. It seems we stopped just in time. It has been done up beyond repair. No more scruffiness to be found, gone are the small irregularities in the asphalt, no more dust or muddy patches on the pavement.
It has become a shopping area without shops.
The old canal
(the new and larger canal is on the east side of the island).
The footbridge, a great vantage point.
The little square-that's-not-square seen from the footbridge.
So goodbye Bois-Blancs, I'll miss you next weekend, and I know you'll miss us too, but I promise I'll come back now and then - see how you are doing, like I did this time.