Eurostar travel is fabulously efficient and delivered four of us dead on time in Lille but Faites attention!”Lille-Europe station is being transformed…
Two hours later, once our group had been reunited chez Annie, all went amazingly well, beginning with the most important Twinning exercise – having a meal together, when friendships were renewed, new contacts made and the world put to rights in two languages. Friday 1st November being a solemn bank holiday when families lay chrysanthemums on loved-ones graves and all the shops and monuments are shut, three of us explored the centre of Tourcoing on our own, lunched at the only restaurant open and attended the free concert at the huge church, which included pieces sung by Mouvaux’ choir.
The rain cleared by Saturday morning’s tour of Lille; the beautiful city sparkled in the sun as Bernard and Annie told the story of the Déesse statue in the Place du Général de Gaulle and the old exchange house with its 24 exquisite merchant houses constructed around a courtyard in 1653. Annie had booked a tour at a former weaving factory in the afternoon, textiles having made Roubaix and surrounding areas hugely economically important in the 19th century. Our final visit was on Sunday morning to a WW2 bunker built to help protect the 15th German army based in Tourcoing and also where the BBC’s message to the French resistance about the
D-Day landings was intercepted but it was our amazing bi-lingual guide who made every detail so fascinating.
We spent the rest of Sunday on our own in Lille and after a night at a Campanile hotel, travelled back to Buckingham the next day. All four of us were immensely grateful for the warm welcome of our hosts. We are hoping this will lead to return visits being planned soon.
On a personal note, I would like to thank sincerely my three companions who made what could have been a difficult few days most enjoyable.