Travel to Lille: discovering the French city of modern art

For many cities to be named European capital of culture it represents the ultimate prize, the coat of arms to be proud of. And then all that remains is to show off and live off the income. But this does not apply to Lille. Yes, because this city of just over 200 thousand inhabitantscapital of the north french, Flemish DNA and all-French pride, after the European recognition of 2004 continued its run so as to obtain, in 2020also the title of World Design Capital. The beauty is that during a trip to Lille it is immediately clear that his race towards beauty has no intention of slowing down.

Trip to Lille: in the name of art

You understand it very well already leaving the railway station where colorful and amusing characters stand out who mark the road that leads to Grand Place: they are the sculptures of the Finn Kim Simonssonone of the many international artists participating in «Utopia», the great event that until October fills the streets and palaces with art and culture. And above all the atmosphere.
Yes, because “Utopia” is nothing more than the last installment of a story started in 2004 but which even points to the 3000. Proof that you need to dream big. And what the big cities they are not only for the number of inhabitants but for the ability they have to renew themselves, to get involved. Relaunch the challenges.
«When did the project of Lillle3000 we decided to explore the cultures and issues of our world, projecting ourselves towards the contemporary creation, innovation and the future» they explain in the city that attracts now droves of tourists from all over Europe attracted by an irresistible mix of art modern and historypalaces of red bricks And trendy installationsto. In short, yesterday and tomorrow united together give life to an irresistible today. And on the other hand it takes very little to be kidnapped.

Flemish beauty in French sauce

The city, we have said, is a perfect icon of Flemish beauty with old houses with i stepped roofs, alleys with cobblestones and the surprise of small squares that emerge between the buildings. Enjoying one abbey beer in a estaminetone of the classic cafes that are scattered around, it would not be surprising to see grim Flemish merchants pass with their wagons laden with silks and spices.
But, at the same time, a few hundred meters away, one feels small in front of Euralillethe ultra-modern neighborhood born from the redevelopment of a degraded area, where the bullet train that connects theEurope to England and where the skyscrapers bear the signature of the archistars Jean Nouvel And Christian de Portzamparc.
A further contrast in a reality which, from these comparisons, seems to draw strength and beauty. The same that one breathes when entering the ancient world hospital of the counts of Flanders: was founded in 1237 and until 1939 it was a hospice and orphanage. Now, however, he welcomes works of contemporary art who come from all over the world and who tell stories with visionary imagination – this is one of the themes chosen for Utopia – the relationship between the nature and man. It is no coincidence that one of the most powerful images that we encounter is that of a snake that is enveloping us with its coils.
trip to Lille

The traditions of the place: between desserts and nightlife

But then, just beyond the austere brick walls and the seventeenth-century chapel frescoed, here is again the pleasure of narrow and never noisy streets where you can sit at the tables of the cafes perhaps nibbling on a gaufre liloisethe local version of the Waffle which is eaten throughout the northern Europe. And the trip to Lille is also this.
It is full of vanilla cream and the locals are crazy about it to the point that, it is said, De Gaulle had loads of waffles sent from Meert pastry shopin the heart of the city, up toElisha. Even to groom, every now and then, you need a little sweetness.
Trip to Lille
The same bewitching sensation that one breathes going around aimlessly, enjoying the facades of palaces that look like lace towards sunset time knowing full well that the apparent sleepy grace of the city in the dark turns into a movida that could be called Latin: on the rue Royal, until late, the sidewalks are full of young people, the menus range from Flemish stew called Waterzoï to pasta in the many Italian restaurants passing through the curry hey sushi. And the beer cards they are endless, full of pearls with foam.

A European metropolis

All this then, in a lucky place that is in the heart of Europe: the border with the Belgium it is so close that you could touch it and it is no coincidence that Lille is part of the Eurometropolis Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai: an agglomeration of cities, on both sides of the border between France, Flanders And Walloniawho have united once again, already thinking about the future and about a continent that we all would like without customs and barriers.
Maybe they could be right art and beauty to give the shoulder to the waste of a past that slows us down. Lille, which has understood this, is starting to pave the way. An example is in the swimming pool: in fact, it is enough to travel about twenty kilometers to get to Roubaixthe city famous for the bicycle race which connects it to Paris. Here, one of the most interesting museums of the north of the France built in what used to be an Olympic swimming pool.

Travel to Lille: beauty and tradition

It had to be at most beautiful pool from France, and now it is a museum space to be discovered. Here they are artwork around the basin built between 1927 and 1932 by the architect Albert Baert for the mayor of Roubaix which was an important industrial center for textiles at the time. Now around the old showers are located art collections of the 19th and 20th centuries century with masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Giacometti and Rol Tanguy.

Trip to Lille

A similar experience is given by a visit to Musée des Beaux-Artsone of the largest French art containers, the fourth largest in the country excluding the Parisian museums. Born at the beginning of the 19th century to accommodate the large mass of works collected during the revolution and the Napoleonic wars contains extraordinary masterpieces that are alongside the very modern works selected for Utopia. And even one has now arisen in its basement Magic Forest.

And the plunge into beauty It’s guaranteed. All this, we said it, starting from the past but dreaming big and thinking about the 3000. Even if then, in ours trip to Lillecomfortably seated in front of the brick and elegant backdrop of the clearing between Place du Théâtre and the Old Stock Exchange it will be easy to start counting the caryatids that adorn the facade. They are many and always different and it is easy to lose count. But that’s the beauty of it: it feels so good that it’s worth getting confused and starting over.

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