Today we spent the morning walking around la citadelle de Lille, which is used by the military and shaped like a pentagon. (We also saw Marguerite Yourcenar’s house.) It was very windy so that made it really cold. The sun made several appearances, but quickly disappeared again so we suffered a lot from the cold, but at least it didn’t rain. We spent a while there walking around and then we left and split up for lunch.
For lunch we had mussels and fries, which were good, but certain people didn’t like them that much (i won’t name names…). Afterwards Arnaud and Debbie bought us beignets (i think). They were really good, but sadly Liz could not eat them because she is allergic to gluten (although the other day she did find a restaurant where they served gluten free bread that actually tasted like bread). Liz also was really happy because she got to take selfies with Arnaud and Debbie. Then after lunch we all met up at Le Musée des Beaux Arts. We had a tour of the museum led by a woman who works there and she talked a lot about certain pieces of art (and by a lot I mean a lot). The museum was also getting ready for an exhibit where artists recreated famous paintings, but replaced the faces of the people’s heads with Donald Duck. After our 2 and a half hour tour, we headed back to school. Also Arnaud showed us where he was born and many photos were taken.
Today was a very tiring day, but definitely very, very fun. I started the day waking up a little late and running to catch the bus with my French host, Sigrid. Anywhere else, that would have been very annoying but, as she tried to pull on her coat and I tried to finish my breakfast on the go, someone actually held the bus door open for us. After arriving at school, Sigrid and I parted so she could go to French class and I could meet up with the other Urban students (and Arnaud and Debbie). Then, we set off for La Citadelle, a military base constructed by Louis XIV (of course, only after stopping for chocolate croissants, bread, and coffee). I’m not sure what I expected, but what we found when we arrived at La Citadelle was not that. While in years past, the base has been under the control of (and used for) the French military, it is now (since 2005) a NATO base. After a security check at the royal gate (yes, a real thing), we entered a really, really warm room. Now, I say warm not in a bad way, but in a very good way, since it is absolutely freezing here. We’re all wearing as many layers as we can, plus scarves, hats, and gloves. Once there, one of the soldiers explained the history of the place and little bit about the reasoning behind the construction. La Citadelle is shaped like a pentagon with smaller bastions coming off of each corner. When it was built, they placed cannons on each corner, so as to completely surround the citadel with cannonfire if (and when) an enemy approached. La Citadelle was reinforced and stocked such that it could withstand siege for 40 days. Once, it went 41 days under siege before the French (literally) waved the white flag and went on a shopping trip to the grocery store, so to speak, before returning to the fortress to continue the siege. After leaving La Citadelle, we went to lunch in Vieux Lille (Old Lille). Some people went to a kebab place, others to a crêperie, but most of us ended up at Aux Moules, a restaurant which is famous for a Flamand specialty: moules frites, or mussels with fries. Some abstained from trying them, but I bravely ordered the mussels. As someone who has never been a huge fan of mussels, I must say…..my opinion hasn’t exactly changed. But I’m glad I experienced such a specialty anyways, even if it was just mussels. However, I did really enjoy our dessert: croustillons, better known as deep-fried beignets. I don’t even think I need to explain any more about them, since I’m sure you can imagine how delicious they were (very). After lunch, we all met up in front of the Musée des Beaux Arts, the fine arts museum of Lille. I’m pretty sure this picture will be up on this page, but we took a group picture with the facing building as a background. Guess what that building was? The DMV. I wish our DMVs were as pretty as that. Anyways, we took a guided tour of the Musée with Pascale, our tour guide. She showed us some highlights of the museum, starting with the Dark Ages and ending with the mid-20th century (a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period marked the end of our tour). And, just like that, our very tiring day of lots of walking around was over. We finished up at the Lycée, and went home. Thanks for reading!!!