Monday, 19 September 2016

Je suis en France !*

* I'm in France!

It's the morning of my fifth day in Lille and as things are starting to calm down, I thought it was time to do a little update (apologies for it being long and slightly photo heavy!)

The journey here was rather uneventful. We started with catching a train at an ungodly hour from Glasgow to London and honestly, nothing momentous happened on the journey. We then had a couple of hours to stop over and eat some (expensive) lunch in the capital before boarding the Eurostar straight to Lille. Once we arrived in France, our landlord's wife very kindly picked us up from the train station and drove us to our new home!

My friend and I were lucky enough to find a flat before we moved out here and now we're here, I can't imagine us living anywhere else. We're in the perfect location, just on the outskirts of the city centre within walking distance from all of the main places in Lille, but we're far enough away that we aren't having any troubles with noise.

We arrived late on Thursday, so Friday was our first chance to explore properly. We started with a wander through the city centre and into Vieux Lille, a beautiful part of the city with independent and quirky shops, as well as some of the designer stores (one of the streets is aptly named Rue de la Monnaie). While in Old Lille, we stumbled upon Lille's Catheral: Notre Dame de la Treille. We'd had no idea that it was there until we saw it down a thin alleyway and I don't know how we didn't spot it sooner - it's huge! It has most of the original building still intact with a more modern entrance and the inside is beautiful.

Over the weekend, we also made time to head up to another part of the city, Vauban, to visit the city's zoo. Lille has a free zoo in the middle of one of its parks, so you can go for a walk in the park and end up at the zebra enclosure; it's quite surreal! On our way, we passed through the campus of l'Université Catholique de Lille, one of a good few universities here in the city. Safe to say that some of its buildings put the Strathy campus to shame.

One of my favourite parts of the city so far is in the centre, at the site of Lille Europe - the train station that the Eurostar arrives into. The inside of the train station is fantastic, with pools of water and murals painted respresenting the different cities that the Eurostar stops in. Next to Lille Europe is EuraLille, a huge shopping centre with lots of high street stores. It did feel strange to have our handbags searched on our way into the shopping centre, but I've noticed that this is a common thing throughout the city and something that we'll grow used to over time. Another of the city's most well-known places to visit is their massive Sunday market in Wazemmes. I only had the chance to see it quickly this week but it seems like they sell everything - the cheese and fresh fruit in particular look divine.

I'll leave this post here for now, as I have lots of adult things to do today; I'm going to attempt to both open a French bank account and register with a doctor. Once they're out of the way, I can look forward to exploring more of the city tomorrow on my 21st birthday! I just wanted to say thank you for all of the lovely messages of luck and support for my move! And a special shout-out to my brother who came out with us for a couple of days to help us with our suitcases and our heavy shopping!

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