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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Spring Trip 2017 - Lille - and finally, Day Three

Day Three - with a midday Eurostar train to catch back to London, I wanted to finish my trip with a walk around Le Vieux-Lille, old Lille, the Lille that Vauban would have seen (but please don't take that too literally).

There were still two gates I had not seen. Here is the first, the Porte de Gand.

The external face of Porte de Gand

The city's Coat of Arms between the portcullis levers

The city side

Vauban added defences to the exterior

I wonder how he got up there - a City council workman trimming the grass

The nice woman in the Tourism Office told me all of the walls had been demolished
Not far away is the other gate, Porte de Roubaix.

Not as well kept as Porte de Gand

Refurbishments underway

Both the gates were built during 1620 - 1625 when Lille was under Spanish control. Originally, both had one centrally located archway and gate. The two outer arches on both gates were added in 1875 to allow the City's new tramway to pass through.

After this, back to the hotel, collect my luggage, pay my bill and catch the train back to London St. Pancras station. Then over the road to Kings Cross station for the train back to York.

Spring Trip 2017 - Lille - day 2

Day 2. The main objective of the day - to see the Plans-Reliefs in the city's art museum, the Palais Beaux-Arts.

Going from the hotel I passed a two interesting statues.

Marshall Foch.

General Faidherbe
General Louis Faidherbe (1818 - 1889) was born in Lille. During the Franco - Prussian War he became Commander in Chief of the Army of the North.

When I got to the Palais I found it was hidden behind scaffolding as major renovations were underway, so here is a photo of the building from Google Search.

The Plans-Reliefs are in the basement. As the majority were made around 1700 - 1720, they are kept in large glass cases under very restricted lighting.

First attempted photo.

After twiddling around with some of the dials on the camera, my second attempt.

The model of Lille citadel

To give you an idea of the size of these plans-reliefs, I found these two images from the Musée des Plans-Reliefs in Paris. The Chief Conservator is supervising the assembling of the model of the town of Besancon.

Lille's collection is of 15 of the forts from the northern region of France and southern Belgium, many formed part of Vauban's Pré Carré. The forts are Lille, Avesnes, Bergues, Bouchain, Gravelines, Maastricht, Aire, Calais, Ath, Namur, Menin, Tournai, Audenarde, Ypres and Charleroi.

Upstairs, there were a number interesting items.

This unattributed bust is believed to be of Vauban

A young Napoleon Bonaparte, by Charles Corbet

I have forgotten the name of this picture.
There is much more, works by Delacroix, Goya and Courbet and others in this very nice museum.

However, sometimes I am perplexed by contemporary art - is this art or design? Or whimsy?

Sunday, 23 July 2017


A great film, both B and myself thoroughly engrossed in the watching, awesome soundtrack that builds as the stories do, very clever use of story and time lines. Very highly recommended, see it in a cinema.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Spring Trip 2017 - Lille - day one

I left the Waterloo tour in Brussels for a stay in Lille.

In the seventeenth century, Lille was part of the Spanish Netherlands; in 1667 during the War of Devolution it was lost to French forces led by Marshal Turenne. The city surrendered in September 1667 following a siege conducted by Vauban. Under the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle of 2nd May 1668, Lille became part of France.

Louis XIV ordered Vauban to fortify the city.

Vauban's Lille, the Citadel (bottom left) and bastioned city walls

The Citadel is HQ of 43rd Infantry Regiment 
Most of the city walls were demolished in the 1890's. Access to the Citadel is severely restricted, just a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon which have to be prebooked through the Tourism Office so I was unable to visit, again. However, the wooded surrounds are open so I saw a lot of the exterior.

The Tourism Office gave me a street map. The guide said that all of the walls had been demolished but two gates remained, the Porte de Gand and the Porte de Roubaix. On reading the map I could see there was more.

First - the Porte de Paris. In 1685, Louis ordered a local architect Simon Vollant to design and construct a new gate into the city, in the form of a triumphal arch.

A very grand and imposing entrance to the city, over the drawbridge and through the gate

I am not sure how this would relate to the Vauban's wall. It is freestanding, like an island, I could not see any stonework that suggested it was part of or connected to the defences.

Next, not far from the gate is the Noble Tour, the only remaining tower of the 65 towers that were part of the medieval city walls.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, Lille was part of the lands of the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1402, Duke Philippe II decided to fortify the city against the French  and had new walls built. These took 20 years. This tower was the only one used by Vauban. He had it restored and used as a powder supply depot which suggests to me that the tower was a very strong and substantial building.

The tower is now a Memorial to the Resistance and to those deported.
Also in this area is the Fort de Reduit. The walls are gone but these lovely buildings are used as the recruitment centre for the French Armed Forces.

Vauban designed, this was originally called Fort Saint-sauveur and can be seen on the map as the free standing small fort between two bastions on the right near the Porte Des Malades.

Back in the city centre, this beautiful building is another by Simon Vollant
Here ended day one. Beer was required.