Friday, 12 July 2013

Our day trip to Lille (part 1)

If you have been following my tweets on twitter over the last week, you will see that I have been busy getting ready for our day trip to Lille

Our day was funded by the Actimel family wellbeing bloggers fund for the subject connect. I can not thank them enough, we had such an awesome day!

Very quickly after I started writing this post, I realised that it needed to written over two posts! We managed to do so much, one post just would not do it justice!

Wednesday, the day had finally arrived and we were all up very early to catch our Eurostar train to Lille! The trip was to be Millie's first trip abroad. She may only be 18 months old but she is very aware of all the things going on around her. Chester was very excited so she was too!



Luckily we were sat on the family carriage on the train, meaning that Millie could stay seated in her pushchair. This was great for all of us, the journey may of only been an hour and a half but it would've been a nightmare trying to keep Millie seated on the train for that long!


To pass the time on the train, we all brushed up on our French, using Chester and Millie's my first french books for help! My French is abysmal, I will hold my hands up and say I clearly did not pay enough (if any) attention in French lessons at School! But nether the less I really want my children to learn another language so I will always do my best to help them. After a while I noticed that the man across from us kept looking over and smiling. I thought nothing of it, but when we were due to get off he asked us if we were trying to teach our Children French. I replied yes, explaining all about our day trip. He then went on to tell us that he was a French teacher! He was a Frenchman himself, and had been laughing at my pronunciation of some of the words! For instance Pasta is Pate (pronounced pat) in French but I had been pronouncing it pat-ay.  He was a very nice and even taught Chester how to say 'my name is Chester' in French - 'Je m'appelle Chester'. Chester was very pleased that he had learnt a whole sentence!


For this trip I wanted to, for once, not do too much planning. I had studied the maps obsessively and knew roughly what things I wouldn't mind doing. But ultimately I really wanted us to just have fun exploring the area and take in all that Lille has to offer!

So when we got off of the train I knew that we had to turn right and at some point we would get to the main square. Chester took great delight in saying Bonjour to anyone who smiled at him! Whilst walking along we noticed both modern and old buildings, it was a real mix. We came across a lovely big old building, which turned out to be an Opera house!


Chester was a bit confused with the road/path layout and markings and there were many times throughout the day when he shouted 'look the race has not finished yet' when cars were driving by! We also had to be very careful when crossing the many roads because even when the green man says go, so do the cars!!

We got to the main square and there was a lovely fountain in the middle, we sat down and just watched the world go by for a little while, it was so nice to just sit and take everything in. Chester was amazed that the cars kept going under the road. They seem to have lots of randomly placed underground car parks, which I actually think is a great idea, all the cars are hidden away!


Chester taking a picture with the childrens camera!


By now it was around 10am, we carried on walking, there were some lovely cobbled little streets off of the main square. The French seem to have a bit of a more laid back approach to the day, and a lot of the shops, cafe's and patisseries were only just starting to open up. But it was lovely to window shop and note down which ones to pop back into later on!


One place in particular  that I wanted to pop back to later on was a lovely patisserie called Meert. It is apparently well known for its handmade local speciality, a waffle that is very thin and filled with a madagascan vanilla cream (gaufres à la vanille).

We carried on walking down some narrow streets, and eventually came to a busy main road and a canal. We crossed a bridge and made our way over to the zoo!


Lille Zoo is completely FREE! That would be unheard of in this country, so I will admit that I was a bit sceptical about how good it would be. Chester and Millie were very excited to look round the zoo with Chester asking lots of questions about what animals are called in French and then saying Bonjour and Au Revoir to each animal that he saw! Millie spent the whole time either squealing 'WHATS THAT' or making RARGHHH noises at the animals!




The zoo was not massive, but they had a great selection of animals including red pandas, rinos, zebras and giant tortoises. We were there over an hour and we all enjoyed it so much. There was a variety of different animals, the children were interested from start to finish. A lot of the visitors that we saw were mums with Children of similar ages to Chester and Millie, so I think it is somewhere that the locals bring their children often. Which I would do too if it was local to me!  There was a donations box at the end, the enjoyment we had was well worth popping in a donation.





Next to the zoo there was a childrens play park, with loads of lovely climbing frames. There was lots for both Chester and Millie to play on, we spent a good 45 minutes here! There also was what looked like a permanent funfair too, but sadly it was not open whilst we were there.



By now it was gone 12 and the children were really starting to get hungry, so we headed back over the canal bridge, walking a slightly different route to get back to the main square area.

I will continue writing about the rest of our day in a separate post very soon, so please do look out for that, especially if you want to see what yummy local food we had for lunch!

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