Sunday, 7 October 2007

France, Lille

Ooh La La Lille - from Moules to Miso
A quick trip via the Eurotunnel from Folkstone and voila we reach France at 6am. An hour down the motorway on the opposite side to what we are used to driving on, and we hit a very early morning Lille.

I forget to mention to Mr Smith that Lille is playing host to Europe's largest outdoor flea markets and we will be right in the middle of it all. The streets are full of rubbish, left over food scraps, mussel shells and pungent night before smells. By midday, the streets are swept clean the markets are open and bursting with bric-a-brac.
"Braderie" is the annual street fair and is on the first weekend each September. Over a million visitors throng the streets of Lille. It's an enormous boot fair! Anyone can set up a stall - they line 200 km of pavements throughout old Lille, selling paintings, antiques, ornaments, furniture and junk of every description.

Part of the celebrations is eating moules-frîtes - mussels and chips. Traditionally, after eating you leave your empty shells outside the stall of restaurant - they compete to see which amasses the biggest pile by the end of the fair. Be sure to ask if the frites are rolled in flour.

We feel obliged to join in and pull up a chair at a table by a small pile of shells. Our table is quickly wiped clean by our host and within minutes a pot of moules-frites is in front of us and we can add to the growing pile of shells. By the evening the streets are pumping with music from French rap to African beats. We walk the streets looking at menus and finally decide upon the very French, Little Tokyo.

If you haven't guessed, Little Tokyo is a Japanese restaurant with traditional floor seating and wood tables. The Miso is delicious and do try the sushi and sashimi platter which is about 15.50Euros. Everything else on the menu has soy sauce in it, which of course is a no no so you are safe with the sushi and sashimi and the Miso is wheat and gluten free. Totemo oishii - tasty!!

We stayed at Hotel de la Paix, 46 Bis Rue de Paris in the heart of Lille. This is a 35 room hotel and each of the rooms is named after a famous artist. We were in the Van Gough room. The welcome is very friendly, the rooms basic and clean and reasonably priced to include breakfast. I had scrambled egg and coffee.

French translation
Je souffre d'une importante allergie alimentaire (due a une coelialgie): j'ai une tres forte intolerance au gluten et au ble.