Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lille, France: Café Allongé

After nine nights in London it was time to return to the land of croissants, wine and cheese. Starting with a unique town near the border of Belgium, Lille, a working class city that has changed hands a few times giving it an interesting look.

I had a couch lined up with Marine, a child counsellor and an art therapist... the second job involves providing therapy to people in hospital, mainly cancer patients, through art and music. That is pretty cool. Although, staying with her felt a little strange and funny. She was cool but she had the same look, same accent, same mannerisms, same stubborn independence, same strong personality and came from the same part of Southern France as an old flame that once burnt me bad (broke my heart)... I didn't tell her.

After stepping out of a late morning shower I saw that the bathroom and part of kitchen floor were flooded. After unsuccessfully searching the apartment for a mop I opened the door to the backyard only to have her dog come flying straight past me and onto wet tiles... dirt dog footprints covered the kitchen floor. A few unblogworthy words later I put the dog outside and cleaned the floor.

Marine gave me a map and marked all the places worth seeing, she also arranged for one of her friends to be my next host and taught me a magic phrase that I have now used all over France, "Café Allongé", it is an espresso with a little extra water, no milk, no sugar (aka Lungo in most of the world). This became my morning drink of choice in France.

Neome, my 2nd host in Lille, introduced me to more Belgium Beers and Frites (French Fries) Belgium style. They cook them twice, apparently once just isn't good enough. From her I learnt of Covoiturage, the French site for ride share.

Sorry for the lack of photos. I do eventually get better at this. Lille had a beautiful old town with many impressive fountains scattered around the city. It also has a huge Sunday market that sells brand named beauty products cheaper than supermarkets. The city also came up with the brilliant idea of turning its previous major train station into a free live music venue. I enjoyed a "rock psychadelique" performance at the old station.

On my last night in Lille I was talking to Neome about France having a massive Australian war memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Upon loading the town on Google maps I realised it was only 150km south... My plans changed!

Next stop Villers-Bretonneux!

Lessons Learnt:
Being alone in a place with language barriers is challenging
Leaving out chicken from one of my specialities made an impressive vegetarian meal
Skype is very powerful and not rated PG
Markets will give free food to try for being Australian
Café Allongé


  1. Amazing adventures Trent, the story about the flooded apartment and the dog is sooo funny :D

  2. Haha yeah, my host (aka your twin) was at work when it happened. I just thought holy fuck when I saw the floor and then to have the dog make it even worse. After I cleaned the floor I also pulled her drain apart and removed all her hair that blocking it. I never told her about any of it but I discovered that she always puts a towel on the floor to soak up the water as it comes out if the shower.