Here’s a 2min 30sec Lille video notebook, the latest in Piran Cafe’s City Quickie series. There’s plenty of grit, a bit of charm, a few drunks, some chocolate, a young girl picking her nose, a Gypsy caravan, a beggar or two, and even cameos by Bob Marley and Marilyn Monroe. And a terrific soundtrack by the Swedish surf band, The Pharaos.
These shots were collected early last month, the second time I was in France on the Fourth of July. (It felt much more traitorous during the Bush years.) It was also the first time I visited the extreme northeast of France and was struck by how Lille had more in common with Brussels, where I flew into, than Paris, just 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, away. Architecturally it’s much more Grand Place than Place de la Concorde.
The principal city of the Lille Metropole, France’s fourth largest after Paris, Lyon and Marseille, I got the impression that Lille has seen better days. A colleague who spent his student days there, underscored my assessment. “I don’t come back very often,” he said. “I find it too depressing.” He’s an extremely bright, witty and well-traveled man whose judgement I trust, but a Parisian through and through.
I don’t characterize it quite so harshly. It looks a bit worn and rough around the edges, with new life desperately trying to break through. I hope it succeeds.
You can check out my small (but growing!) collection of City Quickie shorts on the Piran Café City Quickie channel on vimeo.