Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Another post already! I have to play catch up quickly because tomorrow is the July First Commemorative Ceremony at Beaumont-Hamel! So the next adventure that Andre and I went on was a trip to Brussels.

The Monday night before our trip was the Fête de la Musique , which is an “all-night” musical celebration of the summer solstice. “All-night” in quotations because all-night to Arras is really only one or two in the morning. Arras did put on a fantastic festival, with a grand stage in the square behind the belfoi and musicians set up on nearly every street corner in the heart of town.

The Musicians of Arras wear their sunglasses at night

The next morning we headed out to Brussels by train. After dropping everything off at our hotel we toured around the city center. There is a large square similar to the one in Arras, although the architecture in Brussles is much more grandiose and ornate. After touring the city while snacking on waffles and taking a short break for a belgium pint we headed out for dinner.

We also had a dessert of butter cookies before ending our day at Delirium, which is a pub Andre’s co-worker had recommended. I’m glad he did, it’s a pretty cool place; located in the heart of town nestled into a short dead end street. They serve so many beers on tap that there’s a book to flip through to aid you in your choice.

The Grand Place

The next morning we continued walking around the city stopping in at the Comic Strip Center to check out the book store, and the Musical Instruments Museum to see the view from their roof top terrace. It was far too beautiful a day to spend it indoors at the museums so we went to the city park to relax before our train ride home.

And that was our trip to Brussels, short but sweet!

Don't forget the famous "Manneken Pis!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bordeaux, chez Carly and Clement

"Fountaine des Girondins"

June has flew by! I can’t believe I haven’t made a blog entry since the 7th Quite a bit has happened since then, for today I’ll only write about our trip to Bordeaux, and will try to catch up to present day before… our next big excursion!

So we went to Bordeaux. We took the train the morning of Andre’s day off, a Tuesday, and we were in the city by lunch time. We made the trek to Bordeaux to visit my friend Carly who has been living there with her boyfriend Clement. Clement met us at the station because Carly had to work. After a quick walk to check out the local market Clement made us a fantastic lunch of shrimps, salad, and homemade mayonnaise. Then we took the tram to Carly’s work. The tram in Bordeaux is very impressive. It is also a perfect way to see the town because of its large windows and how easily and smoothly it glides through the town.

After enjoying a drink with Carly and Clement at her work after she had finished her shift, we headed back to their apartment with the intent of heading out to a vineyard for a wine tour. We ended up being too late though, and were only lucky enough to see the chateaus of the vineyards as we drove around the various fields of grapes.

When we got back to their apartment Clement made us a delicious dinner of buckwheat crepes stuffed with cheese, eggs, and meat. It was amazing. After dinner there was a concert in town. Virgin radio was holding the concert for free. The headliner was VV Brown with her song “Shark in the Water” which incidentally plays on Virgin radio all the time. After hearing “Shark in the Water” we abandoned the free concert and went to visit some of Carly and Clement’s friends at their apartment a short walk away. It was a lot of fun. Most of their friends spoke a little bit of English so it was a night of fun conversation; me with my broken French and they with their bits of English, and Andre as our interpreter!

"Shark in the water... not so good"

The next morning Carly had to work and Clement had a lunch meeting to prepare for so after a nice breakfast of chocolate croissants, pain aux raisin and coffee Andre and I headed out for some tourist fun. We went to see the Fountaine des Girondins; which when on the tram the day before, Clement had told us was dismantled during the war with the intent to melt the metal for weapon construction. They didn’t find the dismantled statuary until many years after the war had ended. It is very beautiful. We also went to a wine store to pick out our Bordeaux wine that we had been denied the day before. Then we continued our walk to the Place de la Bourse. We had seen pictures and post cards of this place and assumed it was a grand castle. It was surprising to find out that it is simply the buildings of the city, and the grand mirrored water in front is actually a specially designed fountain that projects the buildings as clear as a mirror. The fountain’s shallow waters are changed as well through its own mechanised system to ensure the purity of its reflection.

After a nice lunch at a nearby restaurant we continued touring the city, walking up and down the streets through the old grand entrance gates. We caught our train home that afternoon, it was a wonderful trip. Thanks Carly and Clement!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Market, Lille, and the Arras Citadel

The past two weeks since my last blog entry have gone by very fast. When we got back from Paris Andre had to work seven days in a row because of how his scheduling works. Now for the month of June he has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off instead of Saturdays and Sundays. That means that for the month of June we are guaranteed to be in Arras on Saturday allowing me to go to the market every week! The market in Arras is phenomenal. Tons of fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, wine, flowers, clothes, furniture, and much more odds and ends (including live ducks and chickens). The first Saturday I headed out on my own later on in the morning, and walked around till everyone closed up. This past Saturday Andre and I went early in the morning, before he started work, and had an expresso and patisserie while all the vendors set up.

For Andre’s days off the first was spent in Arras, just taking care of things around town and sleeping in! The next day we went to Lille. It’s the largest city in Northern France (Nord Pas de Calais region) We walked around the city, checked out the shops and discovered a zoo in the citadel! It is interesting to reflect on it now, because Arras also has a citadel and the city is unsure of what to do with it. The citadel in Arras is a UNESCO world heritage site, perhaps it will unfold similar to Lansdowne Park….
You can click the link for more info:
Its funny, I can’t get away from heritage conservation, its in my bones!

(Arras Citadel)