Unfortunately, Lille and I only had a brief conversation, as I spent a whole day in bed sick with a bad cold, sore throat, slight fever, and barely any voice. Thankfully, I was staying at Hotel Lille Europe, so I was able to have some privacy. However, the incident did make me very proud of myself for being able to describe what was wrong with me and asking for a recommendation of what to take to the local pharmacien en français. He suggested taking this paracetamol (Tylenol®)-psedoephedrine-diphenhydramine combo with these great Strepsils® that have lidocaine, which I have to say are working wonders! So if you’re wondering why these blog posts are somewhat delayed, blame it on my cold and the spotty Wi-Fi that only seemed to work sometimes on my phone.
Though even shorter than I had intended, my time in Lille was very pleasant and I was able to see most of the Quartier du Vieux Lille (especially the book market!) and a small exhibit at the Office de Tourisme et des Congrés of independent artists from the region.
From the map, one can see that Lille is in the northern part of France not too far from Belgium and Calais. While I strolled through the old town, I noted a strong influence of Dutch & Spanish architecture that is because Lille was once part of Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, and the most of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais is known as the French Flanders region. Which brings me to the title of this post, “Lille à EuraLille One City with Two Architectural Voices,” for while the old town is marked by its traditional Flemish architecture, EuraLille, the urban district of Lille was created in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and is a contrast to Vieux Lille.
EuraLille, completed in 1994, is centered on the Gare de Lille Europe, where one can catch the Eurostar or a TGV. The station, a three-level mostly glass, steel, and concrete gentle waveform, is an important presence in the site plan, as it bridges the old and new quartiers of Lille with each other and with the rest of Europe via the high-speed train network. Therefore, it is no surprise that OMA designed the master plan for the site and the Congrexpo. The site also features buildings by Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc, and a park by Gilles Clément. Like most urban centers, EuraLille contains a convention center, urban park, a casino, offices, hotels, and shops; and the area makes no architectural reference to Vieux Lille, but rather the a more contemporary commercial zeitgeist. Overall, I liked the layout of the EuraLille, as it is pedestrian and public transit friendly, and it features a small museum devoted to architecture and the region.