Estaminet Lillois by boxplayer

Estaminet Lillois

An enticing looking little eaterie beyond the arch in a side street in Lille. Didn't eat here though, bit pricey.

The alarm went off at 6am this morning and I phoned mum to make sure she was up. Then it was a mad rush and crumpets for breakfast and we were out later than planned.

Tube was very busy of course at that time and I nearly didn't get off at King's Cross as I couldn't get my suitcase out from under my seat where it had wedged. But no problem in the end and we were in the St Pancras concourse by 8 to meet mum outside M&S.

Got through check-in, security and the rather novel e-gates which I've not used before having only just got our chip passports. Then waited a while in the rather unusually quiet and relaxed seating area - usually very mobbed here but I suppose a Tuesday morning isn't peak time.

No delays and we left on time, again with a train not as full as we're used - so we were able to spread out over our double seats. Dave had stocked up the day before on goodies for the train and we snacked on
croissants, olives, crab sticks (!) and drank a little bottle of Cava each. The rising sun was quite blinding through the window, but the views were great, with lots of frost and mist on the fields and lovely vistas over Rainham marshes and the Dartford crossing.

Very short hop and we were in Lille Europe at 11.30 - an eerily deserted station. We walked out, finding some impressive modern buildings surrounding the station. Crossed a bridge over a park on the short walk to the centre and our hotel opposite the main station.

This was the small Hotel Flandres Angleterre. We left our bags behind the counter as our rooms weren't ready yet. Mum was quite tired with a bit of a chesty cold so she decided to sit in the lobby and read the paper while Dave and I walked towards the old town.

Saw the impressive opera and Bourse buildings and the big wheel, the Christmas market we were visiting tomorrow and lots of ovely small streets with Flemish style houses and cobbles. Found an old oyster place which was now a branch of Paul (loads of these about and the odd Le Pain Quotidien).

We booked a nice looking fish restaurant for the evening then meandered on to find the cathedral. This was again amazingly quiet, no hordes of tourists - the same story throughout Lille - like these smaller places to visit. The cathedral was 19th century neo-Gothic but with lots of modern bits and pieces, as it was not completely finished till the 1990s

We evedntually walked back to the hotel to pick up mum, then walked across the road to Les 3 Brasseurs, a very warm and cosy brewery-brasserie, quite busy with lunchers. We had a local speciality, flammekueches, kind of flambeed crispy pizza-crepe things with a variety of toppings.

Not much for vegetarians as most had ham or lardons added but we went for the 3 cheeses and mum the special with onions and mushrooms. Me and mum went for red wine while Dave tried the beer tasting option, where you got 4 beers of varying hues.

Then if that wasn't enough, I had to have the very yummy sounding banana and chocolate crepe and Dave went for a tiramisu mojito. He also then topped it off with a biere de Noel.

Back at the hotel we checked in and got the tiny lift upstairs. The rooms were small and basic but good enough. We relaxed and read for a bit but started to get very cold with a bit of a draught from the window. I eventually found the radiator and put it on max and soon it was quite toasty.

At 6.30, phoned mum but she decided to stay in the hotel for the evening as she was still feeling quite chesty and not particularly hungry after lunch.

So we walked out to look at all the pretty Christmas lights on the way to the restaurant. Found some cough syrup for my mum from one of the umpteen chemists still open before walking up to La Paix fish restaurant, part of a chain with two others in the same family, Brasserie Flore and La Chicoree nearby.

It was a all a bit like the Brasserie Flo chain with art deco styling, but no bad thing. We had oysters, then I had plaice rolled with salmon and Dave had pollock on a bed of leeks. Dave ordered the cafe gourmand which I helped him with of course along with a mint tea for me.

Then walked back and went into the 3 Brasseurs for a beer. Had to stand at the bar or sit outside so decided to stand. Waited ages to be served as there was a big group of lads in front of us but eventually I attracted the server's attention to get myself a light beer and Dave one of their specials.

Then it was back to the hotel. Turned the radiator down as it had got quite hot. There followed a bit of a restless night - kept waking thinking it was much later than it was which is always disconcerting.

X is for xerophyte

29 November 2016
Lille, France
Wow, such a busy day! Sounds like fun though.
December 16th, 2016  
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