My family has never really been a big “vacation” family — yes, we have taken vacations, but they were always fairly close to home. When I was growing up we’d head to Cleveland every summer to visit my dad’s side of the family, and it felt just more like a normal part of life rather than a vacation (but in a good way). That’s just what we did in the summer: we went to Cleveland and we got to hang out with my grandma in her metallic-floral-wallpapered condo and swim in the indoor pool down the street and visit my aunts and uncles with their adorable dogs and giant mid-western yards and enjoy the more small-town vibe that we never really felt at home in LA.
So when my mom and dad visited me in Paris last year, it was kind of a big deal. We are not foreign country people. Well, I am, obviously. And when my mom and sister visited me in Paris this past week, it was again a big deal. It’s so strange to see someone you know so well in a city you’d never expected the both of you to end up. I said this aloud to another longtime friend who visited me this same week — “Is this the first time we’ve been in a foreign country together?” — and we agreed it was somewhat bewildering.
Anyway, the Paris portion of the trip was great (more to come), but one of the highlights for me was the day we left Paris for Lille. I’d never been, and my mom wanted to see a part of France outside of Paris. Lille is only an hour by train from Paris, and my mom and sister proved that this is the perfect amount of time to power-nap. (I, meanwhile, was Instagramming the train ride for work. We all stayed true to character, pretty much).
Lille is technically a city (apparently there are like 100k people who live there) but it feels like a little town — the streets are narrow and cobblestoned, and the architecture is somewhat Belgian (it made me think of Bruges). There are quaint little chocolate shops and boutiques lining the streets around the main square. We found a book market in the old Stock Exchange building, and there were two parks that look like they are probably a lot of fun in better weather.
We took a coffee break at a little cafe on the corner and went up to the second floor to sit by the window and people watch. It was technically an English cafe, not a French one, but whatever — best people-watching views ever.
We found a chocolate shop called “The Blue Cat” (I think they are referring to the Russian Blue breed of cat, the breed of my darling late kitten), and we took a quick 1-hour bus tour of the whole city (spoiler: it goes through Old Lille and New Lille — new Lille is kind of blah, old Lille is adorable).
The day of our trip happened to be Valentine’s Day. This is my fifth (!) consecutive single-girl Valentine’s Day, and I have to say that they have all been pretty good. I love Valentine’s Day, single or not, because I think it’s basically a whole day of watching people act like they do when they are greeting loved ones at the airport after a long trip.
Plus, this year I got candy hearts that say “Fuck Trump!” I don’t usually eat candy hearts, but I will gladly do so if the Resistance calls for it.