braderie de lille time. again.

There comes a time every year that strikes fear into the hearts of many Lillois. That time is the Braderie de Lille.

It happens every first weekend of September (or in rare cases, the last weekend of August). Parts of the city turn into an open air flea market/party/what have you. It attracts millions of visitors and is considered the biggest braderie in Europe.

It’s definitely something to visit once as it’s quite impressive. I’ve gone every year since 2011. And every year, I like it less and less. We weren’t planning on going last year, but J’s parents came up, so we did go. Their thoughts? It’s nice, and they’re happy to have done it, but never again.

This year, we were planning on leaving Lille completely, but with finances being tight, we decided to hang out with our friend who lives just outside of Lille. Continue reading

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a stroll around our new neighborhood

We’ve now been in our new place for over two months. We definitely don’t regret our impulsive decision to move at all. We love our new place and our new neighborhood.

Back when we first moved here, I promised you all pictures of the neighborhood. I took said pictures on a sunny day in December and then promptly forgot about them.

We live in Vieux Lille which usually gets the response of “Oh? Really!”, and then we follow up by saying “No, not where you’re thinking.”

See Vieux Lille is a very touristy (and sometimes ritzy) neighborhood of Lille. It’s where you can find the cathedral and luxury stores like Louis Vuitton. Apartments cost a fortune to rent or buy. That is not where we live. Continue reading

new year’s eve / salsa posada

almostbilingue nye2014 cremant du Jura

It’s been awhile since my last post. For obvious reasons, I didn’t feel right posting anything last week with everything that was happening in Paris.

So now, it’s finally about time that I tell you about our New Year’s Eve.

We weren’t really sure what we wanted to do, but I knew what I did not want to do. Eat a ridiculously big meal where the main course isn’t until after midnight. I also kind of wanted to go out somewhere.

Even though everyone we knew was off somewhere, we decided to come back to Lille rather than stay in Franche-Comté where we spent Christmas.

I happened to see the New Year’s Eve menu for a Mexican restaurant in Vieux Lille, Salsa Posada, we’ve been wanting to try. It was super reasonably priced (we could both eat for less than the price of one for NYE in a French restaurant), and we liked the options available, so we made reservations. Continue reading

Nouvel appart

As many of you know, we’ve been having many problems where we live in Lille Fives and impulsively gave notice to break our lease.

Originally, we were going to wait to move until we could afford a two bedroom place, but we just couldn’t take it here anymore, so we decided to find an apartment similar to what we have now but in a better neighborhood.

We currently live in a one bedroom that is about 46m2 (about 495 ft2) with a balcony and a private garage. So ideally, we wanted something about the same size, at least a parking space, and a balcony or terrace would be a huge plus.

One criteria that turned out to be troublesome was the fact that we wanted an unequipped kitchen. Surprisingly, most places were already equipped (usually with sad burners and a tiny fridge). Since we just bought a brand new stove in January and have a huge fridge, we didn’t want to give them up.

We threw ourselves head on into the search, spending countless hours on Leboncoin (think Craig’s List for those who don’t know this site) and other sites, making phone calls, visiting agencies, and finally, visiting places. Continue reading

Time for some changements

We made a bit of an impulsive decision this weekend and carried through with it on Monday. We’ve been casually looking at apartments for rent for awhile now as we HATE our neighborhood. I mean dealers, squatters, public urination, drunken fights, the police not responding to calls, and most recently, houses collapsing, that’s not exactly a place you want to be living.

But we didn’t want to move unless we could find a two bedroom apartment as we’d prefer to be keeping it for the long term and would like to have an office/extra room. However, finding this in our budget in a nice neighborhood is fairly difficult. Until I’m working (thank you, Prefecture for making me wait), we only have one real salary.

This weekend we decide to hell with that, let’s just give notice and look for a similar one bedroom in a nicer neighborhood (and maybe even more central) – something that’s not hard to come by at all. It’ll be fine for a few years (and we’ll be happier). We’ll take that time to save up to buy or just bide our time until we can afford to rent a super awesome larger apartment (depending on our long term goals and the housing market). Continue reading

living the dream?

Recently, both Eyelean and Den Nation wrote posts about what France is really like once you take off the rose colored glasses. Their posts have inspired me to write one of my own.

I often get the question “Which do you like more, France or the United States?” and no one is ever happy with the answer. I say I like things about both and dislike things about both. I mean, there are days where France pisses me off so much that I think moving back to the US would be the best option. Other days, I can’t imagine ever leaving. It’s all about the circumstances, isn’t it?

Many Americans I know (even some that have lived in France!) have this glorified version of France in their minds, and often tell me that they are jealous of my life and that I’m living the dream. Okay, don’t get me wrong, I do have a good life. I’m happy. I’m with a great guy, have the cutest dog, and have had some great experiences. But living the dream? Continue reading

a visitor dans le ch’nord

This weekend, we had a visitor, an American who is currently an English assistant in Chauny. As some of you may remember from the old days, I spent three years in Chauny as an assistant. The town, people, and former colleagues hold a very special place in my heart. Anyway, since I know how small the town can feel at times, I invited the new assistant to come spend a few days in Lille. It also proved to be a fun way to spend a few days of my otherwise uneventful vacation.

We spent the weekend exploring the city, eating good food (complete with stinky cheese), playing with Elliot and taking him for walks, drinking far too much beer, and exchanging Chauny stories.

We also took advantage of some of the events happening around town. We went to see the “Mapping de Notre Dame de la Treille“, which we had seen last year during Fantastic. We also checked out the exhibit at Gare St Sauveur and “Dada is Not Dead” at La Maison de la Folie. I think I preferred the Dada exhibit. It was interesting and very original. If you’re in Lille between now and the beginning of December, I highly recommend it. Plus, it’s free.

Mapping

Mapping of Notre Dame de la Treille / Fantastic 2012

Continue reading