is an interesting place to be staying.
France is a place of contrasts, not like India with great extremes, but contrasts none the less in what is acceptable and what is not.
So food has, generally, been excellent. The lunch served at the conference was 3 courses, beautifully presented and with excellent flavours. I thought it would probably be the best meal I'd have during our stay, but that evening my simple dinner of onglet de boef and chips with a dipping sauce based on bacon and mushrooms was better. Last night we found a restaurant that I'd eating in once before on a trip here (thanks Myriam, if you read this) called T'Rijkel in the old city - an estaminet or traditional restaurant - and despite it obviously being popular, we hit just the right window to get in and had an excellent meal at a very reasonable price.
Food here, as I posted on facebook, is basically meat, cream, sugar and chips.
What contrast then?
Our hotel, Le Napoleon, is about 50 yards from the entrance of Le Gare du Lille, but was a relative bargain, so something had to give. Although the windows are double glazed, not surprisingly there is a lot of noise from the road below, even though we're 4 storeys up. The room is OK - simple, but comfy and not to scruffy, the bathroom tucked away inside a thin wooden box in one corner. When we opened it up, it was a bit smelly - cigarettes and something else. The 'something else' turned out to be the macerator toilet waste system, which also caused several minutes of amusement when we couldn't find the switch to operate it! I'd stay here again if I only needed a couple of nights, but might have preferred something a little further out and more comfy for the 4 nights we are here.
So today we're out and about, looking at local marches and generally getting a bit more atmosphere. It's been a nice break, although not a little challenging to the cranium at times. Ben seems to have been feeding himself well too, judging by facebook comments.