The last leg of our Toussaint holiday brought us back to northern France, for a quick stop in Lille. We wanted to break up the long car trip, and while Lille isn’t terribly far from Bruges, it gave us the opportunity to see some sights.
Derek really wanted to go to Vimy, but since it was a little out of our reach for that day, we decided instead to go to the Saint Julien Canadian War Memorial known as the Brooding Soldier. This memorial marks the loss of Canadian soldiers in the second battle of Ypres, and the first German gas attack. It was a beautiful day, and was so nice to visit and pay our respects to the fallen soldiers, just a couple weeks before Remembrance Day.
Since we’d decided to stop in Lille for the night, we had a look at what was going on. Lo-and-behold, we found a circus in town! Circuses are a big thing here in France, it seems that they’re everywhere during the summer, pulling into towns with their huge trucks and trailers, or trains, and setting up the bigtops. We weren’t super sure of what to expect, but we decided to go for it. The kids were stoked!
We did end up having fun, but at the same time felt pretty torn. The acrobatics, motorcyclists, and regular circus and clownish acts were awesome, lots of amazing tricks and cool stunts! However, we were all left with major feelings about the animals. I’ve never seen a circus with animal acts, and it left me a bit stunned and saddened. I don’t know why I’m surprised, I have a huge problem with places like Seaworld who do theatrical shows with animals, and always have a funny feeling about zoos and such. Insert large sigh. Anyhow, we likely won’t be doing this again, and now we know for sure how we feel! As I said, it seems to be a huge part of french entertainment culture, and we decided at the time just to go for it. We will try to focus on the awesome stunt-clown, Bello Nock, who was incredibly entertaining, and the hilarity that was Thierry Fééry, the mannequin-esque ring leader. He was the perfect mix of polished and freaky, just what you want in a ring leader!
Earlier in the day, we had some time to wander around Lille. I’d heard it was a beautiful city, and it did not disappoint in the pretty-factor. Once again, an abundance of charming gorgeous buildings in the old part of town. Sadly, we were there on a Sunday, and as is typical in France, most every shop was closed. It was too bad, as I saw many nice boutiques that I’d have loved to check out. Another time, I hope!
We had to jet off really early the next morning to get to Orléans. Derek and I finally had our appointments at the French Immigration and Integration Office to complete our Visas with a temporary residence card. There was a LOT of waiting, several meetings with nurses and doctors, a chest x-ray to make sure we don’t have tuberculosis (yes, for real!), and yet another large fee to pay. But, we seem to have pleased the powers that be, so now we are finally official for the rest of our year here.
I have a little more catching up to do with the blog next week. A couple château visits, some more peeks of life around Loches, and a glimpse into our quiet Hallowe’en. After those, I’ll be ready to share our next trip — we’re setting off tomorrow for a few days in Stuttgart Germany to visit the some of the amazing German Christmas Markets! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember. We are all super excited to experience the magic!