December 2004 - January 2005

Lille's Year Of Culture Ends With A Sparkling Arty

Lille has had a truly wonderful and well thought out and diverse arts programme for the European Capital of culture 2004. The city has pushed the cultural possibilities to the maximum. And in my opinion it was a resounding success.

The year has been of real importance and I'm sure that everybody who visited found their own culture gem, and took away with them a personal arty adventure within the innumerable events staged in the three phases of the year.

And if those 300,000 people who attended the gigantic parade and street party to celebrate the ending of Lilles year last month thought it would be a customary winding down affair they were in for a big surprise.

It may have been a bit chilly but this party in the old capital of Flanders was a dazzling, flamboyant soiree with lots of creative fun and genuine high spirits.

In the afternoon dancing parties for kids and spontaneous side street hip rocking discos and brass bands played all over the city then the Big Parade "of all colours" started from Square Foch and zigzagged through the packed streets, ending up in Matisse Park. Fireworks from rooftops lit up the sky every few minutes.

The city square, Place.du Gaulle was transformed into a cultural circus. The juxtaposition of the musical truck with the vivacious African drumming band, the 30-strong players of Le Bagad de Plougastel, and giant, cleverly animated crimson giraffes, whose noses playfully stroked a scantly clad opera singer performing on a float, making they way along the Bambo avenue, with flames shooting upwards towards the night sky, was brilliant.

I joined the revelers, some whacky adults and children with the Lille logo painted on their faces, in the good-natured crowd. This was a special night that had its own special effect on the city's inhabitants. Despite the cold the carnival went on until early Sunday morning!

In Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille and President of Lille words "The new art of living has only just begun. And we wish to continue this marvellous challenge with you".

* Please look at my review for the opening of the Lille city of culture 2004. Hot Gossip UK-Arts-02.04.04 in the back issues or click here. *

And Lille'S Arty Year Goes On



More than 100 works at Musee d'Art d'Industrie Andre Diligent-Roubaix On until January 9, 2005.

Anish Kapoor
Kapoor's installation at the Mac's has the making of a breathtaking exhibition.
On until 6.March 2005

Mac's-Le Grand Hornu Mexico-Europe Round Trips
300 works by 74 artists including, Rivera, Siqueiros and Montenegro. On show in Europe for the first time. On until January 16, 2005

Musee d'Art Moderne Lille Metropole
1 allee du Musee
F-59650 Vileneuve d'Ascq
Tel:00 33 (0) 3 20 19 68 99

Lille Essentials
Wine Bar (with bar snacks)
Monsieur Jacques
30 rue de Gand
Tel: 00 33 (0) 3 20 74 85 59
Tea and Cakes

One of the oldest patisseries in France
27 rue Esquermoise
Tel:00 33 (0) 3 20 57 07 44

Philippe Olivier
He stocks mouthwatering local specialties
3 Rue du Cure St Etienne
Tel:0033 (0)320749699

Where to Stay
Hotel des Tours 27 rue des Tours
Tel:00 33 (0) 3 59 47 00

Early Breakfast
635 Lille Vieille Bourse
Tel: 00 33 (0) 3 2078 20 78

Guide Book
Helpful directory and personal viewpoint around the city:
Lille - Bradt mini-guide, by Laurence Phillips, £5.95.

One of France's biggest shopping centres av le Corbusier 59000
Tel:0033 (0) 320145220

For other shopping and general information.

Getting There
Eurostar (08705 186 186, operates up to nine daily services from Waterloo and Ashford to the heart of Lille with fastest Journey times only 1 hour 40. Fares start from £55 return.

Eurostar Floats, Whatever Next!

Eurostar had some celebrating of its own. The train was 10 years old on the 14th of November and has carried 59 million passengers to Europe over the decade. To commemorate, they went all arty, and got Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell, Turner prize nominees, to metamorphose a Eurostar carriage into a unique artwork and an innovative London tourist attraction to boot.

Langland and Bell's floating Eurostar train work of art entitled "Language of places", was launched at a ceremony on the River Thames. The extraordinary sight of the Eurostar, floating within the beating heart of London, along the Thames, under Tower Bridge and then moored next to HMS Belfast, for two days, was amazing to behold.

The artists said "The artwork is poetry of places where points of arrival offer departures into the imaginary. Human activity is explored through the places and structures we inhabit, and the routes that penetrate and link them."

One wonders what Eurostar will do for its 20th; they might be walking on the moon by then!

I wish you all much merriment over the festive season and look forward to writing more arty warm and cosy hot gossip next year!

God bless the world and a happy new year in 2005.



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