Introduction. A buddy and I ended up in Lille, France while en route to Belgium. It was, as the saying goes, a happy accident. In driving around the charming city, the largest in Lille Métropole, we ended up at a local restaurant based purely on the aroma of freshly baked bread pouring out from its open doors and windows. Alas, warm bread never fails to seduce.
“Everything ends this way in France…everything. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, diplomatic affairs. Everything is a pretext for a good dinner.” – Jean Anouilh
“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work.
Let God worry about your modesty…I want to see your enthusiasm.” ― Robert Farrar Capon
The owner was charming and asked if he could indulge us and serve us a meal completely off-menu. We agreed and he brought us a baguette; locally made cheese; salad greens with dressing made of herbs his family grew; warm potato salad; and foie gras. Although composed of simple ingredients, the meal was one of the best we have ever eaten, and was completely responsible for our new-found affection for Lille, so much so in fact, we are planning to return in the coming months. Just to dine there.
Orléans, located on the Loire River in north-central France, was another happy accident. The city, the capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region in north-central France and southwest of Paris, is famous for a number of reasons. First and foremost of course is Joan of Arc, also known as “The Maid of Orléans,” having led the French army to several victories.
It’s also known for its stunning cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d’Orléans, pictured below.
“There is an admirable fact about the psychology of France. She forges the thought and the beauty of a world…her destiny is never to be mediocre.” ― Joséphin Péladan
The city has not shied away from embracing modern architecture, however :