Wednesday 16th. Boy what a jamb-packed day this turned out to be! We had decided on an early start to try and squeeze a trip to Le Quesnoy whilst in Lille. To accommodate train schedules we caught the 8:05 from Bruges. An early arrival in Lille gave us some flexibility. Luckily our hotel was also only 100 metres from the station. We dropped our bags and went for a walk and had breakfast at a café near the main square. We then walked around some more, called into the Tourist Info Office and decided we would do the one hour ‘City tour’ by bus at 12 noon. We walked around a few more outskirts before hopping on the bus for a 16km ride around the city. It is certainly a city of diversity – magnificent old buildings and magnificent new ones. Lille is the birthplace of Charles de Gaulle and there are historical references to this of course. It appears to be quite a clean place especially around the town centre but had some ‘seedy’ areas as well. Quite a few homeless and beggars. We caught the train to Le Quesnoy at 13:35 to see the town the NZ troops liberated in one of the last actions of WW I. The kiwis scaled the city walls using ladders and totally caught the Germans by surprise and they surrendered quickly after holding the town for four years. There are plenty of references to this including a street named Rue De Nouvelle Zealande and a memorial. They hold a service on the 4th of November each year to commemorate the town’s liberation. Well worth the visit. We got back to Lille around 5pm and Julie & John decided to hire bikes to try and ride around the Parc del la Citadel which is a large area adjacent to the main city centre. After a couple of hairy moments negotiating tight city streets we got out to the park and had a lovely ride around the canal, old city ramparts and tree-lined wide pathways which were being shared with heaps of joggers, walkers and cyclists. We found our way back with less hassle after about 90 minutes riding and showered before getting a meal (yet another underwhelming one) at one of the Brassieres’ in the square. Given we didn’t have to get up early we didn’t hit the hay until around midnight. Bordeaux tomorrow.