The French National Urban Sketchers meet 2022 - Lille
Our route to Lille was via the channel tunnel requiring us to take a train to London and pick up a Eurostar service from St Pancras. The Jubilee weekend gave everyone four days away from work and many people were taking the advantage of getting away for a city break - St Pancras was almost chaotically busy.
We arrived in northern France just before lunch to a marvellous sunny day. After checking in, we had some lunch and wondered around the historic city, stopping for an occasional sketch and coffee in one of the many charming cafes.
The imposing Grand Place forms a central focus to the city fabric and is a perfect place to chill and people watch go by.
After breakfast we met many of our urban sketcher friends who were arriving from all over Europe for this special event. After a little afternoon sketching around the city, many of us met up at the launch reception held in a city library before meeting up for dinner.
Saturday was a busy day - firstly all the sketchers met up in in front of the Palais des Beaux-Artes for a main group photograph. It was here that we started to appreciate the sheer scale of numbers attending the sketch weekend.
Coincidentally it was Lille Pride on the same day and during the morning thousands of visitors flocked into the city to enjoy a large and very colourful parade that brought normal city life to a halt.
As the 'carnival' moved from the streets into the local cafes and bars, we managed to find opportunities to continue our sketching including visiting the delightful art nouveau house, Maison Coilliot, designed by Hector Guimard and completed in 1900.
Our luck with the weather broke on Sunday and many sketchers headed to some of the internal locations suggested. It proved however a great opportunity to explore the beautiful Palais des Beaux-Artes and sketch the graceful interiors.
The trip proved a great way to meet sketchers from all over Europe - a few of us went out 'night sketching' after dinner to some of the vibrant 'evening destination' streets in the city centre.
Th final day of the event and I went sketching in a very different part of the city, Euro-Lille. Whilst some of the contemporary architecture is dramatic and playful, the quality of the spaces falls somewhat short when compared to the historic city.
After one final group lunch, my partner and I explored other areas of the city, coming across the delightful Place Aux Oignons where I enjoyed one last sketch over a coffee before packing our bags to catch the early evening Eurostar back to home - little did we realise that there was a Tube strike meaning we had to walk across London to catch our train at Waterloo, but that's another story...