The north of France is a lot like the north of England. It’s a bit colder, metropolitan types think it has funny accents and food and it has suffered from a decline in industry, particularly mining. Lille should get itself twinned with Manchester – both cities have great histories and great ambitions for the future (and both are now major student and cultural centres). Continue reading “Art galleries in northern France: La Piscine Roubaix beats Louvre Lens”
Why are French pharmacy signs so animated?
Pharmacies in France are useful places. They offer a wide range of medicines and advice. However, the same is true of pharmacies elsewhere in the world… but they don’t have signs like French pharmacy signs. This one was filmed in Lille, but is typical of many. Continue reading “Why are French pharmacy signs so animated?”
Did v-mail lead to email?
Parisian museums have a lot of mentions of ’email’, but usually that is because it is French for the enamel of which an exhibit is made. But the excellent Musée de l’Armée within Les Invalides has an exhibit showing an earlier kind of paperless communication: v-mail. Continue reading “Did v-mail lead to email?”
Religion and healthcare: why the NHS provokes holy arguments
The Hospice Comtesse, just north of the historic centre of Lille, opened in 1245, more than seven centuries before the formation of the NHS. It treated the sick for free, using income from its estates and donors, until 1796 when post-revolution reforms turned it into a hospice, a role it performed until 1939. As a tour of the buildings, now a museum, makes obvious, it was an explicitly Christian institution, with a chapel adjoining its huge dormitory ward and its healthcare provided by nuns. Continue reading “Religion and healthcare: why the NHS provokes holy arguments”
Blackpool vs Scheveningen: which is the better fun, if slightly faded, seaside resort?
Both Britain’s Blackpool and the Netherlands’ Scheveningen are seaside resorts that, though they may have seen better days, are lots of fun. And they have a lot in common: trams, piers, cheap tat… but which is better?
Beaches: Blackpool has a great sandy beach, but it’s a bit hidden behind a big concrete sea wall (for understandable reasons involving winter storms and flooding). Scheveningen’s equally sandy beach is easily accessible, features posts with novelty logos and its beach cafes are really quite cool, even if high winds can end up dumping quite a lot of that beach in your drink.
Schev 1-0 BPL Continue reading “Blackpool vs Scheveningen: which is the better fun, if slightly faded, seaside resort?”