A spot just off the main square- the Grand Place- in Lille was one of the places I’d always want to have a wander if I was anywhere near the vicinity.
La Vieille Bourse is the old stock exchange, turned marketplace set up in a square, surrounded by beautiful buildings. What I loved most about it was that it was almost secret. Tucked away from the busiest square in Lille, I stumbled upon it one day. You enter through an unmarked door in one of the buildings off the Grand Place (shown below) and get to enjoy what I imagine France was like back in the day.
Thousands of old books, magazines, comic books, posters, paintings and bric-a-brac all within the small square. But my favourite pieces on sale were the old, used postcards. Organised in the stall by the place they were sent from, I love how they tell a tiny little bit about the life of the person who wrote them. I probably spent far too long immersed in the little stories- most of them talked about the weather and sent their kisses to their families and loved ones.
In the middle of the square, there was often a group of men playing chess with their obligatory coffee accompaniments. It was a nice atmosphere. You could join in to watch, secretly bet on the team you wanted to win and easily make a friend for a couple of minutes by cheering when someone made a successful move, and then wander back out into the hustle and bustle of the Grand Place.
Now that I’m back in Scotland, I wish we places like that. But maybe it would take away from the magic if they could be found everywhere…
– Gina, Lille