Lille looks a lot better in the morning sunshine. It’s cold and dry, so a good day to get exploring some more. Although come to think of it, it didn’t look too bad last night either.
Some of the side streets around here show real signs of poverty, and it’s also in evidence when I take the Metro to Roubaix, a town a few miles north of Lille. A woman gets on board the train and starts playing the accordion, whilst her small child walks through the carriage with a cup for donations. I remember seeing this sort of thing in London a decade ago, and it strikes me as concerning that it’s still happening today – a combination of hard times and a migrant population which doesn’t qualify for state hand outs.
Roubaix itself is looking fine in the winter sunshine, but almost deserted. As I ascend from the Metro, it looks like almost everyone has left town. It’s Tuesday morning, but it may as well be Sunday afternoon.
Time for a visit to the municipal swimming pool, built for the workers of Roubaix by the Socialist Council in 1927. But there’s no need for Speedos here, because in 1984 La Piscine was converted into an art gallery. Obviously.
This really is bonkers, but it works. And because nobody’s actually swimming in the pool, there’s no smell of chlorine. The main exhibit in the pool area changes every season. But around the sides are various painting and ceramics, hidden in what used to be the changing cubicles.