Leaving Lille we headed for the Louvre in Lens. It is an art gallery that is connected to the Louvre in Paris, Michele had read about and wanted to check out. The weather was overcast but after the crossing from England riding was a doddle.
It was a very new building with lots of glass and high security. Obviously something valuable here. After security checks we headed to the reception desk and were pleasantly surprised to find that entry was free. To top it off they had a cloakroom in the basement where we stowed our wet weather jackets and pants before putting our boots in a locker.
The Lens Louvre was arranged really well in timeline form. It started with 3500 BC and went through to modern times. Unlike other art galleries, especially the Paris Louvre, it wasn’t stacked from top to bottom with art covering every available spot, giving us an art overload.
We also enjoyed the fact that we were able to enjoy the art without tick, flick and clickers jumping in front of us to get “that photo” of a famous art piece. The free audio guide was pretty informative and really added to what turned out to be a really nice visit. We had lunch at the crowded cafe and were amazed that they also had an indoor picnic area with tables and chairs.
Pretty soon it was time to hit the road again so we donned our wet weather gear and mounted up. We headed through France passing through farmlands with tractors cutting hay, and others raking into rows ready for baling. The road at times was pretty scenic however the grey clouds got lower and lower before about 3 it started raining. Our old mate’s words “It’s raining! Yes, welcome in Belgium” were ringing in my ears as we tucked our heads down to stop the rain from going down our collars.
Our butts were getting pretty sore so we made our next stop Charleroi. The town was a pretty uninspiring industrial jungle with an almost menacing feel about it, (maybe our friend was right to warn us about it), however it the middle we found a really nice bakery that served good coffee and cakes. We spent the best part of an hour waiting for the rain to clear as every time the sun came out it was quickly followed by rain.
There was a break in the weather so we headed out and enjoyed the most famous Charleroi tradition of sitting in traffic jams. Nearly an hour later we were free of the traffic and heading the short distance to near Namur where our friends lived. As we headed towards the little village we passed a reminder from the wars which raged over this country 70 years ago with three concrete pillboxes in the middle of a field. It was beautiful riding into the little village with its grey stone and white plastered houses with grey slate shingle roofs.
We were welcomed in true Belgian style with big hugs from our friends who were our very first couch surfers and it was so nice to see them again 🙂
The Louvre Lens is suitable for a day trip from Paris and well worth checking out. Here is a link to their website for more information.