1st – 4th December 2022
If the lure of the famed Christmas market in Lille is not enough, then the world class collection of paintings in the The Palais des Beaux Arts should encourage you to make the hour and a half journey from London. The city has had a renaissance and is now bursting with culture and festivity, bringing to life its rich history with a wealth of art and an excellent variety of architecture. We will also hop across the border to spend the day in Tournai, one of Belgium’s best kept secrets.
The city’s culture is matched by its delicious supply of good foods with surprisingly affordable restaurants. Our hotel is in the historic centre just off the beautiful Place du Theatre.
Thursday 1st December
Even leaving London at a respectable time, we will be able to drop our bags at the hotel before a light stroll and a refreshing lunch. In the afternoon we will discuss the rich history of French Flanders with a church crawl, including the medieval St Maurice and the baroque St Mary Magdalen. We will also visit the Old Stock Exchange, dating back to 1653, in the Grande Place. Throughout the year its courtyard is host to a bevy of Bouquinistes – quite simply a second-hand book market, the name coming from the old French (and English) word bouc. At this time of year the Grande Place is home to an atmospheric Christmas market and as it is just outside the Bourse it would seem rude not to sample their mulled wine while we are there. Supper at a great little place in the centre.
Friday 2nd December
The Palais des Beaux Arts is reputed as one of the best collections in France outside Paris, second only to the Louvre. I have always thought that Donatello’s miraculously delicate marble relief of ‘The Feast of Herod’ is worth a visit in its own right. There is a superb collection of early Flemish paintings by the likes of Dieric Bouts, not to mention excellent works by Bosch, Rubens, Goya and Courbet among other lesser-known gems.
After a light lunch we will head out to the suburb of Roubaix. It is not often that we have visited swimming pools with AHA, but La Piscine Museum is extraordinary. The art nouveau architecture, richly decorated with colourful ceramics, has inspired a wonderful museum devoted to sculpture, fabrics and industry.
Saturday 3rd December
From French Flanders we will head to Belgian Flanders. The charming city of Tournai is just a short train ride away and one of Belgium’s best kept secrets. We will first visit the wonderful Musée des Beaux Arts, designed by none other than Victor Horta (familiar to those who came with us to Brussels in 2020). Quite apart from the intriguing building, it is also worthwhile visiting for the collection of early Flemish Masters (Rogier van der Weyden started his career in Tournai), as well as a fine selection of French Impressionists and their Belgian contemporaries.
After a good Flemish lunch just off the Grand Place, an elegant triangular square, we will take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets. We will see the gothic Pont de Trous over the River Scheldt and the wonderful Cathedral of Notre Dame. Five bell towers bisect a Romanesque nave and Gothic choir, and through this unique mix of architecture the Cathedral earned its World Heritage status. We will return to Lille in time for a rest before supper.
Sunday 4th December
We will continue our exploration of Lille by visiting the Old Town and the medieval Hospice Comtesse. Founded in 1237 it functioned as a hospital until 1939. The beautiful 15th, 17th and 18thcentury buildings now house a very interesting collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and tapestries.
We will then move up to date with a visit to the Town Hall. After walking through the fabulous art deco Long Gallery we take a lift up the Belfry for a view of Lille and the surrounding countryside. After our final lunch there will be some time for shopping and further exploring before we return to the hotel to take taxis to the station for the Eurostar home.
Dr Richard Stemp will lead the trip. One of AHA’s most knowledgeable tutors, Richard is a keen advocate of both Northern Renaissance art and Art Deco. Another AHA tutor will join the trip.
We will stay at the Hotel Carlton, perfectly placed in the historic centre just of the Place du Theatre. The hotel has a slight 20’s vibe and a cozy bar. All rooms are ‘Privileged Rooms with a View’.
We do not book the Eurostar thus allowing you to travel to suit your budget, travel between different centres or on different dates.
1st December London St. Pancras 09.01 – 11.27 Lille
4th December Lille 18.35 – 19.00 London St. Pancras
We will take taxis from the station to the hotel. We will mostly walk in the cities and we will travel to Tourbai by train.
There is quite a bit of walking on this trip, as well as uneven terrain with lots of cobbled streets. As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at.
We will send our Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocol before the trips starts. Please see our Terms and Conditions for our Covid-19 cancellation policy and ensure your travel insurance covers you for cancellation should you test positive for Covid-19.
The fees are £1490 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, taxis for the recommended Eurostar, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single occupancy supplement is £120 (double room for single use). Please state on the form if you would be happy to share. Not included are the Eurostar, all suppers and travel insurance. The group will not exceed 10 people.
Please complete the online application form and pay a deposit of £600 per person via bank transfer.
Please call 01379 871800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.
NB you must buy your own Eurostar.