The rain let up for one or two hours yesterday - long enough to grab our bikes and go randomly round some of Lille's adjoining suburbs and marvel once again at the extreme abundance of cycle paths (many of which leave the road system entirely and take you through green groves with wild flowering forget-me-nots). Golden sunlight filtering through the freshly rainwashed green leaves in the eternally gorgeous citadelle park/forest prompted me to mention for the 680th time that we really should picnic there. Earlier that morning I braved the tropical style downpour to visit the Vieux Lille markets (classed as one of the 100 prettiest markets in France). New seasons treats included fresh peas (which remind me of being a kid, my grandma always made me shell them), gariguette strawberries (a French variety I think, longer, sweeter and somehow 'silkier' than your standard strawberry - the best come from Plougastel in Brittany*). An unplanned 'treat' was the sweet talking cheese seller who skilfully bombarded me with a tasting a range of sheep milk cheese from the Alps, unpasturised gruyere from Savoie and before I knew it had wrapped up a modest block in some waxed paper before I had asked the price. I shouldn't have asked the price. In these situations it's just best to hand over 20 euros and be happy if you get some change out of it.
*As an aside, the French apparently consume 2.5kg per person per year of strawberries. Considering I buy about 1/2 kilo a week for the entire season, I must be taking up the slack for a lot of people.