Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Last Saturday in Lille four giants roamed the streets under a grey sky. People in handmade costumes danced in the streets as brass bands battled with percussion groups. A parade wove slowly away from the market square, down the small streets of the town. Confetti was thrown, and at least twice, whole handfuls of it were eaten by too-quick, curious children who regretted it immediately.
The giant on the left is called Jeanne Maillot. She is based on a woman from the 16th century who is considered a heroine in Lille. In 1582, when Lille was attacked by Protestant armies, Jeanne Maillot led the women of the city in battle against them.
The giant on the right was made to honour Pierre De Geyter who grew up in Lille and is famous for having composed the music for the anthem of the Communist Party, L'Internationale.
As for the giant in the middle with the wheat, I can't find anything about her.
This giant is called Cordéonneux after a song written by Raoul de Godeswaervelde (who was from Lille and also has a giant made in his honour), and his appearance is modeled after a local accordion player who used to play during festivals.
(A video taken at the start of the parade, which is why there aren't so many people around.)
Lille has a lot of giants, and these are just the ones that happened to be out on Saturday. The city was even founded by giants (surprisingly it is not the only city to have this distinction in northern France). At the bottom of a huge belfry, at the door of Lille's city hall is a depiction of Lydéric and Phinaert, the city's founders.
And a nice city it is too... with a very nice art gallery, beautiful old buildings, and even a zoo. But now it's time for me to head off to bed.