Looking for travel destinations can be exciting and a little troublesome, especially if there is a lot we would like to see. One way to approach this for Renfrewshire residents could be choosing a so-called sister city. There seem to be only few of those for our region, with Paisley being twinned with two: Germany’s Fürth and Gladsaxe in Denmark. However, we are going to focus on Kilmacolm’s partnership in France, and on what you can do around there.

The place is called Mérignies, and it is a small commune in the northern region of the country, with area of 8.61 square kilometres and population of under 3,000. Due to such circumstances, there might not be too many regularly scheduled events in the closest vicinity. Although beautifully located golf courses entice players and encourages sportsmen to compete in tournaments. Plus, there’s always a lot of celebration of holidays and festivities happening everywhere in France, such as Mountain Festival, World Music Day, French Cuisine Festival, New Beaujolais Festival or French National Day. However, the proximity of Lille and Lens that are just about half an hour drive away can almost guarantee a fun thing to do for everyone.

Lille, as a large urban area, is especially attractive to tourists who will have many occasions to sightsee, enjoy the nightlife or taste local delicacies at one of the fifteen working markets in different districts. People connected to cinematography industry have had some success in putting their town on the map which is reflected in the popular events. The 34th edition of European Film Festival has recently concluded, and International Independent Film Festival makes appearances in different parts of city between May and June.

Music has gotten even bigger and more prestigious representation, apart from the usual activities characteristic to a big city. Jazz is greatly appreciated in the region. The Jazz Festival in North provides many concerts in the area from October till the end of March. Then there’s cultural event called Printemps de la Vieille Bourse, taking place in March or April, which focuses on Jazz and more contemporary music. Current trends are highlighted at Les Paradis Artificiels (March, April) and Paysages Électroniques (electronic music). For a different touch, the Festival Lille Clef de Soleil is a series of musical moments involving classical music happening on every Thursday between July and August. The accordion lovers will feel at home during Wazemmes l’Accordéon (May and June).

The city has been known as an important part of nationwide and international series in professional poker. The most prestigious games happen in July and September (for this year it is 18-20 July and 7-9 September). Smaller tournaments are often held on other occasions at Lille’s casinos and hotels, including commonly praised Casino Barriere de Lille where the card game action is usually taking place. Fans, ideally equipped with specialist knowledge that could help them crack a few secrets about how those kinds of establishments operate, can enjoy poker and suchlike activities virtually all year round.

On similar note, Lille has few other niches covered with their interesting events. For example, Lille Comics Festival, happening early November, is the most important convention for British and American comic books enthusiast around these parts. There is, of course, Christmas market in December, with a nice twist in form of Santa Claus is a Rocker festival, offering social events and concerts. But probably the most known attraction is the famous Big Braderie (Braderie de Lille) which is annual street or flea market. Every first weekend of September (for 2018 it is actually 1st and 2nd of September) is an occasion to make a good bargain and try some delicious food. The market is believed to be dated back to 12th century, now being the largest in Europe, presumably holding 10 000 sellers and hosting several million guests.