Back in October I visited for the first time the city of Lille which is in the North part of France and it was fantastic! Coming from the south of France and living in Paris I can say that France offers a variety of landscapes, food, architecture, style. Lille doesn’t look like Lyon, Marseille or Paris. It has its own style and culture and it was great discovering what this elegant city has to offer. I stayed there a weekend and here is what I did, saw, ate, enjoyed …..
What to see
- The architecture
Lille is the capital of the French Flanders but was once a part of Belgium. The Flemish art had a big influence on the architecture. Buildings and monuments have indeed a beautiful and elegant”Flemish” touch. The main square and the small streets of the old city are worth a visit.
2. La Vieille Bourse ( the old stock exchange)
The Vieille Bourse is one of my favorite building in Lille. It is magnificent and it has an inside courtyard where a second-hand book market takes place.
3. The zoo and the Citadel park ( parc de la Citadelle)
The park is surrounded by the remparts of Vauban’s citadel and contains a nice zoo where you can see red pandas, zebras but also monkeys, birds, ….
4. The Fine Arts Museum
It has been beautifully renovated in the 90’s and it houses wonderful collections of European painters such as Goya, Delacroix, Rubens….
5. The Wazemmes market
It is very cosy to visit on a Sunday morning the covered market of Wazemmes, a multi-ethnic quarter in Lille. You will find specialties from the area, such as the “Maroilles” cheese!
Where to stay
I stayed at the Mercure Vieux Lille and it is very well located. You can easily find a place to eat in the evening as there are a lot of restaurants in the area.
Where to eat
In the north of France and Belgium they called a small café or restaurant an “estaminet”. You will never hear this word in other parts of France. So if you want to eat some typical food in an “estaminet” please book a table at “Le vieux de la vieille”. It offers typical dishes of the North and prices are reasonable.
2. Coffee shops
Before going to the restaurant we stopped at this coffee shop to have an “apéritif” as they have a wide range of beers. The owner is a nice lady who can speak English and the atmosphere is simple, “sans chichis” as we say it in french ( no arrogant attitude). You can also find second-hand books. ( I actually bought a book about Jackie Kennedy for 2 euros).
Tous les jours dimanche
After going to restaurant we went to a nice “salon de thé” called “tous les jours dimanche” (everyday Sunday). It is an old property decorated with a Scandinavian touch. They have coffees, teas, cakes but it is also known for being the best place in town to have brunch!
3. Pâtisserie Meert
It is a classic institution in Lille, something you need to see! It is closed to the Main square and you can easily recognize the building which is elegant and the window displays “tempting” desserts and pastries. They are known for their “Gaufres” (wafers) made of Madagascar vanilla. They are very sweet but I love them!
4. Finally, Lille offers many cute boutiques