Hi and welcome to everyone. Today as scheduled, we have arrived in what is our first French destination, that is Lille. So let’s start from a big city, backpacks on our backs and let’s go… ehm no, wait, first we need to give space to the presentations because, you know, we can’t start exploring a destination if we don’t know something about it first.
Lille is located in the northern part of France and is the capital of the Haute-France region. It is not far from the Belgian border. The culture in Lille is very present and you can feel it, there are several universities in the city, one of these is the University of Lille. The city is also known for its fabrics, its thriving economy and because it is home to an important transport meeting point. Speaking of events in the city, its biggest event is the Braderie of Lille, a large flea market held every year on the first weekend of september. A curiosity about the city is that anciently it was founded on an island in the middle of the river Deûle, from which it takes its name. It is just over two hours from Paris and an hour and a half from London (connected via Eurotunnel), so Lille is located in the heart of the European Union.
Said that, let’s start our tour.
To know more (what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.
Being an important cultural center, Lille was the European capital of culture in 2004. So there is to see!
PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)
- L’église Saint-Michel: it is one of the churches located right in the center of Lille. Of Roman-Byzantine style, Saint-Michel is inspired by the great Romanesque basilicas. The interior is very sober but with its characteristic naves, which seem almost like arcades, everything seems to be more original.
Another important church to visit is that of Saint-Maurice, classified as a historical monument but also the beautiful and majestic Église du Sacré-Cœur.
- Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille: it is the main place of Catholic worship in the city. If the external appearance looks majestic, wait to see its interior. First of all it gives the impression of being a very modern place and with colors that we could define unusual (as we can say like this) for a church, but which are so harmonious and elegant as to be amazed. Among paintings, interesting sculptures this church sure will not leave indifferent.
- Palais des Beaux-Arts: it is one of the largest French art museums (the fourth largest in the country excluding parisian ones). Also architecture will not go unnoticed, but this time with an older style. The collection belonging to the museum is one of the largest in France and includes artists of great caliber like Donatello, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso. We can say that the museum has a beautiful heritage to preserve and we have a beautiful heritage to admire! Moreover, if you are a photography lover you cannot miss the House of Photography entirely dedicated to the photographic world.
- Hospice Comtesse Museum: it is a museum, a former convent that later became a hospice, located at Rue de la Monnaie in the old part of Lille. The collection includes ceramics, paintings and various items of furniture. All this makes perfectly the idea of the monastic life of the time. Outside we find a small garden with some medicinal plants. It is therefore a place so interesting but also welcoming and evocative. Don’t miss it!
- The Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Lille: the french natural history museum is located in the Rue de Bruxelles, in the univeristary district of the city. The interior of the museum is a world, first of all it must be said that it is divided into four sections including: a zoological collection (and there is so much to see, remains of animals such as birds, wolves, insects, dinosaur skeletons and much more), the geological, ethnographic collection and the science and technology collection. The atmosphere that you breathe there is so pleasant that you will surely be enchanted (especially the little ones).
- Musee d’Art Moderne: if you are a lover of modern art this place is dedicated to it and it is located in the urban park of Villeneuve-d’Ascq (district of Lille). The structure, surrounded by greenery, is very interesting, from the outside you can guess all its modernity and originality and so also the interior, through sculptures, representations and very interesting paintings as well as the presence of the great classics. One of these? Kandinsky. Then, speaking about art, if you would like to know a famous French artist, we recommend the Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle museum, completely dedicated to the artist, his works and his life.
- La Piscine: is a museum of art and industry located near Roubaix. Let’s start with the peculiarity of this museum, which is that it is housed in a former indoor pool. In the center there is the swimming pool full of water and at the side several sculptures. Also its large stained glass windows are beautiful, its ceramic collections and those related to the textile industry as well. An unmissable and very original visit.
- Musée des canonniers: in this beautiful structure resides the museum dedicated to the military history in which you will find not only testimonies and the history of the city of Lille but also uniforms, rifles and other objects.
- If you want to visit a beautiful castle there is the Flers located in Villeneuve-d’Ascq. Its structure is typical of flemish rural architecture which does not give so much the impression of being a castle (but we assure you that it is). The building includes a museum and the city’s tourist office. It is worth making a visit, not only because it is a castle a little different from those we are used to see but also because it is classified as a historical monument of France.
For theaters we have four of them and all of them are important: Opéra de Lille, Théâtre du Nord, Théâtre Sébastopol, Le Prato.
Musee d’Art Moderne
There is so much to have fun here!
- So let’s see what we can do in the city to have some fun: here is a pleasant walk in the old city of Lille in the vast Place Charles de Gaulle, a central point of the city, full of bars, shopping streets (rue de Bethune) and “Parisian” alleys in which to get lost (including Place aux Oignons). The square is also home to the Vieille Bourse, one of the major buildings and monuments of the city (a great testimony and historical value). During the walk you might come across the Palais Rihour (a beautiful French palace) or the Porte de Paris (city gate) or even the Porte de Gand and have the opportunity to admire them in all their beauty. And also two beautiful monuments to see always during your journey are the Monument à Louis Pasteur and the Monument Honneur Et Patrie and if you reach Rue Saint-François you will find the colorful and modern monument Les Tulipes de Shangri-La.
If you love the street markets, in the Wazemmes district every sunday takes place the market where you will find everything you want; and still in september in Lille takes place the Braderie the largest flea market in Europe that attracts millions of tourists every year. Unmissable!
- Pont Napoléon: this bridge is located near the Calais Pass and was built in honor of Napoleon I. It has undergone several modifications and has been rebuilt three times, but the end the result it’s really nice! The environment seems to be similar to the oriental gardens (with trees around and the river under the bridge) makes it even more suggestive. The bridge also has a roof and a warm lighting that makes it very delicate and pleasant.
- Beffroi de Lille: classified as a historical monument, it is part of the UNESCO heritage and is located right next to the Hotel de Ville. The bell tower can be visited and in the highest part you can admire Lille at 360 degrees. A beautiful initiative that has been taken is about the lighting, they tried to minimize the light pollution saving energy. Amazing!
- Lille Zoo: for adults and children this zoological park offers the opportunity to know a lot about the local fauna, with the presence of many animals that usually we don’t find in other places. We would like to underline that all the animals are kept in large spaces where has been recreated their natural habitat, they are kept in in accordance with their needs and obviously putting their health first.
- Parc du Heron: a large and vast park immersed in a spectacular nature to be explored and admired (by bike, on foot, whatever). There are lakes, fauna, flora and many landscapes in which to get lost completely.
- Parc de la Citadelle: perfect for a healthy walk. And if the path seems too long, don’t worry, there will be a small bar waiting for you to rest and enjoy the peace around.
However, let’s not forget that the Relais de Parc de la Deûle is a very beautiful protected natural park where many activities (on bike too) and guided tours are organized. It also has a large picnic area and barbecue area.
- Jardin des plantes: for all the flowers and plants lovers this botanical garden is the ideal place for you. It is a really great place that is worth a visit because of its beauty. All is studied in detail and well cared for, no plant or flower is there by chance. It is such a great place, but if you like something more spiritual and even more relaxing (similar to the oriental gardens) there is Le Sentier du Chimonobambu. So you know have two absolutely recommended places.
- Tramway touristique de la vallée de la Deûle: what could be better than a nice tour in an ancient tram and enjoy the beautiful landscape that Lille offers us sitting comfortably? Well, we tell you that it is an opportunity not to be missed and certainly an experience to do (moreover, after all these long walks in the parks a bit of rest is what we need!).
- Les Pres du Hem: this other park, not far from Lille that we recommend mainly because it has a bathing lake and if you are in the city on summer, well you will certainly not hesitate to reach the resort to give you what you desire on hot days.
- For those looking for something enigmatic and fun to do in Lille with friends or family, we have three escape games for you to take part in: John Doe Escape Game, One Brain – Live Escape Game 2.0, RUSH HOUR Escape Game France.
Beffroi de Lille
Also as regard the nightlife, we have something for you as Lille is a very electrical city from this point of view. Don’t forget that Lille is also known for its excellent beer, so it will be really easy to find pubs.
Let’s get more specific and see some of the places in the city:
- Le Baron: nightclub
- Magazine Club: nightclub
- Golden Wave: nightclub
- Le Network: disco
- Singing Studio Lille: karaoke room
- Café Society: lounge bar
When it comes to typical dishes, Lille certainly doesn’t pull back!
- Welsh: it is one of the typical dishes of the city. It must be said that it is not a light food but like any dish like this is really good. It is a layered dish, we start with a slice of bread soaked in beer, in the middle a slice of ham and then it starts again. On top there is the fried egg and at the end everything is covered with cheddar. The dish is served with fries. Welsh is strictly served and cooked in a ceramic pot (like almost every dish in Lille).
- Potjevleesch: the dish is composed of a set of meats of four different types, chicken, rabbit, pork and veal which are then cooked together and enclosed in a jelly, following a specific cooking method. It could not seem so good but believe us, it will be a nice discovery (then you will agree with us if you try it!). The dish is accompanied with fries and salad.
- Carbonade flamande: it is a dish made with beef seasoned with onion, thyme and then a super good sauce, whose fundamental ingredient is still the beer. The dish is served with fries.
- Gaufre liloise: it is a wafer with an oval shape, crunchy on the outside and soft inside as it contains a vanilla filling. The wafer is generally accompanied with whipped cream, ice cream or melted chocolate.
- Merveilleux: it is a small sweet and consists of a sandwich of two meringues with whipped cream and the whole surface covered with chocolate and a cherry to complete it all. In various french provinces the dessert is called “tête de nègre”, “boule choco”, “boule meringuée au chocolat” or “arlequin” with some tiny variation.
WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)
Also as regards to the places where you can taste the typical dishes in Lille there is a lot to choice. Let’s see.
- Restaurant Sébastopol: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- PANCOOK: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- L’Annexe: French, vegetarian cuisine.
- La Criniere: French, European and vegetarian cuisine.
- L’Etable: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- Madame Bistro: French, vegetarian cuisine.
- Gorilla Topping Food & Coffee: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- L’îlot Bar: French, vegetarian cuisine.
- La Biche & Le Renard: French cuisine.
Our journey in Lille ends like this, but our exploration in France has just begun; so keep on following us and don’t forget that there are many beautiful and interesting things to see and hear.
Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.
A big kiss to everyone.
Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Lille.