Often overlooked in favour of more popular destinations, like Paris or Provence, the surprisingly cultural city of Lille is the perfect place to travel if you love cities with a young, modern vibe. You can reach Lille in just one hour from London on the Eurostar, so it’s also the perfect location for a weekend away.
Shoppers everywhere will love Lille as it’s the perfect place to pick up a bargain. Home to the biggest fleamarket in Europe, the Braderie de Lille, you can buy everything from a miner’s lamp to a table and six chairs, or artisan chocolates to delicious cured cheese. If you’re not in the city when the Braderie is on, not to worry! There’s still plenty of shops to explore, and if you’re a bit of a bookworm, make sure you check out the Furet du Nord – a bookshop with over 7,000 square metres of bookshelves.
Parc de Zoologique
A completely free zoo, this is one of the highlights of Lille – make a full day out of it by strolling around the park and the nearby citadel afterwards. With a wonderful assortment of animals and a rather brilliant selection of food kiosks, it’s also a surprisingly good way to sample some Lille cuisine.
A Night on the Tiles
Lille is home to a university, so don’t visit without harking back to your student days and spending a night out on the tiles. Home to a range of quirky clubs, cool bars and amazing eateries, drinks here are fairly cheap, so take advantage of the prices to try some of the cool cocktails – and make sure you enjoy a meal of moules-frites and beer during your stay, as it’s one of the most popular dishes in Lille.
If you’re a big fan of museums, Lille is the place for you – there’s the Musee des Beaux Arts, which is regularly described as the second best collection of art next to the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Natural History, the Musee d’Art Moderne and the Palais des Beaux Arts. Don’t forget to visit the Grande Place, climb the Beffroi de Lille and spend an afternoon wandering around Le Musee de la Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle, too.
Casino night at the Barriere Hotel
Within a short walking distance from train station and city centre, this modern-designed hotel allows visitors to enjoy some of the most impressive views of the city while relaxing at the table. If playing at casino tables is not your cup of tea, you can relax at Barreire’s lobbies and bars and take advantage of the speedy Wi-Fi for a graphic-rich experience on iPad bingo with Paddy Power.
If you want to step away from the tourist track and get a taste of the real Lille – and enjoy some authentic French style at a price the locals are happy to pay, take a stroll through rue Bethune. Crammed with unique shops, upmarket eateries, glam bars and home to some street food vendors, rue Bethune is the place to be if you want to sample some traditional Lille cuisine and pick up a bargain.
Images via. Wikipedia