Laidback in Lille and 10 things to see in Lille

“Lille? For three days?”

The Parisians would ponder this for a few seconds after I’d told them that, yes, my next stop was Lille, for three whole days.

“Hmm, it’s very different to Paris but you will like it,’ they’d tell me. “It’s very pretty.”

And this is my first impression from Lille. It is very pretty. And oh so different to Paris.

Lille is just one hour by train from Paris and makes an easy journey or possibly a day trip from Paris.

I arrived by 9.30am on Monday and the city was amazingly quiet. It’s the fourth largest city in France and has a large student population so with all those students around it’s unsurprising this is a city that takes a while to wake up.

By midday the city was just beginning to awaken but while I’d just finished my lunch, I was surrounded by people sipping their morning coffee.

Les Welsh

I’d sampled my first taste of Les Welsh, an enormous cheesy meal that is ridiculously bad but oh so good. It’s made from bread soaked in beer, topped with ham and one hell of a lot of melted cheese. It comes served with bread and chips to mop up that excess cheese. It’s delicious and I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

Lille may be a sleep city but if there’s one thing it does well, it’s food. I took a walk when I first arrived and I couldn’t help but notice all the restaurants, brassieres, cafes, snack bars and patisseries lining the streets.

10 things to see in Lille

1.Place du Général-de-Gaulle

Place du Général-de-Gaulle

The main architectural attractions in Lille are centered around the main square, otherwise known as Place du Général-de-Gaulle or the Grand Place.

This is a great place to start your day in Lille and I’d recommend spending some time here with a coffee and a pastry as you watch the world go by.

2. La Vieille Bourse

La Vieille Bourse in Lille

La Vieille Bourse is the old stock exchange built in 1653. You can still step inside and have a wander around the courtyard where you will find a handful of second-hand booksellers.

 

3. Voix du La Nord

Voix du La Nord

This means ‘The Voice of the North’ and is Lille’s local newspaper. I was told that the locals are very supportive of this newspaper and are very proud of it.

 

4. Opéra de Lille

Lille Opera House

Lille Opera House was build between 1907 and 1913.

 

5. Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce Lille

Built in 1910 and with a beautiful 76 metre high belfry.

 

6. Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille

Lille cathedral

 

7. Natural History Museum

(Sorry, I actually did’t make it here)

8. The Church of St. Maurice

The Church of St. Maurice

A gorgeous 14th century Gothic church.

 

9. Musée des Beaux-Arts

Lille art gallery

This is the largest French museum outside of Paris and is one of Lille’s main attractions for art lovers.

 

10. La Piscine Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

Art gallery swimming pool lille

This is an art gallery hosted in an art-deco swimming baths built in 1927. The innovative museum is grand, beautiful and filled with golden light from the stained glass windows that look like beams of sunlight.

The swimming pool is the central feature and the steady stream of running water fills the building with a relaxing atmosphere. The small changing rooms either side of the pool now house individual collections and make an interesting place for a display.

About every 15 minutes the tranquillity of the museum is interrupted by a noise that drowned out the gentle lapping of the pool. It was a monstrous growl combined with the screams of terrified children – or that’s how I heard it anyway. Its kind of tarrying but everyone carries on as though they hadn’t heard a thing.

Shopping

Once you’ve seen some of the sights you’ll probably want to wander away from the Grand Place and explore the smaller streets. You’ll find cobbled streets winding away and they are lined with designer boutiques. There are lots of home ware stores that I particularly enjoyed. You think you’re stepping into a regular housey shop but once you’re inside it feels more like an enormous and very well decorated house.

 

Why visit Lille?

Many people whizz through Lille when visiting other parts of France and many don’t stop to take a look around.

I’d definitely recommend spending a day in Lille, particularly for art lovers and foodies who are looking for a slower pace than Paris.

It’s the perfect place for a quick break from the UK. The Eurostar starts at just £69 return from London to Lille and it only takes an hour and a half. It would make a great romantic weekend away if you’re looking to chill out, have long leisurely meals, shop and casually stroll. Paris may be the most romantic city in the world but it’s actually pretty hectic so this would be a nice alternative if you’d like a quieter weekend.

 

Where I stayed

Citadines Lille

During my visit I was at Citadines Lille City Centre and it’s perfect. It’s very spacious with a separate kitchenette, bathroom, living room and bedroom. I have a great view over the city and it’s literally next to the train station and a stone’s throw from the main center. I also love the stylish pink design in the reception area.

 

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel.Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (8)
  1. Lille looks lovely! I’m always looking for places that are ideal for a weekend away and Lille looks perfect. Plus, because I live near Ashford it’s only an hour on the Eurostar. That aparthotel looks great. Is it expensive?
    Rachel x

    1. Lucky you being so close!
      The Citadines Aparthotel is really good value. According to the website for a Saturday night next month it’s €178 but if you go to booking.com it’s £77!
      If you’re going to Lille I’d definitely recommend it because it’s a 2 minute walk to one train station and less than 5 minutes to the main station where you catch the Eurostar. It’s also less than 5 minute walk into the centre so it doesn’t get much better for location.

  2. J’aurais aimé que vous précisiez que le musée La Piscine Musée d’Art et d’Industrie est à Roubaix, ma ville, et non à Lille!

  3. Your post brought back memories of this tiny & beautiful place! It’s still the same. Does the train station still has the wonderful murals? Could you go there?

    Oh, thanks for sharing, the tiny little town. 🙂

  4. Oh I’m so excited to see this post! I’m going there on a blog trip in the next few months and knew absolutely nothing about Lille so really glad to find out what I can see in a short time whilst I’m there! The architecture looks lovely!

  5. Lille is a also famous for food & Beers! If you come over, shall you not miss the traditionnal “Biere de Garde”, typical from Northern France.
    The old part of the city is full of good bar (La Caspule, Au fut et à mesure, le six roses ).

    Come over !

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