Spotlight on Lille

April 26, 2016

Lille is the biggest city in northern France, but in the past was often underrated or simply ignored by tourists. Since winning the European Capital of Culture in 2004, however, it has started to come into its own as a city and as a destination for tourists, thanks to its wonderful architecture, fantastic restaurants and its world-famous art museums. A French city with a Flemish accent, Lille is the ideal combination of Gallic chic and Belgian charm.

Things to do in Lille

  • Visit the Palais Des Beaux Arts and marvel at works from Rubens, Van Dyck and Monet, as well as a huge collection of pieces from the 15th to the 20th
  • Dive headfirst into the arts at La Piscine arts museum, formerly a swimming pool!
  • For a more modern artistic experience, head to LaM, with works by the best contemporary artists including playful and weird works from Mogdilani, Picasso, and more.
  • Walk, talk and squawk with the animals at the Parc Zoologique, with its free entry, and see a range of animals in the flesh, including African rhinos and zebras, as well as the famously frolicsome and mischievous monkeys.
  • See Charles De Gaulle’s baptismal robes in his old house, Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle.
  • Admire the skill and planning involved in Vauban’s star-shaped citadel, dubbed the Queen of the Citadels by its creator.

Where to eat

  • Set yourself up for the day with an all-important morning coffee at Meert, an elegant tearoom dating back to 1761.
  • And while you’re there, check out the chocolate shop nextdoor, dating back to the 1830s!
  • Check out the colourful, ethical market at Wazemmes, a real working-class French market experience.
  • And head to Marche Sebastopol if you just can’t get enough of that food market experience.
  • Le Bistro Lillois prepares regional dishes with incredible care and attention, making it one of the most authentic dining experiences in the city.
  • Don’t be fooled by the humble exterior of La Petite Cour, its high ceilings, brick walls and wooden floors surround a lovely inner courtyard which proves it’s the inside that counts! (oh, and the food’s not bad either!)

Grab a drink

  • You’d have to be a dummy to miss out on Morel & Fils, the café-bar which still houses mannequins from its former life as a lingerie shop.
  • Be sure to pencil in a date at l’Illustration Café, with its art nouveau décor and hip, arty regulars, it’s always an interesting place to people-watch.
  • For a French LGBT experience, visit Le Network.

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