Lille City Guide for a two-day trip
For long Lille, or Rijsel in Flemish, was a major industrial center, nowadays Lille is a lively, forward-looking hotspot. The French say Lille has the best shopping scene after Paris and it has fine dining options! So it’s time you visit this hidden gem in northern France during a city trip with help of this City Guide!
How to get to Lille?
Lille is as easy to reach by train from Rotterdam as it is by car and it will take you about 3 hours. The train will off course bring you straight into town. When you are by car, like me as this city trip was a stop during my vacation further south, you can park at Champ de Mars next to the Citadel and walk into town or use one of the free guarded park and rides (Porte d’Arras, Porte des Postes, CHRB Calmette, Saint Philibert, Les Près, Triolo, 4 Cantons) and take the subway into town for €4 per person.
The center of Lille is concentrated around the Grand Place. The square is host to the beautiful old stock exchange with a small market in the courtyard. Roughly speaking one can say that north of this square is the old brick-built city, known as Vieux Lille, and south of the square is a more modern district. All the hotspots in town are within walking distance, except from Musée des Beaux-Arts and the market of Wazemmes, which are a 1-2 kilometers walk.
Shopping in Lille
Lille is a shopping heaven for everyone! In the modern district you’ll find shops of well-known brands like Gap, Nike, La Fayette and Fnac. Vieux Lille on the other hand has a wide range of the more luxurious and exclusive brands in combination with small, cozy and unique and local shops. It’s best just to wander around Vieux Lille, don’t miss Rue des Vieux Murs, Rue de la Monnaie, Rue des Chats Bossus and Rue Esquermoise. I noticed there are many shops selling cloths, furniture and delicacies and I would recommend visiting the accessory shop Les Cousines de Léon and the delicacy shop Les Bons Paturages. Other shops I’ve seen are Petit Bateau, Zadig & Voltaire, Ba&sh and Habitat.
Eating in Lille
The French are known for their refined cuisine and great wines. No surprise that apart from shopping Lille is all about food and fine dining! Nevertheless I was really impressed with all the shops selling delicacies and all types of sweets. It’s really mouthwatering walking around Lille. One of the places to take a break from all the shopping and to treat yourself is the tearoom Meert. Here you can try the lovely tea and chocolates! If you’re not in the mood for sweets you can visit the beautiful delicacy shop Les Bons Paturages.
Lille has a great dining scene and restaurants are often packed, both during lunch and dinner. Especially for the popular restaurant Bloempot you should really make an early reservation, as everyone agrees that this is the hotspot of Lille when it comes to food! Another great hotspot to enjoy dinner is Basilic Café with urban art and graffiti where you should try the steak tartar. Other hotspots I’ve seen are Gorilla for a homemade Ice Tea, Cafeine Coffee, La Bottega Pizza and A L’Huitriere for seafood, especially oysters.
Market in Wazemmes
On Sunday most shops and restaurants in Lille are closed but that’s no big deal as it makes time in your schedule to visit the second largest museum of France, Musée des Beaux-Arts, and the market in Wazemmes. The market really reminds me of the Haagse Markt in The Hague, with a brocante as a nice extra. It’s really nice to wander around the newly renovated market hall with local and organic foods. The market hall is surrounded by all types of stands with both exotic and local produce, stands at which you can eat and people selling vintage clothing and furniture. I found it really great to see both exotic and typical French cultural stands going well together and complement each other!