Lille, capital of Les Hauts-de-France.
Lille is only a train ride away from Paris, making it the perfect destination for a long weekend! This city offers a diverse and rich cultural heritage: museums, classic restaurants, bars, boutiques, the Old Lille…and much more. If you want to know the quintessentials and the best addresses, keep reading! We’ve already published 5 Of The Best Must-See Sights In Lille, but this cheat sheet also includes memorable restaurants and hotels.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you are coming from the capital, the best choice would be to take the train. Lille is a very dense town, therefore you will not need a car for the trip. Since Lille-Paris is a one-hour train ride. There are two train stations when you arrive: Gare Lille-Flandres, and Gare Lille-Europe; both are ideally located in the middle of the city.
When you arrive in the north, the city proposes City Passes for either 24, 48, or 72 hours. With this pass you can visit almost 30 sites, and have an unlimited access to the subway, and the bus. A perfect solution if you are here for one weekend!
Braderie, flea market in French.
2 bis Rue Frédéric Mottez, 59800 Lille, France
This French-renowned braderie is a must-do! This colorful flea market is the largest in France and attracts numerous people every year. It takes place during the first weekend of September, in the paved streets of Old Lille. The speciality of this weekend? Almost every restaurant in town serves mussels and fries. Imagine, sitting in the sun, laughing with your friends while enjoying a delicious seafood platter. Can you see it?
In one weekend, you can shop (for low prices,) party until your feet hurt, and have a great time.
The Vieille Bourse, old stock exchange in French.
Place Charles de Gaulle, 59000 Lille, France
You cannot miss this historic monument. Located in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle, the old stock exchange is home to all kinds of merchants. You can buy posters, rare books, old newspapers…etc. If you are lucky, you will even be a bystander to a chess game or a tango class. This open-air building dates back to 1910 and is one of the most prestigious monuments in Lille. When you first step into it, you will be amazed at the golden details on the columns and the sculpted stone on the interior facades.
The Citadel Park.
Voie Piétonne du Bois de la Deûle, 59130 Lille, France
Imagine Central Park but in Lille (not as glamourous.) This enormous park is situated right in the middle of the city surrounded by the Deule river. You can jog, pay a visit to the zoo, walk your dog, have a nice stroll, and even picnic. In the center of the park, lies a fort. Originally, the citadel was a military base built in 1667. Nowadays, you still cannot access the fort, however, you can see it. It is a very impressive monument due to its architecture, and natural preservation.
Charles de Gaulle’s childhood home.
9 Rue Princesse, 59000 Lille, France
Charles de Gaulle – French hero, president, and symbol of the 5th Republic – grew up in Lille. You can find his home: 9 rue Princesse. This house was first opened to the public in 1983 and is a property of the Charles De Gaulle Foundation. According to the official website, more than 20,000 people came to visit the museum in 2019.
Home to family reunions, birthdays, and events; you can dive into this war hero’s childhood. This museum also hosts projections, demonstrations of famous fights, and even tours in historical costumes.
Le Musée la Piscine, the swimming pool museum in French.
23 Rue de l'Espérance, 59100 Roubaix, France
Le Musée la Piscine – located in Roubaix, a little town on the outskirts of Lille – is one of a kind. This old pool (hence its name) was the work of the architect Albert Baert and is now transformed into an art museum. Today, the museum of Art and Industry is filled with every form of creativity, including: sculptures, paintings, drawings, and photographs. You will also discover that the museum hosts: conferences, classes from L’Ecole du Louvre (a prestigious art school in Paris,) a restaurant, as well as a tea salon.
Eve studied in Lille for three years.
The city of Lille is brimming with great restaurants. There is something for everyone: local, Italian, crêperie, food court, and many more. For a delicious afternoon snack, go to Aux Merveilleux de Fred, a must-eat in Lille!!
27 Rue Esquermoise, 59000 Lille
You cannot miss this fabulous pastry shop in Old Lille due to its never-ending line at the door! It is not only a pastry shop, but also a restaurant, a tea salon, and a bar. The House of Meert was built in 1761, with vanilla waffle at the origin of its resounding success. Chef Truy-Courties offers rich and gourmet dishes, such as: truffle risotto, Mayenne duck, Caesar salad, and numerous more. Every product is carefully chosen, and local. You can enjoy these appetizing dishes on the terrace. During the afternoon, sip on a beverage in the tea salon. Founded in 1909, the tea salon has a particular architecture which resembles the style of Louis the 16th. In this historical monument, indulge in a hot or cold drink with a little sweetness from the patisserie: the vanilla waffle!
95 Rue Solférino, 59800 Lille
This restaurant has charmed us due to its folkloric decor and typical dishes. You won’t find a more regional eatery in Lille than this one. For more than 30 years, La Ducasse has been a reference. The service is quick, perfect for a lunch break! The restaurant’s two rooms welcome you with an “old-fashioned brasserie”-style décor. It may be loud, but the convivial ambiance makes it the ideal spot to discover the “real” Lille. The menu will make you salivate, as you enjoy Flemish specialties, including: the potjevleesh, carbonade, and Welsh rarebit. The dishes are traditional and copious, always accompanied by a beer!
Le Barbue d’Anvers
1 Rue Saint-Etienne, 59800 Lille
Located in Old Lille, this estaminet, or tavern, is set in a bucolic ambiance. Between the massif wooden staircase, the dark beams, and the numerous candles; this restaurant has an indisputable appeal. The edifice is from the 17th century and hidden inside, a small courtyard. It is a must, both for residents of Lille and for those who wish to discover the “true” town. The restaurants accommodates in three different areas: a vaulted cellar, a room mainly made out of wood, and a mezzanine floor if you wish to have privacy. Le Barbue d’Anvers delivers traditional Flemish cuisine with typical dishes, including: the potjevleesh, Welsch, Waterzoi…etc. The dishes are generously garnished, and impeccably well-presented.
We suggest staying in the center of Lille, as you will want to enjoy the dynamic heart of the city. The recommended districts are: Old Lille, La Grande Place, and near the train stations. These three neighborhoods are packed with beautiful hotels and are at a walking distance from the hub.
Le Couvent des Minimes
17 Quai du Wault, 59800 Lille
This former convent is ideally placed in front of the Quai du Wault, a water inlet from Deûle river. The site was established in 1618, and officially transformed into a hotel in 1990. It is registered as a historical monument since 1977. Le Couvent des Minimes is definitely a rare hotel, with its cloister and 2,500m² interior court. The bar, restaurant, as well as the luxurious salon; are all located inside the cloister, surmounted by a huge pyramid-shaped glass roof. The rooms are contemporary and elegant, offering a pleasant view on the body of water. In the morning, enjoy a breakfast buffet filled with regional and fresh products from the local market. This hotel is definitely worth staying at due to its surprising architecture, and its proximity to the center of Lille.
Bateau Orca: Houseboat in the center of Lille
Allée Carolus, Bois Blancs, 59000 Lille, France
What if you slept on a boat? Instead of staying at a hotel, you can stay on the Orca boat situated near the Lille zoo while spending the weekend on the Deûle river! Lodging on a boat does not mean discomfort. In fact, quite the opposite. The Orca boat provides: a terrace, garden, free parking, Wi-Fi, and many more. The cabins are spacious, private, and very well accommodated; there’s everything you need in order to have a soothing stay.
With its perfect placement on the water and being at a walking distance from the center of Lille, the Orca boat is an unusual but a peaceful bed-and-breakfast you must stay at!
32 Rue de la Barre, 59800 Lille
The five-star hotel embodies both simplicity and chicness. Established in Old Lille near most restaurants, bars, and shops; the building dates back to the 18th century when it was occupied by a countess. Apart from its lavish architecture, the hotel has many advantages, including: a one-starred Michelin restaurant, a bar, and a 300 m² garden – which houses a vegetable garden and fruit trees. For a cultural approach, the Clarance hotel offers a modern art exhibition – for the benefit of customers- in the hallways, and the rooms. The personnel is friendly and pampers you during the entire stay. The hotel is composed of 19 rooms and 3 suites, each one is uniquely decorated with a mix of modern touches and 18th century classicism.
Eve lived in Lille for 3 years.