There’s a strong case for Lille to be France’s most underrated major city. Those who have visited will tell all about renowned art museums, an impressive old town filled with incredible architecture, a beer-drinking culture and enjoying the classic dish of mussels and chips. All at just an hour from Paris, what’s not to love? Prepare for French charm with clear Flemish roots in the birthplace of the celebrated general, Charles de Gaulle. Read on for our top #innsider picks!

Get right to the heart of it

Picture-perfect and right at the heart of Lille, is the Grand Place. Once a medieval market place, it is now a popular get-together spot with a large central fountain and a great choice of cafés and restaurants (not forgetting the impressive Christmas market in December). Restaurants all around the square serve delicious and locally-sourced food, and #innsiders can dine here extremely well on any budget. Typical northern French cuisine includes mussels cooked in beer, hops and chicory, coq à la bière (chicken cooked in beer) and waterzoi (fish or chicken cooked with cream and vegetables).

Time for tea?

Do as the locals do; and the Lillois sure love their tea and cake. Perfect to break up a day of sightseeing is a trip to the renowned 18th century Patisserie Meert, 27 Rue Esquermoise. This elegant old town tea room is known to have been a favourite of local son Charles de Gaulle. #Innsiders looking for a sweet-treat try the gaufres (waffles) filled with sweet Madagascar vanilla paste and, if you have a real sweet tooth, the rich hot chocolate. Head to the adjoining 1830s-vintage chocolate shop to pick up some treats for those back home.

Take the air

Sample one of the city’s beautiful green spaces and take a stroll through the historical Jardin Vauban. Dating back to 1863, this landscaped garden boasts pristine lawns, winding paths with brimming flowerbeds and a cave-like water feature. On a sunny day, pick up some pastries from a local boulangerie and picnic on the grass. #Innsiders know to stop by the Aux Merveilleux patisserie, 67 Rue de la Monnaie, to pick up some of its meringue and cream creations – a reason alone to visit the city.

Shop ‘til you drop

When it comes to shopping, Lille has it all. From big department stores in the modern town, to independent boutiques in the old town, there’s something for every taste and budget.

For the foodies, L’Abbaye des Saveurs in the old town is a tiny shop stacked high with more than 80 varieties of local bottled beers, as well as 200 varieties of Belgian beer – plus the right-shaped glasses to drink them all from! Other regional specialities are also on sale here, including terrines and conserves. 13 Rue des Vieux Murs.

Right off Grand Place is the entrance to France’s largest bookstore, Le Furet du Nord. It’s a maze of levels and stairways with a fantastic English language section.

A place to stay

Our Park Inn by Radisson Lille Grand Stade Hotel is ideally situated within the city centre, next to the Grand Stade Lille Métropole and is just minutes from Grande Place. See here

 

What are your favourite tips on seeing the best of Lille? Share your #innsider tips on Twitter @parkinn to help others when planning a visit!