36 hours in Lille

I decided to visit Lille on a whim, to meet a dear friend and her 5 month old baby who were traveling via Eurostar from London. What better place for a rendezvous, a city I knew little about, and a place often referred to for it’s history and art. Only one hour by train yet worlds away.

Upon arrival, I forgot that I was in France. The locals of Lille are a friendly people, and the architecture of the old city reminded me much of Brussels, regal and replete with color. I was free of the gray hues of Paris and reveled in this change of scene. Much time was spent exploring these charming cobbled streets, which even a stroller could manage.

Though Lille is the only city in France where beer versus wine is the drink of choice, we skipped both and headed for tea and waffles at Charles de Gaulle’s favorite spot, Meert. This tearoom-sweets-shop which served kings and generals since 1761 is a must! I even took a few gaufres to go…

Somehow lunch followed dessert. It is next door to Lille, in the town of Croix, where the famous boulangerie and patisserie Paul first opened it’s doors, just over 120 years ago. Still a hotspot!

The rain prolonged our explorations of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, housing impressive collections of 19th century art. Well worth a rainy afternoon, this being the largest museum outside of Paris.

The following day the sun joined us, leading the way to the charming Rue de Gand where many an estaminet, a traditional Flemish eatery, was found. It was here where we enjoyed our best meal, in the company of the friendly French. 36 hours very well spent, in a city that pleasantly surprised.

15 thoughts on “36 hours in Lille

    • I definitely recommend you visit Lille next time you are in France. I’m certain you will find it charming, and the museum is a must visit! As is Meert.

  1. Glad you liked Lille, it’s such a nice city and the atmosphere is so relaxing compared to Paris. I hope you also enjoyed the waffles ;) Maybe next time you should experience La Grande Braderie if you enjoy flea markets.

  2. I have yet to get to Lille, but I saw a post by David Lebovitz (when he was shopping for a sink) about going there and I was intrigued – definitely now a spot I want to check out!

  3. Lille is lovely. We went a few years ago for my husband’s birthday (we lived in the UK at that time and took the train on a whim). We had no expectations and both really loved the city and had a fantastic weekend. Although I ate this terrine which apparently is a local speciality and was disgusting. But I still remember the hotel we stayed in – it was only simple and 2* but the walls were the palest apple green and they had billowy white curtains. It was so pretty.

    • It’s the perfect destination for a weekend on a whim! Glad you had such an unexpected good time, minus the terrine (thankfully I didn’t try that). Hope you made it to Meert!

  4. Yes ! That’s where I live ! Thanks for that post. There are a lot of good outings in Lille and around (Louvre Lens is opening soon for example and “La coupole” in St Omer is a really great place)

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