36 hours in Lille

by Kasia on October 8, 2012

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 comments… read them below or add one }

Sweet Freak October 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

My trip to Lille was very similar: grey and rainy —what could have been depressing, all made better by sweet treats!

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Kasia October 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

Even in the rain, Lille is very charming! AND in case I don’t make it back soon, I discovered a Meert shop in Paris :)

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Liza in Ann Arbor October 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I felt much the same when I went to Lyon for the first time in July (like I wasn’t in France anymore). Now you’ve gone and made me want to go to Lille! Lovely post.

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Kasia October 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

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.

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Laetitia October 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

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.

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Kasia October 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

I would love to take a trip to the braderie next time, it’s on my list!

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Andi October 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

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!

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Kasia October 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I’m sure you would enjoy Lille, Andi. It’s worth a trip just to try the famous waffles at Meert!

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Cathryn October 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

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.

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Kasia October 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

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!

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Susan October 23, 2012 at 12:09 am

I’ve always wanted to visit Lille, as I know of the historical significance of the city.

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Daisy de Plume October 24, 2012 at 9:38 am

Meert looks gorgeous. Indeed, we must go for a day, since I haven’t been since I was a little kid. Lovely post!

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Kasia November 4, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Happy to take a trip to Lille anytime!

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Julien November 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm

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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Kasia November 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Thanks for the recommendations! Looking forward to returning to Lille.

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