Back for a Day…Lille
After taking a two week holiday Wimdu’s popular Back for a Day series continues with Wimdude Celine’s guide to Lille. Take a look back at our previous Back for a Day blogs here!
Lille’s Grand Place. Photo by Hailemichael Fiseha, via Flickr © Creative Commons Licence
Hey Celine! We’re looking forward to hearing about Lille!
“Glad you are! Lille is a very special place in France, and is loved by all those who visit. Today I will bring you on a journey to discover this scenic northern city. People love the warmth of the locals in Lille, the city’s international atmosphere (made possible due to its proximity to London, Bruxelles and Paris), the architecture, excellent food and much more. There’s a French song about Lille which describes how the citizens of the city don’t need the sun because there’s already enough sunshine in their hearts! With plenty to see and visit Lille is a very vibrant city constantly on the move. Follow me and I will show you around!”
“A day in Lille has to start with a walk across the majestic Grand Place, which you can see a picture of above. It’s a popular part of the city for people to meet at or stop for a coffee and croissant. I love spending time here and the wide open space and architecture make this place very special.”
“In the centre of the Grand Place is the impressive Colonne De La Déesse. Have a look at the picture of it on the left. There is a fountain surrounding the statue which the people of Lille (known as Lillois) love sitting around when the weather is nice.”
“The most beautiful building on the square is the Vieille Bourse, with typical Flemmish architecture from the Renaissance time. It represents the intense economical activity taking place in the old times (Unesco Heritage). Built in 1653, it consists of 24 separate houses set around a richly ornamented courtyard. In the interior square of this building, you can find book sellers, chest players, tango dancers at night and just people who like to hang out in this amazing building.”
“I love sitting there for some hour or so and drinking in the atmosphere!”
Above, the Colonne de la Déesse © Creative Commons Licence via Giåm
Lille’s impressive Vieille Bourse, which is located at the Grand Place photo via Guillaume Baviere © Creative Commons Licence
We’re enjoying ourselves already – but is it time for a coffee?
“Enjoying a morning coffee and fresh pain au chocolat is essential in Lille! I would suggest we stick around the center of Lille where there is a large amount of cafes from which you can watch the world go by throughout the year with their outdoor heated terraces.”
“For lunch, I would advice to go to a ‘brasserie’, which is the perfect place to taste many of the classical French dishes in a very loud and busy atmosphere. A good steak with fries, a plate of charcuterie, a ‘chopine‘ of beer and some friends for a good laugh! I would recommend the Napoleon on the Place de la Gare, or else you can just walk around the center and check what is the ‘plat du jour‘ (dish of the day). They never exceed 8 or 9 euros with coffee included.”
A delicious pain au chocolat, photo via Joyosity © Creative Commons Licence
You’re really selling Lille to us Celine – it sounds like a great place!
“After that we’ll need a good walk to digest – French cuisine is not exactly the lightest food unless you choose something like a ‘salade nicoise‘ which is made of sweet corn, tuna, eggs and peas! Let’s go to the old town of Lille a few steps away from the Grand Place – it’s a wonderful area stuffed with antiques shops, boutiques, beautiful jewellery stores, old private hotels, designer shops and very traditional bakeries where you can get a piece of the famous ‘tarte au sucre‘, a simple pie made of brown sugar and butter. Close your eyes and taste it, it’s just delicious! Don’t forget the French coffee to go with it!
Oh dear – we’ve been distracted by food again! Just get lost in the paved streets around Rue de la Clef, Rue de la Grande-Chaussée, Rue des Chats-Bossus and Place aux Oignons and admire some of the few old canals still crossing the city.”
Lille’s Citadelle Fortress, photo via Maxdufour © Creative Commons Licence
“Make sure to stop at the Citadelle Fortress, a great example of 17th century military architecture designed by Vauban. This massive fortress, shaped like a five-pointed star, stands at the northeastern end of Boulevard de la Liberté. The admission is free. Inside the rampart walls which extend over 2,2km you’ll find the largest park in the city. Run, chill or meet your lover there for a romantic walk!”
“Speaking of mussels, I should mention the famous Braderie de Lille which takes place in the first week end of September. The city is swamped by locals as well as tourists. Its like a huge garage sale on the streets for a whole 2 days and 2 nights! People from all around the world come for this special event! The ambiance is truly exceptional and it’s also the perfect opportunity to eat heaps of mussels and french fries. Restaurants throw the empty mussels just outside the main door as a representation of how many kilos have been eaten over 48 hours! I love mussels with red wine and cream sauce my favorite!”
<< A familiar mussel mountain in Lille during the Braderie de Lille, photo via Frederique Voisin-Demery © Creative Commons Licence
Below, a typical scene from the Braderie de Lille, photo via jfgornet © Creative Commons Licence
Thanks for the insightful and fun tour of Lille Celine, we certainly enjoyed ourselves!
By Celine Marrec.
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Where to Stay
Celine’s made Lille sound the perfect place for a weekend break! Wimdu has some beautiful offers of accommodation in the city – let’s take a look at some of the best!
Attractive townhouse apartment
Nestled in a charming district north west of the centre, this beautiful apartment is located close to a metro station which will whizz you into town in 10 minutes! Check out this lovely apartment here.
Comfortable Apartment ‘Madeleine’
This beautiful and stylish apartment is located to the north of Lille in the quaint suburb of La Madeleine. The apartment is surrounded by amenities such as bakeries, supermarkets and pharmacies. It is just a short journey by bus or tram into Lille city centre. It is possible to rent bikes locally – cycling around the city is a great experience! For more information on the apartment click here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed accompanying us on our guide tour of Lille. Fancy another city tour from someone in the Wimdu office? We’ve already been to Geneva, Dublin and many more! Check out the full series here.