Things to do Lille France : Our best tips !
Lille is a captivating city located in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. It is located on the opposit of the French Riviera. With a rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant atmosphere, Lille has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a unique and immersive experience.
The city has a strategic location, being close to the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, making it a cultural crossroads with influences from various European countries. Lille has a long history dating back to its origins as an important medieval trading hub. Over the centuries, it has been influenced by Flemish, Spanish, and French cultures, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles and a vibrant cultural scene.
Lille’s cityscape is characterized by a captivating mix of old and new. In the heart of the city, you’ll find the charming Vieux Lille (Old Lille), with its narrow streets, beautiful Flemish-style buildings, and picturesque squares. The area is a delight to explore, with boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes tucked away in every corner.
One of Lille’s most iconic landmarks is the Palais des Beaux-Arts, which houses an impressive collection of art spanning several centuries. It is the second-largest fine arts museum in France after the Louvre in Paris and is a treasure trove of masterpieces by renowned artists from around the world.
Lille’s architectural gems also include the Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral, a modern masterpiece that harmoniously combines contemporary design with traditional elements. The cathedral is a testament to the city’s commitment to blending old and new.
For history enthusiasts, the Citadelle de Lille is a must-visit. This well-preserved military fortress offers a glimpse into Lille’s past and provides a beautiful setting for a leisurely walk or picnic in the surrounding park.
Lille is also known for its lively cultural scene. The city hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, including the famous Lille Braderie, a massive flea market that takes place every September and attracts visitors from far and wide.
When it comes to gastronomy, Lille won’t disappoint. The city is renowned for its delicious cuisine, with specialties such as carbonnade flamande (beef stewed in beer), moules-frites (mussels with fries), and the pungent yet flavorsome Maroilles cheese. Be sure to pair these culinary delights with a glass of locally brewed beer for a truly authentic experience.
Lille’s excellent transportation connections make it easily accessible. It has a well-connected train station with high-speed train connections to major European cities like Paris, London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
In summary, Lille is a captivating city that offers a blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. Its unique architectural heritage, vibrant atmosphere, and welcoming locals make it an ideal destination for travelers looking to explore a lesser-known gem in northern France.
Here are our best tips to enjoy Lille and its surroundings.
Have a walk through the old city
The Old City of Lille, also known as Vieux Lille, is a charming and historic neighborhood that showcases the city’s rich architectural heritage. It is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Lille. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect to find in this enchanting part of the city:
Flemish Architecture: Vieux Lille is renowned for its well-preserved Flemish-style buildings, which date back to the 17th century. As you walk through the narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll be captivated by the intricate facades, colorful townhouses, and ornate details that adorn the buildings. The architecture is a testament to Lille’s past as a prosperous trading city during the Flemish era.
Grand Place: The Grand Place is the central square of Vieux Lille and serves as a focal point for the neighborhood. It is surrounded by elegant buildings with beautiful facades and is home to various cafes, restaurants, and shops. The square is a lively hub where locals and visitors gather to relax, enjoy a meal, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere.
Rihour Palace: Located on the Grand Place, the Rihour Palace is a remarkable example of Renaissance architecture. It was built in the 15th century and served as the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. Today, the palace houses the Lille Tourist Office, where you can gather information about the city and its attractions.
The Food Market – The Wazemmes market
Taste local products
Lille is known for its rich culinary heritage and a variety of local products that reflect the flavors and traditions of the region. Here are some notable local products from Lille that you should try:
Maroilles Cheese: Maroilles is a pungent, soft, and creamy cheese that has been produced in the region for centuries. It has a distinct and strong aroma, with a tangy and slightly salty taste. Maroilles cheese is often enjoyed on its own, spread on bread, or incorporated into traditional dishes like the famous “Flamiche au Maroilles” (a savory pie made with Maroilles cheese).
Carbonnade Flamande: Carbonnade Flamande is a classic Flemish dish that consists of beef stewed in beer. The beef is cooked slowly with onions, herbs, and spices, resulting in a hearty and flavorful dish. It is often served with fries or crusty bread to soak up the rich sauce.
Bière de Garde: Lille and the surrounding region are known for producing a variety of beers, and Bière de Garde is one of the most famous styles. It is a traditional French beer brewed in farmhouse breweries and aged for several months. Bière de Garde has a malty character with a touch of sweetness and is available in different varieties, including blonde, amber, and brown.
Mussels with Fries: While not exclusive to Lille, mussels with fries (moules-frites) are a beloved dish in the region. Lille’s proximity to the coast ensures a fresh supply of mussels, which are cooked in a flavorful broth with herbs, garlic, and white wine. They are typically served with a side of crispy golden fries, creating a delicious and satisfying meal.
Tarte au Sucre: Tarte au Sucre is a traditional sugar pie that originated in northern France, including Lille. It is a sweet pastry made with a buttery crust and topped with a generous layer of brown sugar and sometimes cream or butter. The pie is baked until the sugar caramelizes, creating a rich and indulgent dessert.
Gaufres: Gaufres, or waffles, are a popular treat in Lille. They come in different shapes and sizes, with the most common being the “gaufre de Lille.” These waffles are rectangular in shape and have a light, crispy texture. They are often enjoyed plain or topped with powdered sugar, chocolate, or whipped cream.