Being the fourth-largest urban area in the country, Lille might just top the list of the most underrated French city. For the open-minded travelers who have visited been to the lively city, it was always a case of discovering the hidden gems that Lille earlier promised. It turned out that they were not disappointed.
Lots of people know Lille as the stop-over city (many stops there on their way to Brussels, London, and Paris) and even more, have explored it. Located close to the Belgian border, there is much to do and see that is worth visiting for; in your next France visit.
>>Also Read: Lille Travel Guide
Here Is Why Lille is Worth Visiting:
For some, Lille is the capital of the north. This spell-binding city is easy to visit from the TGV or Eurostar on traveler’s quest to enjoy France. The excitement begins the moment the train pulls in, and all there is to be needed is close by; restaurants, cafes, museums, and historic center. The city is easily accessible from almost anywhere. The people from Brussels and London can stop by and have some of the best travel experiences in Lille without having to travel further south of France.
Have A Splendid Meal At An Estaminet
If you do not know, many people visit Lille for its Estaminet. The city is ranked in number 4 by the Atabula awards as the best French city to eat at a restaurant. It only trails the extraordinary exploits of Bordeaux, Paris, and Lyon by fine margins.
Traditional Lille dishes are filling and hearty, like potjevleesch or carbonnade, and the excellent cheeses and local beers are some of the specialties that the city offers to lovers of food. Though there are brilliant restaurants, trendy bistros, and chic cafes and bars, a distinct experience will involve settling at a table in an original estaminet, the local restaurant’s name that serves local dishes in an impressive and cozy ambiance.
With a selection of excellent museums, wonderful art galleries, and fantastic exhibitions, there is more than enough to savor in the city of Lille. There, art is a major part of city life and not some esoteric thing reserved for a select few. Also, in just a short car or train ride, visitors will be within an entire host of other cultural gems like the impressive Louvre Lens or the Piscine de Roubaix.
Lille has retained much of its historical role as a trade center with its fairs, markets, and an impressively sophisticated collection of brand names and trendy boutiques. There are also the factory outlets located in Roubaix, where visitors can scoop up magnificent deals. However, the city is best known for its vibrant market scenes.
Once in every year, Lille transforms into one big flea market for the Braderie de Lille and every week in the local markets where there are food shops crammed with tasty produce, gourmet treats, and cheeses, and booksellers converge at the Old Stock Exchange. If you happen to visit Lille in the yuletide seasons, do not miss the amazing Christmas market. It is one of the widely known in the country.
A really French solution to your not-so-lovely nightlife is Lillois night out! There are fairs, parades, concerts, etc. that happens all year round to the amusement of locals and visitors. In the fete-ish spirit of the city, romp on the dance floor or hop to join a soup festival. Decent fun is allowed.
It does not have to be bookish, but the city’s museums and structure will let you in on an interesting way on the city’s heritage. Lille is an open-air museum where visitors can blend the experience with a visit to the Citadelle, a massive military fortress from the time of Louis XIV. They can stop for an aperitif on their way to the Old Stock Exchange to take a step in time to the Renaissance.
The Brilliant Architecture
Strolling around the city is similar to gazing through an optical-toy-in-a-tube style. Lille has a deep Flemish history. Travelers will see Flemish buildings, the facades surrounding the Grande Place, the last evidence of Spanish rule, Art Nouveau, Haussman-style, and Art Deco.- there is a highlight at every corner.
Given its closeness to Belgium and England, the country’s north has a proclivity for great beer. Regardless of where you are in Lille, you will always be close to a chic bar or a local estaminet to help you sample the traditional specialties. If you have never tried beer sampling before, make Lille your first time and taste the very best in the region.
Place de Charles de Gaulle
Named after the French general and president, Place Charles de Gaulle is a popular central square located in Lille Old Town. It was built in honor of the general who was a native of Lille. The square is a perfect place to relax, people-watch, and see the world unfurl right before you.
Opéra de Lille
The Opera of Lille is located on the Place du Théâtre. You do not have to visit for a performance before you step in. The theatre’s façade is gorgeous, and when the weather is great, you can see attendees sitting on steps that lead to the front doors. Similar to most opera houses in the world, Opéra de Lille is on the list of landmarks to see in the city.
Shopping in Lille
For a unique shopping experience, the Old Town of Lille is an excellent choice. Visitors will find some of the top retailers there. Still, they can also explore deeper into streets like the Rue de la Che and the Rue Basse (for antiques), the Rue de la Grande Chausée (for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Hermes), the Rue de la Vieille Comédie, the Rue Nationale, and the Place Rihour. If you want to get a Lille tourists map or have questions for the authorities, the last square is where the Lille Tourist office is located.
Notre Dame de la Treille
The Notre Dame de la Treille stands out among the tourist attractions in the city. This is not because it is a cathedral, it resembles a beautiful piece formed from the coming together of different parts of a church. The architecture is amazing, and it is not a surprise why many visits there.
Palais des Beaux-Arts
Also known as the Fine Arts Museum of Lille, this is an impressive building to see. Its permanent collection measures about 22,000m2 and is made up of the 1600s-1880s works. Given its size, the Palais des Beaux-Arts is usually regarded as the Second Museum of France after the Louvre in Paris.
You might wonder why this makes the list, but until you try the Lillois waffles, you might never know. The city’s gaufre fourrée is a great reason why you should visit Lille, to be honest. These are not your regular waffles, they are paper-thin sandwich stuffed with a fluffy vanilla cream. For more than 250 years, this specialty has been the delight of Kings, queens, and residents.
Is Lille Worth It – Summary
One of the north of France’s best-kept secrets is Lille. Its charm is irresistibly and will impress anyone from anywhere. When you are around, and you’ve got time on your hands, take time to explore the city, and you will be amazed at what to discover.
Do you have any other things worth doing in Lille? Leave your comments below.