I have a confession, I lied to you, brutally, I know I promised you Brussels in my previous blog, the truth is I fell madly in love…
Let’s step back in time….
It all began in Folkestone, no actually scrap that, I napped the entire journey so it began in Calais. Now the last time I was in Calais was for a French exchange, so bad was this experience I don’t believe it even classifies as an exchange, more of a one way ticket. I visited her, she refused to visit me, leaving me the only child in my class without a French companion. It’s a touchy subject, moving swiftly on.
We opted for Lille a mere hour and half drive from Calais. So let me tell you all…
Right I say this as a friend, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about but Lille we all know it, you’re hormonal, it’s called puberty. This is completely natural, but at some stage you need to settle down and decide what kind of place you want to be.
Let us not mess around. I hunted high and low (2 hours and 15 minutes to be precise) in search of a patisserie - which I thought was a completely reasonable request. Now I kept bumping into your pals Paul and Le Pain Quotidien, but NO, I refuse to succumb to your vanity. I want to know the real you. I’ve met Paul and Pain at home, thank you very much.
You did eventually outgrow this behaviour - Merci - allowing me to stumble across the most gorgeous little patisserie (I can only offer you my condolences at this stage as the shop was unnamed).
I know I ranted about the lack of patisseries, they do exist it’s just they’re all chair-less, it’s like cakes and chairs are arch enemies. So grab your cake to go or four like me…
Whilst we are on the subject of food. What is your obsession with Japanese food? Don’t get me wrong I luuuurrrvvvv me some Sushi, but sometimes less is more. ALSO I love fries as much as the next guy, but do we really need them with every dish? These are merely rhetorical questions Lille, something to bear in mind for future visitors.
Besides my moan, you are do have some fabulous assets…
Top 5 Tips
1. For something slightly unusual, pack your rollerblades (if you own them) and join the locals every Friday for a 7k followed by an optional 22k blade around the city. Don’t shy away from the knee pads or helmets folks as these were out in force.
2. Take a stroll through the Old Town stopping at Rue De La Clef and the surrounding areas. These streets boast the independent boutique’s, with wears you're certain to find nowhere else. Make a stop for lunch or dinner at Le Broc, a cheese haven. I mean look at all that cheese...
3. Visit the Gare Saint Sauveur; the former railway Station has been transformed into a bar, allotment and exhibition house. Just call it the Southbank of Lille if you will, something is always going on. Drinks are cheap at three euros for a glass of wine, but it was pretty nasty.
4. Don’t want to blow the budget, no problem, visit the Zoo. Mooch among the Rhinos, Monkeys and peacocks all without splashing the cash, it’s totally free.
5. An early evening Aperitif should be drunk in the square surrounding the Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de la Treill, in the words of Mads ‘The trendy part of town’.
Getting to Lille is pretty easy, you can hop on the Euro Star, I would however highly recommend the Euro tunnel, we paid £130 return, per car, its a heck of a lot cheaper than the plane. Get four of you in the car you’re looking at £32.50 return to France; people you can barley get out of London for that price!
I would advise those wanting to visit Lille, make it a stopover not the entire trip. My main problem is its becoming extremely commercialised, unlike my dirty little secret Bruges.
Lille you were a good 24 hours, but my heart lies somewhere else…