Lille - A Perfect City Break Destination
While Paris, Strasbourg or the Riviera take all the credit for being the most incredible French destinations, Lille sits quietly in the northern corner, yet has so much to offer. With amazing culture and great museums, beautiful architecture, food options to die for and the overall joyful atmosphere, Lille has a unique vibe that marks it out for a perfect city break. I fell for the city from the very first moment I stepped foot on its culturally rich ground, and loved it so much I came back as quickly as I could to explore it some more.
Lille is so easily accessible from UK that it takes little effort to get there. All you need to do is jump on a Eurostar train in London and 90 minutes later begin discovering this fascinating French city. From the train station a quick walk on Rue Faidherbe will take you to Place du Theatre and Grand Place, the heart of the Old Town and two of the most spectacular squares in the city.
Grand Place is the perfect starting point to discover the Vieux Lille - the old part of the city, dating back to 12th century. The maze of narrow cobbled streets and red brick houses hide true treasures: small boutiques, designer shops, top quality restaurants and funky bars and pubs. Getting lost there is a pure pleasure and always remains one of the highlights of my multiple visits.
Lille makes you feel more as if you are stepping back in time by a few centuries, rather than being in the middle of a vibrant big city. The Vieux Lille in particular is extremely charming and so different than any other place - a mix of French and Belgian influences that makes the city one of a kind.
Ever since Lille was named the European capital of culture in 2004, the city and the metropolitan area became known for various cultural activities and attractions, including numerous museums of art and history, science and toys. In particular, June 2015 marks the opening of the Villa Cavrois – an architectural monument from the modernist movement that has been undergoing years of grand restoration.
To fully immerse yourself in all that Lille has to artistically offer, the best thing you could do is to get yourself a city pass. This way you will have a hassle free entrance to all the museums, access to various tours as well as use of the public transport. It is the best option to maximize time and to experience and discover as much as possible of this incredible destination.
But Lille is so much more than its central Old Town and the culture. Only few steps away from the Vieux Lille the star-shaped citadel can be found. This impressive military site was built in the 17th century as an order from the famous Louis XIV, the Sun King. When you get tired of exploring the city this is the best place to relax in the green oasis right in the heart of Lille.
However, the citadel isn't the only place that reminds you of the troublesome history of the place. The nearby village of Fromelles was the scene of one of the most bloodiest battles during the World War One. The British and German army collided here, resulting in over 10.000 victims. Recently the new museum was opened, to commemorate all the tragic souls that lost their lives on the battlefield. For every history enthusiast this is a must visit site.
This year is even more special as with the arrival of the four month long culture festival, Renaissance by lille3000, the entire region will be transformed into a giant cultural centre, with so many amazing events to choose from including parades, exhibitions and live performances.
If you're looking for a perfect weekend getaway look no further and just visit Lille. The city has everything you might wish for in a city break destination and you will find here all the cultural highlights that make people enjoy France so much. I'm sure that once you get there you will love it as much as I did… and realise that you may want to visit more than once.