Restaurant selling huge quantities of mussels. Might look like a tourist trap but continues to attract locals in large numbers.
Moules frites cooked four or five different ways at sensible prices. Service brisk and pretty friendly towards visitors.
Located on a main shopping street opposite Galeries Lafeyette.
34 rue de Bethune Lille
+33 3 20 57 12 46
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xoszxn
Super italian restaurant in the very heart of Lille. Hidden away behind the main shopping street and doesn't look much from outside. Inside though is an atmospheric wood-panelled, friendly (even to English speakers) restaurant. Straight-forward, reasonably priced Italian menu.
Clearly a favourite of locals at both lunch and dinner. Makes a nice change from the tourist-orientated places.
Fantastic Lebanese veggie / vegan menu at Flandres de Liban (website even has English menu) in Wazemmes.
More centrally, Aux Indes, do a great veggie set lunch and dinner - but you have to ask for it.
And don't miss trying a 'palette' of four (small) different beers at Les Trois Brasseurs close to the old Lille Station (Lille Flandres, rather than the Eurostar station).
Aux Indes is at 38, Rue Thiers, Lille
The OUI has trendy décor, but they forgot the essential thing: the quality of the food.
The wine list was large but most of the wines were not available. I had to ask for four different wines to find one, but the price went up from 30 euros to 60 euros. We asked the waitress for a reduction, and she answered that her boss would think about it.
The food was also bad and the dishes arrived one by one so that the six of us ate almost cold food despite the restaurant being far from full.
When the bill arrived we realised we had received no reduction. The bill was 250 euros for six people (40 euros per person for a main dish and a dessert).
Then the manager started insulting us and told us not to behave like poor people! He raised his voice and pushed us towards the door.
So if you want to be insulted and to eat bad food, go to the OUI. If not, be on your way, there are many other good restaurants in Lille.
Wonderful, undoubtedly one of the top Indian restaurants that Lille has to offer. Delicious food, friendly service, fabulously modern-yet-cosy decor... all amount to a lovely and memorable experience. Also a very trendy bar in the basement.
Address: 38, Rue Thiers - 59000 Lille
Telephone: 03 20 21 02 66
This is a small Thai restaurant in the heart of the city. The decoration is less than great but it gives great value for money.
Run by two brothers the welcome is very friendly - the older brother speaks ten languages but not English. There is however a menu in English that explains all.
Lunch menu is good at about 12 euros but even at night it is not expensive. Better than all the options for the price. We go once a week.
Try one of the house cocktails to get you in the mood and if you like chilli just ask. It gets very busy at weekends with locals and the gay set so it may be better to reserve if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday evening. At lunch it is nearly always possible to get a place (even if it is up the stairs). Very small entrance but it is beside the Catholic bookshop.
Just off the Grande Place on rue Esquermois in the old town. Metro Rihour but better just to walk.
The Sunday market is a must. Get off the Metro at Gambetta and go straight, you're there. Otherwise walk from the centre across Place de Republique down rue Gambetta and get more of the atmosphere. If you walk take a break at Le Stout for a coffee and cognac - it is the café on the corner with a bike suspended in the window. Then twenty yards later you are in the flower market and behind that the covered market. In the covered market there are plenty of treats.
A Polish stall which does the best smoked filet mignon in the world although a bit expensive at 27 euros per kilo. We call it 'baby' at home because it is so tender.
There is also a cheese stand that is good value and massive - so they always cut more than you want.
The other side of the covered is the open market. A mix of farmers' and bulk buy, but both are good value. Olives beside endives. The spice stands used to be good but they have doubled their prices recently. There is also haberdashery and second hand clothes and a fine selection of elephant-shaped underpants.
There is plenty to eat - banks of roast chicken, ribs, Chinese noodles and pies (try the cheese maroilles on a pie or traditionally dunked in coffee). All the cafés on the square are fine but I prefer those on the street on the side of the covered market as they are where all the stall holders go. In front of the church it is more trendy, very people-watching and people who have not been to bed.
There is a great family restaurant on the square but I'm not telling as they refuse to be in guidebooks. It serves a fixed menu of what is fresh and cheap. Fantastic veal liver, fish and chips (French style, no batter) and if the kidneys don't appeal there is a tender rump steak as standard. All this with a starter and a cheese plate or a dessert for 25 euros. Find it!
The market is on Sunday morning from 7am to about 2pm depending on the weather. If it isn't raining it is packed - the Lillois don't mind the cold, only the rain. France is very kid-friendly, but don't take a pushchair as all your kid will see are bums and you get stuck in pram jams.
Lots of other stuff to see in Lille: museums, medieval buildings, general Flemish architecture. A very under-rated place to visit.
or walk through the town across Republique and down rue Gambetta
For your wine cheese and food shopping, take a bag on wheels, and stop off at Eurolille on the way back to Lille Europe station.
Find all you need at the vast Carrefour - then top up with bread and pastries at Paul, before nipping out of the side-exit from Eurolille for the short walk to Eurostar.
In old Lille there is a fabulous seafood restaurant called Le Coquille.
It is situated just a few steps from the Grand Place in a lovely 18th century house featuring antique furniture, exposed beams and bricks.
Fresh seasonal ingredients from the local markets and bread baked on the premises ensure a delightful lunch or dinner.
It offers good value for money especially the set menus that include a glass of wine with each course for approx 34 euros.
The only way to enjoy Lille is with the animals. Take a visit to Le Chat Bleu (The Blue Cat) - off the main square - one of the most devine chocolate shops in Europe.
Chat with the friendly owner, buy a huge bag of chocolates and eat them on the way to the Zoo.
The Zoo is one of the most enertaining, relaxed places in Lille with some wonderful animals.
There are two things not to be missed in Lille.
The first is the Palais des Beaux Arts. On my first day trip to Lille I stayed there so long that, when looking for a restaurant for lunch, it was too late, "Désolé, Monsieur..." the kitchens were all closed. I had to grab a snack in a "quick".
But this was more than made up for by discovering the magnificent Pâtisserie Méert in the rue Esquermoise. In a magnificent fin-de-siècle tea room you can taste the most sublime cakes I have ever had the good fortune to find.
Though it may lack fine churches, Lille has a magnificent collection of 17th century buildings, incredible shopping and is an easy city to walk about. An under-rated gem.
Lille’s famous Grande Braderie takes place on the first weekend in September every year, but the impression can often be spoilt by the overwhelming crowds.
For the best atmosphere, go to the Wazemmes Market at the end of Rue Gambetta which offers customary but worthwhile antiques.
You won’t fail to notice mussel shells piling up outside of restaurants and stalls: the highest – and smelliest – mountain gets the official winning title.
You won’t have any trouble finding your compulsory mussels and chips meal, but avoid well-known “Aux Moules” in rue de Béthune and the neighbouring restaurants – they are usually overpriced and quite bland.
Stay at the Hotel Hermitage Gantois. It is a superb and tranquil hotel, that dates back to the 15th Century, when it functioned as a hospice and convent.
The chapel, courtyards and other historical features, including an original ward remain, although now used as meeting rooms, with 21st century facilities.
The hotel can be visited every Tuesday afternoon, when a well infomed local guide conducts a fascinating 2 hour tour of the interior.
Don't miss the wood and park land called 'The Bois de Boulogne' in the north of Lille, easily accessible from the city centre.
It houses a spacious zoo whose aim is to breed endangered species; not to trap animals from the wild.
The playful red foxes will make you laugh and as a bonus, entrance is free.
The park has a great family atmosphere, none more so than on the last Sunday in May when every woman visiting the park is presented with a carnation to celebrate Mothers Day in France.
My tip is to visit the annual 'Braderie de Lille' - the biggest flea market in Europe, with stalls on over 100kms of pavements.
It is held over the first weekend in September in the centre of Lille. From Antiques to Junk, from Books to Pictures it is all there. The walk from Lille Europe to the market is short, some 500 yards so access is easy.
I discovered it by accident. Leaving the old station (Lille Flandres), after an ovenight trip from Italy, I headed for a café and stumbled across a small part of the market. I was hooked!
In the middle of the Christmas Market in Lille amongst the wooden huts selling mulled wine and crafts is a harmless looking Ferris wheel - make sure you don't miss having a go for a great birds eye view of the city especially at night and the chance to be scared witless.
The back of each car seemed so low I spent the entire time feeling like I was about to fall out!
Afterwards head for one of the cafes in the same square for a medicinal hot chocolate.
In the Place du Theatre, find the cafe with mannequins and potties in the front window, but don't be put off from entering.
Inside the atmosphere is so continental, relaxed and friendly. If you like desserts then you've found paradise.
The dessert chef is so proud of his handiwork he'll even come and talk to you about his creations.
The swimming pool museum in Roubaix is less than 30 minutes from Lille centre by tram (Roubaix) or metro (Euroteleport).
The marvellous Museum of Arts and Industry relocated to this renovated 1920's swimming pool in 2001.
There is a huge Art deco rising sun window dominating the scene and the paintings, sculptures, textiles and (glorious) ceramics, showing the creativity behind Roubaix's heyday, are imaginitively displayed around the pool, shower cubicles and surronding areas.
Bar 10 is a stone's throw from the Palais Luxembourg. It is a lively hangout with an eccentric owner, and is popular with students.
It also includes a predominantly French language duke box. Note also that the bar staff give very generous measures when ordering spirits!
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