As well as seeing the usual sights, you must visit the Orangerie, a park or more accurately, pleasure garden just north east of the city centre.
There are beautiful gardens, stately buildings,a small zoo, an aviary,a boating lake, an unusual outdoor planetarium and a stylish cafe and restaurant.
A lovely place to spend an afternoon away from the busy city centre.
Strasbourg is set among waterways. Arrive on a canal boat.
Hire from just up the canal (Saverne or Lutzelbourg) and stay moored free just before the Rhine lock gates.
Five minutes from the centre by bike (hired with the boat) and you get to see the Alsatian countryside.
Try a night moored at Saverne, looking up at the Bishop's Palace where Cagliostro studied and Cardinal Rohan welcomed Marie Antoinette as she arrived to make a doomed marriage. Beats a static hotel room any day.
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.
Take the metro to Boulogne Pont de St-Cloud, and take a short walk to the Jardin Albert Kahn.
There are very attractive gardens and a little museum which has exhibitions of the photographs and films that he commissioned between 1909 - 1931. This remarkable man sent photographers to remote areas of the world to record the people and how they lived. There has recently been a documentary on television about him and the amazing collection.
It is possible to purchase postcards and posters in the small shop. Unfortunately, the salon de the in the Palm house is not open because the building needs urgent renovation, but there are bars and brasseries next to the metro entrances. This was a fascinating place to visit and is off the usual tourist trail. Highly recommended.
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!
Tucked away in the heart of the city centre, La Pirogue brings a colourful African vibe to the cobbled streets of Lille.
Admire the eye-catching wall murals while you choose from the bar’s range of powerful cocktails, some with intriguing 'secret ingredients' (I can recommend the mojito - in moderation!)!
Soak up the friendly atmosphere, and for one night at least you can leave northern France behind and be transported to a faraway land!
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