Une Fleur des Champs is an organic and vegetarian restaurant in Strasbourg providing daily menus using fresh produce from the local area.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is friendly and family orientated. Superb food at very appealing prices. 4 rue des Charpentiers, Strasbourg.
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.
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.
Stay at L'Hermitage Gantois for that special weekend.
Four star luxury with food to match, but you can sleep in a nun's cell with a chapel across the corridor and a gruesome medical museum on the ground floor.
Walkable from the station and totally unlike any other four star hotel you can reach by Eurostar.
The Mokafe cafe in Galerie du Roi 9 serves a delicious and complete breakfast for around six euros including mouthwatering croissants and real fresh squeezed juice.
Galerie du Roi 9, Bruxelles 1000
Google map: tinyurl.com/krr7jb
Brussels is a colourful, charismatic and stunning city, full of rewarding surprises, it is least of all “boring”.
Don’t bother with the slightly eccentric and haphazard metro system – just walk. Central Brussels is small enough to potter round in a day.
Aim for the splendid Place du Grand Sablon (where you can get the best chocolates in the world) then head downhill to La Bourse and Grand Place and west into the trendy St. Catherine and St. Géry areas.
Make sure you take in plenty of good food and drink along with the stunning Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings that populate so many streets.
The best thing about Bruxelles/Brussel and the bilingual-Belgians is that they know all this; they just don’t go shouting it from every corner of the Grand Place.
I can heartily recommend buying the finest cheeses, meats and bread, beer and chocolates from the above areas, getting back on the Eurostar and turning all the other passengers green with envy as you tuck-in. Brussels is nearer than Paris too!
A visit to the African quarter in Brussels near Porte de Namur metro station makes an interesting change to the rest of the city.
Stroll down Chausee d'Ixelles and back via Chausee de Wavre, investigating the shops and bars along the way. The contrast with the rest of the city is heightened by the fact that the area is not out in the suburbs but close to the city centre.
Just the other side of the metro station are the antique shops and grand buildings of the Upper Town.
On rue Antoine Dansaert, there is a beautiful little Chinese tea shop called Nong Cha, which brings science and art to making a cup of tea. Continuing the Chinese theme, a few doors down is Rouge, which sells Chinese furniture, ceramics, etc. and which has a sister shop on Stoke Newington High Street.
4 Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat
Google map: tinyurl.com/peatlc
In Brussels you must visit Cirio’s Bar in the Rue De La Bourse.
Founded by Italian magnate Francesco Cirio in 1903 it remains much as it was a hundred years ago - dark wooded panels, marble and shining brass.
Be sure to try the house speciality of a “Half and Half” - equal measures of champagne and white wine filled to the brim by bustling ultra efficient waiters.
Say hello to the cat “Minou” (French for “Kitty”) and lastly don’t forget to visit the magnificent turn-of-the-century toilets!
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