If the capital Paris attracts tourists by its luxury and splendor, Lille is attracted by its quaint but equally romantic beauty. If you are a beauty enthusiast, love romance, Lille is indeed a great destination for you. So, is Lille worth visiting, what to do in Lille and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Lille for the first-time? Let’s check out our Lille travel blog (Lille blog) with the fullest Lille travel guide (Lille city guide, Lille France guide, Lille tourist guide, Lille guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Lille to find out the answer!
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The people of Lille are not as fashionable and trendy as Parisian, but much more friendly and likeable. The city is a treasure trove of well-kept heritage, and rich cultural life. With countless historical buildings, museums, monuments, parks, flower gardens, shopping malls, etc., everywhere is a place worth visiting, worth seeing, so Lille always amazes visitors.
Lille travel blog: Overview of Lille
Lille is the capital of the Nord province in the Hauts-de-France in northernmost region France. It’s located along the banks of the River Deule, near the border between France and Belgium, Lille is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is also the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Different from the noisy, vibrant look of Paris or flashy Cannes, Lille has a peaceful and gentle look because of the old quarters, mixed with modern life like a cup of milk coffee on the avenue in the morning.
Lille is a historic city, which began to appear around 640 but did not appear on the map until 1054 with its name Lille. According to the name, Lille means island, because at first Lille was just a small island, then developed into a port and to this day, Lille has developed into a city of culture and art and commercial.
In Lille, there are famous art events every year, and festivals take place all year round. Along with that are treasures of famous historical sites, museums, and ancient cobblestone streets. And like other cities in France, Lille also develops bustling urban areas for those who want to see a modern France.
Lille travel blog: When to come?
Lille influenced by an oceanic climate with summer is quite cool with low temperatures while winter is relatively cold with the temperature often falling below 0 degrees Celsius. Lille’s annual rainfall is also relatively high. Lille is most beautiful in spring and autumn. The peak tourist season here is autumn, around September, October every year. Especially in September because this is the time for the Braderie fair, which attracts about 2 million visitors each year.
However, the peak season is also the time when service prices are higher than usual. If you go at this point you should consider. If you want to save money, you should go in spring from March to May.
Lille guide: How to get and getting around Lille?
Lille Lesquin International Airport is about 11 km from the city center. There are many airlines operating routes from Vietnam to Lille such as United Airlines, Air France… If you come from other cities you can go to Goolge Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak to find cheap airfares as well as best flight routes.
From Paris, if you take the train to Lille, it will take 20 to 30 minutes, the round trip ticket will be about 22 EUR. If you want to saving more, you can take the bus, for only 5 EUR, but it takes more than 3 hours to travel.
Alternatively, from other European cities, you can also go to Lille by train. See details here.
Transportation in Lille: For the convenience of moving around in the city, you can take a taxi, tram, metro or bus.
Lille blog: Where to go, what to do and top things to do in Lille
Place du Général de Gaulle
One fo the first places to visit when coming to Lille is the Grand Square or the full name is Charles de Gaulle Square. This place is a huge square, surrounded by ancient buildings from the Renaissance with very impressive architecture, and is the entrance to the old town located in the heart of Lille. From the metro station, it only takes you about 10 or 15 minutes to walk to the Grand Square.
There are many cafes around the square. You can stop and recharge, then explore the city. Café de Foy (Address: 10 Pl. Rihour, 59800 Lille, France/Hours: 11AM–10PM/Sunday: 12–2PM) is popular with French tourists, where you can have coffee, orange juice and toast with jam for 4.50 EUR. Or you can stop by 6 Place Rihour street. This is an intersection on the side of the Grand Square, with many cafes with typical outdoor chairs, and when winter comes, visitors will be given blankets, to both cover themselves with blankets, and enjoy hot coffee in cold weather.
Lille Old Town (Vieux Lille)
One of the places that any visitor when traveling to Lille cannot miss is the old town. The quaint beauty of the old town with typical baroque houses of the 17th and 18th centuries and cobblestone streets will surely make you delight. The Old Quarter is also home to many nice restaurants and cafes which bring the soul of Lille. Sitting and sipping a cup of coffee, watching the peaceful streets of Lille is also a great experience that you should try.
Porte de Paris
Address: Pl. Simon Vollant, 59800 Lille, France
Hours: Open 24 hours
Lille has a long history with an evidence is the permanence of historic structures such as the ancient city entrance gate of Porte de Paris. It was built in the 17th century to form the Arc de Triomphe and was classified as a historical heritage in 1875. Currently, the ancient city gate of Porte de Paris is considered as an architectural masterpiece of the city.
Palais des Beaux Museum
Address: Place de la République, 59000 Lille, France
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Monday: 2–6PM/Tuesday: Closed
Lille is famous as the city of art. Therefore, when coming to Lille, you must definitely visit the Palais des Beaux museum. This is one of the largest museums in France. It was built around the 19th century. Visiting the Palais des Beaux art museum, you will have the opportunity to admire the famous works of Monet, Raphael or Van Gogh.
Lille Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille)
Address: Pl. Gilleson, 59800 Lille, France
If you are a lover of classical architecture, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Treille in Lille is an ideal destination. The construction of the basilica was started in 1854, but it was not completed until 1999. From the outside, there is a 30-meter-high marble archway and an impressive iron statue of Our Lady. Inside are ancient architectures and decorated splendidly and luxuriously but still retain the dignified look.
Up to now, Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral still retains the original architecture and carries many meanings to the French. It is famous for its medieval iron statue of the Virgin, which became the symbol of Lille.
Inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Treille is an extremely detailed and delicate sculpture in every line. This is also a very sacred place of prayer for the French and you do not need to pay any cost to visit. One day at the end of autumn, visit the cathedral, and pray sincerely, or just let yourself feel lighter before the sad stories of old time.
Furet du Nord
Address: 15 Pl. du Général de Gaulle, 59800 Lille, France
Hours: 9:30AM–7:30PM/Sunday: Closed
During your French tour in Lille, if you are a book lover, you should take the time to visit Furet du Nord at 15 Place Charles de Gaulle. This is a huge bookstore, one of the largest ones in Europe. Not only selling French books, this place also has English books and small handmade items for visitors to buy as gifts.
Up to now, Furet du Nord bookstore has developed into a chain of bookstores in France and Belgium, every day welcomes a huge number of visitors to buy books and experience the spacious space here.
Zoo de Lille
Address: Av. Mathias Delobel, 59000 Lille, France
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Tuesday: Closed
The zoo is located in the Esquermes neighborhood of Lille and is one of the most visited zoos in France. This zoo currently is home to about 450 animals. In it there are many strange animals that you may see for the first time in your life.
Address: Pl. du Théâtre, 59000 Lille, France
Lille’s Opera House was built during World War I, designed by architect Louis-Marie Cardonnier in the style of opera houses popular in France and Monte Carlo, with a capacity of up to 1,136 spectators per performance. The exterior of the theater is designed with beautiful and sophisticated motifs, making visitors unable to ignore.
Stepping inside the large space makes visitors overwhelmed. Filled with the atmosphere is a very old and elegant elegance that can only be found in France. This Opera House is home to Lille’s biggest concerts. Spend a weekend night, immersed in the melodious melodies of the piano and symphony, or immerse yourself in a melodious opera from famous artists.
Address: 261 Bd de Tournai, 59650 Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France
For fans of king sport, you definitely cannot miss the opportunity to visit the Stade Pierre-Mauroy stadium. This is the home ground of the Lille OSC team, one of the top teams in Ligue 1 and won the 2011 championship.
Lille Flea Market (Grande Braderie de Lille)
Address: 2 bis Rue Frédéric Mottez, 59800 Lille, France
To make your trip more exciting, visit the Lille flea market (Grande Braderie de Lille) to discover French culture and products. Items for sale mainly include books, second-hand records, vintage porcelain, antique silverware, clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, and artwork. In addition, you can also enjoy many street foods such as mussels, chips, grilled fish and other regional specialties.
Lille blog: What to eat?
An experience not to be missed when coming to France in general and Lille in particular is the cuisine. From street stalls to luxury restaurants, Lille has no shortage of rich and varied dishes that can satisfy even the most demanding diners like carbonnade (beef stew, with mustard taste and brown sugar), pain chocalate (chocolate bread), waffles, merveilleux (cream rolled in chocolate mash, usually sold in boxes of 6 flavors including coffee, dark chocolate, white chocolate, cherry and hazelnut praline)…
Carbonnade is a very famous traditional stew in Lille. This dish is usually served for breakfast and can be eaten with French fries and with wine. Carbonnade is made from beef stewed with beer and a few other ingredients such as peanuts, potatoes depending on the restaurant. Carbonnade has a characteristic aroma of thyme, giving you a gentle sweetness. When eating this stew, you should use more bread to fully enjoy the delicious sauce.
Traveling to Lille you will see waffles sold everywhere. It can be said that this is a traditional cake that has been associated with the people of this land for a long time. Waffles have a sweet aroma that is used for breakfast. They will taste better if you add some cheese or jam on top. In addition, visitors can buy waffles to give to their loved ones.
Lille france guide: Shopping
Besides, tourists are also hard to “resist” before the charm of shopping centers. Undoubtedly one of the largest cities in France, in harmony with the modern rhythm of life, Lille has quite a few shopping areas, some areas also have outdoor markets to serve tourists shopping with a reasonable “budget”, on holidays like Christmas, the prices are even more pleasant. Antique shops, art galleries, and an impressive array of international chains also blow your wallet.
Lille tourist guide: Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel L’Arbre Voyageur, BW Premier Collection (Agoda, Booking)
- Carlton Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Best Western Premier Why Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Saint Maurice (Agoda, Booking)
- Grand Hotel Bellevue (Agoda, Booking)
- Campanile Lille – Euralille (Agoda, Booking)
- Mercure Lille – Marcq en Baroeul (Agoda, Booking)
- Novotel Suites Lille Europe hotel (Agoda, Booking)
France not only has vibrant cities, fashion capitals or busy shopping centers, but also a peaceful, romantic Lille with many interesting things that not everyone knows and discovers. Away from glitzy Paris and lavish Cannes, Lille is a gentle, gentle place for tourists to explore late autumn and early winter, to enjoy classic French in France.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Lille you can refer to
- 4G SIM Card (Paris/Airport Pick Up) for Europe from Orange
- Lille City Tour
- Vieux Lille 2-Hour Guided Walking Tour
- Lille’s City Pass: 24 or 48 Hours
- Nausicaá National Sea Center: Full-Day Entry Ticket
- Lille: Town Hall Belfry Entry Ticket
- Lille Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and City Tour
- Lille Driving Tour by Convertible Citroen 2CV
- Vieux Lille 2-Hour Guided Walking Tour
Are you looking for more top things to do in Paris: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Paris travel blog — The fullest Paris travel guide blog for a great budget trip to Paris for the first-timers. And let’s check it out more here.