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★★★★☆

“Pleasant Short Break In Lille”

Written on: 09/12/2012 by watford99 (8 reviews written)

We recently returned from a 2 night short break in Lille, which we booked over the Internet through Cresta (part of Thomas Cook). This was a package comprising B & B hotel and Eurostar train fares. Last year we did a similar trip to Bruges which we enjoyed very much, so thought we'd give Lille a try.

We certainly weren't disappointed, the city is very nice and compact and you can if you wish, get to all the main attractions on foot - which we did. The hotel was the Mercure Opera, 2 Boulevard Carnot. It did the job - nice breakfasts, very central location near the main square. Hotel room was a little cramped with a very small wardrobe, but we coped OK. For a short stay we obviously didn't take too many changes of clothes so this wasn't a problem. It was good to have use of the room safe and fridge free of charge - getting to be quite a rarity these days.

One of the big plus factors for us with this trip, was the ease of access. St Pancras International Station takes us about 45 minutes from home, then you just switch platforms, go through security etc., and the Eurostar train takes an hour and a half into Lille without having to make any changes (easier than Bruges, where you had to change to a local train at Brussels Midi).

Our return train didn't leave until about 7 p.m. their time on the third day, so we really got about two and a half days to take in the place, which was excellent. As long as you have a good street map and don't mind a lot of walking, finding your way around is very easy and great fun.

Here's a list of the places we visited and would recommend:-

The Big Wheel (a lot faster than the London Eye!)
The Christmas Market (try a local hot dog - delicious)
The Old Town - cobbled streets, chocolate and cake shops.
Town Hall and Belfry (104 metres but there is a lift!)
Birthplace of Charles De Gaulle - very well preserved house & garden.
The Citadelle Park - plenty of room to join the joggers and cyclists.
The Zoo - in the Citadelle grounds and it's free! Rhinos,Monkeys, etc.
The Palais Des Beaux Arts - Second biggest French Museum after the Louvre.
The Cathedral (Notre Dame de la Treille) - magnificent.

Not forgetting the local City Bus Tour which gives you a glimpse of all the features - this was very useful in getting ideas as to which places of interest to head for.

Places to eat in the evenings - obviously a wide choice but we'd recommend La Pate Brisée, Rue de la Monnaie, in the Old Town. Nice atmosphere, good helpings and nice wine. Nothing fancy, reasonably priced. If you want to eat at the main square restaurants, be careful as some of them are well overpriced for what they offer.

Overall, we'd say that Lille isn't quite as quaint as Bruges but still has a lot going for it, and well worth the trip.

We're definitely Eurostar fans after our recent trips and will be looking around for another package next year!