Flight and hotel Lille
An overview of Lille
Set on the Deûle River on the Franco-Belgian border, the student city of Lille is often overlooked in favour of capital Paris. However, the city packs a punch. Package holidays in Lille are great value for money, as you'll discover.
What to know before visiting Lille?
The city is served by Lille-Lesquin Airport (LIL), located 15 minutes from the city centre. British nationals will likely not require a visa to enter France. Flights from London or Manchester to Lille are easy. The euro is France's official currency, while French is the most widely spoken language. English is spoken at most attractions.
When is the best time to visit Lille?
The best time to visit Lille is between May to October, when the sun shines bright. July and August are popular, sunny months, and package holidays in Lille at this time should be booked in advance. While winters can be chilly due to Lille's seaside location, flights at this time are often discounted.
North Summer Festival, held each June, attracts international performers and big names from the electronic music scene. Come September, the entire city transforms into 'the world's largest flea market' at the Lille Braderie. A staggering 200km of footpaths are lined with stalls selling everything, from vinyl to mussels and chips. If you'd like to celebrate Christmas in Lille, book your flight to and hotel in Lille early! As the year ends, look for nativity figurines, food and decorations at the 90 wooden chalets at the Marché de Noël (Christmas Market).
What to do in Lille
Easily walkable by foot thanks to its compact size, Lille is suited to weekend getaways. A good public transport system makes navigating the city easy.
- Saunter down the cobblestone boulevards of Vieux Lille (Old Lille) to see its endless gables, decorative façades, restored bourgeois mansions and Baroque architecture. Bars around Place Charles de Gaulle are perfect for people watching on your weekend in Lille.
- Catch a production at Opéra de Lille on Place du Théâtre. When the weather is nice, sit on the steps and rest.
- Savour merveilleux at Aux Merveilleux on Rue de la Monnaie. These pastries, made with chocolate, meringue and whipped cream, are typical to Lille.
- Held every Tuesday, the cavernous Halles de Wazemmes covered market is a great place to dig into fresh pâté, cheeses, meats, rillette and more. The Wazemmes quarter is home to a vibrant student and artist community, as well as Tunisian bakeries.
- Stop by Meert, a centuries-old pâtisserie in Grand Place, where Charles de Gaulle would enjoy one of their famous stuffed waffles daily.
Places to visit in Lille
Kick off your city breaks in Lille at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, which houses fabulous works by masters such as Manet, Van Dyck and Rubens. Meanwhile, the Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art (LaM) showcases works by contemporary masters Picasso, Braque, Calder, Modigliani and Miró. Housed inside an art deco municipal swimming pool, La Piscine-Musée d'Art et d'Industrie showcases interesting sculptures, drawings, fashion and furniture.
Dating to 1653, the Flemish Renaissance-style Vieille Bourse comprises 24 houses built around a beautifully ornamented courtyard. It's worth checking out, as well as the gigantic star-shaped citadel, designed by 17th-century military architect Vauban. It's now the seat of the NATO-certified Rapid Reaction Corps. Although entry is restricted, you can gape at it from afar.
What to eat in Lille
During your weekend in Lille, bite into the city's thriving culinary scene, which reflects its Franco-Flemish heritage. The best gourmet restaurants are centred around Rue Basse, Rue Royale, Rue Doudin and Rue des Bouchers. Patisseries, brasseries, bars, tea rooms and outdoor cafés are aplenty as well.
Savour the city's ubiquitous mussels and chips. There's also carbonnade de boeuf (beef stewed in beer), duck confit and rabbit served with plums to devour. Alternatively, try delicious potjevleesch, a layered veggie and meat terrine, or waterzoi, fish or chicken fillet stewed in cream sauce and served with veggies. City breaks in Lille aren't complete without experiencing its cuisine.
What souvenirs can you find on a Lille weekend?
As Lille has over 4,000 shops to choose from, it might be a good idea to pick a shopping map from the Lille visitor information centre near Grand Place. Lille is a mecca for French brands, such as Printemps, Hermès and Givenchy. International designer and large chain stores dot Rue de la Grande Chaussée, while cutting-edge indie boutiques can be found at Rue de la Clef and Rue Masurel. The Sunday morning market at Wazemmes and the secondhand book market in Vielle Bourse are both wallet-friendly and promise excellent finds. With a flight to and a hotel in Lille, you can enjoy an unforgettable holiday.