For the longest time, I’d taken the train past Lille without even sparing a second thought about visiting it. There were just so many other places on the Eurostar that came to mind when I thought of places to visit that Lille just seemed to stay in the background, ignored for shinier cities like Paris.

On the way back to London from Amsterdam last year, we stopped to switch trains at Lille and it was just then that it occurred to me I’d never even considered visiting Lille. A quick google search later and I was sold – I had to visit Lille!

The easiest way to get to Lille is via the Eurostar (it’s like 1 hr and 20 mins) and figured I might as well go the Airbnb and live like a local! (Plus I had Airbnb vouchers…;-) ).
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As it turns out, Lille is a pretty compact city and finding the apartment was actually fairly straight forward once we arrived in the city.

For some ridiculous reason (in retrospect), I decided to bring along a wheel hand luggage case instead of my backpack. The roads in Lille are old style cobbled streets so the wheelie case ended up being something of a false economy as I had to lift the darn thing for the entire walk so just a heads up if you decided to visit!

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The apartment in Lille by the way, was tiny but absolutely perfect!

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It’s one of those places that feels perfectly French (it’s on a really old historic French building) and the quaintness just adds to the charm. (Also, coming from London where space is at a premium, you certainly get used to making the most of little spaces..).

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…but enough about the apartment! I wanted to see what Lille had in store so after a quick change of clothes, I grabbed my jackets, got Lloyd to stop eating the chocolates I swear he’d seemed to haven’t stopped eating since we left London and headed out the door!

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The first impressions of the city of Lille, by the way, were exactly as I’d hoped – beautiful architecture, patisseries and boulangeries at every turn…

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… see what I mean?

Oh and then, there’s that architecture I told you about….

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… by this point, as you can probably imagine, we just pretty much set about exploring Lille on foot and with no plans whatsoever and I’ve gotta admit, much as I want to know as much of a place as I can in advance, it makes such a refreshing change to just go with the flow – doing so always leaves room for more pleasant surprises!

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By this point though, the only food I’d had was the breakfast on the Eurostar so I was pretty much starvation-central as we walked around. This is when I found out a little fact about lunch time in Lille – everything shuts from around 2/2.30 and doesn’t open till about 7!

This is the point my desperation kicked in and I started looking for even a supermarket to get some stuff to whip up lunch with. I had a kitchen after all!

(Turns out my panic was a bit pre-mature as we found a bar which served crepes so lunch consisted of dessert and wine – my favourite!!!)

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Adequately fuelled (or at least on a drunken-sugar high), we carried on with our aimless ambling of the cobbled streets of Lille.

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Before deciding to call it a day and do something I’ve not done while travelling for years – make my own dinner!

And, this isn’t out of laziness (or even a #HumbleBrag), hotels just aren’t equipped for making food. The trip to Lille has come off the back of a busy few weeks of travelling so the opportunity to stay in and truly ‘live like a local’ was greatly appreciated!

Plus I had so much trashy TV to catch up on so… 😉 .

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The next day however, I got up bright and early and with a steely determination to see all that Lille had to offer…

…after a cake or two. (I can’t help the fact that I just happened to walk past a patisserie!)

I’d also like to caveat that ‘bright and early’ meant waking up a little past 12noon! (Told you this was a lazy weekend!)

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I ventured through some already familiar paths…

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…leading to not-so-familiar ones!

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One spot you have to pop into in Lille is the main square! It’s not unlike many main squares in a city in that respect and has a plethora of amazing sights that make this city special.

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There’s also a market in the Vieille Bourse on certain days that’s worth popping into!

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By the time we eventually made it to the market though – everyone was clearing off so pick your time wisely if you want to rifle through the market…

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Lille is quite literally one stunning building after another…

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…though none is quite as stunning as Meert! (Okay fine, there are more stunning buildings but there are very few quite as tasty as this!).

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Meert is a traditional French store with a history spanning several generations and a cornucopia of delicious treats that’s bound to leave even the grumpiest of people with a huge chocolate covered grin on their face!

There are two parts to Meert – 1.) the chocolate shop and 2.) the restaurant and while the shop is great, the restaurant is truly what you come here for. Be aware though, the queues sometimes carry on to the streets so it might be a while before you get seated!

After queuing for a few minutes, I quickly changed my mind and decided it probably made sense to come back later on. There was probably about another hour or so of daylight left and still so much more of Lille to see…

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… and yes, I may have gotten myself a little treat from the shop to keep me going!

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I’m not the biggest chocolate fan (you can look to Lloyd for that – I tend to go more for caramel and toffee) but even I know when it’s just good sense to stop and stuff your face senseless with chocolatey treats with a promise to be back for more later on!



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  • Russell

    Great read, love the photos!

    We’ve not been to Lille yet but have to say the desire is there now! Oh, and the mention of a lazy weekend waking up at twelve spoke to me on a deep level ? Well that and a visit to Meert!

    Looking forward to reading part 2!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Russell! You’d both LOVE the city! Honestly, it’s such a great place to wander and explore and it was sooooooo nice being able to sleep until noon! 😉

      Lloyd & Yaya 🙂

  • Lille looks fab!:)

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It’s such a lovely city isn’t it! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I love Lille so so much and your – many many maaany – pictures brought me back to the city and it felt like walking down those streets again! O, and the flat looks absolutely adorable!!

    Aria

    https://pandaonavespa.wordpress.com/welcome/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! So glad they brought the memories back, Arianna… it really is a beautiful French city, isn’t it!

      The AirBnB was beautiful too – I think we found a little gem! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I remember visiting Lille years and years ago with school and I had completely forgotten about it until now. You’ve made me want to go back! xx
    http://my–socalledlife.blogspot.com.au/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Wow… I wish my school had taken me to Lille… I think the closest I got was the local power station that involves renewable energy! I mean, I’m all for renewable energy – but at 12, my priorities were slightly different! Haha!

      Lloyd xx

      • Hahaha! Yeah, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed that either. Luckily for me, my school was pretty cool. We got taken all over France, Spain and Portugal. I’d say that, as well as moving to Spain when I was 11, it’s what spurred on my love of travelling! x

        • HandLuggageOnly

          It’s such a great idea! Taking children and young adults across the world really does open their eyes to everything around them. It’s such a great idea I wish more schools did it.

          Then again, no 12 year old knew more than me on hydro-electric pressure! 😉 Haha

          xx

          • I’m in Uni and your 12 year old self probably still knows more than me on hydro-electric pressure! Haha x

  • Guys, what are you doing to me? First Mexico (my home country), now Lille the city were I spend my Erasmus semester!!!! My heart is exploding with joy!!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      No way!!! What a place to spend your semester! It’s such a wonderful place isn’t it!

      PS – we’ve just arrived back to London from Mexico and we desperately want to be back there! What an amazing country and the people… wow, everyone is so friendly and nice!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • What a charming ‘Lille’ slice of France! (See what I did there?) Actually, Lille is closer to my romantic idea of what Paris would be like – cobblestones, boulangeries, art nouveau and art deco galore with no hideous chains…basically Paris without all the trash and the inevitable soul-sucking trappings of a metropolis. (Talk about la vie en rose-tinted glasses…) Lille has such a perfect balance, thank you for sharing! x

    Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Totally know what you mean… It kinda felt like that too. When we arrived, we almost felt as though we’d be whisked into a whole world of French romanticism and quaint charm. We fell in love with the city almost instantly!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • So pretty! And only 1 hour 20 mins away! That’s almost quicker than visiting my family in Wiltshire. And I bet the train fares are comparable. Grr train fares.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! Exactly, it was soooo fast Emmie! 🙂

      Don’t even get us started on the cost of train fares… how is it cheaper to fly London-Barcelona than hopping on board a train from London to B’ham! Those pesky train fares are taking lots of our $$$. Haha! Though, we did just discover their discounted travel card for 2 people travelling together – it knocks 1/3 off!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Melissa

    That cathedral looks so beautiful! I would already visit Lille just to see those gorgeous stained glass windows, but it looks like that’s not the only thing I would love about Lille :).

    Melissa – https://theworldismymuseum.com/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh, you’d love it Melissa – architecture, beautiful cobbled streets and a sweet lovers dream! It’s a great city.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Victoria

    Wow Lille looks amazing!! Love the pics, defo a new city to add to my ‘Must Visit’ list <3

    http://victorialouisekblogs.blogspot.fr/

    X

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It was such a surprise to us Victoria – we never knew how pretty it was! You’ll love it!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx