Day-trippers love Lille, a charming town with mixture of French and Flemish culture, situated in the north of France. It's easily reachable, only 90 minutes from London by Eurostar train and therefore the perfect destination for a quick city break. From some of the finest museums and galleries to a historic city center filled with colored Flemish buildings and cute cobbled streets, Lille has plenty of attractions to offer. Its relaxed vibe is very much different from the country's capital, Paris, so Lille is the ideal place to forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy traditional French charm. To make the most of your day trip, take a look at our guide of top 12 things to see and do in Lille!
Start your day with a traditional French breakfast
When in France, the classical way to start your day off is with having a nice traditional breakfast. France is most famous for its tasty, mouth-watering baked goods and you can find bakeries serving fresh, hot croissants and pain au chocolats everywhere you turn. Some of the most famous bakeries around the city center are the Boulangerie Brier, Patisserie du Lion d'Or and Maison Doucet.
Explore the heart of the city - Grand Palace
After you've had some nice food, start your sightseeing tour in the main central square known as Grand Palace. The square is actually officially named Place du Général de Gaulle as a tribute to Lille's most famous resident, president Charles de Gaulle. Here you can gaze the 17th century Flemish buildings surrounding the square, creating an impressive sight. The square is a meeting point for locals and a famous hub for cafes and restaurants, so to get a glimpse of everyday life in Lille, sit at one of the nearby cafes, drink coffee and watch people pass by and admire the marvelous architecture around you.
Wander around the streets of Old Town
The historic center of the city is known as Le Vieux Lille. It's characterized by colorful Flemish buildings, old redbrick houses and churches. Get lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets that are full of cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops and cute restaurants ideal for a light brunch. From luxury goods to delicacy shops and affordable clothing boutiques, Lille is famous as a shopping destination. In the neighborhood you'll find the Cathedral Notre Dame de la Treille, an impressive example of Gothic architecture. Streets are paved with stone and lined with impressive tall medieval buildings, making an ideal setting for a pleasant stroll.
Shop at bustling farmers and flea markets
Lille is famous for housing the largest flea market in Europe every year, taking place during the last week in August and the first week in September. If you're not in town then, don't be disappointed because Lille has some good markets open all around the year. The most famous farmers market is the vibrant Wazemmes market, open during the weekend. It's the prime spot in the city for buying fresh groceries and experiencing the city as a local. The market is a paradise for foodies, with famous French cheese at every turn and pastry shops serving warm baked goods. Flowers, antiques, material, souvenirs and almost everything you can think of can be bought here!
Marvel at the Saint-Maurice church
Situated in the historic center, this majestic Gothic church is another must-see in town. With its five naves all of the same height and a stunning tower, this church's a fine example of typical Flemish Hallekerque architecture. Don't miss going inside because it's not just impressive on the outside. Entry is free and inside there's a nice collection of artwork dating back to 17th and 18th century.