48 hours in Lille what to do in the capital of Hauts de France

48 hours in Lille what to do in the capital of Hauts de France

CITY GUIDE - Lille is the ideal destination for organizing a weekend just an hour from Paris by TGV. Good addresses, new and essentials, head for the cobblestones of Old Lille!

By Jean-Marc De JaegerSize on a human scale between Brussels, London and Paris, the capital of Flanders is dynamic and full of beautiful addresses. Good reasons to spend a weekend there. Shutterstock / MisterStock

It's the North! Lille enjoys a privileged location between Paris, Brussels and London. No wonder if, every weekend, you hear English and Dutch spoken in the cobbled streets of the capital of Hauts-de-France. Beyond the highlights (like its famous clearance sale every first weekend in September), the city offers a rich cultural life and in perpetual renewal.

To travel by metro, tram and bus on the Ilévia network, opt for a 1-day (4.90) or 2-day (8.80) pass. The subscription to self-service bikes (Vlille) costs 1.70 per 24 hours; the first 30 minutes are free, the following 1 minutes.

The city has two stations, 500 meters apart: Lille-Flandres and Lille-Europe. So as not to miss your TGV, you will therefore have to check your departure station. Please note, some Ouigo depart from Tourcoing, thirty minutes by metro from Lille.

The Lille tourist office offers City Passes of 24, 48 and 72 hours to visit 29 sites and tourist offers in the metropolis. The practical pass also includes unlimited access to the public transport network. Buy online (10% discount, send by post within five days) or directly from the tourist office at Palais Rihour.

In 2020, Lille becomes the first French city to receive the title of world capital of design, after Taipei (2016) and Mexico City (2018). Until December 5, 20 places in the metropolitan area and the Hauts-de-France region are organizing exhibitions related to the event. Itinerant, 1, 2, 3 Data, designed by the EDF foundation and which explores the theme of digital data, will stop at Tripostal from February 5 to March 8. At the Palais des Beaux-Arts, the 6th edition of the Open Museum experience (from April 10 to September 20), which allows creators of all kinds to revisit the museum's collections, will offer a sound design experience bringing together music and works. At Saint-Sauveur train station, visitors to the exhibition Les Usages du monde (from April 29 to August 1) will wonder about the action of man on his environment. Le Fresnoy, in Tourcoing, is hosting the Fluidities: the human coming (from February 7 to April 26) exhibition, which invites us to think about humanity in the world of tomorrow.

Besides the Lille capital of design event, two museums of contemporary art are renewing their exhibitions this year. From March 14 to May 31, the Roubaix Swimming Pool, also known as the André Diligent Art and Industry Museum, showcases artist Marcel Gromaire, a figure of realistic and humanist art from the North, as well as the stylist Taiwanese Sophie Hong. For its part, LaM, the Villeneuve-d Ascq contemporary art museum, is devoting a retrospective to William Kentridge (from February 5 to July 5), a South African artist known for his charcoal drawings in black and white.

At the end of a discreet passage, the Flemish canteen Bloempot surprises with its locavore cuisine. The menus change every two weeks. Caroline Dejongue

We enter here without knowing what we're going to have dinner. You have to appreciate the surprise, the discovery of new flavors, because no dish is offered on the menu. The dishes vary from day to day depending on the harvests of local producers. Bloempot (flower pot in Flemish) boasts locavore cuisine: everything is produced in Hauts-de-France, except wines. At the controls of the kitchen, open to the view of the guests, the chefs Florent Ladeyn (revealed by the show Top Chef) and his childhood friend Kévin Rolland. The latter are also owners, in Lille, of the restaurant Le Bierbuick-Bloemeke, which also smells of Flemish terroir.

Bloempot, 22 rue des Bouchers, 59800 Lille. Formula Eyes closed at 40, or 60 with drinks agreement. Reservation strongly recommended, especially on weekends, only on the restaurant's website.

Located between the two stations, a ten-minute walk from the main places of interest, this ultra-modern hotel stands out for its colorful and quirky world and its affordable prices. Opened in August 2019, it has 112 spacious rooms, with particularly comfortable bedding. True place of life, the gigantic bar-restaurant hosts concerts and DJ-sets at the end of the week until two in the morning.

At the exit of Lille-Flandres station, you first let yourself be led by rue Faidherbe towards Place du Théâtre. Bordered by the opera house and the belfry of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it is the gateway to the historic city. Lovers of vinyls and old and used books will be delighted to enter the Vieille Bourse, a haunt of second-hand booksellers and record stores. Every Sunday in summer, the place turns into a dance floor for tango lovers.

After a tour of the Grand-Place, which gives an overview of the architecture typical of the Flemish renaissance, take the rue de Béthune, the main shopping street in Lille. It leads to Place de la République, surrounded on one side by the Prefecture of the North and on the other by the Palace of Fine Arts. We will make a passage in the basement of the museum, where relief maps give an overview of several cities in the region several centuries ago.

Since the discovery of a city involves in particular its cuisine, we stop at lunchtime at La Ducasse. We appreciate the good franquette atmosphere and the decoration filled with references to regional folklore. A scene from Bienvenue chez les ch tis was also filmed there. We go there to taste the specialties of the North: the potjevleesch, the Flemish carbonade, the mussels and fries, the flamiche with maroilles ... Bon appétit!

A district deserves a whole afternoon of visit: Old Lille. With its cobbled streets and old houses, it is a place that has preserved its architectural authenticity. The best thing is to get lost and look around the colorful facades. Your steps may lead you to 9 rue Princesse, where the birthplace of Charles de Gaulle is located. Alas, the museum is closed for renovations and will reopen on November 22, 2020, 130 years to the day after the birth of Charles de Gaulle. At snack time, we salivate in front of Fred's Les Merveilleux. From the outside, you can see pastry chefs making marvelous, Lille specialty based on meringue, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

After this gourmet four-hour trip, we stop at the Hospice Comtesse museum. This old medieval hospital, very well preserved, sheds light on the political, economic and social life of Lille through the ages since its foundation in the 13th century. Before returning to the Grand-Place, stop on the Parvis de la Treille where stands an atypical cathedral, the last of the second millennium in France. Begun in 1854, the construction of Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille was not completed until 1999. Hence the futuristic aspect of its marble facade.

As soon as the stomach screams starvation, go to L Hirondelle, around Jean-Lebas park. This food court, inaugurated in June 2019 in a former garage, is an ephemeral place which should exist at least until September 2020. In the meantime, we take advantage of the craft beers and foods of the world served in food trucks. Concerts, flea markets and thrift stores are regularly organized there. The place is open Thursday and Friday (5.30 p.m. - 11.30 p.m.), Saturday (10.30 a.m. - 11.30 p.m.) and Sunday (10.30 a.m. - 5 p.m.).

The playful soul? Head to the 300 slot machines and 19 game tables at the Barrière casino, which occupies the resort of the same name. City in the city, there is a 5-star hotel, a theater and a wellness area. Rather inclined to frank laughs? Head for the Spotlight, a 150-seat bar where actors from the region show several times a week (less than 20 euros per seat). Finally, the night owls will enjoy spending a long time at the Magazine Club, a nightclub set up in a former warehouse that attracts big names from the electro scene.

We start the day at 104 meters above sea level, at the top of the Belfry of Lille, classified as a UNESCO heritage site. The building, built in 1932 at the same time as the new City Hall, did not go unnoticed in the flat country horizon. You can see, in the distance, the slag heaps of the mining basin or the Flandres mountains, the highest of which is Mont Cassel (176 m).

On Tuesday and Thursday, but even more on Sunday morning, life in Lille revolves around the Wazemmes market, one of the largest in France. If this popular district represents little tourist interest, we take a tour to enjoy the atmosphere. Just have a coffee on the terrace or eat a meal on the go in the middle of a happy hubbub.

Museum of art and industry, the Roubaix Swimming Pool is fitted out in shower-baths created in 1932 to ensure the hygiene of workers. Pascal Rossignol / REUTERS

Direction around Lille. Take metro line 2 to Gare Jean-Lebas Roubaix station (30-minute journey). From there, go down avenue Jean-Lebas to La Piscine. These old art deco style baths are inseparable from the rich industrial past of Roubaix. The place opened in 1932 to ensure the hygiene of workers who did not have running water at home. Centerpiece of the building: its Olympic basin, in which the stained glass windows which symbolize the rising sun and the setting sun are reflected. This art and industry museum reopened in October 2018 after two years of enlargement work.

Not far from La Piscine, another architectural curiosity is worth a detour: the Villa Cavrois. From Eurotéléport, take the tram to the Villa Cavrois stop, in Croix. This city was the privileged place of residence of the industrialists of the North; it is still one of the richest in France today. After five minutes of walking, you arrive in front of the work of Robert Mallet-Stevens, representative of modernist architecture. This contemporary yellow brick castle, built for the Cavrois family, reopened in 2015 after twelve years of renovation.

The LaM in Villeneuve d Ascq, closer to Lille than Roubaix, can serve as an alternative to Villa Cavrois and La Piscine. Located in the Héron park, one of the green lungs of the metropolis, this modern art museum presents 7000 works from the 20th and 21st centuries, including many regional artists.

After a good day's walking, nothing better than a gourmet break at the essential Meert pastry shop, located a few steps from the Grand Place. On the spot or to take away, taste the Madagascar vanilla waffles which have made the reputation of this pastry shop, installed at 27 rue Esquermoise since 1761. Before boarding the return train, you can also buy some marvelous at Les Merveilleux de Fred which has a shop inside Lille-Flandres station.

Housed in a former 15th century hospice, the Hermitage Gantois is one of three 5-star hotels in Lille. Its 89 rooms and suites, distributed around courtyards and interior gardens, mostly retain an old decoration. The hotel, located opposite the belfry, has in particular a spa, a swimming pool, a hammam, a piano bar and a gourmet restaurant.

L Hermitage Gantois, 224 rue Pierre Mauroy, 59000 Lille. From 143 in a double room, excluding breakfast (23). Tel .: 03.20.85.30.30 and www.hotelhermitagegantois.com.

Opened in February 2017, this 4-star design hotel has 48 rooms, two restaurants, a delicatessen and a floral workshop. Its special feature: solar panels partially cover the establishment's energy needs.

L Arbre Voyageur, 45 boulevard Carnot, 59800 Lille. From 107 in a double room, excluding breakfast (18). Tel .: 03.20.20.62.62 and www.hotelarbrevoyageur.com.

The editorial staff advises you48 hours in London: we fill up on energy in the British capital Lille market: a market so special according to Le Figaro of 1902Mama Shelter, in Lille: the expert opinion of Figaro SubjectsLilleFranceHauts-de-FranceTravelTourismHotelCity guideIdea 19 comments Cyril de Lacostele 08/01/2020 at 23:19

In 30 years, the city has not changed, the shops are the same or have closed, no new pedestrian streets. 30 years ago, Lille was beautiful and ahead of the game. She is late today.

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